What the CIA Is Doing in Libya
Obama secretly authorized spies to arm rebels
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2011 9:18 AM CDT
Libyan rebels take position during street battles with forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi at an area some 30 kms from Brega on March 31, 2011.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – CIA and British MI6 agents are on the ground in Libya, working covertly to help the rebels defeat Moammar Gadhafi’s forces—and they've been there for weeks, reports the New York Times. Spies from both countries have been scouting the locations of military targets like munitions depots for coalition airstrikes, in the hopes of weakening Gadhafi’s military and inspiring defections. The CIA has also been meeting with rebel leaders to get a better idea of who they are and what their intentions are. The CIA agents currently in the country consist of those who had worked at the agency's Tripoli location as well as more recent arrivals.

Several weeks ago, President Obama also secretly authorized the spies to provide weapons and other support to the rebels. They haven’t actually done so yet, however, and White House press secretary Jay Carney said no decision had been made to arm the rebels. Until now, US and British intelligence agents hadn’t focused on Libya since Gadhafi gave up his nuclear weapons in 2003. “We didn’t have great data,” said Gen. Carter Ham, who was until recently the mission’s top commander.