Guy Benson


Simply stunning, via the Associated Press:

U.S. officials say they have identified five men they believe might be behind the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year. The officials say they have enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists — but not enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers. So the officials say the men remain at large while the FBI gathers more evidence. The decision not to seize the men militarily underscores the White House's aim to move away from hunting terrorists as enemy combatants and toward trying them as criminals in a civilian justice system.


Consider the implications of this report: Our government/military/intelligence community has the information and capacity to haul in at least five of the suspected Benghazi terrorists, but eight months after the deadly raid, they remain free men entirely because of the Obama administration's ideological obsession with furnishing foreign terrorists with civilian trials.  Will the American people stand for this?  Remember, this is the same White House that refuses to close the door on using drone strikes to kill US citizens on American soil even if they aren't in the act of carrying out an imminent attack.  They've already liquidated several Al Qaeda-linked US citizens on foreign soil.  They've expanded "signature strikes" and changed the metric for calculating civilian casualties.  In this case, we've identified five foreign nationals who we've determined to be responsible for participating in the sacking our Benghazi consulate and the murder of four Americans -- including a sitting ambassador -- yet they're roaming the streets indefinitely while we try to build an airtight criminal case against them.  President Drone's double-standard here is completely baffling beyond the realm of political posturing.  Obama feels the need to distinguish himself from his predecessor, even as he adopts and expands many Bush-era policies.  So he's doubled down on civilian trials for terrorists and banning certain harsh interrogation techniques.  In fairness, such techniques are only useful in wringing actionable intel from captured terrorists.  Obama's policy essentially dictates that terrorists either be (a) summarily executed or (b) afforded the legal rights on US citizens.  That's insane.  Entire books have been written about the perils of treating global jihad and terrorism as a routine law enforcement proposition, but this new development reads like dark satire. 


After the Boston bombings, we had a robust debate about the appropriate legal treatment for Dzokhar Tsarnaev, an American citizen arrested on US soil.  Authorities decided not to treat him as an enemy combatant, which I thought was the right call, despite the deeply questionable and premature Miranda warning issuance.  Here, we've apparently decided to not even detain a handful of foreign nationals believed to have participated in the 9/11/12 terrorist attacks because we're skittish about "rights" and other legal niceties (that arguably shouldn't even apply to foreign terrorists at all) that may complicate their run-of-the-mill civilian trials back home.  Incredible.  I'll leave you with this irony: Even if you share the Obama administration's view that foreign terrorists should be treated like Americans with a full panoply of legal rights, the goal of securing convictions from domestic juries was severely hampered by the Benghazi talking points flap.  Because the State Department and White House contorted Susan Rice's talking points beyond recognition for political reasons, she appeared on national television and directly contradicted Libyan officials' (accurate) assessments with false information.  This infuriated the Libyans, who proceeded to drag their feet on granting the FBI access to the attack site.  Or the "crime scene," depending on how you look at it.  In other words, one of the administration's political games (manipulating the talking points) ended up stifling the crucial evidence-gathering stage of any successful criminal investigation -- which, in turn, is a central element of the White House's highly political "criminal justice" approach to terrorism.  Welcome to "accountability," Obama style.  It's ad hoc, incoherent, politicized madness.


UPDATE
- Allahpundit wonders if something's up and floats an interesting theory:

The fact that O’s allegedly willing to ignore all that and demand criminal procedures suggests something else is up. Theory: The Libyan government is resisting U.S. officials’ requests to either authorize a drone strike or let special forces hit the ground to round these people up. Acquiescing in a heavy-handed American military action against the locals could be dangerous for a weak regime that’s surrounded (sometimes literally) by jihadists and various militias. If O ignores their warnings and attacks the Benghazi five anyway, and the government there is consequently destabilized, he’ll take all kinds of heat for that. If he holds off at their request and blames them for obstructing him via leaks to the media, he’ll take all kinds of heat for not insisting upon justice for the murderers of an American diplomat. So, possibly, he’s chosen the middle course — hold off on attacking but claim it’s because he’s building a criminal case, which at least promises future action.


And this is only half funny: "Imagine the subpoenas being prepared at this very moment to find out who leaked them this scoop on Benghazi."


Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography