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Tue Oct 16, 2012, 07:56 AM

Mission Creep in Libya: Drones in the Sky, Boots on the Ground


FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2012 file photo, fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard in Timbuktu, Mali, as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. The White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa, ready to strike militant targets from Libya to Mali — if investigators can find the al-Qaida-linked group responsible for the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. (AP Photo, File

During a nationally televised debate last week, Vice President Joe Biden responded to a question about the attack in Libya that led to the death of four Americans, including US Ambassador Chris Stevens, by saying "the men responsible" would face "justice" from the United States.

"If you do harm to America," Biden threatened, "We will track you to the gates of hell if need be."

Now, the Associated Press reports—based on administration officials speaking under cover of anonymity—that armed US drones are flying over Libya and that US intelligence agencies are on the prowl for targets to strike.

According to AP:

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.

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