Capturing the Benghazi Perpetrator

June 20, 2014

The Obama Administration recently announced the arrest of Ahmed Abu Khattala, suspected ringleader of the Benghazi attacks. Instead of recognizing the importance of his apprehension, Republicans are questioning the methods and even the timing of Khattala’s arrest. Here’s what you need to know and how to talk about the arrest of the man behind Benghazi. 

TOPLINES 

Now we know that the whole time Republicans were searching though talking points to indict the President, the administration was searching for evidence to indict the perpetrator.
Republicans seem to think we should proceed hastily in the pursuit of vengeance, but the administration chose to proceed professionally in pursuit of justice.
Their invade-first-ask-questions-later approach mired us in Iraq for 10 years, killed thousands of brave Americans, and left us weakened around the world.
The President let our national security professionals do their job, and the way they did it was exemplary.
This is how it should be done. First there was an investigation, then a very carefully planned security operation that detained and extracted an armed suspect in hostile territory.
Now the administration has the evidence to try him, and show the world the might of the American justice system, not just our military.
Republicans really have very little credibility left on foreign policy. This week we saw the final collapse of President Bush’s Iraq project. Meanwhile, the Obama administration got us out of Iraq and brought the men behind both 9/11 and Benghazi to justice.
But Republicans keep ranting that anything our President does, no matter how obviously right, is still somehow wrong. Their Benghazi complaints are just the background noise of American politics.

 KEY: ● Connect with your audience |  Make your case |  Show how your opponents differ


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES

ATTACK: “We should be sending Khattalah to Gitmo. We shouldn’t treat him like an American citizen.”

RESPONSE:

  • America’s greatest strength has always been our moral authority and the fact that the world admires us.
  • We are a democracy and a nation of laws.
  • The detention center at Guantanamo Bay is a legal purgatory, an insult to everything we stand for and a bleeding sore that saps American leadership in the world.
  • Every extra person we put there makes us less worthy of in the eyes of the world. Every day it stays open, the beacon of hope that is America shines less bright.
ATTACK: “The Obama administration waited 644 days to arrest Khattalah. They’ve known about him for years.”

RESPONSE:

  • The President told our national security professionals to do the job right. That’s what they did and that’s how much time it took.
  • They completed their investigation and extracted an armed suspect from a hostile area with no casualties. That’s what I call doing the job right.
  • It took the Bush Administration 2,688 days of searching for Osama bin Laden and they left the White House empty-handed. After 833 days in office, Obama gave the order that brought him to justice.
ATTACK: “The timing is too perfect. This is a PR stunt for Hillary’s book.”

RESPONSE:

  • This wasn’t the administration’s timeline, this was our national security professionals’ timeline. That’s the time it took for our security professionals to do their jobs. No more, no less.

WORTH KNOWING

NOTE on the attack being motivated by the anti-Islam video:

  • Khattalah reportedly told others that the attack in Benghazi was retaliation for the anti-Islamic YouTube video. This has not been confirmed yet.
  • Use caution when pointing to these reports as proof that the video was the cause of the attacks, because it hasn’t been confirmed. But, we do know from existing reporting that at least some of the people at the Benghazi compound that night were there because they were upset about the video.

Background on Khattalah:

  • Ahmed Abu Khattala is the suspected ringleader of Benghazi attacks.
  • He has no known connections to international terror groups.
  • After the Libyan revolt against Qaddafi in 2011, Khattalah formed a small militia of fighters. It was called Obeida Ibn Al Jarra.
  • Khattalah reportedly stood back and gave orders the night of the attack in Benghazi.