WASHINGTON (CNN) – There are multiple reports out today that President Barack Obama has signed a "secret order" authorizing covert U.S. support for Libyan rebel forces.
According to Reuters:
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. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.
Meanwhile, ABC News is reporting that the finding doesn't "provide arms to the rebels immediately, although it does prepare for such a contingency and other contingencies should the president decide to go down that road in the future."
In response to questions by the press on the reports, the White House issued the following statement from Press Secretary Jay Carney:
As is common practice for this and all Administrations, I am not going to comment on intelligence matters. I will reiterate what the President said yesterday – no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya. We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in. We’re assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters.
While CNN has not confirmed that Obama signed such a finding, John King reports that there is a CIA presence in Libya to help with "military and political understanding," and is gathering intelligence first hand from some of the opposition entities.