Administration acknowledges possible changes to Libya policy

An Obama administration official said Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is writing up a document that outlines possible changes to U.S. Libya policy, in an effort to help that country's transition to democratic rule.

In a statement to The Hill, a DHS official said the administration supports Libya's democratic transition and is trying to do what it can to support that transition. The official said specifically that the DHS is reviewing current policies and working on a document that outlines how they might be changed.

 

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"As part of this effort, we are reviewing U.S. policies that have been in place since before the Libyan revolution to see how they might be updated to better align with U.S. interests," the official said. "This draft document is deliberative and not final, and has not been approved by DHS for publication."

The official added the "DHS does not comment on internal draft documents," and offered no indication of what changes the administration might be considering.

But earlier Thursday, two House Republicans said they got a glimpse of that document, and said the DHS is considering ending a ban on the ability of Libyans to work in the U.S. on aviation, flight operations or in the nuclear field.

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) criticized that possible move given that the administration has yet to fully investigate the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in September 2012.

"It is unbelievable that this administration would again put Americans in harm's way by lifting a decades old security ban on a country that has become a hotbed of terrorist activity," Chaffetz said.

The United States imposed a ban on the ability of Libyans to work in the aviation or nuclear sectors in the U.S. back in the 1980s. That was a reaction to terrorist activities involving Libyans, and the two GOP members said the Benghazi attack is a sign this is still an issue.

"We still haven't gotten to the bottom of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and continue to face additional terrorist threats from Libya, yet the Obama administration is preparing to lift a longstanding ban that protects Americans and our interests," Goodlatte said.