It was revealed Wednesday evening that the Obama administration sent clandestine CIA operatives to Libya weeks ago to assist rebels in their civil war against Moammar Gaddafi.
Not only did MSNBC's Ed Schultz express his support for this action as well as arming these rebels, he also got into a heated argument with a Nation magazine reporter that compared this operation to the "disastrous dirty wars of the 1980s" bringing up images of Ollie North and the Iran-Contra scandal (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: But, this is the story we start with, that has me fired up tonight. It wasn’t supposed to go like this, but this is how it’s unfolding. "Reuters" reporting there are American boots on the ground in Libya.
"President Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces in Libya, officials tell Reuters."
The order was signed within the past two or three weeks. Tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting the Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and make contacts with rebels battling Gadhafi’s forces, according to American officials.
And the "National Journal" reporting more than a dozen CIA operatives were sent to Libya.
You would think this announcement would quickly change the mind of a devout antiwar liberal like Schultz despite his having sycophantically and hypocritically expressed support for this Libyan operation right from the start. Well, think again:
SCHULTZ: When the president announced the United States military engagement in Libya, he was emphatic. There would be no troops, no boots on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA,PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: In fact, U.N. resolution 1973 excludes, quote, "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory."
Of any form? What’s that mean? NBC sources are telling NBC that the revelation of CIA operatives in Libya is pro forma. Still, the White House knows this kind of revelation -- this kind of headline could change the dynamic on the ground in Libya, and support for the president at home could also shift.
Indeed, as well as support from his friends in the media that have been for this war. At least, that's what you would think:
SCHULTZ: The big question tonight that remains: will the United States or its allies arm these Libyan freedom fighters? "Reuters" also reports today U.S. officials have said that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, whose leaders despise Gadhafi, have indicated a willingness to supply Libyan rebels -- I call them freedom fighters -- with weapons.
Now, remember yesterday, the president told Brian Williams that the operation of arming Libyan rebels wasn’t off the table. He also said the following to ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It’s fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We’re looking at all our options at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Senior European diplomat says the coalition of nations involved in Libya, considered arming rebels a serious option and that the coalition is considering that option now.
Reports from the front lines are that anti-Gadhafi forces, they are in retreat. It was not a good day for them. And they are poorly armed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The momentum has changed very quickly in this war. And on the front line, Libya’s revolution is being held together with sticky tape.
Show me what you’re armed with. What’s your weapon? Only that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, we have stopped Gadhafi from slaughtering his people in Benghazi. Our airstrikes have allowed the rebels to advance. But now, they’re retreating. After all that, does the world community stand by and watch the freedom fighters get crushed?
The president pledged that there would be no U.S. troops on the ground in Libya. Today, we learned that CIA operatives are on the ground. What does that all mean?
Still, it looks like the freedom fighters’ only shot for survival at this point is a real injection of military hardware that they say they desperately need.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said that there was still no decision on arming the rebels.
Nobody wants another situation like the mujahideen in Afghanistan in 1980s. Whether or not we arm rebels, freedom fighters, whatever you want to call them, is a very hard decision.
But I think we have to do it. It is a moral decision at this point.
Imagine that. Despite what resulted from arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan - Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda - Schultz is all for doing it AGAIN! This seems especially absurd given reports that al Qaeda is already present amongst the Libyan rebels.
But none of that matters to Schultz. His President is for this, and regardless of how he opposes this kind of conflict with every fabric of his being, this MSNBC shill is all in:
SCHULTZ: You just saw that piece of videotape, that young kid, we have a state in the United States of America, New Hampshire, live free or die. What do you think that Libyan freedom fighter wants? What is his choice?
He’s made what’s on the license plates in New Hampshire, live free or die. That’s where he is. And where does the United States stand tonight?
Look, I am a liberal. I am a progressive. But that means that we need to stand behind people who want freedom.
This isn’t Bush talk. This is totally different from Iraq. It’s totally different from any other situation in my opinion.
