Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, claimed David Cameron backed a French plot to create a break away zone eastern Libya
Britain acted deceitfully in Libya and David Cameron authorised an MI6 plan to “break up” the country, a close confidante of Hillary Clinton claimed in a series of secret reports sent to the then-secretary of state.
Sidney Blumenthal, a long-time friend of the Clintons, emailed Mrs Clinton on her personal account to warn her that Britain was “game playing” in Libya.
Mr Blumenthal had no formal role in the US State Department and his memos to Mrs Clinton were sourced to his own personal contacts in the Middle East and Europe.
Nevertheless, Mrs Clinton seems to have taken some of his reports seriously and forwarded them on to senior diplomats working at the highest levels of American foreign policy.
The first of Mr Blumenthal’s Libya memos – which were leaked to the New York Times – was sent on April 8, 2011, as rebel forces struggled to make gains against Gaddafi’s troops, and had “UK game playing” in the subject line.
The memo warned that British diplomats and MI6 officers were maintaining secret back channels with the Gaddafi regime “in an effort to protect the British position in the event that the rebellion settles into a stalemate”.
Mr Blumenthal claimed that MI6 spies were in discussions with Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son, “regarding future relations between the two countries if he takes over power from his father and implements reforms”.
The memo also claims that the Libyan rebels were deeply suspicious of Britain and suspected that the UK would be “satisfied with a stalemate” in which Gaddafi or his family stayed in power in part of the country.
Their suspicions were stoked when Gaddafi’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, defected to Britain in March 2011, Mr Blumenthal claimed. The rebels apparently saw the defection as evidence that Britain had secret lines of communication with the highest ranks of the Gaddafi regime.
Extract from the email:
Eight minutes after receiving Mr Blumenthal’s email, Mrs Clinton forwarded it on to one of her most senior aides. She did not comment on the allegations about Britain. A week later, she met with William Hague, the then-foreign secretary at a Nato summit in Berlin.
Perhaps unbeknownst to Mr Blumenthal, who was working for Bill Clinton’s global charity at the time and not privy to classified information, the CIA was maintaining its own back channels to Gaddafi.
Michael Morell, the CIA’s deputy director, spoke regularly to Abdullah Senussi, the head of Gaddafi’s internal intelligence service, even as US aircraft were bombing regime forces on the battlefield.
Mr Blumenthal emailed Mrs Clinton about Britain again on March 8, 2012 with the subject: “France & UK behind Libya breakup”.
By this time Gaddafi was dead and his regime had collapsed and a provisional government, the Libyan National Transitional Council, was trying to assert its authority across the country.
Mr Blumenthal told Mrs Clinton that MI6 and its French counterpart, the DGSE, were secretly encouraging rebels in eastern Libya to establish “a semi-autonomous zone” outside the control of the new government.
The plot was allegedly instigated by advisors to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who believed that the new Libyan government was not “rewarding” French businesses for France’s role in overthrowing Gaddafi.
He alleged that MI6 joined in the plan “at the instruction of the office of Prime Minister David Cameron”.
“The French and British intelligence officials believe that the semi-autonomous regime in the eastern city of Benghazi will be able to organise business opportunities in that region,” he wrote.
Extract from the email:
Mrs Clinton seems to have been sceptical about the report and forwarded it on to her aide Jake Sullivan with the comment: “This one strains credulity. What do you think?”
Mrs Clinton’s aides appear unimpressed with the stream of emails coming from Mr Blumenthal and Mr Sullivan replied that the MI6 allegations sounded like “like a thin conspiracy theory”.
Mrs Clinton was asked about the emails during a campaign appearance in Iowa on Tuesday and said Mr Blumenthal had been “a friend of mine for a very long time”.
“He sent unsolicited emails which I passed on in some instances. That’s just part of the give and take,” she said.
On Thursday, a new batch of leaked emails showed that Mr Blumenthal had passed on allegations that MI6 was involved in talks to broker a ceasefire and install Saif Gaddafi in his father’s place.
Saif was one of the most Western of Gaddafi’s children and had strong links to Britain. He studied at the London School of Economics (LSE) and was hosted at Buckingham Palace.
A June 3 email from said the Libyan regime had “opened extremely complicated negotiations with the government of the United Kingdom” over a deal that would allow the Gaddafis “to maintain some level of control” in Libya.
Under the regime’s proposal Saif Gaddafi could take his father’s role as head of state but share power with a cabinet made up partly of representatives from the opposition.
Gaddafi himself would be allowed to go into exile without facing war crimes or corruption charges by the new government.
The initial conversations were apparently carried out by MI6 officers and it is not clear if the talks ever progressed to senior levels of government.
Mrs Clinton did not dismiss the claims and forwarded them on to a senior aide while asking her personal assistant to print them out.
Extract from the email:
The email claims Saif and his circle knew there was “little chance” that the rebels would agree to the offer and suspected MI6 may have engaged in the talks only “as a means of collecting intelligence while protecting British interests in Libya” and had no real interest in a deal.
In any event the plan was never carried out and Saif, was captured by rebel forces in November 2011, a few weeks after his father’s death.
He is now facing trial in Libya on charges that he orchestrated a campaign of terror against civilian populations during the uprising against his father.
The Foreign Office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Blumenthal memos have aroused interest in the US because they appear to show a blurring of the lines between Mrs Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton Foundation set up by her husband.
Although he had no role in the State Department, he was working for the Clinton Foundation and various political groups allied with Mrs Clinton, according to the New York Times.
Mr Blumenthal worked in Bill Clinton’s White House and was known for fierce loyalty to both the Clintons and for aggressively confronting their critics.
Aides to Barack Obama prevented Mrs Clinton from bringing him into the State Department in 2009, believing that he would only stir up trouble after the bitterly-fought election battle between Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton.
Raf Sanchez By Raf Sanchez, Washington4:30PM BST 21 May 2015
Find this story at 21 May 2015
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015