In Letter to Secretary Clinton & Attorney General Holder, Ros-Lehtinen Questions Why Tunisian Authorities Released The Only Suspect In The Attack On The U.S. Consulate In Benghazi, Amongst Other Key Questions

Jan 9, 2013

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, now serving as Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, sent the following letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder over her concerns on the release of the only suspect in the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Ali Harzi, by Tunisian authorities and questioned if U.S. investigators obtained access to Harzi before his untimely release. Text of the letter follows:

January 8, 2013

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.

Secretary of State

Attorney General

Department of State

U.S. Department of Justice

2201 C Street, N.W.

950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20520

Washington, D.C. 20530


Dear Secretary Clinton and Attorney General Holder:

I am gravely concerned that Ali Harzi, the lone suspect arrested in the Benghazi attack of September 11, 2012, has been released by Tunisian authorities. This raises further concerns over the ability and willingness of the Tunisian and Libyan governments to contribute to the investigation and assist U.S. federal agencies that are leading the effort to find those responsible and bring them to justice.

It has been nearly four months since the attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, and we have yet to hold anyone accountable for this atrocious act of terror perpetrated against the United States. The Administration continues to drag its feet in providing straightforward answers to the American public, and the investigations have yet to lead to any arrests or prosecutions. Since the attacks, the State Department has finished its Accountability Review Board (ARB) report, yet we appear to be no closer to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

As the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of State conduct their investigation, we must ensure that several questions are answered, such as:

  • Who made the determination that there was not a sufficient amount of evidence to keep Ali Harzi in custody? 
  • If, in fact, there was insufficient evidence to hold Harzi, was it a result of the inability to protect the site of attack in the immediate aftermath, resulting in a tainting, or removal of the evidence?
  • Were United States authorities provided with direct access to Harzi at any time while he was being detained?
  • Does the Administration believe that the Libyan and Tunisian governments are capable and willing to aid in the investigation, and what, if any, concrete actions have these governments taken to assist U.S. authorities?
  • Will the FBI and State provide Congress frequent updates and information regarding the on-going investigation into the perpetrators behind the Benghazi attack?

Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter, and I look forward to your response.