This is a situation where we have got a coalition that has come together and realized that Gadhafi is a terrorist. The president has gone on record saying that Libyan agents have killed Americans. That’s all as an American I need to hear.
This president has also gone on record that he was going to get America out of Iraq, close the terrorist center in Guantanamo Bay, and end secret CIA renditions. Despite him having gone back on all three pledges, Schultz is still taking him at his word:
SCHULTZ: Let’s get it done. Let’s arm these rebels. Let’s give them a chance to fight. At least if they’re going to die, they’re going to have some hardware in their hands to defend themselves.
There was a sound bite in Richard Engel’s piece last night, a gentleman says they’re pulling women out of houses. They’re lining people up and assassinating them. They’ve got shooters up on top of the roofs to picking people off.
I mean, come on, America. When do we fight? Does it have to be absolutely perfect and we have to have an absolute end game, and, you know, dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s? Hell no.
This is about freedom, is it not? This is about people who want to get rid of a dictator -- a guy who has brutalized them for 40 years and we stand here tonight as if we’re not free. We stand here tonight as if -- well, I don’t know about this, I don’t know about that.
The military equation here I understand is very, very complicated. They not trained freedom fighters. But they have in their heart, they have in their soul the same things, and the same qualities and the same spirit that the people who founded this country had in their hearts and their minds centuries ago.
How does he know that? Exactly how does anyone at this point know who or what these rebels are? Quite the contrary, we don't know.
But Schultz's president is for this, and therefore, so is he:
SCHULTZ: Look, this is a tough call. There’s no doubt. It’s a tough call for not only the president, and for people who support the president, who really have had enough of war.
We don’t have a stomach for this, I know that.
Just listen to the people on talk radio across America. They’re using this as a tool to take down our president, because they politically hate him. They have made it their goal over on the right to make sure that President Obama does not get reelected. So they’re playing the political games with the lives and the heart and the spirit and the soul of the Libyan people who all they want is a fighting chance to take down a dictator who has killed Americans.
Liberals, we are better than this. Give them a chance. Arm them.
That section there tells it all. Schultz must clearly think that if this mission in Libya fails, Obama's public support will plummet and with it his reelection chances. As such, he's willing to publicly and aggressively support an operation that he would otherwise be totally against simply because he believes it will help his president retain office.
It's really quite disturbing when you think about it that way, for Schultz is pointing fingers at conservatives for "playing the political games with the lives and the heart and the spirit and the soul of the Libyan people." But isn't it him playing political games with the lives of Americans that will be needed to assist these rebels?
How is it possible that a devout antiwar liberal can miss this hypocrisy? Is love for Obama really this blinding?
Before you answer, consider what NBC News military analyst Col. Jack Jacobs next told Schultz:
COLONEL JACK JACOBS, NBC NEWS MILITARY ANALYST: Typically it’s going to take between eight and 16 weeks to take your average young fellow like you saw in that tape, from just being able to handle a knife, to being able to use any kind of small arm or automatic weapon, to be able to understand the difference between laying down a base of fire and maneuvering to close with and capture or kill the enemy. All that stuff, it takes us between eight and 16 weeks. So, weapons alone, ammunition alone is not going to do it. They’re going to need training.
SCHULTZ: Colonel, what about the CIA boots on the ground? Is this standard operating procedure before we get involved in some kind of military operation?
JACOBS: Oh, sure. We’ll always have people on the ground in order to gather intelligence. And in this particular case, in order to make some sort of connection between us and the people evidently running the rebel operation. Without that, it doesn’t make any sense to support anybody.
There also has to be liaison between the people who are on the ground, the Libyans who are fighting and the Egyptians to the east. Don’t forget Benghazi’s got 700,000 people. And when Gadhafi’s people came up close to it, it started to scare those people away towards Egypt.
So, there’s got to be -- we have to have some Americans on the ground to do coordination.
