Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki repeatedly refused to explain why the administration waited over two years to capture suspected Benghazi ringleader Ahmed Abu Khattala in a Tuesday press briefing.
Khattala, whose capture was announced earlier Tuesday, met with reporters in public places several times in the two years since the attack and was not considered to be in hiding. (RELATED: US Captures Benghazi Suspect)
When asked by Fox News correspondent James Rosen whether there had been “an egregious delay” in Khattala’s capture, Psaki vehemently disagreed, saying that “there are a range of factors that are taken into account, and in terms of the right timing for operations along these lines, the president made a decision with the support of the national security team about the timing, and obviously it was successful.”
After being pressed on the issue, she doubled down, affirming that the administration has “taken every step possible to do that as quickly as possible, but taking on operations of these kinds are difficult, and there are a range of factors involved, and… this was undertaken as quickly as possible, given the circumstances.”
She repeatedly dodged questions about Khattala’s meetings with reporters, saying only that an interview “is entirely different from any operation to take these individuals into custody, and there are a range of factors taken into account.”
When asked why no one in the U.S. special forces didn’t simply pose as a reporter, she joked that “we appreciate your view if you’re volunteering yourself for future endeavors.”
“You’re still not addressing the central question… you’re not answering the question of why a reporter was able to get within 6 inches of this guy and U.S. special forces weren’t for more than two years,” Rosen, now exasperated, interjected.
“The answer is that reporters have interviewed a range of terrorists in the past, there’s nothing new about that… that’s entirely different from taking the steps necessary to apprehend someone in a country — a third co-; a second- — not the United States, as has happened in this case. We did this as expeditiously as possible took into account a range of factors and where we are today is that the outcome was successful.”