Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today demanded that all U.S. aid to Tunisia be cut off because the African nation won't allow the FBI to interview the only known-held suspect in the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack.
In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Wolf said the Tunisian government for two months blocked the FBI from interviewing Ali Harzi, who was detained at the Turkish border for weeks after the September 11 attack before being returned to his home country.
"These unnecessary and unfounded delays are inexcusable and demonstrate that Tunisia is no friend or ally of the United States," Wolf wrote. "How is it possible that Tunisia is receiving more than $300 million in taxpayer dollars while simultaneously obstructing FBI efforts to investigate the death of four Americans?"
Wolf said cutting off funds would send a "strong signal" to Tunisia that they will not benefit from American aid until they grant the FBI access to Harzi.
"Should you fail to cut off this aid, I will take appropriate legislative action to end U.S. aid to Tunisia," he wrote.
Wolf sent similar letters to the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Appropriations subcommittee Chairman Kay Granger.
This is the latest in a series of moves by Wolf to investigate the attack in Benghazi and the Obama Administration's response. Last week, he introduced a resolution that would create a select committee in the House to provide an exhaustive review of the event and the subsequent revelations that followed, much like the select committees that were established during Watergate and the Iran Contra scandals of the 1970s.
Wolf sent copies of today's letter to Millennium Challenge Corporation and Appropriations subcommittee Chairman Kay Granger. The full text of the letter to Clinton is below.
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
2201 C St. NW Ste. 7276
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton,
Three months ago today, the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked in a terrorist assault. Yet three months later, no one has been held accountable for this attack. That is why I write you again to urge you to immediately cut off all U.S. foreign assistance to the government of Tunisia -- including any funds associated with the Millennium Challenge Corporation -- in response to Tunisia's two-month obstruction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) efforts to interview the only known detained suspect from the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Ali Harzi.
As you may know, Harzi was identified as an alleged conspirator in the attack on the U.S. consulate, which resulted in the death of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the first U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. According to press reports, Harzi, a Tunisian national, was detained on the Turkish border in the weeks following the attacks and subsequently transferred to his home country.
Unfortunately, upon Harzi's return to Tunisian custody, the FBI was blocked from interviewing Harzi, under any conditions, for nearly two months. During that period, an FBI interrogation team waited on the ground in Tunisia for five weeks, before they departed earlier this month after continued obstruction. These unnecessary and unfounded delays are inexcusable and demonstrate that Tunisia is no friend or ally of the United States.
It is unconscionable that American tax dollars would continue to go to a country that refuses to allow the FBI to investigate this terrorist attack. As I wrote in my October 31 letter to you (enclosed), since January 2011 the U.S. has committed more than $300 million "to support Tunisia's transition [to democracy], focusing heavily on technical and financial assistance to Tunisia's economy and private sector." How is it possible that Tunisia is receiving more than $300 million in taxpayer dollars while simultaneously obstructing FBI efforts to investigate the death of four Americans?
Tunisia has had two months to facilitate an interview between Harzi and the FBI, and has repeatedly failed to do so. The FBI wasted five weeks with a team on the ground in Tunisia waiting for access. It is time for the State Department to send a strong signal to Tunisia by cutting off American assistance until access is provided. Should you fail to cut off this aid, I will take appropriate legislative action to end U.S. aid to Tunisia.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress