HELENA — A Montana Republican gubernatorial candidate who runs a Washington, D.C.-based security and counterterrorism firm says the family of Moammar Gadhafi sought his help earlier this year in finding an exit strategy for the deposed Libyan leader.
But Neil Livingstone told The Associated Press in a Thursday interview after Gadhafi's death that he and other Americans interested in helping broker such a deal were rebuffed in April by the Obama administration, so he never proceeded with any negotiations.
Gadhafi was killed Thursday, some eight months after a revolution began in Libya.
"It's been two-thirds of a year. A lot of people are dead right now. And we might have been able to get that guy out of there," Livingstone said.
Livingstone has worked as a security and terrorism consultant in Washington for decades, running a company called ExecutiveAction and appearing occasionally on cable news shows.
ExecutiveAction says it has helped business and entertainment leaders deal with crisis situations like murders and disappearances, but did not provide specific instances. The company says it has also assisted foreign governments in dealing with threats.
Livingstone is now one of nine Republicans seeking the party's nomination to replace term-limited Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat. So far, though, Livingstone, who grew up in Helena, has lagged far behind GOP money-raising leader and former congressmen Rick Hill in gathering support.
Livingstone has long been a critic of Gadhafi in his television commentary and written articles, and says he once had a run-in with Libyan authorities in the 1970s where he was temporarily jailed. As long ago as the 1980s, in a Washington Post profile, he said Gadhafi should have been killed.
"He has lasted for 42 years and he has done so with an iron hand over that country," Livingstone said earlier this year on the CNN program Piers Morgan Tonight. "As a consequence I am not surprised that he wants to go out with his boots on. And we have not given him many choices."
Livingstone was vocal earlier this year in his opinion that the allies needed to provide Gadhafi a way out of Libya that didn't require him to face trial for war crimes. He also said such a move would have brought the conflict to a quick end.
A group calling itself Wikileaks Libya recently posted documents in Arabic from the Libyan government purportedly showing the government had reached out to some Americans that included Livingstone.
Livingstone said the conversations with a Gadhafi family lawyer were always going to be about finding a way to get quickly get Gadhafi out of the country with minimal bloodshed.
Livingstone said he envisioned finding a country that would take Gadhafi and his family in a deal that allowed him to keep some money, but spared him a trial for war crimes.
Livingstone said the federal Office of Asset Control under the Treasury Department never responded to a request seeking permission to engage with the Libyans on the matter. The OFAC office did not return a call Friday seeking comment.
"We were never granted an OFAC license and I wasn't going to move without one," Livingstone said.