So, it's going to take two to four months just to train these rebels with our "boots on the ground."
As such, the President's promises to the American people that this mission would take "weeks not months" as well as us not having any of our "boots on the ground" have been totally broken.
But that also doesn't matter to Schultz who next brought on the Nation's Jeremy Scahill who nicely exposed this MSNBC shill's hypocrisy:
SCHULTZ: For the politics of all of this, let’s turn to "The Nation’s" Jeremy Scahill. His cover story this week is: "The Dangerous U.S. Game in Yemen."
Jeremy, good to have you with us tonight.
JEREMY SCAHILL, THE NATION: Thanks, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Does this headline -- how damaging is it to the president? The headline reads, that the president sends CIA into Libya. What do you think?
Isn't it interesting that Schultz's primary concern was how damaging this revelation was to the President? Not a care in the world for the safety of the operatives involved, or whether or not this could lead to a protracted intervention.
Of course not. To shills like Schultz, it's all about getting Obama reelected regardless of the policy:
SCAHILL: Well, you know, the CIA operatives on the ground there are sort of engaged in an eharmony.com, or sort of, you know, dating service relationship with the rebels for the clandestine world. I mean, this is, as Colonel Jacobs said, standard fare.
What I think is of more concern is the fact that there are certainly U.S. Special Operations forces units that are deployed already secretly inside of Libya that are painting targets for the airstrikes. But I have to say that the scenario you’re laying out, when you talk about arming the, quote-unquote, "freedom fighters," it really evokes memories of the disastrous dirty wars of the 1980s. I mean, the United States getting involved in what is effectively a Libyan civil war, 1,000 or so rebels that don’t have much military training.
I mean, what you’re advocating, Ed, is that Americans are going to have to be totally invested in one side of a civil war. The president stuck his neck out very far when he said Gadhafi has to go. If the United States sends troops in there, and they would have to, as Colonel Jacobs said if they’re arming it, then we have a third full-on war in addition to the covert wars that the president is waging in Yemen, in Somalia and also in the Horn of Africa. I think a lot of military folks see mission creep in the big way here, Ed.
Makes sense, right? Is this what America needs now with all of its other problems? Despite the logic, Schultz wasn't backing down:
SCHULTZ: Well, we have got a coalition put together. No question about it. We have got a willing coalition put together. Timing is everything. The circumstances surrounding this right now present us an opportunity to do justice on a man who the president says his agents have killed Americans.
SCAHILL: There is no question that Moammar Gadhafi -- I’m sure most of the entire world wants to see Moammar Gadhafi gone. But the fact is that Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, is a murderous thug who has been sniper shooting nonviolent protesters and he remains a close friend of the Obama administration -- the dictatorship, the Khalifa family in Bahrain, these are corrupt monarchy and the only thing that we get out of them is hosting the 5th Fleet there. So, don’t say anything about their violence -- the message we’re sending to the world here is --
SCHULTZ: But the U.N. Security Council has not rendered judgment on the country that you’re talking about.
Pay particular attention to Scahill's response, for Schultz certainly didn't, and that's when things got heated:
SCAHILL: Well, the fact of the matter is, Ed, that that U.N. Security Council resolution was a result of blackmail and cajoling on the part of the Obama administration. A majority of the world’s people represented on the Security Council, Brazil, China, Russia, India -- they abstained because they didn’t want anything to do with taking sides in a civil war.
SCHULTZ: And that’s their call. That’s their call.
SCAHILL: That’s the majority of the world’s citizens represented there.
SCHULTZ: But they didn’t stop it.
SCAHILL: There’s no NATO --
SCHULTZ: China could have stepped up. The Russians could have stepped up. They could have blocked this action in Libya, no question about it.
Every situation is different. And Secretary Hillary Clinton said just that, and the president’s been very clear on it. We have a situation now to bring justice on a terrorist who has killed Americans. That’s why I support this policy. That’s why I support this move.
