Well, this is embarrassing for someone. The UK Daily Mail has the story, with photos, of a "devastating stash of documents" that was left behind when the British Ambassador's residence in Tripoli was evacuated four months ago.
The revelations come in documents – some marked ‘UK secret: UK/Libya Eyes Only’ – found strewn on the floor of the British Ambassador’s abandoned residence in Tripoli.
Many of the papers demonstrate the warmth of the relationship between Britain and Libya and, in particular, the extraordinarily close links between the Blair Government and the Gaddafi regime.
The notes show how:
• Tony Blair helped Colonel Gaddafi’s playboy son Saif with his ‘dodgy’ PhD thesis while he was Prime Minister.
• British Special Forces were offered to train the Khamis Brigade, Gaddafi’s most vicious military unit.
• MI6 was apparently willing to trace phone numbers for Libyan intelligence.
• Gordon Brown wrote warmly to Gaddafi in 2007 expressing the hope that the dictator would be able to meet Prince Andrew when he visited Tripoli.
• MI6’s budget (£150 million in 2002) was readily disclosed to Libyan officials, along with details of how Britain’s Downing Street emergency committee Cobra operates.
• Britain’s intelligence services forged close links with Gaddafi’s brutal security units.
Those sensitive documents had been lying there in the vacated Ambassador's residence all this time. Evidently, no one tidied them up when the UK reopened its Tripoli embassy a week or so ago, and visiting journalists were allowed to make off with them.
The incriminating documents were found in the wreckage of the British ambassador’s home in Tripoli, a three-storey house vandalised in April by Gaddafi loyalists.
There were several booklets filled with the faces of suspected terrorists, scores of personally signed letters sent from Downing Street and detailed intelligence data on the Gaddafi regime.
Incredibly, all this had lain amid the debris for four months, with no attempt made to secure the papers even in the week after the rebels ousted the dictator from the city.
Mountains of shredded paper showed British diplomats tried to destroy many documents before fleeing.
The U.S. counterparts of those British diplomats can surely empathize, because they've been there before. Like in Tehran, 1979. It's not so easy to ensure you've destroyed everything that needs to be destroyed when you're under attack and have only a skeleton staff to bag n' drag all those files to the shredder. And then you never know when the paper shredder will jam.
Here's a tip for the UK Foreign Ministry, from the bottom of my governmental heart. Next time, spend the money to get really fast, durable, crosscut paper shredders. Here's a list. When you need to evacuate in a hurry, accept no substitutes.