The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began the process to rescind the ban last year, following requests from the Defense Department and the Department of State. Rebuilding Libya's military and police forces is critical to promoting democracy and combating extremism in the country, some security experts say, and the ban makes it harder for the US government to aid Libya's military.It turns out House Republicans are strongly against even considering lifting the restriction. And I'll bet you can guess why. Yeah. Benghazi.
At a hearing earlier this month, they equated lifting the ban to aiding terrorists in the region, repeatedly citing the 2012 attack against the US consulate in Benghazi. "Given the desire of radical regimes and terrorists to obtain or build nuclear weapons or dirty bombs, do we want to possibly train Libyan terrorists in nuclear engineering?...It does not appear that national security has been adequately considered in the effort to end the prohibition," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) noted that "a teacher named Ronnie Smith was murdered in Benghazi. There've been no arrests. I've heard nothing about it." When Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) took the floor, he asked nine consecutive questions related to security in Benghazi.I'm no expert on the policy here, so I'm not the right guy to weigh in on the pluses and minuses of lifting the visa restriction, even though on its face it seems to make sense. But one thing I'm 100 percent sure of is that reducing any and every Libya-related policy to "Benghazi" is the absolute height of stupidity. Which I guess makes it no surprise that Republicans are doing exactly that.
The hearing came in the wake of a letter Goodlatte, Gowdy, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent to DHS on March 19, calling the proposal "dangerous and irresponsible." In that letter, House Republicans criticized DHS for continuing to move forward with the proposal without taking their concerns into account.