I am surprised just a little bit about how shockingly naive people seem to be. So, the news is out--the US has sent spies to Libya. Oh my goodness! What is Obama thinking? Is this the prelude to an alien invasion?
No, it probably is just sensible policy. Everybody complains that we don't know who the rebels are. Isn't putting some folks on the ground part of figuring that out? Yes, the US can get info via unmanned aerial vehicles (even drunk ones), surveillance planes (catching signals as well as taking pictures), satellites, CNN, Al Jazeera, print journalists, bloggers, facebook and twitter. But when did spying become out of fashion? This is where I want our spies to be--figuring out this difficult, dynamic set of events and processes.
So, yes, there are thin lines between CIA spies, its paramilitary guys, and the various versions of Special Forces. And yes, these kind of folks allow leaders to make decisions and take risks with some ability to escape accountability--this is from where the phrase plausible deniability comes. Yet, if we are going to contemplate and even use military force, I would prefer for the countries to do with it with their eyes wide open.