How convenient. We thought a video caused the Benghazi attack.
This means that -- abracadabra! -- a suspect is in U.S. custody even before anyone knew there was a suspect. After all, it was supposed to be a video that no one saw that mocked the Islamic prophet Mohammed that sparked spontaneous riots complete with attackers armed with military-grade weapons.
After the administration orchestrated a massive campaign of deception, spoon-feeding lies to its lapdog allies in the media, suddenly Ahmed Abu Khatallah, a senior leader of the Ansar al-Shari'a terrorist militia in Benghazi, is in American hands. Khatallah, who was not in hiding in Libya and who made himself available to visiting journalists, was charged by U.S. authorities last year with murder in connection with the assault, according to newly unsealed court documents.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said he "anticipated" that the raid seizing Khatallah would happen but suggested that the importance of the capture is overblown.
"The administration would like to say, all right, we apprehended someone, isn't that great, to deflect the attention away from the real Benghazi problem—that is, the president and, through [Ambassador Susan] Rice and the rest of them, knew full well that it was all a terrorist attack, and they tried to cover it up and got caught in a lie."
"The big deal here," said Inhofe, "is we have a president who lied to the American people."
Whether Khatallah had anything to do with the attack on the diplomatic facility has yet to be shown. Khattalah told the New York Times in October 2012 that he was not part of the violence at the U.S. facility.
President Obama, who apparently went to sleep after being informed of the ongoing attack on Sept. 11, 2012, said yesterday he authorized a military operation to seize Khatallah.
"My duty as commander in chief is to keep the American people safe. There are a lot of dangers out there and a lot of challenges," he said. "Our diplomats serve with incredible courage and valor in some very difficult situations. They need to know that this country has their back, and will always go after anybody who goes after us."
Of course Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did nothing at the time to save the Americans who perished at the hands of al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists.
During the military-style assault on the U.S. facility in Benghazi on Sept. 11, four American officials died, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. It was subsequently reported that Stevens may have been overseeing some kind of Obama-authorized gun-running operation in Libya. On the day of the attack, a few hours before he was reportedly raped and murdered by adherents of the so-called religion of peace, Stevens wrote in an email that a local Libyan commander in Benghazi “expressed growing frustration with police and security forces (who were too weak to keep the country secure) … ”
At the time of the attack, the Obama White House made a conscious, calculated decision to let American officials perish overseas, fully expecting the incurious pro-Obama media to ignore what really happened. During the attack, U.S. forces were in place in nearby Sicily, an hour or so away by air, but the order to fly to Benghazi in an attempt to rescue the besieged staff at the complex never came. That order was never issued by President Obama, because he knew it would reveal his policy of appeasement towards Islamic totalitarians to be in shambles as the Middle East and North Africa fell into the hands of America’s enemies.
In the midst of a heated reelection campaign, Obama had claimed al-Qaeda was decimated and on the verge of annihilation. When it turned out the terrorist organization was doing just fine, he decided to scapegoat a YouTube video instead of admitting that al-Qaeda was roaring back, stronger than ever, under his watch.
For two weeks after the attack the Obama administration said over and over and over again that the incident in Benghazi was inspired by a low-quality anti-Islam video on YouTube. The American resident who made the video that virtually no one watched was jailed on the thinnest of legal pretexts after Clinton vowed to grieving relatives over the flag-draped remains of the four dead men to get the video maker she claimed caused the attacks. White House adviser Susan Rice went on TV to back up the administration's lie that the assault was related to a video. Eventually the administration acknowledged it was a terrorist attack.
The Obama administration is going to prosecute Khatallah in the civilian court system.
"Khatallah currently faces criminal charges on three counts, and we retain the option of adding additional charges in the coming days," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "Even as we begin the process of putting Khatallah on trial and seeking his conviction before a jury, our investigation will remain ongoing as we work to identify and arrest any co-conspirators."
Not sending Khatallah to Guantanamo and processing him through the military commission system is a huge mistake.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said arraigning Khattalah in Washington is a "really stupid policy." It would be better to detain and interrogate him, Johnson said.
"Not through torture, not through abusive techniques," he said. "You hold people there, you question them relentlessly, you gain their trust over time and they start giving up information ... That's how we actually get the information. So you're not going to get the intelligence we need by questioning someone for 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, and then arraigning them and giving them Miranda rights. They'll shut up."
Treating Khattalah as an ordinary criminal endangers the lives of Americans because it encourages other unlawful combatants to engage in illegal warfare. Under international humanitarian law, also known as the law of war, unlawful combatants, that is, those who fight without uniforms or military insignia or who otherwise violate battlefield norms, are not considered to be soldiers entitled to certain due process protections.
The reason such deception by belligerents has long been considered immoral and illegal is because it imperils the civilian population by making it difficult to distinguish civilians from enemy soldiers. The law of war thus attempts to shield civilians and to restrict warfare to legitimate military targets. The Bush administration maintained that when terrorists expose civilians to harm by operating outside the law of war, their conduct is so dangerous and morally reprehensible that they should not be elevated to prisoner of war (or “lawful combatant”) status when captured. President Bush also argued that America’s terrorist enemies should not be able to waste U.S. resources by weighing down the civilian legal system in endless litigation. Wars are supposed to be waged on battlefields, not in U.S. courtrooms.
But Obama and his lawless band of radicals threw all that away, opening the U.S. civilian justice system to the enemies of humanity and thereby giving terrorists a green light to hit American targets secure in the knowledge that Mirandization, a pro bono lawyer supplied by the ACLU, and a warm holding cell with the amenities of civilized life await them if captured.
Regardless of how the Khattalah case is disposed of by the courts, the Obama administration has once again sent an unmistakable signal that terrorist war criminals have little to fear from the United States government.
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