Declaring that the situation in Libya still poses a threat to the U.S., President Obama on Wednesday extended for another year emergency sanctions against that nation in the wake of the fall of the regime of Muammar Gadhafi.
Although Mr. Obama said his administration is working closely with the new government in Libya, the situation there "continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
"We need to protect against this threat and the diversion of assets or other abuse by certain members of Qadhafi's family and other former regime officials," Mr. Obama said in a note to Congress.
The president's decision to continue the national emergency status for Libya comes as some lawmakers are still demanding answers about the administration's actions last Sept. 11, when terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The White House has said Mr. Obama directed Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and others to take any steps necessary to come to the aid of Americans in Benghazi on the night of the attack, although Mr. Panetta said he had no contact with the White House after informing Mr. Obama of the ongoing attack.
Mr. Obama invoked "national emergency" regulations that authorize the president to impose sanctions on foreign countries on Feb. 25, 2011, in the wake of a popular revolt against Gadhafi's regime. In December 2011, the U.S. and the United Nations Security Council lifted most of the sanctions imposed on Libya.
The president said the U.S. is "winding down" the sanctions against Libya, virtually the same language he used last year in extending the sanctions.
"We are working closely with the new Libyan government and with the international community to effectively and appropriately ease restrictions on sanctioned entities, including by taking action consistent with the U.N. Security Council's decision to lift sanctions against the Central Bank of Libya and two other entities on December 16, 2011," Mr. Obama said Wednesday.
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