Breaking: First criminal charges filed over Benghazi attack

Eleven months later, here we go. Good enough for government work, no?

Federal agents and prosecutors investigating the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe…

People close to the case say the investigation has moved significantly in recent months. The initial charges are filed in a complaint in New York, according to the people briefed on the matter…

With the anniversary of the attack looming, the Justice Department has come under criticism for the lack of public progress in the case…

None of the sources would discuss the precise charges against Khattalah in the sealed complaint.

Thank CNN for making this happen, seriously. Khattalah has been embarrassing the White House for the better part of year, happily chirping to western media that he’s free as a bird despite fingers having been pointed at him as a possible ringleader of the attack since last October. The straw that likely broke the camel’s back, though, was CNN airing its own interview with Khattalah just last week — while taking care to emphasize that, although the feds allegedly had never approached him, they had no trouble getting him to sit down for a two-hour interview. That’s one “smart power” humiliation too far. Between that and Thursday’s bombshell about the CIA’s mysterious activities in Benghazi during the attack, the White House had to do something. The closer we get to the anniversary of the attack, the more nakedly political the charges would look; why not act now, while most of the public’s distracted by the big Al Qaeda terror threat in Yemen?

Here’s the CNN segment with Khattalah that lit a fire under the feds’ asses. Now that charges have been filed, I can only assume that an operation’s being planned to go in and grab him. Remember, according to a splashy AP piece back in May, the White House had held off on killing or capturing the Benghazi suspects because they didn’t have enough evidence yet to bring them to trial. Now, presumably, they do. Expect some news about an arrest sometime soon, a welcome distraction for O from the news of embassies closing out of fear of terrorism. Exit question: Who’s going to grab Khattalah? The Libyan government, which risks jihadi reprisals if it takes the lead on this, or Uncle Sam?

Update: Almost forgot — CNN’s airing a one-hour special on Benghazi this very evening. And here we are, mid-afternoon, with an important late-breaking update to make it look like the feds are on the case. See what happens when non-Fox networks turn up the heat on Hopenchange?

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