Part of any policy shift may hinge on what emerges in the trial of Libyan intelligence agents Lamen Khalifa Fhimah and Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi for the airline bombing that killed 270 people. "The question is, are these guys going to take the fall or are they going to spread the blame?" says Dowell. "It's highly unlikely that two mid-level Libyan agents acted alone -- it's been Ghaddafi's fear of being implicated that's kept them out of court so far." The Libyan leader will be tempted to put up the best legal team money can buy -- as long as it's answerable to him.
For 10 years, U.S. Libya policy has been to give Ghaddafi enough rope. But Tripoli on Monday handed over the two Lockerbie bombing suspects for trial in the Netherlands, prompting the U.N. Security Council to schedule a discussion over ending sanctions against Libya. "Ghaddafi's refusal to hand over the Lockerbie suspects kept a tight sanctions regime in place," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "Those sanctions successfully boxed in one of America's most dangerous adversaries, who'd been funding terrorist groups all over the world throughout the '80s. Sanctions have weakened Ghaddafi to the point that he backed down; now Washington is going to have define a new policy."