Sunday, September 30, 2012

The FBI in Benghazi

    The title of my post is somewhat misleading because as of Friday, they were not in Benghazi.  More than two weeks after the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Washington Post reported on September 28:
WASHINGTON — For security reasons, FBI agents are staying away from the Libyan city where a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed, two law enforcement officials said Friday.
The officials say the bureau is not going to put agents in harm’s way and that the city of Benghazi must be made secure before the FBI sends investigators there.
    After the death of four US citizens in Benghazi, no one is anxious to see any more lives put at risk.  But isn't a delay in the investigation of this attack putting more lives at risk in the long run?  So many questions remain unanswered and the scene of the attacks grows colder and more contaminated by the day.  If this attack truly represents a resurgence of al-Qaeda, the United States needs answers now before they strike again.  As I have documented, the Obama administration did not anticipate these attacks or even the likelihood that something similar would occur.  If we insist that "Benghazi must be made secure" before our investigators can be sent in, the wait will be long indeed.

    But why must we wait?  The Obama administration's greatest foreign policy victory and talking-point is the killing of Osama bin Laden.  In that mission, the US flew SEALs into Pakistan, hardly friendly territory, landed in bin Laden's compound less than a mile from a Pakistani military academy and base, killed bin Laden, quickly grabbed documents and other materials, losing only a helicopter but no US lives, and got out.  Libya, on the other hand, was recently freed from the reign of Moammar Khadafy in part due to the military assistance of the US.  The government, such as it is, is friendly toward the US.  And 10,000 Libyans marched in the streets of Benghazi in the days following the attacks to protest the very militias that likely played some part in the assault on the consulate.  The AP reported:
Other signs mourned the killing of Stevens, reading, "The ambassador was Libya's friend" and "Libya lost a friend." Military helicopters and fighter jets flew overhead, and police mingled in the crowd, buoyed by the support of the protesters.
    No doubt Benghazi remains a dangerous place.  But Chicago has had 400 murders so far in 2012.  Is the FBI waiting for Chicago to be secured before venturing into the city?  I am not being flippant.  Danger is a given in law enforcement, and if the United States shows further weakness by not pressing this investigation, that weakness along with the lack of intelligence that might be (or might have been) gained by a thorough investigation in Benghazi will trade the short-term security of FBI agents for long-term peril of all US citizens, not only abroad, but at home as well.

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