Best Defense

Iggy Stardust: Qaddafi is weaker than you think and will be broke in three months

For my money, David Ignatius is the best intelligence reporter around, even though he is officially a columnist (and novelist), not a beat journalist. He had a piece that ran over the weekend and so unfortunately might be missed by many. High points: –“Gaddafi is slowly running out of money — and his inner circle ...

Classic Glass/Flickr
Classic Glass/Flickr

For my money, David Ignatius is the best intelligence reporter around, even though he is officially a columnist (and novelist), not a beat journalist. He had a piece that ran over the weekend and so unfortunately might be missed by many.

High points:

–“Gaddafi is slowly running out of money — and his inner circle is showing early signs of collapse.”

–On the CIA presence inside Libya: “At present there are only several dozen operatives, including full-time case officers from the Special Activities Division, which manages covert actions, supplemented by former officers, known internally as ‘cadres,’ who are on direct contract to the agency. Their tasks include providing clandestine communications links for the Libyan opposition, contacting and assessing the rebels, and providing money and other assistance to Libyans to break with Gaddafi.”

–“The agency has some experience in Libya thanks to previous covert actions there, including one code-named ‘Sprint’ some years ago.” Tom: I have no idea of what “Sprint” was, but an intriguing detail. It sounds to me like someone at CIA is telling Ignatius, Hey, it isn’t our first time around the block here.

–The task ahead is bribing tribal leaders to split with Qaddafi. Tom: I have been hearing this from others.

–“an intelligence source said that his [Qaddafi’s] bankroll will last him another two to three months.”

That’s a lot of news to stuff into on op-ed column.

Iggy’s bottom line: This guy is weaker than people think.

On the other hand, this piece by a secondary culprit in the Iraq mess just felt to me like Jeffery Dahmer correcting someone’s table manners. I had a visceral unhappiness reading it, and was surprised to see that my friend and colleague Andrew X-Man twitted such a different reaction to it.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. @tomricks1

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