Libya detains 4 American security guards for hours

They can't seem to find those responsible for attacking our diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, but the Libyan government had no trouble rounding up 4 American citizens and holding them for hours.

New York Times:

Four American military personnel assigned to the United States Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, were detained Friday and then released after being held for hours by the country's Interior Ministry, American officials said.

The four were believed to have been reviewing potential evacuation routes for diplomats when they were detained, according to the initial reports received by officials in Washington. The State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said they were working on "security preparedness efforts" when they were taken into custody. The area where they were said to have been detained is not far from the main road to the Tunisian border from Tripoli, the capital.

After running into a problem at a checkpoint - many of which are run by local militias - they were detained and later moved to the Ministry of the Interior, said administration officials who asked not to be identified because they were discussing internal reports.

Photographs of two American passports and embassy identity cards were later disseminated on Twitter. It was not known if the passports belonged to any of the four military personnel.

The buzzing sound of drones filled Tripoli's sky for hours as rumors spread through the capital that four Americans were missing. Drones are not usually heard in Tripoli, although the sound is familiar in Benghazi. 

The episode took place in a town just southwest of the historic Roman ruins at Sabratha and about an hour's drive from Tripoli, Ms. Psaki said. The area is not known for anti-Western extremists or other obvious threats. In part because it is a tourist area, the district around Sabratha skews relatively liberal and friendly to Westerners.

Since the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11, 2012, employees of the American Embassy have operated with extraordinary caution.

But two years after the toppling of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, security remains tenuous even in and around Tripoli. Libya's transitional government has not yet managed to assemble a credible national army or police force. Many families or clans around the country keep heavy weapons, as do autonomous local militias formed during and after the Libyan uprising.

Libya has been funneling terrorists into Syria - the result of having a government incapable of controling anything, even the few blocks surrounding the government building. When local militias hold as much power as elected officials, you will inevitably run into locals who don't like the US. We should probably count our blessings that our people weren't executed.

We have apparently stopped asking the Libyan government to apprehend the terrorists who murdered our ambassador. And if we try to do the job for them, the government almost falls apart - as when we carried out an operation to arrest one of the perpetrators of the Benghazi attack only to see the prime minister summarily hauled out of his hotel room and held hostage by local militias.

What a mess.