Politics

Sid Blumenthal Floated Disputed Gaddafi Viagra Rape Rumor In Confidential Memo To Hillary

Emails released by the State Department on Thursday show that Hillary Clinton’s longtime friend and off-the-books intelligence gatherer, Sidney Blumenthal, passed her a disputed rumor that former Libyan president Moammar Gaddafi supplied his troops with Viagra in order to rape women who supported the rebellion against his government.

That claim, which Blumenthal emailed to Clinton on March 27, 2011, was eventually voiced by Susan Rice, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, during an April 28, 2011 meeting with the UN’s Security Council.

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Rice’s comment was met with intense skepticism at the time. Diplomats and U.S. military personnel said that they had no evidence to support her contention. Many saw the claims that Gaddafi was behind a massive rape campaign as an attempt to drum up support for the U.S.-led intervention. Clinton and Rice were among the Obama administration’s most vocal proponents.

In his “confidential” memo, entitled “Rumor: Q’s rape policy,” Blumenthal wrote that “Sources now say, again rumor (that is, this information comes from the rebel side and is unconfirmed independently by Western intelligence), that Qaddafi has adopted a rape policy and has even distributed Viagra to troops.”

The day after Blumenthal sent Clinton the memo, Al-Jazeera published what appears to be the first news report about the rumors.

“Several doctors say they have found Viagra tablets and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, alleging that they were using rape as a weapon of war,” the report reads.

“They say they have been treating female rape survivors who were allied with pro-democracy forces.”

According to The Guardian, a UN diplomat who was present at the April 2011 meeting with Rice said: “I was in the room when she mentioned Viagra. The remark did not cause a stir at the time. It was during a discussion about whether there is moral equivalence between the Gaddafi forces and the rebels. She listed human rights abuses by Gaddafi’s forces, including snipers shooting children in the street and the Viagra story.”

According to an NBC News report at the time, Rice’s claim “was made in an attempt to persuade doubters the conflict in Libya was not just a standard civil war but a much nastier fight.”

The timing of Blumenthal’s emails and the publication of the Al-Jazeera article raises the question of whether the journalist-turned-Clinton supporter was involved in perpetuating the Viagra rumor.

The shadowy Blumenthal is known to have worked behind the scenes to plant stories with reporters that further his agenda or those of his allies. During the run-up to the Libyan intervention, Blumenthal was working as a consultant for Osprey Global Solutions, a defense company that sought contracts in a post-Gaddafi Libya.

It is also unclear where Rice first heard the Viagra claim and what prompted her to repeat it.

But her remarks at the UN meeting would not be the first time Rice has floated bombshell claims without much proof. She gained notoriety in Sept. 2012 when she repeated a false claim — taken from Obama administration talking points — that the Benghazi attacks were a spontaneous response to the video “Innocence of Muslims.” Rice made the claim five days after the attacks, even though the Obama administration and State Department knew by then that the attacks were pre-planned acts of terror.

There appear to be no other Clinton emails to Rice or anyone else mentioning the rumor.

Clinton forwarded Blumenthal’s memo to her aide Jake Sullivan, asking him “What do we know about this?”

The claims that Gaddafi used rape as a tool of war has still not been settled. In June 2011, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, a prosecutor with the UN’s International Criminal Court, said he had evidence that Gaddafi gave his troops Viagra in order to conduct the rape campaign.

But Cherif Bassiouni, a UN investigator who was looking into the Libya situation at the time, disputed Moreno-Ocampo, calling the rape claims “massive hysteria.”

Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and other human rights groups have also said they found no evidence to support the claim.

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