To a colorful group of Americans — the Washington terrorism expert, the veteran C.I.A. officer, the Republican operative, the Kansas City lawyer — the Libyan gambit last March looked like a rare business opportunity.
Even as NATO bombed Libya, the Americans offered to make Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi their client — and charge him a hefty consulting fee. Their price: a $10 million retainer before beginning negotiations with Colonel Qaddafi’s representatives.
“The fees and payments set forth in this contract are MINIMUM NON-REFUNDABLE FEES,” said the draft contract, with capital letters for emphasis. “The fees are an inducement for the ATTORNEYS AND ADVISORS to take the case and nothing else.”
Neil C. Livingstone, 65, the terrorism specialist and consultant, said he helped put together the deal after hearing that one of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, was interested in an exit strategy for the family. But he and his partners were not going to work for free, Mr. Livingstone said…
Mr. Livingstone, a television commentator and prolific author who moved home to Montana this year to try a run for governor, said…“The idea was to find them an Arabic-speaking sanctuary and let them keep some money, in return for getting out,” he said. The consultants promised to help free billions of dollars in blocked Libyan assets by steering the government into compliance with United Nations resolutions…
Now the confidential documents describing the proposed deal have surfaced on the Internet, offering a glimpse of how some saw lucrative possibilities in the power struggle that would end Colonel Qaddafi’s erratic reign. A Facebook page called WikiLeaks Libya has made public scores of documents apparently found in Libyan government offices after the Qaddafi government fell.
The papers contained a shock for the Americans: a three-page letter addressed to Colonel Qaddafi on April 17 by another partner in the proposed deal, a Belgian named Dirk Borgers. Rather than suggesting a way out of power, Mr. Borgers offered the Libyan dictator the lobbying services of what he called the “American Action Group” to outmaneuver the rebels and win United States government support.
Some of the American partners deny any knowledge of the lobbying part of the consultancy. Oh.
The other American partners – Neil S. Alpert, who had worked for the Republican National Committee and the pro-Israel lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Randell K. Wood, a Kansas City, Mo., lawyer who has represented Libyan officials and organizations since the 1980s – didn’t respond to requests for comment…
Of the $10 million fee the group sought, Mr. Borgers said, “The aim was not to make money.” On the other hand, he added, “If you want to put up a serious operation in Washington, I think you need at least $10 million.”
The Treasury Department is about as up to speed as you would expect. They say the group’s application to be paid by the now-disappeared Qaddafi government is “still pending”. Which would be laughable if it wasn’t so typically stupid.