Four House Republicans this week warned the Obama administration that it is pursuing a "dangerous and irresponsible" plan to end a 30-year ban on giving Libyans access to aviation and nuclear training in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security has been considering a regulation to end the ban since late last year, which drew complaints and questions from Republicans in November. Central to those complaints was the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic annex in Benghazi, Libya, which led to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other U.S. officials.
"The decision to lift the ban on allowing nationals of such a terror-plagued country to come to the U.S. to engage in a flight-related training is particularly disturbing in light of the role such training played in the preparations for the September 11, 2001 terror attack," they wrote.
The ban was established in 1983, after a series of terrorist incidents involving Libyan nationals. The Obama administration has proposed lifting the ban because U.S.-Libya relations have "normalized," but the GOP letter argues that the Benghazi attack proves there has been no normalization.
"[T]he U.S. relationship with Libya is anything but normal, as evidenced by the September 11th assault on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya and the horrific murder of our ambassador to that county over a year ago," the letter says. "Not only did four Americans die on that date, but, as we previously documented, numerous other terror threats have continued from Libya in recent months.
"Unfortunately, the current regulation is needed as much now as ever before. Any such policy change is not only misguided but dangerous."
The new letter was signed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Immigration and Border Security subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and National Security subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
These members also complained the administration has failed to answer their original letter on this issue that they wrote in November. They said House staffers have asked for updates more than six times since then, but have received no information.
The letter adds that the Department of Homeland Security put in place a new policy last month that says officials should respond to Congress within 10 business days, but that policy has not led to any response.
"In the short time that this policy has been in effect, your staff has already failed to comply with it," the members wrote.
As a result, the Republicans said they plan a joint hearing between subcommittees of the Judiciary and Homeland Security committees to address these issues. "DHS will be called to testify in order to respond to Congress since it has failed to do so as of the date of this letter," they wrote.