To the horror of many in Congress, President Obama has reportedly ordered lifted the 31-year ban preventing Libyan nationals from attending flight schools and studying nuclear science in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s recent directive reports, “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.”
“Therefore,” the document continues, “DHS, after consultation with the Department of State and the Department of Defense, is considering rescinding the restrictions that deny nonimmigrant status and benefits to a specific group of Libyan nationals.”
A spokesman for DHS says the White House ordered the Libyan policy review “to see how they might be updated to better align with U.S. interests in light of its revolution.”
The flight school and nuclear studies ban was first imposed by President Reagan in 1983 following a series of deadly terrorist attacks perpetrated by Libyan agents, including the bombing of Pan American Airways Flight 103 that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. It is now being lifted “to help Libyans ‘sustain and operate their war fleets.'”
The announcement comes less than two years after al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and murdered four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the first U.S. ambassador murdered on assignment anywhere in the world since 1989.
The government directive claims the ban is no longer needed because the relationship between the United States and Libya is now “normalized.”
It was just three weeks ago that the United States ordered the immediate and total evacuation of all U.S. embassy personnel under heavily armed escort and cover from U.S. warplanes and spy craft from Libya due to the chaos, lawlessness, and growing anarchy sweeping the vast and sparsely populated North African nation.
In a statement explaining the evacuation of embassy personnel, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters on July 26, 2014, “Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have relocated all of our personnel out of Libya.” Subsequently, several other Western countries have evacuated their nationals from Libya to escape the escalating violence.
Meanwhile, reaction on Capitol Hill has been marked by outrage and utter disbelief. House Judiciary Committee member Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said, “It is unbelievable that this administration is willing to put Americans in harm’s way by lifting a decades-old security ban on a country challenged by instability. This makes no sense. None.”
Other members pointed out that since Libya is, for all intents and purposes, both anarchic and ungoverned, relations between the U.S. and Libya are anything but normal, and Libyans–many of whom work and/or fight for scores of jihadist militias roaming the country–would pose serious threats to the United States if permitted to study aviation and nuclear sciences.
Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte, (R-VA) said, “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.”
“Citing possible civilian slaughter” on a genocidal scale, President Obama ordered the 2011 U.S. air war on Libya that deposed longtime Libyan dictator Muamar Gaddafi. In a recent interview with Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, Obama admitted he never thought much about what would follow the U.S. air campaign in a post-Gaddafi Libya.