So let’s see if I have this right: A CNN reporter goes to a coffee shop at a well-known hotel in Benghazi and for two hours chit-chats with a man who some believe was the ringleader of the terrorist gang that murdered four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya — and almost a year after the attack the FBI either can’t figure out how to find this guy or has no interest in even trying to find him.
Really? A newsman with nothing more than a tape recorder and a pencil and paper interviews a prime suspect in the September 11, 2012 massacre, but the U.S. government hasn’t gotten around to it yet?
You may recall that after the attack President Obama promised to bring those responsible to justice. So far, no one has been captured, killed or brought to anything even vaguely resembling justice. Benghazi happened a long time ago and you get the impression the president would be happy if no one ever brought the subject up again.
But the other day, CNN reporter Arwa Damon sat down with Ahmed Abu Khattala, who has been described by Libyan and U.S. officials as the leader of Ansar al-Sharia, a militia outfit affiliated with al Qaeda. Was Khattala nervous during the interview? Was he constantly looking over his shoulder? Nope. The CNN reporter says Khattala was fairly relaxed.
For what it’s worth, Khattala denies being part of the gang that killed the four Americans. He says he was at the compound the night of the attack, but denies having any connection to the violence. He told CNN that he saw men carrying guns and rocket propelled grenades, but that the gunfire prevented him from entering the compound.
Who knows if he’s telling the truth? Not the U.S. government.
When asked if the American or Libyan authorities tried to talk to him, Khattala reportedly told CNN they had not. “Even the investigative team did not try to contact me,” Khattala told CNN, referring to the FBI.
And when the CNN reporter asked if he would be willing to meet with the FBI, Khattala reportedly said, “Yes, no problem. …But not as an interrogation, as a conversation like the one we are having right now.”
So here’s a question: How did CNN scoop the FBI?
Eight Republicans in Congress are wondering the same thing. They sent a letter to the incoming FBI director asking for some answers, adding that the Obama administration’s investigation of the attack in Benghazi has been “simply unacceptable.”
One of those who initiated the letter, Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, told reporters that “One of the pertinent questions today is why we have not captured or killed the terrorists who committed these attacks?”
And if “CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn’t been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn’t doing this and yet CNN is?”
It’s a question that the president and everyone else in his administration apparently have no interest in answering. Maybe that’s because the answer would be embarrassing. Or maybe it’s because President Obama considers the attack in Benghazi to be one of those “phony scandals” concocted by Republicans to make him look bad.
Memo to POTUS: When a television reporter can sip coffee with the man who may have led the attack that left four Americans dead … and no one in your administration has had the time or interest in talking to this man … then you don’t have to worry about Republicans making you look bad. You’re doing a pretty good job yourself.