Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a special place for Col. Moammar Gadhafi. We know that because he once referred to her her as "my darling black African woman," and said, "I love her very much."
We also know that because after he was toppled, his compound was ransacked and among the things found was a scrapbook packed with photos of Rice.
Gadhafi and Rice met once in 2008. She was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Libya since Richard Nixon visited as vice-president in 1957. Today, The Daily Beast published an exclusive excerpt of Rice's upcoming memoir No Higher Honor.
In the excerpt Rice says she was well aware of Gadhafi's "slightly eerie fascination with me." But she decided to meet with him in Tripoli. He wanted to meet at his tent, but Rice declined, she writes, and "met him in his formal residence."
The full excerpt goes into the politics of the moment, which are fascinating. But the real meat comes when they finally meet:
After several hours, we were summoned to the residence, where I greeted the Libyan leader and sat down to hundreds of camera flashes. Qaddafi said a few completely appropriate words, as did I, and the press left. We began the conversation as Amado had suggested, talking about Africa in general and Sudan in particular. Libya, he promised, would help with alternative routes for humanitarian supplies to the refugees. This is going pretty well, I thought. He doesn't seem crazy. Then, as Amado had predicted, he suddenly stopped speaking and began rolling his head back and forth. "Tell President Bush to stop talking about a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine!" he barked. "It should be one state! Israeltine!" Perhaps he didn't like what I said next. In a sudden fit, he fired two translators in the room. Okay, I thought, this is Qaddafi.
It was Ramadan at the time of my visit, and after sundown the "Brother Leader" insisted that I join him for dinner in his private kitchen. Colby Cooper, who had overseen the arrangements for the trip, protested that this hadn't been the plan. My security detail did as well, especially when they were told to stay outside. I thought I could take care of myself and went in. At the end of dinner, Qaddafi told me that he'd made a videotape for me. Uh oh, I thought, what is this going to be? It was a quite innocent collection of photos of me with world leaders—President Bush, Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao, and so on—set to the music of a song called "Black Flower in the White House," written for me by a Libyan composer. It was weird, but at least it wasn't raunchy.
Rice's memoir goes on sale Nov. 1.