The White House,
is supposedly under pressure to respond decisively against those militants responsible for the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans. An earlier Digital Journal report
noted that the U.S was collecting data to be used for targeting purposes. Now there are reports that Obama has ordered the readying of strike forces and drones. Perhaps Obama is hoping to have an October surprise to boost his electoral chances in November.
Nevertheless, officials note that the U.S. will still need to weigh the short-term payoff of retribution against militants against the risks that such attacks could turn more Libyans against the U.S.and help raise the profile of the militants. The strikes could cause problems for the Libyan government as well which might very well try to distance itself from the attacks.
The U.S. is also promoting a plan to create a special operations force in Libya trained and equipped by the U.S. The initial cost of the program is estimated at about $6.2 million. No details have yet been released and no doubt these are being worked out with Libyan authorities.
In the vice-presidential debate last week, Joe Biden
, the Democratic candidate, pledged tthat the U.S. would find those responsible for the Benghazi attacks. He said:
"We will find and bring to justice the men who did this. If you do harm to America, we will track you to the gates of hell if need be."
While this type of rhetoric is to be expected during an election campaign, it hardly represents a rational foreign policy. There is no mention of the Libyan government taking action.
The Obama administration gave the Republicans an opening by refusing to label the attack a terrorist action from the first, even though the facts made it look as if it was planned. The U.S probably had intelligence that showed it was planned, gathered from communications intercepted during the attack.
Air Force Lt. Col. Rudy Attalah, head of Africa counterrorism under Bush, said that the White House was "aiming for a small pop, a flash in the pan, so as to be able to say, `Hey, we're doing something about it." Attalah noted that in 1996, after a U.S. embassy bombing in Nairobi, the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles that destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan. The U.S. claimed that the factory might have been producing chemical weapons for Al Qaeda. Attalah
"It was a way to say, `Look, we did something."
The U.S. is also planning to become involved again in Mali.
U.S. officials are urging the Mali government to allow U.S. special forces to return. The U.S. special forces and trainers supposedly left Mali after the coup by U.S.-trained Captain Sanogo. However some remained
. Now the U.S. wants to move some forces back in to Mali to assist in taking back northern Mali from Islamic rebels.
The U.S. is also expanding intelligence gathering in northern Mali to track militant groups. The intelligence is being gathered by satellite and spy flights
. I would presume some of them involve drones.