Tripoli, December 13, 1969, 1355Z
- Contingency Statement re Hawwaaz Approach to USG for Assistance
- Benghazi 1296; State 206436
- During his recent TV interview, Qadhaafi has stated that (a) Hawwaaz had admitted his role in plotting; (b) RCC planning thorough investigation whole affair, and (c) security personnel had uncovered extent counter coup attempt and identity plotters by keeping careful watch on all visitors to Defense Ministry. It seems certain therefore that Lane’s two meetings with Hawwaaz December 2 and 4 could not have gone unnoticed.
- While Lane/Hawwaaz encounters may come out in next few days during another Qadhafi stream-of-consciousness type TV or press interview, it is more likely that this choice bit will be reserved for revelation at promised trials.
- Embassy suggests following contingency statement be approved for possible issuance by PAO Tripoli and/or by Department Spokesman if and when sinister public interpretation is placed on exchange between Lane and Hawwaaz. If meetings or exchange are merely alluded to, decision whether to respond at all and how will have to be made in light specific form of allusion.
- Contingency statement: [Page 2]
- “At end of routine meeting on normal Embassy/Ministry defense business December 2, LTC Aadim al-Hawwaaz, former Minister Defense, informed an officer of the Embassy Branch Office in Benghazi that he was concerned about certain individuals who, in his opinion, were working against best interests of Libya, and stated that he needed material aid to counter these individuals. He then asked if USG would be prepared to give him substantial sum of money to finance this effort.
- “EmbOff gave hawwaaz no encouragement whatsoever and reported his discussion to his superiors.
- “On December 4, the EmbOff, acting on instructions, met LTC Hawwaaz and made clear to him the negative position of USG. In particular, the officer emphasized that US has always refrained scrupulously from any interference in internal Libyan affairs. US believes strongly that this policy is in best interests not only of US but also of Libya. Accordingly, US cannot and will not provide any assistance—moral, financial, or any other kind —to you or to any other Libyan citizen in such a matter.’ USG has had no further contact direct or indirect with ltc hawwaaz.”
- Embassy would appreciate Department’s guidance.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 23–9 LIBYA. Secret; Immediate. It was repeated immediate to Benghazi. In telegram 3622 from Tripoli, December 3, Palmer had recommended a negative reply to Minister of Defense Hawaaz, who had requested American assistance in his struggle against other elements within the Libyan Government, so as “to preserve our future relations with whichever faction may come out on top of the possible power struggle here.” (Ibid.) In telegram 201909 to Tripoli and Benghazi, December 4, the Department concurred, adding “we would hope not to foreclose possibility future contact with Hawaaz as may later be appropriately selected.” (Ibid.) [text not declassified] (Ibid.)↩
- Ambassador Joseph Palmer recommended a contingency statement in case the meetings of a U.S. official with one of the coup plotters should be exposed.↩