In the wake of the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on 9/11/12, the administration made up for its deceptive accounts of the incident with bloodthirsty avowals that the persons responsible would be hunted to the ends of the earth. Nearly four months later, those promises remain unfulfilled. That stark reality was brought home today by the news that the only known suspect who had been arrested in connection with the terror attack that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans is no longer in custody. The suspect, a Tunisian named Ali Harzi, was being held in Tunis but was let go even though he is reportedly still considered a suspect by the United States.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland attempted to deflect questions about the investigation today by saying that it was the FBI’s responsibility. But that lame response goes right to the heart of the government’s ongoing failure in this case. The administration has consistently failed to treat Benghazi the way we ought to expect the U.S. government to respond to what was a direct terror attack on a symbol of American sovereignty. Instead of a full-court press from security and intelligence services, it was handed off to an FBI that seems to still be lost in Libya. From the first days during which we were told a fairy tale about the murders being a case of film criticism run amok to the present when questions about an investigation that shows no sign of life are stonewalled, Benghazi remains a fiasco for which there has no been accountability.
Though reports speak of at least 15 suspects that have been identified in one way or another, the FBI seems no closer to solving the case and bringing the killers to justice then it was months ago when it was not even able to operate on the ground in Benghazi. The Libyan government doesn’t control Benghazi and is unable or unwilling to help U.S. efforts to take down the al-Qaeda-linked network that helped bring off this daring crime. Under those circumstances, one can hardly blame the FBI for its inability to bring the terrorists to justice since it is obviously more of a military problem than an ordinary criminal case. But for all of the tough-guy talk from the president and his foreign policy team about Benghazi, the actual follow-up is beginning to seem more like the aftermath of a 9-1-1 call than a U.S. security priority.
We can hope that given enough time the FBI will eventually make some arrests, allowing the president to say that justice has been done. But something is going to have to change on the ground in Libya before that happens. As it stands, the only administration pledge on justice for Benghazi that has been kept was the one made by Hillary Clinton when she told the father of one of the murdered Americans that the person who made the film that Clinton, Susan Rice and others falsely claimed was responsible for the attack would be jailed. That man has been imprisoned, though reportedly for parole violations rather than for having offended Muslims. That unfortunate fact is not only a reminder that justice delayed is justice denied but that Obama, Clinton and the rest of the administration involved in the string of bad decisions that led to this debacle have yet to be held accountable for it.