CIA Operatives Are Aiding Rebels

Thursday, March 31, 2011
By Paul Martin


The Central Intelligence Agency has placed covert operatives on the ground in parts of Libya, feeding intelligence on ground targets to the U.S. military and coalition forces for airstrikes and reaching out to rebels aligned against Col. Moammar Gadhafi, officials say.
Under a secret order signed earlier in the month by President Barack Obama, the CIA received broad authorization to find ways to help Libyan rebels in their fight against Col. Gadhafi.

While the so-called presidential finding provided the CIA with the general authority to undertake unspecified covert operations with White House approval, it didn’t prescribe all of the specific ways in which the agency could provide that support, the officials said.

Officials say CIA operatives—and allied Western intelligence agencies—have been on the ground in Libya for weeks. U.S. airstrikes on Col. Gadhafi’s air defenses began March 19 under a United Nations Security Council resolution, but Mr. Obama has insisted that no U.S. ground troops would be sent to Libya as part of the operation, now led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The CIA also has been building a network of informants to support U.S. and allied military operations and to help the U.S. assess the rebels. The U.S. is trying to determine what support they need, in terms of intelligence, communications gear and possibly lethal arms, officials say

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