Amid the rapid collapse of Iraq, which has transfixed much of the world, there was some good news this week. A nighttime raid in Libya by FBI agents and U.S. armed forces led to the capture of a senior suspect in the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The suspect, Ahmed Abu Khattala, was captured in Benghazi with no shots fired and no loss of life. He was brought to a U.S. naval ship in the Mediterranean to undergo questioning as the ship steams toward the U.S. It was an extraordinary operation and brilliantly carried out by U.S. forces.
It was also done without notifying the Libyan government, because Libya lies just this side of chaos, and notifying the Libyans might very well have put the operation in jeopardy. Libya has formally protested, but it’s safe to say no one in Washington is going to lose any sleep over Libyan protests. Republicans are calling for the imprisonment of Khattala at Guantanamo Bay, but it is clear he will be tried in New York in a civilian court. The 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi took the lives of four Americans, including that of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. It has since become a major political issue, with Republicans claiming the attack was a scandal because it reveals incompetence on the part of the Obama administration, and Democrats saying it was a tragedy but no more than that.