Benghazi attack suspect Ahmed Abu Khatallah was watched by U.S. commandos, law enforcement and intelligence for days before his capture, several U.S. officials said Tuesday.Scott Wilson:
Not a single shot was fired when the manhunt was successfully completed over the weekend, U.S. officials said. Abu Khatallah's arrest and detention marks the first by the United States in connection with the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
The militia leader was lured to a location south of the city in eastern Libya and grabbed without a fight, multiple officials said. Intelligence provided by local Libyans was said to have been helpful, the officials said.
One former Libyan intelligence official expressed surprise Abu Khatallah was taken without a fight and noted that the alleged mastermind of the attack was well-guarded.
President Obama has long described the political aftermath of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, as a “sideshow,” a running series of partisan theatrics designed to embarrass the administration and inflame the conservative base.Washington Post:
It is now, for the first time in nearly two years, at the center of the American political conversation on terms Obama very much favors.
The weekend capture of Ahmed Abu Khattala, one of the suspected ringleaders of the Sept. 11, 2012, assaults on a U.S. diplomatic compound and a CIA-run annex, gives Obama another I-told-you-so moment in Washington’s scorekeeping culture.
But the achievement is likely to do little to tamp down the partisan fervor surrounding the administration’s public management of the deadly Benghazi attacks, a still-raw political legacy of the 2012 presidential campaign that continues to preoccupy Republican lawmakers and their most ardent supporters on the right.
A clandestine raid by U.S. Special Forces to capture the chief suspect in attacks on an American diplomatic outpost and CIA compound in Benghazi in 2012 has underscored the fragility of the central Libyan government’s authority, intensifying concerns here about growing instability in the country as Islamists and rebel army forces clash in the east.More politics and policy below the fold.
On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy’s walls — images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world.Huffington Post:
As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.
In an interview a few days later, he pointedly declined to say whether an offensive online video might indeed warrant the destruction of the diplomatic mission or the killing of the ambassador. “From a religious point of view, it is hard to say whether it is good or bad,” he said.
The day after the September attack, the New York Times' David Kirkpatrick reported fighters involved in the effort were moved "by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder, as a villainous, homosexual and child-molesting buffoon." The Times did have a reporter -- not Kirkpatrick -- on the ground that night.Mediaite:
The publication stood by that reporting in October 2012 and again in December 2013, and were subsequently attacked by conservatives.
Conservative Twitter Is Furious with Fox News’ ‘Softball’ Hillary InterviewJohn Fund:
When Hillary Clinton sat down for a highly-anticipated joint interview with Fox News anchors Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren Tuesday evening, the cable news network’s viewers were likely ready for some sort of epic showdown. And while Baier and Van Susteren certainly grilled Clinton on topics like the 2012 attack in Benghazi and the release of five Taliban detainees in exchange for U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, it apparently did not live up to viewer expectations.
A look at the #HillaryFoxNews hashtag, promoted by the network for reactions on the interview, reveals that most viewers think Baier and Van Susteren went way too easy on the former secretary of state. The general consensus seems to be that Fox gave Clinton a bunch of “softballs.”
For a figure as political and polarizing as Hillary Clinton is, Tuesday night’s interview was an accomplishment. She was able to project a “kinder and gentler” image.Here's something you don't see on mainstream news:
All in all, her opponents were given no new ammunition but supporters of President Obama were put on notice that she will continue to distance herself from his policies in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
Iran and six world powers hope to start drafting the text of a framework for a comprehensive nuclear accord on June 18 and to complete a framework by the end of the talks here within the week, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister said June 17, as negotiations intensify even amid continued gaps on elements of a final deal.
Iran had both a bilateral meeting with the United States and a trilateral meeting with the United States and EU on June 17, an official at the talks told Al-Monitor.
The two sides have agreed that Iran will have enrichment and sanctions relief in a final deal, but need to agree on how much and on the details, Iran Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian journalists at the top of a press briefing here the evening of June 17, after an intense day of meetings among diplomats and experts.
Sanctions relief in a final deal will not come all at once, but will be step by step, based on measures taken by Iran, Araghchi told the Iranian journalists, echoing what US officials have previously said — that sanctions relief in a final deal will be step-by-step/reciprocal, as it has been in the six month interim deal.
Araghchi also said the P5+1 has delivered the sanctions relief agreed in the Joint Plan of Action, as Iran has honored the commitments it made in the six month deal, including suspending 20% enrichment and almost eliminating its 20% stockpile and giving increased access to its nuclear program to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).