CNN: US updates plan for “capture or kill” mission in Libya over Benghazi attack

posted at 6:41 pm on May 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Ahem. Didn’t Barack Obama warn American news agencies that all your phone records are belong to us if they published leaks about US intel and military efforts?  Oh, wait — that apparently doesn’t apply to stories that make the White House look good … at least relatively speaking.  Fire away, CNN:

The U.S. military has updated plans to “capture or kill” alleged perpetrators of the deadly terror attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, CNN has learned.

The development comes amid growing pressure on the White House to show progress in the effort to catch those who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September 11.

Officials emphasize that military planning has been underway since the immediate aftermath of the armed assault.

One part of the plan calls for potentially putting U.S. military personnel on the ground inside Libya, if ordered by President Barack Obama.

Two U.S. officials confirmed the details to CNN, but declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information.

Before we get too excited, let’s look at this carefully to see what it is … and what it’s not.  It isn’t a leak about a mission that’s going to happen immediately or in the near future, which is what it seems like on first blush.  This is just an update to a contingency plan in case the US sees an opportunity to capture or kill the terrorists that attacked Benghazi.  And note that this plan won’t get used if the Libyan government can effectuate arrests, which would be a neat trick in Benghazi considering they can’t even lift a blockade of the defense ministry in Tripoli:

Officials are emphasizing that its possible no military options will be carried out if the United States and Libyan law enforcement make any arrests.

CNN says that this wasn’t a PR effort on behalf of the administration:

The information was confirmed to CNN as a result of several days of reporting. It was not offered to CNN by the officials as part of any coordinated effort to reach out to the media.

Er, sure. The White House tried taking the heat off on Benghazi yesterday by releasing an e-mail string specific to the adaptation of the talking points used on September 16th, which (a) didn’t let them off the hook, and (b) left a lot more questions unanswered about e-mails and other communications between 9/11/ – 9/13 inclusive.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz said yesterday that the release only accounted for “a smidgeon” of 25,000 pages of material yet to be released specific to the promulgation of those talking points:

“I know absolutely for total certainty this is but a small smidgeon,”  the Utah Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren when asked about the 100 pages of documents that the White House released Wednesday.

The lawmaker called for the White House to release one email in particular, written to several senior State Department officials by Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary of state for Near-Eastern affairs, the day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

“She says definitively that she told the Libyan ambassador that it was Ansar al Sharia, Islamic extremists, that committed this terrorist attack,” Chaffetz told Fox. “She doesn’t say terrorist attack, but she does say Ansar al Sharia, which has al Qaeda ties. Why doesn’t the White House — if it’s OK to release these hundred documents — release that one?”

Back to the contingency plan.  What’s the news value in this?  We’ve known for months that the terrorists can be identified, and that they’re hiding in plain sight.  Heck, we put out pictures of a handful of them two weeks ago, which even then drew criticism that the Obama administration seemed to be dragging its feet doing something about the perpetrators despite Obama’s pledge to bring them to justice.  Contingency plans are supposed to be continually refined, especially on missions with mobile targets, but we’ve known for some time that the White House was planning something like this.

Actually, we first heard this three weeks after the attack, when the political heat erupted after the “spontaneous demonstration” story collapsed.  Remember? The NYT report even sounds almost identical to CNN’s report today, including the low likelihood of arrests by Tripoli:

The United States is laying the groundwork for operations to kill or capture militants implicated in the deadly attack on a diplomatic mission in Libya, senior military and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday, as the weak Libyan government appears unable to arrest or even question fighters involved in the assault.

The top-secret Joint Special Operations Command is compiling so-called target packages of detailed information about the suspects, the officials said. Working with the Pentagon and the C.I.A., the command is preparing the dossiers as the first step in anticipation of possible orders from President Obama to take action against those determined to have played a role in the attack on a diplomatic mission in the eastern city of Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three colleagues three weeks ago.

Read the caveats from October:

But any American military action on Libyan soil would risk casualties and almost certainly set off a popular backlash at a moment when gratitude for American support in the revolt against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has created a measure of appreciation for the United States in the region.

Reflecting a surge in nationalism, the Libyan government has opposed any unilateral American military action in Libya against the attackers. “We will not accept anyone entering inside Libya,” Mustafa Abu Shagur, Libya’s new prime minister, told the Al Jazeera television network. “That would infringe on sovereignty and we will refuse.”

