The violent death of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi has evoked varying recollections of his decades-long absolute rule. Back in March 2004, congressional Democrat Susan Davis traveled to Libya. According to a gift report filed by Davis, who holds the San Diego County record for congressional junkets, she was “a member of a congressional delegation visiting Libya as a guest of the Libyan Parliament.” As gifts from foreign governments go, it was modest: $117 in lodging and $52 for meals. The seven-member delegation, according to disclosure records, included Republican Thad McCotter of Michigan, Democrat Silvestre Reyes of Texas, and the GOP’s Rodney Alexander of Louisiana.
The visit was made after Qaddafi agreed to take apart his country’s nuclear program in exchange for U.S. diplomatic recognition. According to newspaper accounts, Republican Curt Weldon told the Libyan General People’s Congress, “Your leader is correct. The two peoples of Libya and America have to engage and understand each other.”
Qaddafi spoke afterwards, saying, “Libya was very enthusiastic about possessing the nuclear bomb during the Cold War confrontations. It wasn’t Libya only, every country was seeking the nuclear bomb, even the poorest countries.… If we got this bomb, which country would I attack? The United States? I would be crazy, the United States has thousands of nuclear bombs.” He added, “Libya was defending the Palestinian cause and so had tension with the Americans.”