What's John McCain Doing in Libya?

He landed in Benghazi today "to get an on the ground assessment of the situation"

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Arizona senator and known advocate of lucky charms John McCain touched down in Libya this morning for a one-day visit with opposition leaders. McCain will spend Friday, the Muslim holy day, meeting with members of the National Transitional Council in Benghazi and hanging out with "his heroes," the rebel fighters. McCain told the Associated Press he was there "to get an on the ground assessment of the situation," and although details of the trip were kept secret, you may assume McCain is considering sending the rebels some weapons to complement the recent authorization to use armed American drones in Libya.

As McCain is the most senior U.S. official to visit the country since the conflict began in February, his vocal support for the rebels and the prospect of more support tosses some sand in Muammar Qaddafi's eyes. After all, the fickle Arizona Senator advocating U.S. intervention in Libya today is the same ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who visited Qaddafi not too long ago under kind of similar auspices. Salon's Justin Elliott reminds us:

In August 2009 [McCain] led a delegation of senators, including fellow hawks Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, on a trip to visit the Libyan leader in Tripoli. Discussed during the visit was delivery of -- get this -- American military equipment to Gadhafi (a man with American blood on his hands no less). "We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defense equipment to the government of Libya," the AP quoted McCain as saying at a press conference. McCain also noted that "ties between the United States and Libya have taken a remarkable and positive turn in recent years."

What do the Libyan rebels think about all this? Well, at least a few of them in Benghazi waved American flags as McCain watched out the window of his armored Mercedes.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.