At the same time, the Libyan government still depends almost entirely on autonomous local militias to act as the police, complicating any effort to detain the most obvious suspects. Libyan and American officials acknowledge the possibility that some of the perpetrators may have fled the country, perhaps across the porous southern border.

Compare them to today’s from CNN, which aren’t identical but similar:

One military official said the military is well aware that if it is ordered into action now by the White House, it could be viewed as a political move in light of the ongoing controversy over Benghazi. But he noted that initial planning began shortly after the attack last year.

One military official said the administration was concerned that any American military intervention could weaken the fragile Libyan government so much that it might collapse.

That argument has also been made in the more recent discussions, but several officials say intelligence about the targets has improved.

In other words, the administration has seen value in giving the media a leak that makes it look like the status quo is somehow change.

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…R U N !

KOOLAID2 on May 16, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Sky: blue. Thanks CNN!! I can’t help but think back to that glorious moment when Dear Leader personally served OBL the double tap . .

That is the effect you were going for, no?

ace tomato on May 16, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Ahem. Didn’t Barack Obama warn American news agencies that all your phone records are belong to us if they published leaks about US intel and military efforts? Oh, wait — that apparently doesn’t apply to stories that make the White House look good … at least relatively speaking. Fire away, CNN:

You forgot the other advantage CNN has as a full-fledged Presstitute Organ – relations between its senior execs and White House advisors.

Steve Eggleston on May 16, 2013 at 6:40 PM

I thought the guy that was responsible for this is already in jail in California…hmmm.

d1carter on May 16, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Jay! so, I fired the guy yesterday, stood in the raaaain today, now tweaked the plan in Libya (and avoided the “boots on the ground” speak like you said). So, tell me, am I out in front of this narrative yet?? Yes?! you say…. sweet, time for vacation!
@POTUS

ted c on May 16, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Wag the Dog.

VorDaj on May 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM

OK, prezzy drive by says to the terrorists er, extremists who really no longer exist that they can BRING IT. We’re ready for you.

Kissmygrits on May 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM

CNN sourced story about Obama. rrrrrright

DanMan on May 16, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Is this a recension of the stand down order..?

d1carter on May 16, 2013 at 6:46 PM

US updates plan for “capture or kill” mission in Libya over Benghazi attack

The main culprits from the Benghazi attack are in the White House, Pentagon and Langley, none of which are in Libya.

VorDaj on May 16, 2013 at 6:46 PM

I really despise this administration

cmsinaz on May 16, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Is this a “wag the dog” scenario to distract from the current scandals?

Allahs vulva on May 16, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Wolfie must be going bonkers…..

Lsm back to their Obama lovefest

cmsinaz on May 16, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Rumor has it the update was to change the word “consulate” to the phrase “diplomatic facility” in the plan.

Dusty on May 16, 2013 at 6:51 PM

I thought it wasn’t a terror attack in Libya. I thought it was a ‘sudden reaction’ to a video. And the ‘protesters’ just happened to have mortars nearby.

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 6:55 PM

I hope Obama was watching CNN so he will know about the update to the plan and that he might be able to use the plan if he decides to order the military to use it.

Dusty on May 16, 2013 at 6:56 PM

What was the plot here as far as the talking points?
Who directed it?
Who was in on it?
What was Obama’s involvement in all of it?
How was his campaign involved?
Who from CIA/STATE/FBI/WH/Campaign worked together to put together and execute this inaccurate talking points strategy…to achieve what exactly?
 
verbaluce on May 16, 2013 at 11:46 AM

rogerb on May 16, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Expect an announcement of the killing of these Benghazi terrorists with a Drone that Obama himself controls from the White House.

Then a huge parade, with military marching and saluting Obama.

portlandon on May 16, 2013 at 6:56 PM

So, going to kill all the witnesses?

davidk on May 16, 2013 at 6:57 PM

The government is so vast, if I were a White House reporter I’d be sure to ask Carney tomorrow if Obama knows the plan has been updated.

Dusty on May 16, 2013 at 6:57 PM

Wag the Dog.

VorDaj on May 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM

You beat me to it. Something is going to happen… somewhere… in the next week or so to take all our little minds off this mess.

WitchDoctor on May 16, 2013 at 6:58 PM

Wag the dog eater.

xblade on May 16, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Eat Wag the Dog.

VorDaj on May 16, 2013 at 6:44 PM

VegasRick on May 16, 2013 at 7:05 PM

Unbeleivable.

