Friday, October 07, 2011

Red flag of McCarthyism in the new Libya ?

McCarthyism : is the practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence.

Last month we were all happily incredulous to hear from the NTC that  the  'state security prosecution and courts, which sentenced opponents of the old [Gadaffi ]regime to prison' were to be abolished.  This meant that the principal  purpose of the old Internal Security Agency  (ISA) was gone. The ISA  was a cross of the worst attributes between the FBI and Homeland Security, it sawed fear in Libyans' hearts  and abused Libyans and non-Libyans  alike who had the misfortune to fall in its hands as any country with a despot  or powerful blind 'homeland security' knows and where the most dangerous accusation was for not being a patriot. A patriot in Libya included in its criteria the persona of the 'Leader of the Revolution' Moammar Gadaffi.

Ironically enough the fact that this government body by spying on all your online and offline activity  knew or sought to know everything about your private and public life was in a way comforting, as you could stop fearing it.   If they never approached you and if you never dabbled  in politics or showed an inclination to free thinking it meant you were considered harmless to them and you could go on leading the semblance of a normal  life: that is eat, sleep,  study , raise a family, work,  and have whatever type of entertainment you can afford even if non halal  (as long as you are discreet). If this was your cup of tea  and you were lucky that no one was jealous enough of you to make false accusation against you, you could survive in Gaddafi's Libya.  

So having this apparatus  basically dismantled  by abolishing the courts above and  by the de facto disappearance of its most hated components due to the war was a breath of fresh air and some Libyans dreamed that there will no longer be a Damocles sword hanging over their heads ready at any time to cut it off. But it would  be naive to believe that any government can survive without internal security and so it came with no  surprise to read  today that  although the  old ISA was being effectively dissolved by the NTC they were instead 
"setting up a security agency whose main task would be to root out those who remain loyal to deposed autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in towns and cities it now controls."

Reading the words of the internal affairs' minister raises  a huge red flag for those who still had an atom of hope that things could be different in Libya in terms of how security. Now this hope  has the potential to be dashed  at all the prospective  abuses that the Libyans could  be experiencing at the hands of an organisation whose force would be giddy with the newly achieved feeling of power as Power is irresistible! 

As long as the  NTC have not clarified how exactly this organisation was going to hunt loyalists and what is the definition of a loyalist and how exactly justice will be meted out  it is feared  a new McCarthyism type of witch hunt  could be unleashed which  would open the gates of vengeance  and private retribution. This is  apparently already taking place in Libya at some level with the currently fashionable expression 'fifth column' being brandished left and right  but because of the nature of the Libyan terrain and the vastness of its land only mild echoes reach the international news agencies with most reporting saying that this or that place is being crushed because there are still pockets of Gaddafi's army while in truth it is  allegedly a personal pogrom led by a city against another, a family against another and a region against another or a neighbour against another. This is human nature! But having an organisation with one specific mandate is really really scarier than the old ISA.

Since internal security in all its factions is an essential component of the state Libyans  are expecting that we will have the opportunity to rebuild it along proper guidelines  identifying exactly what would the role of this force be and what threats was it going to protect Libyans against. 

However with this projected anti-loyalist hunters with no clear mandate it means that we will have people spying on Libyans in all the cities as before, and a number of shadow organisations who answer only to God knows who minus the comfort of knowing that at least they knew everything about you and so will leave you alone as these people are going to start from scratch to protect their hard acquired power. Any one who read about the Stanford prison experiment would understand.

Could this be the direct result of the cyanide we all drank and which I discussed in the previous post  of am I  just being pessimistic today ?


Anonymous said...

I would say that your cautiousness regarding your Brave New World is very healthy. In the "old times" you could at least know what the rules were even if you did not fancy them. But now, if this escalates, the rules will be totally arbitrary. And I think you have a right to find that even scarier...

It would not be all that surprising that people close to the NTC would make up "fifth-column-pretexts" to achieve other goals, such as money or removing specific individuals. But to erase entire city-populations? What could be the goal of that?? I can only think of one reason and that is a very discomforting one: To set an example - for would be opponents. I do hope I am wrong.

programmer craig said...

I'm going to keep hoping that after a brief period of chaos and violence that sanity and reason prevail. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but in Libya what were people fighting for if not a country that was run better than it was under Q? Makes no sense to go through all that just to swap out the old order for a new order that's just as bad!

Maya M said...

I am saddened, but not too surprised by this development. I have recently commented on the blog of another Libyan, "Unfortunately, societies can progress only by evolution, even if they prefer to call some of its stages "revolutions". Which means that each stage can be - at best - only marginally better than the previous one."
When celebrating Libyans said that now at last they were free to talk what they thought, I was sure they were wrong. They were just free to critisize Qaddafi. There were still vast forbidden realms, both old and new.

NOMAD said...

well, there's still such a risk, though you shouldn't wait and see, but organize groops like "tea-paries" in the US for watching that the laws are respected

also didn't the responsible of your intermediary govermen talk of perdon? like de Gaulle did after WW2 to reconciliate the French, those that were with Vivhy, and those that fought the regime

are these left fights something like tribes "rêglements de compte"

Maya M said...

Oceankid, about the "entire city-populations" - see e.g. this:
I have read discussions on this matter at posts at, but I couldn't now find these exact posts. Briefly, some Libyan commenters claimed that Qaddafi, finding the degree of support among native Libyans insufficient, had imported many black immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa to support him, and had concentrated them in certain areas, particularly in his hometown Sirte. The native Libyan commenters wished these immigrants to be sent home, but hinted that even worse things could now happen to many of them, regardless of their individual behaviour.