Tags: tunisia | harzi | benghazi

Bolton, Graham Press Tunisia for Benghazi Suspect Access

Wednesday, 31 Oct 2012 11:42 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Former U.N. mbassador John Bolton joined Sen. Lindsey Graham Tuesday in calling for a possible suspension of aid to Tunisia unless it allows access to a suspect arrested in connection with the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
 
"I don't know what the total supply of foreign aid going into Tunisia is now, but I would be looking at substantial reduction if they don't start cooperating, beginning tomorrow," Bolton told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren in response to reports that  authorities had arrested Ali Ani al Harzi, a Tunisian citizen who was allegedly caught on video during the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate.
 
Earlier, Graham said in an interview with Van Susteren that he was "stunned to hear the Tunisians are denying us access to question this man" and that he is trying to find out why through the Tunisian Embassy in Washington.
 
The South Carolina senator suggested that Harzi might be connected to al-Qaida and that his alleged involvement in the attack signals a level of communication within the terrorist network that was thought to have been disrupted by the death of Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders.
 
"It would be very disturbing if al-Qaida operatives in Libya can talk to al-Qaida  operatives in Tunisia. That shows they have a regional effect," Graham said. "So if a guy from Tunisia was able to come down to Benghazi, Libya, that means they're talking to each other in a way we haven't seen before."
 
Graham said Harzi, who was apparently arrested in Turkey and turned over to Tunisia,  should be questioned as soon as possible, and he raised the possibility of threatening a cut off in foreign aid to help move Tunisian authorities along.
 
"I'm the ranking Republican on our foreign aid subcommittee on appropriations. You know, we're in charge of the money," he told Van Susteren.
 
"I'm going to ask the Tunisians why can't we have access to this person that we believe was involved in the attack on our consulate."
 
But Graham also had harsh words for the Obama administration, accusing it of not doing enough to get answers to how the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans could have happened in the first place.
 
"I'm not so sure we're trying very hard to get to the bottom of it here at home. I think the Obama administration is stonewalling to Congress and misleading the American people," he said, adding that he had written almost a dozen letters to the administration" about the attacks without receiving "one word back."
 
He said he thought the president was simply trying "to run out the clock" to Election Day without having to address the Benghazi attack more directly.
 
"This storm is a terrible thing for America, and I appreciate what President Obama is doing to try to help people," Graham said, referring to destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy.
 
"But I wish he'd give some attention in Benghazi, Libya, when it would have mattered. There was an al-Qaida storm brewing for months," he said.
 
Bolton agreed. "This idea that somehow the administration just stands passively by while an active suspect gets turned over to yet another foreign government, I find befuddling," he said.

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