TRIPOLI – Reams of confidential documents reveal the mounting desperation and disarray among top leaders of Col. Muammar Qaddafi's regime as power slipped through their fingers, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The files were discovered in the office of Libya's spy chief in Tripoli and two other security agencies after the personnel fled their desks as civil war deepened.
The documents expose an ossified culture within Libya's police state that proved largely incapable of switching gears to fight an actual war. Propaganda skills failed to translate into battlefield analysis, leaving soldiers furious and, in some cases, surprisingly clueless.
In one memo, dated April 26 and found in the now-abandoned office of Libya's former top spy, a general complains bitterly about the lack of intelligence.
"I received no information from anywhere," he wrote. "I now think there isn't any entity at all that has precise or even imprecise information" about the rebels he was being asked to defeat.
Documents from early in the year suggest a casual dismissiveness of the rebellion. One field officer in February -- around the start of the crisis -- reported to his superiors in Tripoli that the protesters in his city of al Marj were merely local alcoholic troublemakers. A report from Tripoli's suburb of Tajoura dismissed marchers there as a nuisance akin to "stray dogs."
By late spring, however, Tripoli's intelligence chiefs were scratching their heads over intercepts of rebel phone calls that they simply could not decode.
Mounting panic led to open bickering and backstabbing. In a May 1 memo, a lieutenant colonel in the Investigations and Surveillance branch ripped into his colleagues, alleging that the department had "become the office of booze, prostitution and theft of detainees' possessions."