Following the attacks on our Benghazi consulate almost a year ago, President Obama said in a radio interview that “my biggest priority now is bringing those folks to justice, and I think the American people have seen that’s a commitment I’ll always keep.”
Of course, he never did tell us when that might occur.
Worse, he’s dubbed congressional inquiries into the attack — where four brave Americans died at the hands of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists — a “phony scandal,” according to his press secretary.
Scandal. Phony scandal. Call it what you like.
The fact is the terrorists who assaulted our consulate and killed Americans (after we helped liberate Libya) haven’t been punished for their bloody acts after almost a year.
The searing question is: Why hasn’t the prez kept his promise to hunt down the killers, especially since we seem to have a pretty good idea about who some of them are, according to pictures posted on the FBI’s website?
There are likely a number of reasons for the troubling delay in bringing these terrorists to justice. None of them is comforting.
To start, the White House doesn’t really want to see this as a “terror” attack. Remember how they fumbled the initial reporting of the tragedy with misleading talking points about an anti-Muslim video?
Sending in Special Forces in an Osama bin Laden-like raid or vaporizing the Libyan terrorists with a missile from a drone would highlight to the American people that Benghazi was an act of al-Qaeda terrorism.
Rather, it seems Team Obama wants to treat this as a law enforcement matter. The FBI is the lead, not the Pentagon or the CIA. It’s possible they’d prefer to arrest the killers and try them in a U.S. court than make them suffer a fate like those four Americans did.
(Take note: The law enforcement approach to al-Qaeda in the 1990s is one of the factors that led to 9/11.)
The White House may hope that after a thorough investigation, the FBI will hand the bad actors’ names to the Libyans who will then go out and apprehend said suspects and turn them over to the Americans.
Of course, after 11 months it appears that a CNN reporter has spent more time interviewing the main suspect, a leader of Ansar al Sharia, than the FBI or the Libyan security services.
Unfortunately, the Libyan government is little more than a mirage, the security services are weak (at best) and the militias run the place, especially in Benghazi. The chances of the Libyans nabbing the suspects anytime soon are remote — at best.
Besides the devastating effect this has on the families who deserve justice for the loss of their loved ones, it sends a message to Islamist militants everywhere: You can attack us with impunity.
I think we can all agree that’s an image we shouldn’t be projecting in Libya — or anywhere else.
***Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, and a contributing editor to A Line of Sight. This article also published August 2, 2013 in his regular column in the Boston Herald.