What It's Like to Almost Interview Gaddafi

By Jeffrey Goldberg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/02/what-its-like-to-almost-interview-gaddafi/71570/