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by
Bridget Johnson

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June 18, 2014 - 7:37 am

One of the five Democrats on the Select Committee on Benghazi defended the amount of time it took for the administration to nab an Ansar al-Sharia commander suspected of having a role in the Sept. 11, 2012, consulate attack, saying just because reporters could get to the terrorists doesn’t mean U.S. forces could.

Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the subject of criminal charges filed last July, had been essentially living in the open, making himself available for multiple media interviews since the attack that killed four Americans including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Khatallah is “someone I think we’ve had our eyes on for quite some time.”

“But it’s a very difficult operating environment. Both in terms of gathering the evidence but also in terms of making the grab that we did,” Schiff told CNN.

“He’s one of the key leaders of Ansar al-Sharia, which is one of the main militant organizations responsible in that attack.”

Schiff admitted the time that’s passed before the arrest has been “very frustrating.”

“But I think there were several factors at work. First, we had to make sure that we had the evidence to go after this guy. And it took a long time to sort through the events of that horrendous tragedy and figure out who was responsible, what roles they played, what witnesses we had, what evidence we had. Then we had a very impermissive environment,” he said.

“And yes, reporters were able to get to him. But it’s one thing for a reporter to be able to get to a swaggering culprit who’s willing to sit down with them. It’s another to get in, to grab someone and get out without getting our people killed. And then finally, you have the potential of really disrupting the Libyan government itself that I think was a concern and I don’t think is less of a concern now…. But I think ultimately we concluded, and I don’t think this was the overriding consideration, that whatever impact it would have on the Libyan government was just not going to sway us.”

Schiff said he doesn’t think the arrest will quiet the Benghazi controversy.

“And the criticism has not only been intense, but it has been populated with conspiracy theories that migrate as each one is debunked on to a new one. So there’s really nothing I think the president can do or say that’s going to satisfy some of the Benghazi conspiracy theorists,” he said.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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I loved that the reporter asked the Administration spokesperson why the Special Forces guy could just pose as a reporter, meet with the terrorist in a hotel lobby for an interview and take him down there? Even then she didn't have a reasonable answer, because she didn't have talking points for that. There is absolutely no reason we could not have our military grab the guy and take him to GITMO. This c-r-a-p about having to "build a case" just means they plan to try him in a criminal court, with all of the standard legal protections afforded to citizens, including the presumption of innocence. Forget that he CONFESSED to reporters and bragged about doing it.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
When Benghazi was under attack, government said it was concerned about not having permission to invade Libya's sovereignty. When the capture was made was it reported, or does anyone know, whether Libya approved of the capture by the US forces.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another member of the "Just Say Anything" crowd. None of them expect to be believed. They just want to pollute the atmosphere with lies, to befog and confuse the public.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Boot heel meet instructions.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"evidence" that any competent criminal defense attorney is going to get thrown out. The ones who place him there were also terrorists.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
How about jugears telling the TRUTH (for once in his miserable life)? Of course, at this point, who would believe anything that comes out of the lousy bastige's mouth!
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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