By Bob Cusack - 06/10/11 04:52 PM EDT
Congress has received a letter ostensibly from Moammar Gadhafi that calls for a cease-fire and urges the U.S. to take the lead in negotiating a deal for peace in Libya.
The June 9 letter, which The Hill obtained, is addressed to the White House and lawmakers. House and Senate leadership aides say they have received the document, but have not confirmed its authenticity. The White House declined to comment.
The letter, in which Libya's dictator promises democratic reforms, appears designed to separate the U.S. from its European allies. In the letter, Gadhafi says he would welcome a fact-finding mission if Congress were to send one, and claims that he has long sought a "special relationship" with the U.S.
The letter comes as growing signs of disunity are emerging in Washington over the conduct and purpose of the military action against the North African regime. Last week the House rebuked the White House on Libya, and the Senate has struggled to craft a bipartisan resolution authorizing U.S. action there.
Some believe that Gadhafi is desperate to strike a deal. On Thursday, a senior NATO militiary official with operational knowledge of the Libya mission told CNN that the U.N.-passed resolution justifies the targeting of Gadhafi.
Pressed by CNN on whether Gadhafi is being targeted, the NATO source did not give a direct answer.
Gadhafi is caling for "a cease fire, the funding of humanitarian relief and assistance in fostering and furthering accommodation between the parties within Libya that are at odds." In exchange, he pledges reforms.
Gadhafi chastises France, which he claims led the charge on recent Security Council resolutions against Libya. He argues that France is motivated to "seize Libyan oil" while simultaneously trying to smooth relations with the U.S.
The letter that was provided to The Hill is addressed to the White House, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Leadership aides downplayed the significance of the document, stressing they are most interested in Gadhafi's ouster or resignation.
The 3-page communication asserts that "hostilities in Libya are an internal affair" and that NATO's involvement is "inappropriate and illegal interference in what is essentially a Libyan civil war."
Gadhafi also claims that it "should be clear that Libya is unified in its opposition to extremist elements... ."
The Libyan leader adds that "in recent years we have fully cooperated with US and International authorities to this end."
Gadhafi writes that Libya is committed to "exercising power through a direct democracy which will choose the senior officials who will provide the administration of the Libyan Government and take care of its own affairs. ... Further we welcome the possibility of a fact finding committee of the US Congress to [inquire] and observe the true democratic sincerity of all Libya men and woman [sic] and the leadership of our Country, as well as investigative claims that have been made about systematic violations inside Libya during this tragic civil war."
Gadhafi states that Libya has been keen for years "to establish a special relationship with the United States of America based on mutual respect and mutual benefit. We were the first country to issue an arrest warrant for [Osama] Bin Laden and the first Country that stood in solidarity with the United States regarding the events of 9/11 and this horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers."
He also warns of another terrorist attack: "We have intelligence that suggest that both AQ members and weapons are being transported from Libya to Algeria Mali and the Sahara and even to Gaza; this constitutes a serious threat to the region, the world and particularly to the security of the United States."
The letter ends, "Peace be upon you Col / Muammar Gaddafi Commander of the Great Revolution."
Gadhafi sent a letter to Obama in early April calling for airstrikes to end.
—Sam Youngman, Molly K. Hooper, John Bennett, Pete Kasperowicz, Russell Berman, Daniel Strauss and Alexander Bolton contributed to this article.