AUGUST 13, 2014
Less than two years after four Americans got massacred in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya the Obama administration is disregarding congressional opposition to lift a decades-old ban on Libyans attending flight schools and training as nuclear scientists in the United States.
The ban was implemented in 1983 after a wave of terrorist incidents involving Libyans. The African nation continues to be a hotbed of terrorism and in fact, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli was recently evacuated because violence between rival militias has created a deadly environment. Many other foreign governments have also shut down their embassies in Libya because the violence has spread throughout the entire country.
Nevertheless, President Obama has discounted congressional opposition to let Libyans train as pilots, airplane mechanics and nuclear scientists in the United States. Perhaps the commander-in-chief has somehow forgotten that many of the 9/11 hijackers—mostly Saudi nationals—received their training in American flights schools because our government allowed it. Have we not learned that it’s a really bad idea to help our enemies obtain skills that could later be used to attack us?
Official word of this senseless change comes via a final regulation approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It lifts the longtime prohibition on Libyans coming to the U.S. to attend flight school, work in aviation maintenance or flight operations or to study or train in nuclear science. The Obama administration claims that the ban is no longer necessary because the “United States Government and the Government of Libya have normalized their relationship and most of the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations toward Libya have been lifted.”
The move comes just a few months after a congressional hearing addressed what was then the administration’s proposal to overturn the 30-year ban. Before actually reversing the longtime regulation, the administration was required to provide Congress with certain documents that were never provided, according to the heads of the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee considering the matter. In other words, the president has once again blown off Congress and this week the lawmakers involved in the process expressed outrage.
“The Obama Administration is turning a blind eye to real terrorist threats that exist in Libya today by carelessly forging ahead with its plan to allow Libyan pilots and nuclear scientists to study in the United States,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. “The House Judiciary Committee has repeatedly sought information about the Administration’s policy reversal but political appointees at the Department of Homeland Security have stonewalled the Committee’s requests and have not articulated why it is in Americans’ best interests to change policy. Given the ongoing volatility in Libya, it is unconscionable and completely irresponsible that the Administration plans to lift a longstanding policy that protects Americans and our national security from threats in the region.”
At the congressional hearing earlier this year, a top Homeland Security official revealed that the Hillary Clinton State Department first requested the Libyan ban lift in 2010. Three years later, the official, Alan Bersin, told Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano agreed to begin the process to amend the regulations relating to Libya. This illustrates that the administration started working to lift the ban long before the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi. Clearly, it was not enough to deter the administration from going forth with its dangerous plan.
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