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NYT Redacted Mention of Gaddafi’s Son’s Bisexuality in Leaked Cable

NYT Redacted Mention of Gaddafi’s Son’s Bisexuality in Leaked Cable

 

Last week the third son of deposed Libyan leader Mummar el-Gaddafi, Saadi, was in the news after fleeing to Niger where he is now said to be effectively under house arrest. This week, Saadi is again in headlines: US State Department cables recently published by Wikileaks reveal that the New York Times redacted reports of Saadi’s bisexuality. Wikileaks had been releasing collections of documents to the New York Times and four other newspapers including the Guardian and Le Monde until a few weeks ago, when the whistle-blowing site dumped the entire trove of 250,000 leaked documents online.

The New York Times had been working with the State Department to make sure that sensitive information, such as the names of diplomatic informers including human rights activists and journalists, was redacted. An Ethiopian journalist has been forced to flee his home after he was identified as a source in a leaked cable. But, as The Atlantic Wire asks, why did the New York Times remove mention of Saadi’s bisexuality?

Former U.S. ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz discussed Saadi in this March 3, 2009 cable, entitled “BLACK SHEEP MADE GOOD? SAADI AL-QADHAFI’S EXPORT FREE ZONE IN WESTERN LIBYA.” The portion redacted by the New York Times has been crossed out:

Although the Zuwara Free Trade Zone is an ambitious and expensive project, Muammar al-Qadhafi likely views it as a relatively small price to pay if it helps occupy the notoriously ill-behaved Saadi and lend a patina of useful engagement to his otherwise less than sterling reputation. Saadi has a troubled past, including scuffles with police in Europe (especially Italy), abuse of drugs and alcohol, excessive partying, travel abroad in contravention of his father’s wishes and profligate affairs with men and women. His bisexuality is reportedly a point of extreme contention with his father and partly prompted the decision to arrange his marriage to al-Khweildi al-Hmeidi’s daughter. Creating the appearance of useful employment for al-Qadhafi’s offspring has been an important objective for the regime.

Gawker’s Jim Cook compares the full text of  a number of leaked cables along with the New York Times redactions which, again, were made in coordination with the government. Regarding the New York Times‘s editing of the above cable, Cook says:

It’s unclear why the Times would choose to withhold information about Saadi’s sex life. Is it in the business of protecting the privacy of participants in a brutal autocracy? (Saadi appears to have fled to Niger.) The Times declined to comment. Other redacted portions of the same cable show a curious level of sensitivity. The Times held back, for instance, a sentence in the cable’s introduction noting that “Muammar al-Qadhafi likely views [Saadi's latest project] as a relatively small price to pay if it helps occupy the notoriously ill-behaved Saadi and lends a patina of useful engagement to his otherwise less than sterling reputation.” As you can see from the previous quote, though, precisely the same sentiment made the cut when expressed later in the cable.

In examining another cable (March 9, 2009) about Gaddafi’s second son Saif al-Islam hiring Mariah Carey for $1 million to sing at a birthday party, Cook points out that the New York Times removed this paragraph:

The contretemps…coincided with a sharp denial by Saif al-Islam of (incorrect) western media reports that he had paid USD one million to pop singer Mariah Carey for a four song set she sang at a New Year’s Eve bash on the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s. Saif al-Islam was in the UAE and Thailand for New Year’s. Saif’s “Oea” newspaper hotly denied that their boss had been the financier and corrections were printed in western media noting that Muatassim, not Saif al-Islam, was the organizer of the party in question.

However, the New York Times published a February article about the rivalries among Gaddafi’s children based on the cable and mentioning the very information above.

Cook’s comparison of a selection of cables published on the Times‘ website to the unredacted versions suggests that the State Department and the New York Times may well need to do some explaining about what they considered “sensitive information”  not to be seen by the public eye, or not until it was written up in a New York Times article.

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Wikileaks Decides to Release All Files

Gaddafi’s Son Saadi Flees To Niger; Zoo Animals Finally Get Aid in Tripoli

War Opens Opportunities For Women in Libya

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77 comments

+ add your own
2:50PM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Um, what is the point of this article anyway???

11:01AM PDT on Sep 26, 2011

I don't understand why Care 2 would even bring this article to light. Who care's what his sexuality is, that is the man's personal business. What does concern me is that this article is homophobic in nature. Doesn't Care 2 constantly barrage us with petitions that fight against this very type of discrimination in society. Where Saadi lives this kind of accusation could get you murdered. I whole heartedly believe that the Gaddafi family is one of the worst regimes ever, however being bisexual did not have anythingto do with it. I am really aggavatd by this sort of crap, shame on you Care 2.

7:37AM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Oh piffel. Indeed, who the heck cares? There are much more important things to report on, so let gossip and innuendo go unwritten, please? Thank you.

1:27PM PDT on Sep 20, 2011

I honestly don't understand that his sexuality has anything to do with him being a criminal.

7:06PM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

Bwaa-ha-ha! Does anyone really care?

3:05PM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

S L says "Bisexual, homosexual are not conducive to procreation. I am not against them; but it is not the norm."


How is bisexual not conductive to procreation? Tell my 3 daughters that, since I amm Bisexual and I submitted half of their genetic material. I am their biological father. Do you even know what a bisexual is?


1:14PM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

If the guy is now further south in Africa, keeping him from being generally considering unstraight could save his life. Aren't people getting routinely killed in Africa for that? In some places, anyway. Perhaps they did not want to be the cause of his hate-crime murder, whether he is a good or bad guy regardless.

10:43AM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

Who cares

9:27AM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

*My internet crashed so I don't think my comment was saved; sorry if repost

S.L. wrote in the comments: "Bisexual, homosexual are not conducive to procreation. I am not against them; but it is not the norm."

Dear S.L., the age-old objection to your "logic": what about sterile couples? Sterility is not conducive to procreation and certainly not normal if the Bible says "be fruitful and multiply."

You say you're not against "them," but by excluding and alienating "them" in this fashion, you are in fact against everything "they" stand for (please note the ironic emphasis)

Frankly,sexuality is far too complex to be crammed into categories like gay, straight, etc. I hope you realize this before one of your kids comes out of the closet.

9:23AM PDT on Sep 19, 2011

S.L. wrote: "Bisexual, homosexual are not conducive to procreation. I am not against them; but it is not the norm."

Dear S.L., the age-old objection to your "logic": What about sterile couples? Not conducive to procreation and certainly not normal if the Bible says "be fruitful and multiply."

You say you're not against "them," but by excluding and alienating "them" in this fashion, you are in fact against "them."

Frankly, sexuality is way too complex to be crammed into neat categories like straight, gay, etc. I hope you realize this, in case one of your kids comes out of the closet.

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