Reagan Reportedly OKd Bid to Undermine Kadafi
President Reagan has authorized a CIA covert operation designed to undermine the Libyan regime headed by Col. Moammar Kadafi, according to informed government sources.
The plan, which involves CIA assistance to another country or countries in North Africa and the Middle East that oppose Kadafi, has run into some initial resistance from the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence, which oversee CIA operations. However, a narrow majority of the members of both panels so far support the covert action, Administration sources said.
The operation, authorized in a formal presidential finding signed this fall, is at first designed to disrupt, preempt and frustrate Kadafi’s subversive and terrorist plans, the sources said.
Invitation to Trouble
Secondly, they said, it might lure him into some foreign adventure or terrorist exploit that would give a growing number of his opponents in the Libyan military a chance to seize power. Finally, such a foreign adventure might provoke one of Kadafi’s neighbors, such as Algeria or Egypt, into responding militarily.
Shultz and CIA Director William J. Casey, according to sources, have argued that the new covert plan is designed to stop terrorism, not to support Kadafi’s assassination. A longstanding executive order signed by Reagan expressly forbids the CIA or any other U.S. government agency from direct or indirect involvement in any assassination plan.
Since 1981, the first year of the Reagan presidency, when Kadafi allegedly dispatched “hit teams” to assassinate the President or other top U.S. officials, Kadafi has been a thorn in the Administration’s side. According to intelligence reports, he supports about 30 insurgent, radical or terrorist groups worldwide.