View: Benghazi Trial Turns ‘Shameful Episode’ Into Honorable Case

Leaving the courtroom after a long day of closing arguments in the recent trial of Ahmed Abu Khattala, I felt something all too rare these days—immense pride in our government. The accused ringleader of the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks against the U.S. mission and the CIA annex in Benghazi had faced a jury for seven weeks, as federal prosecutors detailed his involvement in the crimes. The trial was the culmination of work conducted by national security and criminal justice professionals serving across administrations who helped build a complicated case, even as their agencies faced increasing attacks by President Donald Trump. Thanks to these mostly anonymous officials, Abu Khattala now faces up to life in prison for terrorism charges.

The case was also personal. I had visited the U.S. mission in Benghazi twice while serving as the director for Libya at the National Security Council, the last time just six weeks before the facility was set aflame. I could picture the bedrooms that served as a “safe haven” before the building was set on fire. Even though Abu Khattala was found not guilty of 12 counts relating to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, that should not detract from the extraordinary efforts involved to make the trial possible in the first place. It also should help bring some measure of closure to a shameful episode in which a tragedy that should have unified the nation was used and abused for political motives.

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