Here’s the backstory. Senator Marco Rubio asked Brennan about Harzi, who was detained in Tunisia and eventually released by the Tunisian government. When Rubio asked why the United States couldn’t prevent Harzi’s release by the Tunisians, Brennan responded that the United States must respect Tunisian law and traditions. “The Tunisians did not have a basis in their law to hold him.” And when Rubio pushed further, Brennan dismissed his concerns and made a claim that simply isn’t true.
“We didn’t have anything on him, either,” Brennan said. “If we did, we would have made a point to the Tunisians to turn him over to us, but we didn’t have that.”
We didn’t have anything on him?
First, Harzi had a history. He’d been detained by the Tunisian government for five years, from 2006 to 2011, on terrorism charges. Among other concerns, he was then seeking to join his brother, a midlevel operative in Al Qaeda in Iraq. Second, after the Benghazi attack Harzi was detained in Turkey, at least in part on the basis of intelligence provided to the Turks by the U.S. government. Third, Harzi was held in Tunisia for three months on the strength of intelligence the U.S. government collected about his involvement in the Benghazi attacks. According to the Daily Beast, that intelligence included real-time social media updates from Benghazi about the unfolding attack. Fourth, Harzi’s own lawyer says that the Tunisian courts are still monitoring Harzi because he remains charged with membership in a terrorist group.
If Brennan believes the U.S. government doesn’t have “anything” on Harzi, it’s hard to find others who share that assessment.
“He was involved,” one U.S. official familiar with the investigation told The Weekly Standard. This view echoed those of several intelligence and law enforcement officials.