Hillary Surprised by Gaddafi's Death

Already grimacing, she takes the BlackBerry from her assistant Huma Abedin's hand.


The grimace remains. Hillary Clinton's face -- unchanged -- is bent into surprise, her eyebrows knitted, mouth slightly open, as she sits, waiting for the interview to begin.

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- just days after a visit to Libya in which she told Libyans that "we hope he can be captured or killed soon" -- got the news, as she sat waiting for a television interview to begin, that her wish had come true: Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi was dead.

"Huh... unconfirmed," she continues. Abedin, like clockwork, without even looking, reaches her hand out toward Hillary from behind, anticipating the BlackBerry's return.

Clinton tugs at her lapels and smiles.

"Unconfirmed reports about Gaddafi being captured. Unconfirmed."

She twiddles her thumbs as she rests them on her thigh. Her visage is a serious one now.

"Yeah, we've had too many... we've had a bunch of those before, you know." She's smiling again. Arms crossed on her left thigh.

"Have had him captured a couple of times," she says.

Turns out he was not only captured but killed.

Secretary of State Clinton -- we are made to believe -- learned of a high profile political assassination as we all did, through the media.

The fact of Gaddafi's death is hardly troubling for most people -- if he had at one time or another done some good for his country, it was at least balanced out by the harm he had done. In his decades of alliance with the United States and during the ups and downs of that important relationship, Gaddafi had gained a reputation as a tyrant by many. He was no longer wanted.

But not wanting him in power is quite different than wanting him dead. Wanting him killed is ever so different than wanting him brought to trial.

The construction of his demise has been troubling from the start, not merely because, like a death sentence, it rang of barbarism, but because it was accompanied by a wide-scale media strategy of defamation. If someone is a dictator who is despised by his people and has done terrible things, it would seem that his political record would suffice to demonize him, but that is never the case with horrible third-world dictators, is it?

It began with the moment Libya was attacked earlier this year. Calls for his death pervaded the mainstream media of the world. Early reports of injuries and deaths of his family and tribe foreshadowed the inevitable.

They were accompanied by vagaries of reporting that framed Gaddafi's personal lifestyle as not merely eccentric but ridiculous. There were the stories of his amazonian female bodyguards. The reports of his custom-made military uniforms and lavish daily accoutrements. There was talk of how he chose his wives and what he looked for in the women he intended to bed.

Every bit of minutiae was magnified to present a most delusional individual who couldn't possibly be trusted to run a country.

Except, of course, that he was -- it was only in 2009 that John McCain (in a tweet that has found new life in the prized field of retweeting), went on Twitter to proudly announce his visit with the Libyan leader. "Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man," @SenJohnMcCain tweeted on August 15, 2009.

And McCain wasn't the only representative of the US government to take meetings, as it were, with the colonel.

The media strategy pressed forth. The bloodshed of the new war -- the civilian deaths, supply shortages, and general destruction of the country were secondary to constant reports of Gaddafi's whereabouts. Now he's here, now he's there, now he can't be anywhere. Thousands of Libyans have died, their country is being split in two, or more, pieces. The corporations have already moved in to secure their needs in this landmass of plenty.

Gaddafi is still the headline on Libya.

And just when it sounded like Sirte -- Gaddafi's hometown -- was standing its ground, Hillary Clinton showed up in Tripoli. "We hope he can be captured or killed soon so that you don't have to fear him any longer," she said on October 18.

Just two days later, he is dead and we see video footage of her being surprised, doubtful -- amused at what she relates to the cameras which she's knows are running to be yet another rumor of her enemy's demise.

Hillary Clinton has every right to be pleased with herself and her government. Gaddafi had finally landed in the enemy pile after years of swinging back and forth in his American alliance, and enemies are not meant to endure. His time had come, by all accounts.

But the malice of the approach to his death has been troubling: Clinton's comment wishing for his death just amplified it. The media parade of Gaddafi's corpse only reinforces it.

Again, if an enemy is already known as a brutal and violent dictator with bizarre lifestyle choices and a record of bloodshed, is it truly necessary to denigrate him -- and by extension the people of his country and region?

And was it really necessary for Clinton to feign ignorance and distance from the death she called for just two days earlier?

If the United States is a leader of nations, if its government is the most democratic and just, then the world is left to wonder why such an esteemed government has conducted itself -- yet again -- as its lowest enemies have: with pretense, lack of civility, and casual acceptance of violence.