Augusta Free Press

Bob Goodlatte: Protecting America against terrorist threats

Protecting the American people from threats against the nation is the highest priority of the federal government. However, in direct contrast to this goal, the Obama administration recently approved a final regulation to lift a 30-year 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. Once Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson signs this regulation, it will go into effect unless further action is taken.

The prohibition on Libyans was put in place in the 1980s to protect the U.S. against serious threats from terrorists from a particularly unstable and dangerous country.  The Obama administration argues that this prohibition is no longer needed by claiming that the United States’ relationship with libya has “normalized,” yet it is anything but normal. This shift in policy is misguided and ignores reality. Many extremist and terrorist groups operate without restraint in libya. Terrorists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi just two years ago, leaving four Americans dead. This summer, Americans working at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli were evacuated due to rival rebel groups battling each other for control of the area. On August 27, libya warned the U.N. Security Council that the country could descend into full-scale civil war if heavily armed warring factions were not disarmed.

For the past several months, I have urged DHS not to reverse this policy. In April, the House Judiciary Committee even held a hearing on the matter where an Obama administration official admitted that libya is dangerous and unstable. Given the ongoing terrorist activity in Libya, it doesn’t make sense that the Administration would carelessly forge ahead with its plan to allow Libyans to attend flight school or study nuclear science in the United States. Lifting this longstanding ban is not in the best interest of the American people and needlessly places our country at risk. Incredibly, DHS is still moving forward to repeal the regulation.

Just a few days ago, I joined Reps. Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz to introduce the Protecting the Homeland Act(H.R. 5401). This legislation, which was approved by the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday by a bipartisan vote, would stop the Obama administration from lifting the prohibition on Libyans.

Four 9/11 hijacker pilots obtained their expertise in aviation primarily at U.S. flight schools. Do we want to risk Libyan terrorists learning how to fly airplanes in the U.S.? 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?

A lack of accountability has been the hallmark of this Administration. If they will not forgo this foolish plan, theProtecting the Homeland Act would prevent the repeal of the libya prohibition and help to protect our nation as part of the ongoing effort to thwart potential terrorist threats.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in Congress.



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