CREDIT: AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, Pool
A Fox News anchor suggested that President Obama captured one of the alleged architects of the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi to boost Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects.
Speaking on Fox News’ Outnumbered just moments after news broke that the United States had captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, Kennedy mused, “you have a former Secretary of State who is in the middle of a high profile book tour, I think this is convenient for her to shift the talking points to some of the things she has been discussing.”
The sentiment — that Obama timed Khattala’s capture for political benefit — was quickly echoed by other conservatives. Rory Cooper, an aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, tweeted, “While it’s great to see they caught the Benghazi suspect, it’s important to remember, he wasn’t really hiding.”
The United States filed the first criminal charges in the Benghazi attack in August of 2013. Khatalla is linked to the Islamist group Ansar al-Shariah, one of the militias that has served as the de facto military within many parts of the country since the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moamar Ghadaffi. He had previously told reporters that he had nothing to do with the attack, despite witnesses placing him at the scene during the night of the assault.
The United States has been attempting to convince the Libyan government for months now to move on the suspects, but has been unable to due to the political chaos that has gripped the country. “The Libyan government has to wrestle with this idea: ‘What would that mean to us if we apprehended some of these people, if we tried them, if we handed them over?’ ” Gen. Carter F. Ham, a former head of U.S. Africa Command, told a conference last year. “It’s a very, very complex issue.”
In arresting Khatalla, the U.S. finally opted to pull the trigger over the Libyans’ concerns. “I am not going to get into the specifics of our diplomatic discussions, but to be clear: This was a unilateral U.S. operation,” an official told the Washington Post, who first broke the story of Khatalla’s arrest. Given that this goes against the idea that the move is political, however, don’t expect Fox News anchors questioning the timing to mention this.
This post has been updated to add more information about Khatalla’s arrest.
OH on Fox News: @KennedyNation says Benghazi suspect will have "perhaps a better life" in U.S. custody and "meet some bros in lockup."
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 17, 2014
On the same show, Fox News contributor Peter Hegseth suggested that the capture was timed to coincide with Hillary’s interview with the network:
“I think this thing needs to be tied in a bow for certain individuals to have a clean break from an incident that have become and will continue to be a scandal and an anchor around a certain individuals neck who may want to run for president,” Fox News contributor Peter Hegseth said. [...]
“What a great thing to announce on an interview tonight at Fox News that the perpetrators have been brought to justice,” he added. “It’s all too neat and it’s too cute.”