U.S. to Libyan Perps: Don't Hide, We're Watching You
If your first priority was to catch a bad guy, would you want him to know you were tracking him and might shoot him dead using a drone?
The question comes to mind reading quotes from Obama administration officials in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times today. Frustrated that Libyan authorities haven't pursued those responsible for the deadly attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, the officials say the U.S. is compiling dossiers on suspects to prepare for possible unilateral action.
Exercising that option, the administration knows, would create widespread resentment in the most pro-American country in the Arab world. Just threatening it, however, arguably makes President Barack Obama look tough at a time when Republicans are accusing the administration of failing to properly secure the Benghazi mission.
The administration may also hope to spur Libya's disorganized authorities to go after the perpetrators themselves. Yet advertising that the U.S. is, for instance, "putting together information on where these individuals live" just increases the chances the bad guys will go further underground.
Lisa Beyer is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)
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