What It's Like to Almost Interview Gaddafi

David Ignatius on an unusual encounter:

I can offer a shred of personal experience to support this view of the Libyan leader as an unstable and menacing person. In the early 1980s, I traveled to Tripoli with several other journalists hoping to interview Gaddafi. When the appointed date arrived, we were taken to a large hall, frisked several times and then made to wait for the "mercurial" leader, the euphemism reporters used in those days to describe the Libyan strongman.

First, Gaddafi's bodyguard blew into the room brandishing his automatic weapon. He was barefoot and had a wild, unkempt beard and was genuinely scary-looking, even by Middle East-bodyguard standards.

Then came Gaddafi. He marched straight toward me (was it the fact that I worked in those days for the Wall Street Journal?), stopped about a foot from my face and stared at me with bulging, bloodshot eyes. Then he shouted something in Arabic to his aides and bolted from the room, never to return. Sorry, no interview, his terrified aides told us.
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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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