How tight were U.S. officials with the regime of Muammar Qaddafi, a the Libyan leader President Obama blasted the other night as a “tyrant” who had “denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world — including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents”?
Tight enough that when Qaddafi was throwing himself a bash to celebrate 40 years in power, he invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to join in the September 2009 festivities. Far from laughing off the request, our embassy in Tripoli “promised to convey the invitation” and sought Foggy Bottom’s “guidance on how to respond,” according to a WikiLeaked cable.
The “informal embassy translation” of the invitation follows:
TO: H.E. Secretary Hillary Clinton
U.S. State Department
On the first of September this year, the Libyan people are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Great Al Fateh Revolution that delivered it from ignorance, poverty and backwardness, placed it on the track of progress and prosperity and enabled it to contribute actively in the efforts to consolidate peace, stability and security in all parts of the world.
On this occasion celebrated by the Libyan people and the rest of free people in the world, we have the honor to invite your Excellency to attend the celebrations that will be held in TRIPOLI on September 1, 2009.
We are fully confident that your acceptance of this invitation and attending these celebrations in person will be very much appreciated by the Libyan people, and would allow us the opportunity to discuss ways to develop bilateral relations between our two countries so as to achieve the common interests of our two friendly peoples in Libya and in the United States of America.
Signature: Musa Kusa
Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation.
July 30, 2009
Clinton ultimately declined the invitation, but the U.S. continued to debate sending a lower-level diplomat to fete Qaddafi into late August. American and British ambassadors ended up skipping the event out of concern that Qaddafi would use the occasion to celebrate the recent release of the Pan Am bomber.