As we've all been warned for the better part of a week, Wikileaks, the website famed for outing the government of the United States, today released confidential United States diplomatic cables. Five major world newspapers, including the New York Times and the Guardian, were granted early access to some of the documents and have published or provided links to the documents. One that caught my attention was this gem from September 29th, 2009 from the American Embassy in Tripoli. It's restriction was listed as NOFORN (no foreign national) meaning that it was not to be looked at or shared with foreign governments or non-U.S. citizens no matter how high their level of clearance and its distribution caption was posted as SIPDIS (Secret Internet Protocol Distribution); a label used "for messages that are to be automatically published to the originating post's or office's website." The SIPDIS label is used only for "informational messages deemed appropriate for release to the U.S. Government interagency community.". Just in case you cared, here is a document from the United States Department of State giving instructions for the Information Management Specialist on how to handle messages within the State Department; the information is full of amusing little acronyms but makes those of us on the outside realize just what a self-perpetuating machine the so-called "intelligence network" is.
Now to the contents of the wire. The subject of the document was "A Glimpse Into Libyan Leader Qadhafi's Eccentricities" and was classified by Gene A. Cretz, the United States Ambassador to Libya appointed in 2007 by George II as the first U.S. Ambassador to Libya since 1972. From his first-hand experience with the Libyan leader and his staff, he felt that he had gained rare insight into the eccentricities and character of Muammar al-Qadhafi. Here, under the heading "Qadhafi's Personality Reflected In His Phobias" are two of his supposed "proclivities":
1.) The Leader must stay on the first floor of any facility rented for him because he cannot climb more than 35 steps. As well, he needs accommodations with room to pitch his Beddouin tent because it showed visitors that he was close to his cultural roots.
2.) The Leader does not like long flights of more than 8 hours duration and often overnights in Europe while on his way to America. He also does not like to fly over water.
Under the heading "Dependencies: Reliance On A Select Group Of Individuals" we find the following:
1.) Qadhafi relies on his long-time Ukrainian nurse, 38 year old Galyna Kolotnytska, who has been described as a "voluptuous blonde". He requires her aid because she alone knows his daily routine. He has a staff of four Ukrainian nurses that cater to his health and well-being.
2.) The Leader is dependent on a small core of trusted individuals. One of his confidantes carries a red phone which presumably connects to Qadhafi. His National Security Advisor, his son Muatassim, is his father’s handler and confidante and is tasked with ensuring that his father’s image is well preserved through carefully planned media events.
Enough of Colonel Qadhafi's quirks and other personality issues. Who among us would prefer to climb more than 35 steps to get anywhere? Who among us does not like camping out? Who among us really likes flying over long stretches of barren and foreboding ocean for hours at a time? Who among us (males) would not like to travel everywhere with a voluptuous blonde Ukrainian nurse or travel with our own personal entourage of Ukrainian nurses? Perhaps the United States could gain a strategic advantage over Libya by forcing Colonel Qadhafi to leave his nurse at home the next time he appears at the United Nations as it could dramatically increase their home field advantage!
All in all, I'd say that Colonel Qadhafi appears to be a pretty normal, red-blooded guy from the description of his "eccentricities" as given by Ambassador Cretz. From what I've read in this particular wire, I'd say that the NOFORN security designation should be used out of embarrassment rather than any real need to hide this information from foreign states.
As an aside, how much did this "intelligence" work cost United States taxpayers and exactly what is the value of this information to those who pay Mr. Cretz's salary?