UPDATED… REUTERS Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret support for Libya rebels. Also, Clinton said in a classified briefing to House members what I’ve already written, which is that Obama would have ignored any war resolution rebuffs and all attempts to inhibit executive power on Libya.

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday. Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to four U.S. government sources familiar with the matter. Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA and the White House declined immediate comment.

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But some administration officials argue that supplying arms would further entangle the United States in a drawn-out civil war because the rebels would need to be trained to use any weapons, even relatively simple rifles and shoulder-fired anti-armor weapons. This could mean sending trainers. One official said the United States might simply let others supply the weapons. […] It also carries echoes of previous American efforts to arm rebels, in Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and elsewhere, many of which backfired. The United States has a deep, often unsuccessful, history of arming insurgencies. – Washington in Fierce Debate on Arming Libyan Rebels

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is rationalizing that regardless of the arms embargo on Libya, the Obama administration could decide to arm the rebels, because the UNSC resolution has enough wiggle room to allow us to do it legally.

When people of my generation hear “trainers” we automatically think of Vietnam. But if trainers go in I guess the Obama administration can still say we have no “boots on the ground.” But it will be our trainers, because this goes well beyond the UN mandate.

Eli Lake is reporting “freelance jihadists” have now joined the Libyan “rebels” fighting Gadhafi’s forces.

Rebels have also now ceded territory they’d gained, with the only reason they won them in the first place being U.S. intervention, which will become more important as Gadhafi’s forces flex what power they have, which isn’t very impressive against the U.S.

If past is prologue, arming the Libyan rebels is a very bad idea.

However, now that Pres. Obama is committed he’s got little choice if this goes bad and Gadhafi starts surging. American prestige has been put on the line and with the 2012 election coming Pres. Obama cannot afford a loss of the rebels losing.

War is politics by another means, but you have to be committed when you let the dogs out. It’s even more important to know the territory and those willing to fight your adversary. That last criteria is why John Brennan, SecDef Gates and others were against this liberal interventionist misadventure, because these guys knew that a humanitarian crisis could actually spiral into something even uglier where U.S. interests, capital, and attention required are concerned.

Meanwhile, V.P. Joe Biden remains muzzled and mute.