I caught a story on Baier about the Pentagon dealing with sexual harassment cases and the clip showed two dozen military types sitting around a large oval table and guess who was the only woman?

Valjar.

WTF is she doing there? What the he11 is her official title? She sat across from the POS the better to clue him in on acceptable responses I suppose.

She is one freaky bytch and is, IMHO, the one running the country. Into the ground.

wyntre9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Two U.S. officials confirmed the details to CNN, but declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information bullsh!t.

Edited for accuracy.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 16, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Unbeleivable.

I caught a story on Baier about the Pentagon dealing with sexual harassment cases and the clip showed two dozen military types sitting around a large oval table and guess who was the only woman?

Valjar.

WTF is she doing there? What the he11 is her official title?

wyntre9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:09 PM

The Queen Mother.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 16, 2013 at 7:11 PM

wyntre9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:09 PM

I didn’t read the story, but there’s a headline that false accusations of harassment outnumber actual cases.

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 7:12 PM

“Officials emphasize that military planning has been underway since the immediate aftermath of the armed assault.”

I thought it wasn’t a terror attack in Libya. I thought it was a ‘sudden reaction’ to a video. And the ‘protesters’ just happened to have mortars nearby.

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 6:55 PM

Me too! Wonder why I thought that.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:12 PM

If I was Ty’s dad..
I would have taken out Bite me’s teeth
and ripped off Killary’s cankles.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:14 PM

Me too! Wonder why I thought that.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Must be that hyperpartisan right-wing extremism we keep hearing so much about.

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 7:16 PM

How F’in pathetic and all to predictable.

Behold the mind numbing power of pigment!

dmann on May 16, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Officials emphasize that military planning has been underway since the immediate aftermath of the armed assault.

What a crock. They couldn’t do a mission while they had all them in one spot back on 9/11/12, but now they are going to do 150 military missions to bring them all to justice? Are they going to swoop in to extract each of them from the new terror cells they’ve been assigned?

They’ll drop a bomb and say they evaporated all of them. Nothing will be left except a sign, in English, that says “Benghazi Terrorist Reunion”.

Or they’ll do a fake “Munich” operation. There will be a movie in 10 years about how Obama tracked each of them down.

Buddahpundit on May 16, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 7:16 PM

I bet your right.
Its always those damn right wing conspirators
making waves. Sick of em’.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:19 PM

So they want to kill the perps in Libya .
What about those in DC who gave the kill orders to the perps ??

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Was just thinking of Bachmann and how they body slammed her over her “Muslim witch hunt” in Gov.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Hey at least they now know what the guys look like. Program the drones.

CW on May 16, 2013 at 7:26 PM

The U.S. military has updated plans to “capture or kill” alleged perpetrators of the deadly terror attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, CNN has learned.

This is “news”?

What other alternatives besides “capture or kill” did CNN think there were?

farsighted on May 16, 2013 at 7:27 PM

The development comes amid growing pressure on the White House to show progress in the effort to catch those who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September 11.

So if there had been no pressure, Hussein wouldn’t have done it ?

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 7:28 PM

Who gave the order for the special ops teams to stand down? That’s what I’d like to know.

justltl on May 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM

We are nothing to them…our service men and women as well.
just little pawns as they play kings and queens and worship at their own feet.
I wouldn’t pi$$ on them if they were on fire.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM

What other alternatives besides “capture or kill” did CNN think there were?

farsighted on May 16, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Green cards, US citizenship, welfare, witless protection ???

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 7:30 PM

This is “news”?

What other alternatives besides “capture or kill” did CNN think there were?

farsighted on May 16, 2013 at 7:27 PM

good one..true.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:31 PM

I wouldn’t pi$$ on them if they were on fire.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM

I, on the other hand, would pi$$ myself laughing as they burn.

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Who gave the order for the special ops teams to stand down? That’s what I’d like to know.

justltl on May 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Don’t we all. Will we ever know?

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:35 PM

What other alternatives besides “capture or kill” did CNN think there were?

farsighted on May 16, 2013 at 7:27 PM

Apologize profusely to them for something or other.

Buddahpundit on May 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Liam on May 16, 2013 at 7:12 PM

Doesn’t surprise me.

wyntre9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:45 PM

CNN says that this wasn’t a PR effort on behalf of the administration:

Sure it wasn’t! Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

GarandFan on May 16, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Compare them to today’s from CNN, which aren’t identical but similar:

Creepy Crawly’s fat fingerprints all over it I guess :)

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Valjar:

Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama overseeing the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

She also served as Co-Chair of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team, and Senior Advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign.

wyntre9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Is this a “wag the dog” scenario to distract from the current scandals?

