Real and Illusionary Events

An Administration rumor campaign against Gaddafi misfires

In what seemed at the time to be a significant scoop, the Wall Street Journal last Aug. 25 carried a story that began, "The U.S. and Libya are on a collision course again, and the Reagan Administration is preparing to teach the mercurial Libyan leader another lesson." White House Spokesman Larry Speakes described the report as "unauthorized but highly authoritative." That was enough to send U.S. news organizations scrambling after a yarn that promised to involve terrorist plots and possible U.S. retaliation.

Given the bloody history of recent terrorist attacks and the resulting U.S. bombing raid on Tripoli and Benghazi in...

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