POLITICS: White House

President Obama announces capture of Benghazi suspect who was never very hard to find

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Iraq,Benghazi,Ashe Schow,The New York Times,Libya,Bowe Bergdahl

From one scandal to another.

The Obama administration is now shifting focus to Benghazi - which President Obama said was “phony” - announcing that one of the ringleaders of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, had been captured on Sunday in Libya by U.S. forces.

"I recently authorized an operation in Libya to detain an individual charged for his role in these attacks, Ahmed Abu Khatallah," President Obama said Tuesday in a statement.

"The fact that he is now in U.S. custody is a testament to the painstaking efforts of our military, law enforcement, and intelligence personnel. Because of their courage and professionalism, this individual will now face the full weight of the American justice system."

That's right: Khattala was captured on Sunday. It's Tuesday, and they’re just now announcing?

How convenient that the capture came just days after it was discovered that the Internal Revenue Servicelost” former official Lois Lerner's emails that pertained to the agency's targeting of conservatives. And the announcement comes right as the furor over the lost emails has exploded.

And how convenient that the capture came amid a plethora of other scandals, including an imploding Iraq and the still-simmering Bowe Bergdahl trade. Oh, and don't forget the scandal over care at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities -- that hasn't been fixed yet.

One might think that, well, they must have been searching for Khattala all this time and finally found him — but one would be wrong.

The U.S. knew Khattala was a suspected ringleader less than a month after the attack and even knew where he was.

On October 18, 2012, David Kirkpatrick of the New York Times published an interview with Khattala. The two “spent two leisurely hours on Thursday evening at a crowded luxury hotel, sipping a strawberry frappe on a patio and scoffing at the threats coming from the American and Libyan governments,” according to Kirkpatrick.

At the time, Khattala said he hadn’t been questioned about the attack and had no plans to go into hiding.

In December, Kirkpatrick reported that plans had been drawn up to capture Khattala, but the administration held back, "fearing that unilateral United States military action could set off a backlash that would undermine the fragile Libyan government," Kirkpatrick wrote.

So Khattala was a known suspect in the Benghazi embassy attack, the U.S. knew where he was all this time, but only now captured him? And then waited two days to announce that capture?

But I’m sure politics played no part, right?

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