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Ayotte: Withhold aid to Libya if Benghazi terrorists remain free

Staff Report
September 12. 2013 3:19PM

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte says she will continue to push the Obama administration and the Libyan government to bring to justice those who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, just more than a year ago.

Ayotte, who has been a consistent critic of the administration's response to the attack, suggested that the U.S. withhold aid to Libya if the government there continues to resist U.S. efforts to arrest the attackers.

Sept. 11 was the one-year anniversary of the attack on the U.S. special mission, in which Ambassador Chris Stevens and security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and diplomat Sean Smith were killed.

The U.S. government has filed murder charges against one of the suspects and other charges against other suspects, according to a New York Times report this week.

But Ayotte and other congressional Republicans believe the Obama administration has been unwilling to pressure the Libyan government to make the arrests even though U.S. intelligence officials reportedly have an idea of where they are hiding.

The Libyan government, the report said, has "rebuffed" Obama administration efforts to arrests the suspects.

Ayotte and her Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina this week cited the Times report in separate letters to the Libyan president and to the director of the FBI.

Ayotte and Graham wrote to Libyan President Abu Sahmayn urging full cooperation with the United States, adding, "Our relationship is grounded in common respect for the rule of law and justice. Yet, allowing the terrorists who murdered four Americans in Benghazi to roam free is inconsistent with those principles."

In their letter to FBI director James Comey, the two senators wrote, "If we encounter obstruction from the Libyan government, we expect the administration to make clear that future U.S. assistance to the Libyan government will depend on their willingness to work with us to bring the Benghazi terrorists into custody."

Ayotte, in an appearance Tuesday night on the talk show "On the Record with Greta Van Sustern" on the Fox News Channel, said the letter to the Libyan leader conveys, "We expect you to cooperate for the relationship between our two countries to continue."

She said the letter to the FBI director in effect asks, "How come you're not pushing the Libyan authorities to bring those terrorists to justice because the victims deserve that?"

Ayotte said that if the letters are ignored, "We're going to continue, absolutely, pushing this because this is a matter of the President following through on what he said -- bringing these terrorists to justice.

"We have the ability to put pressure on the Libyan government," she said.

Ayotte said the U.S. has provided aid to Libya, "and we can hold up their aid if they're not going to cooperate with us."

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