A senior U.S. intelligence source reported Tuesday that, while an Israeli attack on Iran or an eruption of a Syria-Turkey border war cannot be ruled out between now and election day, the most likely "October Surprise" is a U.S. bombing or special forces attack on a target responsible for the Benghazi consulate assault. The source reported that the U.S. is engaged in an intense hunt for a credible target, and that U.S. military action against the authors of the Benghazi attack — Ansar al-Sharia — is a top priority for Obama. The source considered it a "high probability" that such an attack will take place either later this month or in early November — just prior to election day. "If there is going to be an October Surprise, this is it," the source emphasized. He added that White House staffers are already quietly briefing relevant people, including select media, to prepare them for the pending attack, to optimize the political benefits.
An AP story posted by the Washington Post, Tuesday morning, says as much. According to leaks from current and former White house officials, and outside experts consulted by the White House, the Obama Administration is, indeed, casting about for targets to attack. While AP doesn't explicitly say that Obama is looking for political advantage just before Election Day, the story quotes retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rudy Attalah, the Africa counterterrorism director for the Defense Department under President George W. Bush, as saying that the White House, rather than seeking a decisive blow against the perpetrators, is "aiming for a small pop, a flash in the pan, so as to be able to say, 'Hey, we're doing something about it.'"
Meanwhile, the Pentagon and the State Department have launched a crash program to help the Libyan government create an elite force to battle militias like the one that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last month. $8 million has been shifted from Pakistan aid for the effort, which will likely be conducted by U.S. special forces troops. The effort began before the attack on the Benghazi consulate, but could function to put a Libyan face on any action that the administration decides to take in Libya, if any.