Chaffetz Pushing Too Hard on Benghazi?

National Review’s Andrew McCarthy criticizes Rep. Jason Chaffetz for grousing about the Justice Department’s filing of criminal charges against some of the jihadists responsible for the Benghazi terror attack.

Chaffetz says that the main issue is whether the administration has made capturing or killing the Benghazi jihadists a “top priority.” He is right about that — but that makes his snarking over the filing of charges all the stranger. It is a commonplace — and has been in both Democratic and Republican administrations — to file criminal charges under seal against terrorists (as well as ordinary criminals) who may be the subject of extradition requests or even covert capture operations.

In fact, the failure to file charges would be a truer indication of unseriousness. Most countries will not even begin to entertain an extradition request unless charges have been filed. A capture in the absence of charges is certain to be condemned as a violation of international law. That is why, for example, the Justice Department filed charges in the mid 1990s against Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — just like George H. W. Bush’s administration did when it snatched Manuel Noriega in Panama only after drug charges were filed. It is why the Obama administration has filed espionage charges against Edward Snowden. In the Fox interview, Chaffetz decried the administration’s inability to obtain sufficient cooperation from at least one country — he did not specify, but I assume he meant Tunisia — where one of the suspects was temporarily detained. Fair enough . . . but how is it credible to complain both about the failure to persuade a country to extradite a suspect and about the filing of charges, the sine qua non of extradition?