WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House, under political pressure to respond forcefully to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, is readying strike forces and drones but first has to find a target.
And if the administration does find a target, officials say it still has to weigh whether the short-term payoff of exacting retribution on al-Qaida is worth the risk that such strikes could elevate the group's profile in the region, alienate governments the U.S. needs to fight the group in the future and do little to slow the growing terror threat in North Africa.
Details on the administration's position and on its search for a possible target were provided by three current and one former administration official, as well as an analyst who was approached by the White House for help. All four spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the high-level debates publicly.
In another effort to bolster Libyan security, the Pentagon and State Department have been developing a plan to train and equip a special operations force in
The efforts show the tension of the White House's need to demonstrate it is responding forcefully to al-Qaida, balanced against its long-term plans to develop relationships and trust with local governments and build a permanent U.S. counterterrorist network in the region.