GOP Lawmakers Lash Call to Lift Restrictions on Libyan Atomic Students

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 4, 2014, 8:29 a.m.

GOP law­makers are res­ist­ing an Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion call to lift re­stric­tions on Liby­ans who want to pur­sue nuc­le­ar stud­ies in the United States, De­fense News re­ports.

Pres­id­ent Obama has pushed to elim­in­ate the rules after the 2011 ouster of dic­tat­or Muam­mar Qadhafi. Covered by them are Liby­an visa ap­plic­ants, plus per­sons act­ing on be­half of a Liby­an en­tity, who seek to pur­sue “nuc­le­ar-re­lated stud­ies or train­ing” in the United States.

Cer­tain House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives law­makers voiced op­pos­i­tion on Thursday to any loosen­ing of the rules. They con­ten­ded that travel re­stric­tions should re­main in place pri­or to the death or im­pris­on­ment of in­di­vidu­als re­spons­ible for the 2012 at­tack on a U.S. dip­lo­mat­ic com­pound in Benghazi.

“We couldn’t even send our FBI in­to east­ern Libya [after the 2012 strike] be­cause it was so dan­ger­ous,” House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity sub­com­mit­tee Chair­man Jason Chaf­fetz (R-Utah) said at a hear­ing on the mat­ter.

“Yet, we want to give those same people visas to come in­to the United States to study nuc­le­ar [sub­jects]?” he asked at the hear­ing, con­vened jointly by his pan­el and the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee’s In­form­a­tion and Bor­der Se­cur­ity sub­com­mit­tee.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials, though, said fed­er­al au­thor­it­ies would con­tin­ue to screen for signs that Liby­an atom­ic stu­dents may join al-Qaida or plot strikes in­side the United States.

Some Demo­crat­ic hear­ing par­ti­cipants voiced sup­port for Obama’s ini­ti­at­ive to lift the travel re­stric­tions.

Rep­res­ent­at­ive John Tier­ney (D-Mass.) said do­ing so “seems reas­on­able … giv­en [the] fall of Qadhafi.”

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