Reuters: Obama Secretly Authorized First Step Toward Covert U.S. Support for Libyan Rebels

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A Libyan rebel walking with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) flashes the victory sign as smoke billows from a distance in the eastern city of Ajdabiya on March 30, 2011. The first air strike in two days against Moamer Kadhafi's forces in the east was carried out near Ajdabiya, where rebels are sheltering after having been routed from their frontlines. AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS (Photo credit should read MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images) Photo: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images/Getty

According to administration officials who spoke with Reuters, President Obama has signed a secret order called a "finding" relating to the rebellion in Libya, which is the first step in authorizing a secret operation by the Central Intelligence Agency. (He'd have to give official "permission" as well in order for the operations to be launched.) The "finding" was signed within the last two or three weeks and could relate to any number of potential U.S. government actions to support a covert goal. Security experts say that before any kind of direct aid to Libyan rebels — be it weapons supply, strategic help, or training — goes on, the United States and allied forces will have to know precisely who they are helping. The last thing they want is a situation like Afghanistan, where weapons given to anti-Soviet forces ended up years later in the hands of insurgents shooting at American troops.

Obama authorizes secret support for Libya rebels [Reuters]