Omri Ceren is correct to call out all of those journalists who bought into the Libya-has-reformed canard. Academics also deceived themselves in believing the Libyans weren’t so unhappy. See, for example, Stephen Walt’s description of his trip to Libya.
In hindsight, it is interesting to look at how Libya tried to cultivate useful idiocy in the United States and Great Britain. A couple years back, a Libyan opposition group published documents drawn up by the Livingston Group and Monitor Group detailing their strategy to rehabilitate Libya’s image in Washington. The documents are authentic. The core of the Libyan strategy was to bring professors to Libya, and then produce a book about their conversations with Muammar Qaddafi. Francis Fukuyama visited Libya as part of the program, and waxed eloquently about his experience to his core class at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS. The Libya lobby also had some conversations with Cass Sunstein about his participation, although it is unclear whether Sunstein, who now serves as Obama’s administrator for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, ultimately participated in the propaganda trips. A responsible White House press corps would ask. The Libyans appeared to target London School of Economics professor Anthony Gidden because he was a tennis partner of George Soros.
Some U.S. officials may have diluted America’s tough line with Qaddafi, especially on human rights, so that they could get on his gravy train after leaving office. Of course, sometimes moral blindness starts at the top.