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March 30th, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Source: CIA operating in Libya, in consultation with opposition

CNN Wire Staff

Benghazi, Libya (CNN) - The CIA is operating in Libya to help the United States increase its "military and political understanding" of the situation, a U.S. intelligence source said Wednesday.

"Yes, we are gathering intel firsthand and we are in contact with some opposition entities," the source told CNN.

The White House refused to comment on a Reuters report Wednesday that President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel troops.

"I will reiterate what the president said yesterday - no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya," said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement. "We're not ruling it out or ruling it in. We're assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters."

Meanwhile, another senior Libyan official broke Wednesday with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, whose loyalist forces have opposition fighters on the run after a string of successes.

And members of Congress questioned administration officials as to why they weren't asked to authorize Obama's decision to commit U.S. forces.

According to the Reuters report, Obama signed the covert aid order, or "finding," within the past few weeks. Such findings are required for the CIA to conduct secret operations, the report said.

A U.S. official not authorized to speak publicly could not confirm the finding but noted when there are crises like this, "you look at all instruments of national power."

In early March, a U.S. official told CNN "the intelligence community is aggressively pursing information on the ground" in Libya.

There has been growing discussion over whether the coalition will arm the opposition and provide training on the use of effective weapons systems.

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soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Glad the CIA is over there collecting intelligence info so that the western leaders can understand the problems, the actualities, etc so that they can make sane decisions on how to help and where to do it. Hopefully, the CIA will contribute positively (without breaking any international or US laws as to what they can do and what they cannot) to this situation in Libya and assist the rebels in gaining their country's freedom from Gadhafi.

    March 30, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  2. Patrick

    The CIA once operated in Afghanistan before 9/11 when they armed and trained the Muhjadeene, who later turned on the aliies with the training and arms that were supplied to them, haven't we been there before? When Al – Qaeda take over Libya and fight the West again I won't say, " I told you so. "

    March 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  3. Patrick

    Moussa Koussa as Libyan foreign minister gave the direct order for the bombing of the American airliner over twenty years ago, that killed three hundred Americans why are we harbouring terrorists?

    and the CIa is in Eastern Libya training the " freedom fighters " some of whom have links to Al – Qaeda? Is the world going mad?

    March 30, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  4. Wayne NY

    Never thought that in my lifetime there would be a bigger turkey than Jimmy Carter in the Whitehouse, 'til Obama came along. Granted, I did not start paying attention until Iran 1979 & I was 24 yrs old watching the days counted every day on TV of hostage misery. Now it turns out that less than 1000 "rebel fighters" & France have duped the US into Libya mess. French shot down ( if it was up) an unarmed training plane the other day. Yikes, way to kick ass France. Put French troops on the ground please, so they retreat with the rebels. NATO is in control now. Problem is, WE ARE NATO. What about the damn price of home heating oil & gas prices @ the pump--that's a humanitarian crisis right here @ home. Wake up Barack Hussein Obama, please. Why do we we call him by his first & middle names ? Sounds foreign that's why.

    March 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm |