Benghazi, Facebook and Regrets
Many top diplomats are in London today for meetings on Libya hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League officials and other foreign ministers all got together to talk about humanitarian support, the Libyan opposition and, among other things, options for ending the intervention. Some officials, including Italy’s foreign minister, are behind plans for a cease-fire and Qaddafi exile. However, President Obama insisted last night in his speech to the American public that the military operation is not about regime change.
For the second time in two weeks, Clinton sat down today with Mahmoud Jabril, a leader of the Libyan opposition movement. And Washington is sending an envoy, Chris Stevens, to Benghazi in Libya to strengthen connections with the opposition. Stevens was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli before it was closed down. Washington stressed that these meetings do not equate to formal recognition.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said this morning that Washington is working behind the scenes, cutting of Qaddafi’s funding and assisting the opposition, to help break down the Libyan leader. She said on CBS this morning that in the long term, Washington thinks Qaddafi should make an exit, and the administration hasn’t ruled out arming opposition members to help in that process.
Word on the street is Facebook is considering hiring former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, the latest in a line of administration officials heading to tech firms. Facebook is apparently considering Gibbs for a top communications job in the lead-up to a 2012 initial public offering, though discussions are still in their early stages. The New York Times is even reporting that Gibbs has solicited the opinions of various former colleagues, like Obama’s erstwhile adviser and now re-election guru David Axelrod.
Another former official, PJ Crowley, said he doesn’t regret his remarks about the accused WikiLeaker Bradley Manning that cost him his job as State Department spokesman. He had called the military’s treatment of Manning “stupid.” Clarifying his statements, Crowley said: “I thought the treatment of Bradley Manning was undermining what I considered to be a very legitimate prosecution of an individual who has profoundly affected US national security.”