Details are sketchy, reports are conflicting, and the situation is fluid. But we do know that Islamists stormed a natural gas field in Algeria and seized about 40 hostages, including several Americans. Algerian forces attempted to storm the facility and did manage to free some Algerian workers and others. (Read the story, along with updates, here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323468604578245310036330882.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories )
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack as retaliation for French intervention against Islamic militants in neighboring Mali. But with Americans now apparently being held hostage, along with other Westerners, this situation is growing more grave by the moment.
So far, the White House has "condemned" the attack, but both the President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have remained silent on the fact that there are Americans being held by al Qaeda. Perhaps no one wants to comment yet until the facts are clearer. But given that this White House is still relying on the "fog of war" excuse when it comes to the September 11, 2012 deaths of four Americans at the hands of Islamists in Benghazi, that won't fly for much longer in this case. Perhaps there are sensitive negotiations taking place for their release (although I thought the US government doesn't negotiate with terrorists). Perhaps another government is working for their release and Obama wants to continue to lead from behind.
Whatever the reason, the silence of the commander-in-chief and his top diplomat can't go on much longer. Americans held hostage by al Qaeda is as serious a national security issue as we can face. It would be nice to at least hear that the president and his team are on it.