Just two weeks after naming a suspect in the killing of our ambassador to Libya and 3 other Americans, special forces charged with tracking the killers are being pulled out of Libya — permanently.
While security in Libya has nearly broken down due to prison breaks and an ineffective government, the real revelation in this Fox News article is that we’ve apparently been in a position to capture these killers several times. And the president has failed to give the go-ahead.
Special operators in the region tell Fox News that while Benghazi targets have been identified for months, officials in Washington could “never pull the trigger.” In fact, one source insists that much of the information on Benghazi suspects had been passed along to the White House after being vetted by the Department of Defense and the State Department — and at least one recommendation for direct action on a Benghazi suspect was given to President Obama as recently as Aug. 7.
Meanwhile, months after video, photo and voice documentation on the Benghazi suspects was first presented to high-level military leaders, the State Department and ultimately the White House, prison breaks in the country have eroded security. U.S. special forces have now been relegated to a “villa,” a stopover for the operators before they’re shipped out of the country entirely.
“We put American special operations in harm’s way to develop a picture of these suspects and to seek justice and instead of acting, we stalled. We just let it slip and pass us by and now it’s going to be much more difficult,” one source said, citing 1,200 prisoners escaping two weeks ago. “It’s already blowing up. Daily assassinations, bi-weekly prison escapes, we waited way too long.”
I understand the political situation in Libya is dicey. The government — never really in charge of much — is hanging by a thread. Opponents would use any military action by the US — even if it was just to capture the Benghazi killers — to charge the government with being a puppet of America. What little credibility they had left would be destroyed and that could conceivably put the extremists in charge.
So the question facing the president is not an easy one. Should we risk the possible collapse of the Libyan government to capture the murderers of our people? This is what has hindered the investigation all along, beginning with our inability to get the FBI into the country until 30 days after the attack. The brazenness of the killers in walking around the city in broad daylight, agreeing to interviews with media, and generally thumbing their noses at us reflects this sad reality.
Still, the special operators believe something can be done:
The men tell Fox News their mission was to capture or kill the suspects in question, and they briefed the acting U.S. ambassador in Libya and the senior CIA representative in the country. The men were told both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and an under secretary were briefed about their information and their ability to capture or kill those responsible. Still, they did not get approval from the Department of Defense or the White House.
Some of the individuals report seeing former AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham tell former Libya Chief of Mission Laurence Pope that he could easily submit a plan to kill or capture the suspects, but “politics and fallout kept us from acting. To do an operation we have to have (Chief of Mission) and state approval. We didn’t get it. … They sat on it.”
Multiple sources in Libya tell Fox News that the politics in the lack of response to the Benghazi attacks involves the U.S. State Department position in Libya. “No career diplomat wants to be responsible for giving the green light or supporting an operation that if goes wrong, another Somalia, Blackhawk Down, turns into a political fragmentation grenade that puts any group, party, or element in the public scrutiny spotlight … especially after the train wreck on September 11th.”
Sources told Fox News, though, that the Obama administration will be under pressure to produce some result from its investigation with the one-year anniversary of the attack looming.
There are some political analysts who believe Benghazi will damage Hillary Clinton’s chances for president. It might even hurt her in the Democratic primaries if some credible alternative emerges. The point is, this is an issue that will not go away. And as long as Republicans keep the issue alive on Capitol Hill, the potential for damage to the Democrats will be present.