Allahs vulva on May 16, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Wag the Dog

Obama will find out if it works when he watches it on the TV News.

workingclass artist on May 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Want to know where the POS gets his racial chip-on-the-shoulder?

A Valjar anecdote:

“While serving as the Department of Planning and Development Commissioner, Jarrett once harassed a white business owner for not paying sufficient deference in print to the memory of the city’s first black mayor in the mid-90s. As Ellie Monty, one of two white owners of the small firm targeted by Jarrett saw it, it was a contrived racial incident. And while she maintains there was “never intended to be a political agenda,” Jarrett saw otherwise.

Jarrett told The Chicago Defender, a local black newspaper, that she was “completely outraged” and was “thinking of seeking legal redress” against the company for failing to mention Mayor Harold Washington in an ad book for the city.”

wyntre9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Maybe just having some guys going around incognito to the cafes in Egypt or Algeria would do the trick… you know stop with the ‘plans’ and start with the ‘doing’? Since a couple of the perps have been seen in such places you don’t need great ‘plans’ as they aren’t running FROM US.

Makes you wonder why that is, now, doesn’t it?

ajacksonian on May 16, 2013 at 7:54 PM

Capture or kill now. Is that like “dead or alive”? People going to start calling Bammy a cowboy now?

reaganaut on May 16, 2013 at 7:55 PM

The two people responsible for the Benghazi attack, live in the United States – and their whereabouts are public knowledge.

Pork-Chop on May 16, 2013 at 7:55 PM

So is this happening this jummah or the next jummah :

Media ordered to go into breaking news mode by the sultan’s courtiers.
1 hour later, Idi Hussein reads a speech that he has killed a few ” lone wolves” who killed his dear friend Chris.
Crowds of hooligans and other democrats who just happen to be there break into USA USA !!!!!
Pissy starts tingling again, everything is back to normal……..

burrata on May 16, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Gutsy Call II!

In theaters now!

PattyJ on May 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM

Who gave the order for the special ops teams to stand down? That’s what I’d like to know.

justltl on May 16, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Don’t we all. Will we ever know?

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 7:35 PM

We may never know.

justltl on May 16, 2013 at 8:12 PM

justltl on May 16, 2013 at 8:12 PM

heh.

bazil9 on May 16, 2013 at 8:20 PM

CNN says that this wasn’t a PR effort on behalf of the administration:

The information was confirmed to CNN as a result of several days of reporting. It was not offered to CNN by the officials as part of any coordinated effort to reach out to the media.

So why did they have to say this?

“No, really. We did some hard, old-fashioned investigative reporting and discovered this on our own. Even though all of the information is contained in a press briefing package, that doesn’t mean the WH just handed it to us”

BobMbx on May 16, 2013 at 9:17 PM

They want these guys killed.

Captured guys might say say something that doesn’t fit the “narrative” which means stooory.

What a perverse president we have.

Next up he will drone any IRS higher-ups who know anything.

And so on and so forth in our White House The Wire.

Well, Baltimore was real enough, wasn’t it?

Most def, y’all. Most def.

Sherman1864 on May 17, 2013 at 2:04 AM

You HA commenters are all conspiracy fringers, I see.

You also happen to be right.

You know something.

Too bad most of us Americans have rather …er… less information and even less interest.

Obama and company know this.

We are screwed.

Sherman1864 on May 17, 2013 at 2:10 AM

Six luckless camel drivers in the Libyan desert are about to walk into a drone strike and become “the guilty party”.

Obama will high five Nancy Pelosi and get back to golfing.

profitsbeard on May 17, 2013 at 2:39 AM

So why did they have to say this?

“No, really. We did some hard, old-fashioned investigative reporting and discovered this on our own. Even though all of the information is contained in a press briefing package, that doesn’t mean the WH just handed it to us”

BobMbx on May 16, 2013 at 9:17 PM

Yeah, I caught that too. “This may seem like a coincidence, but really, we are real reporters and did real reporting type stuff, and are now reporting it on our real news reporting channel. It wasn’t spoon fed to us like it used to be, because now we are edgy reporters reporting things we have to look up on google and not directly texted to us by Valerie…”

Boudica on May 17, 2013 at 4:48 AM