SCAHILL: Well, Ed, this sounds a lot to me like Ollie North and the Iran Contra where you take a 1,000 people --
SCHULTZ: You make any judgment you want. Jeremy, you can paint me any way you want --
SCAHILL: You’re backing 1,000 people, Ed, inside of a very large country, and you’re taking sides in a civil war. What you’re advocating is going to lead to more American deaths --
SCHULTZ: You don’t know that.
SCAHILL: -- and hundreds of millions of dollars. Well, it’s already cost us $400 million.
SCHULTZ: I take President Obama’s word for it, that troops will not be engaged on the ground. I take his word for it. Now, if he wants to hang me and my opinion out to dry as an American, that’s fine.
SCAHILL: Well, you know what? Your President Obama
SCHULTZ: My President Obama?
SCAHILL: He didn’t call
SCHULTZ: My President Obama? Is it your president, too? Jeremy, is he -- wait a minute now. You’re not going to beat to the water’s edge. Is he your president, too?
SCAHILL: Of course. I’m an American.
SCAHILL: I said the words -- you’re saying you take his word for it, Ed.
SCHULTZ: I do take his word for it.
SCAHILL: He didn’t close Guantanamo. He’s doubled down on some of the worst policies of the Bush administration. I just got back from Afghanistan where we’re killing mid-level Taliban people.
SCHULTZ: He didn’t put universal health care at the table. I haven’t been totally happy with President Obama on every issue. I’ve been very clear on that.
But the fact is that we have the resources and the position to take out a man who has killed Americans. And I think that we have a moral obligation to the families in this country who lost people on that Pan Am 103. This is our time to do just this. We can do it without boots on the ground.
So, despite the President saying there wouldn't be American boots on the ground, and Schultz selling this war to his viewers as a result of the President's promise concerning this, the "Ed Show" host is now 100 percent behind troops being sent in.
Not only didn't it take long for Obama to break his word, it took even less time for Schultz to change his own tune while completely supporting the President's dangerous misdirection:
SCAHILL: Do you think we should take out Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president of Yemen, who double deals with al Qaeda all the time --
SCHULTZ: You got to the U.N. No, that’s Bush talk. No, Jeremy, Bush talk. No, no, no --
SCAHILL: Bill Clinton didn’t go to the U.N. for Kosovo.
SCAHILL: It’s bipartisan.
SCHULTZ: This is exactly what’s wrong with this debate from the standpoint of what we can do and when we can do it. The president has gone through the U.N. to get this done.
SCAHILL: We’re bombing Yemen. When did the president go to the U.N. to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in Yemen?
SCHULTZ: You and I disagree. You and I disagree.
SCAHILL: What I’ve said are facts.
SCHULTZ: OK. Well, look, I support the president and the United States to do what they can to help these freedom fighters. That’s where I’m at. You want to call me Ollie North, you go ahead.
SCAHILL: I think it’s a wrong-headed policy that could lead to American deaths and a further disaster in Libya.
SCHULTZ: OK. That’s your calculation. That’s what you feel based on what has happened with the mujahideen in the 1980s. I understand that. But every situation --
SCAHILL: -- double dealing with the president of Yemen because he supports al Qaeda one day and us the next day. We’re involved with a very dangerous game throughout the Middle East.
Indeed we are, and Schultz doesn't care for at this point he must think success here - whatever that is - is key to Obama's reelection.
But something was missing in this debate: Vietnam. That war began with America sending members of the OSS to assist our eventual enemy Ho Chi Minh.
For those unfamiliar, the Office of Strategic Services was the precursor to the CIA. Now, many decades later, we're sending clandestine CIA operatives into Libya to assist rebels we know very little about, and due to their already having some ties to al Qaeda could end up being our enemy in the future.
That Scahill missed this disturbing parallel was surprising.
As for Schultz, he's so engaged in supporting his president that he wouldn't see a barn in front of him if he was going five MPH in a tractor heading straight for it.
Scary, isn't it?