CNN tracked this guy down for an interview, leading to unhelpful media commentary and overall bad optics. As the "phony scandals" talking point blows up in their faces, and with many Americans beginning to realize that no justice has been served nearly a year after the Benghazi attacks, the administration has decided it must Do Something to disrupt a developing negative narrative. And that something is...filing a criminal complaint:
Federal authorities investigating the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Abu Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe. The investigation of the attack last September 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others continues, these people said, as investigators try to build their case against Khattalah and others who authorities believe were involved. Attorney General Eric Holder had earlier this year promised congressional lawmakers the Justice Department would soon make public what actions it would take. With the anniversary of the attack just over a month away, the Justice Department has come under criticism for the lack of public progress in the case.
This administration has been schizophrenic in its prosecution of the war on terror. On one hand, they've doubled-down on certain Bush-era policies Obama once abhorred, visiting the ultimate justice upon an untold number of jihadis (or possible jihadis) overseas. On the other, they maintain their weird obsession with shuttering the secure and effective Guantanamo Bay detention facility, and are fixated on treating captured -- as opposed to droned -- radicals as common criminals. Just over eleven months ago, a swarm of terrorists overran our diplomatic mission in Benghazi Libya, as well as a nearby CIA annex. They murdered four Americans, including the sitting ambassador. Days have turned into weeks and months, and our government's big play is introducing criminal charges against one man in a civilian court. Applying a law enforcement paradigm to the massacre, you'll recall, has been their goal all along. Allahpundit's almost certainly right that an arrest is probably being planned at this stage, too; whether the attacker will be quietly spirited to lower Manhattan to face charges remains to be seen. The backdrop to all of this is US personnel being pulled out of Yemen following last weekend's severe terror threat, which impacted American embassies across the region. A string of prison breaks in Yemen and Iraq have also fueled security concerns. The administration's tough-as-nails message to whose who seek to do America harm? Don't you dare attack us, or we might arrest you. Eventually.
To their credit, CNN has been driving Benghazi coverage over the last week, starting with Jake Tapper's bombshell report regarding a previously-undisclosed CIA presence in Benghazi. The story stirred more speculation about a possible covert weapons transfer angle to the attack, and revealed the "unprecedented" measures of "pure intimidation" being brought to bear in order to keep Benghazi's secrets buried. One Congressman has stated that eyewitnesses have been forced to sign nondisclosure agreements, while another is alleging that some Benghazi figures are being relocated and given new identities. It seems transparently obvious that last night's criminal charges against Khattalah are an attempt to tamp down criticism while projecting a sense that the administration is "on it" -- despite all other evidence to the contrary. Will CNN's scoop from last week finally turn the tide and force the media to cover Benghazi with sufficient journalistic ferocity? Don't count on it. Tapper's major report yielded exactly zero questions at the following White House press briefing. Even John King's new column about why Benghazi does matter is packed with paragraph after paragraph of analysis about the GOP's reaction to the controversy -- a disspiriting echo of this irrelevant diversion.