Washington, D.C. – On Thursday at 2:30 p.m. in 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security will hold a joint hearing entitled, “Overturning 30 Years of Precedent: Is the Administration Ignoring the Dangers of Training Libyan Pilots and Nuclear Scientists?”
Witnesses for the hearing will be:
- Mr. Alan Bersin, Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security;
- Ms. Janice Kephart, CEO, Secure Identity and Biometrics Association, and former counsel to the 9/11 Commission;
- Mr. James M. Chaparro, Executive Vice President for Strategy, Strategic Enterprise Solutions (SE Solutions); and
- Mr. Frederic Wehrey, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Senior Associate, Middle East Program.
Last fall, the House Judiciary Committee obtained an internal draft final regulation from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) source that outlines the Obama Administration’s misguided and dangerous plan to lift a longstanding prohibition on Libyans coming to the U.S. to attend flight school, to work in aviation maintenance or flight operations, or to study or seek training in nuclear science. This prohibition was originally put in place in the 1980s after the wave of terrorist incidents involving Libyans. The Administration justifies lifting this ban by claiming the United States’ relationship with Libya has since improved. However, the terror threat continues and numerous news reports document recent terror-related stories coming from Libya. And just over a year ago the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans.
Although the House Judiciary Committee has sought information on this proposed policy shift twice, on November 25, 2013 and again on March 19, 2014 with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Department has failed to adequately respond and has moved forward without disclosing information about it to Congress. On March 21, 2014, two days after the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent the follow up letter to DHS, the Department sent an incomplete response that did not completely answer the substantive questions posed in the letter nor provide an adequate update on the regulation.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) issued the statements below on Thursday’s hearing.
Chairman Goodlatte: “It’s outrageous that the Obama Administration is turning a blind eye to real terrorist threats that exist in Libya today. Just over a year ago, four Americans were killed in the pre-planned terrorist attacks on the American Consulate in Benghazi. We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and continue to face additional terrorist threats from Libya, yet the Administration is preparing to lift a longstanding ban that protects Americans and our interests without adequately disclosing information about this proposal to Congress after multiple requests. At the hearing this week, we hope to get to the bottom of why the Administration thinks we should change our longstanding policy towards Libya at this time. With ongoing threats coming from Libya, the Obama Administration should abandon this misguided policy shift.”
Chairman Issa: “It is simply unacceptable that Congress’ repeated inquiries and concerns about this ill-advised shift in policy remain unaddressed. It is clear that the proposed rule would do nothing to prevent terror-related activity or improve Americans’ safety.”
Subcommittee Chairman Gowdy: “The Administration’s policy reversal makes little sense based on recent events and has dangerous implications for our national security. Is post-revolutionary Libya secure enough to change the rules? Why now? What evidence does the Administration have to assert the relationship between Libya and the US has indeed normalized?
“Thus far, the Administration has not been forthcoming with Congress about the rule change, even moving forward with the policy reversal while ignoring concerns from Members. The American public deserves to hear from DHS about why they believe pursuing this change now is in the best interest of our national security.”
Subcommittee Chairman Chaffetz: “The Administration’s move to reverse a decades old security ban is turning a blind eye to the reality on the ground. The current situation in Libya is far from normal and remains vulnerable to unchecked terrorist activity. After ignoring repeated requests for information, I fully expect the Department of Homeland Security to engage in an open conversation – providing direct and honest answers to the Congress.”