A burnt out vehicle sits smoldering in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi, Sept. 11, 2012.
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The right struggles to keep its Khattala story straight

It’s been about two weeks since the White House announced some encouraging news out of Libya. On President Obama’s orders, U.S. Special Forces captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected terrorist behind the 2012 Benghazi attack that left four Americans dead. The mission went flawlessly and there were no American casualties.
 
Almost immediately, Republicans started complaining. They offered a variety of gripes, not the least of which was that the Obama administration didn’t act quickly enough to capture the alleged Benghazi mastermind.
 
At least, that was the line after Khattala was taken into custody. Now, the right’s argument has shifted – instead of asking, “Why didn’t Obama act faster to get this dangerous terrorist?” conservatives now want to know, “Why is Obama bothering with this unimportant schlub?”
 
Fox News, for example, ran a report citing unnamed sources dismissing Khattala as little more than “small potatoes.” The conservative Washington Times ran a related report yesterday.
…Mr. Abu Khattala likely was little more than a patsy. Yes, he was captured on video-surveillance footage at the scene of the burning diplomatic compound, but my sources say he was just part of a large “pickup team” of local jihadis that the attack’s real organizers successfully manipulated.
I see. Before his capture, Khattala was the terrorist ringleader that Obama needed to get. After his capture, Khattala is “little more than a patsy” whose detention isn’t important at all. It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it?
 
This is not, however, the end of the incoherence.
 
This week, both the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee separately condemned the White House for charging the suspected terrorist in American courts. The GOP lawmakers continued to insist that Khattala should be tried at Guantanamo Bay.
 
That such powerful lawmakers have no idea how foolish their rhetoric is continues to be alarming. The chairs of the House Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee shouldn’t go around spouting nonsense about issues they’re supposed to understand, and yet, this keeps happening.
 
Fortunately, administration officials appear to be ignoring their powerful-but-confused critics, and while playing by the rules, Khattala has reportedly corroborated “key facts” about the attacks.
 
His trial, meanwhile, is proceeding exactly as it’s supposed to, Republican complaints notwithstanding.
 

Benghazi, Counter-Terrorism and Justice System

The right struggles to keep its Khattala story straight