Benghazi Suspects ID’d, But Administration Won’t Nab Them Because It Doesn’t Want to Send Them to Gitmo
May 21, 2013 - 2:15 pm
Despite the fact that the Obama administration regularly strike at terrorists with lethal drone hits in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the White House is reportedly not rounding up five suspects identified in the Benghazi attack because of a lack of evidence to try them in civilian court.
The Associated Press cites officials who said there is enough evidence to seize the men as enemy combatants and send them to Guantanamo Bay.
But apparently the Obama administration wants civilian trials for anyone involved in the Benghazi attack and has sent the FBI back to collect more evidence, which could be challenging in a more tumultuous Libya today.
From the AP:
The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and holding them at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The preference is toward a process in which most are apprehended and tried by the countries where they are living or arrested by the U.S. with the host country’s cooperation and tried in the U.S. criminal justice system. Using military force to detain the men might also harm fledgling relations with Libya and other post-Arab-Spring governments with whom the U.S. is trying to build partnerships to hunt al-Qaida as the organization expands throughout the region.
A senior administration official said the FBI has identified a number of individuals that it believes have information or may have been involved, and is considering options to bring those responsible to justice. But taking action in remote eastern Libya would be difficult. America’s relationship with Libya would be weighed as part of those options, the official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the effort publicly.
…The FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies identified the men through contacts in Libya and by monitoring their communications. They are thought to be members of Ansar al-Shariah, the Libyan militia group whose fighters were seen near the U.S. diplomatic facility prior to the violence.
In March, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) estimated that drone strikes have killed about 4,700, including some senior members of al-Qaeda.