EDITORIAL: Benghazi suspect arrest shows Obama's serious

FresnoJune 19, 2014 

FBI Director James Comey, backed by law enforcement personnel, said the arrest Sunday of a Libyan militant in the deadly attack on Americans in Benghazi is a very good day for law enforcement and added that the FBI's No. 1 priority remains counterterrorism.


The capture of the suspected mastermind behind the deadly attacks against the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi two years ago should put to rest the canard from critics that the Obama administration wasn't taking the investigation seriously.

To the contrary, before Libyan militia leader Ahmed Abu Khatallah was arrested Sunday, he was under surveillance by American forces for months, officials said. He is being held in a "secure location" before being transported to the U.S. and tried in civilian criminal court, according to the Pentagon. This is extremely good news in a story that has had nothing but bad news.

On Sept. 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. citizens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were killed when Islamist militants stormed the U.S. compound with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and other heavy weapons.

Republicans used the attack as ammunition in the 2012 presidential race, saying Obama and his administration were pursuing reckless foreign policy in Libya. The administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were accused of not taking threats seriously enough and, absurdly, of not using the word "terrorist" quickly.

Though the president quickly condemned the "attacks" in remarks the day after, he didn't exactly label it a "terrorist attack" but obliquely mentioned that "acts of terrorism" can't be tolerated.

Republicans focused on that statement, rather than this one the same day: "And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people," Obama said.

We're not naive enough to think this will quell the conservative zeal for Benghazi postmortems ad infinitum, but at least there is a new controversy for critics: whether Khatallah should be tried in civilian court or a military tribunal.


Comment by going to fresnobee.com/opinion and clicking on the editorial.

The Fresno Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service