How is that FBI probe in Benghazi going? It’s not, according to the New York Times, going at all. Due to concerns over security in eastern Libya, the FBI can’t get to Benghazi — so they’re investigating the terrorist attack, er, “complicated crime,” from 400 miles away:
Sixteen days after the death of four Americans in an attack on a United States diplomatic mission here, fears about the near-total lack of security have kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the scene of the killings and forced them to try to piece together the complicated crime from Tripoli, more than 400 miles away.
Let’s muse on the irony of this situation. Seventeen days ago, the Obama administration was so concerned with security in Benghazi that they didn’t lift a finger to bolster protection for a US Ambassador who knew that he’d been targeted by al-Qaeda. Seventeen days later, they won’t even let the FBI get within 400 miles of Benghazi, not even with security escorts, to probe the “complicated crime” of the assassination of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. Those security concerns are real — and the FBI is wise to take them into account — but they were just as real three weeks ago, too.
So what can the FBI do in Tripoli to solve this “crime”? Conduct drive-by interrogations:
Investigators are so worried about the tenuous security, people involved in the investigation say, that they have been unwilling to risk taking some potential Libyan witnesses into the American Embassy in Tripoli. Instead, the investigators have resorted to the awkward solution of questioning some witnesses in cars outside the embassy, which is operating under emergency staffing and was evacuated of even more diplomats on Thursday because of a heightened security alert.
“It’s a cavalcade of obstacles right now,” said a senior American law enforcement official who is receiving regular updates on the Benghazi investigation and who described the crime scene, which has been trampled on, looted and burned, as so badly “degraded” that even once F.B.I. agents do eventually gain access “it’ll be very difficult to see what evidence can be attributed to the bad guys.”
Want fries with that interrogation? As far as the actual “crime scene,” perhaps the FBI can check with the CNN producer who managed to find a crucial piece of evidence — Stevens’ journal, in which he expressed his fears about a terrorist attack, poor security, and his own assassination. That will almost certainly be the last useful piece of information from the still-unsecured “crime scene” in Benghazi.
The FBI has a tough job in a dangerous part of the world, without a doubt, and there’s good reason to fear for their safety in Benghazi. At least the administration seems concerned about those security risks now. But an investigation from 400 miles away seems all but useless, except as an excuse for the White House to keep from answering questions about its failure to secure the Benghazi consulate and its dishonest spin attempts for the last sixteen days following the terrorist attack.