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Jul 20 2014

Hamas bandits

The Jerusalem Post 

By: Ted Poe

As Hamas rockets continue to rain down on Israeli civilians, Israel has once again begun to find itself being portrayed internationally as the villain for defending itself. Lest there be any doubt, Hamas is a band of terrorists. Israel on the other hand is a sovereign nation, and, like every nation, has a natural right of self-defense.

Unlike virtually every other nation, however, Israel pursues this natural right in arguably the most morally upright and forthright manner in the annals of history. Regrettably, the United States has not done nearly enough to stand with Israel and give the Israeli government a diplomatically protective “green light” to once and for all neutralize the Hamas terrorist threat.

Iranian-backed Hamas fires rockets into Israel from Gaza. Israel defends itself thanks to the Iron Dome, which eliminates many rockets. But Hamas reloads and keeps shooting rockets into Israel. Israel now wants to go after the Hamas bandits. Israel’s rules of engagement are designed to minimize civilian and non-combatant casualties, while still allowing for robust self-defense.

This protocol is at times a tactical handicap for Israel.

Israel goes to great lengths to do everything it can to protect civilian lives. When Israel targets a terrorists hiding in “civilian” buildings in Gaza, Israel often warns the local populace of an impending defensive strike, sometimes by dropping leaflets or making phone calls to individual Gazans in the zone. At times, before an actual attack, Israel uses the “knock on the roof” tactic (firing small, precise, non-explosive ordinance at a roof) to urge folks to vacate the premises.

Hamas, on the other hand, does not value any human life. By all accounts, Hamas urges, and sometimes forces Gazans back into targeted buildings.

Some reports say Hamas’ command and control operations are located underneath hospitals and schools. They are willing to cower behind women, children, the elderly and the sick. This is a continuation of longstanding Palestinian policy: provoke Israeli defensive counterattacks that will cause civilian casualties.

The Hamas propaganda slogan declares: “We love death more than the Jews love life.” This routinely forces Israel into the bizarre scenario of caring more about Palestinian Arab lives than their purported champions in the Palestinian Authority. To the international community, however, it appears none of this really matters.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council issued a unanimous statement calling for a cease-fire and “for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.” The UN insists that Israelis and Palestinians return to the negotiating table “with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on the twostate solution.” This was followed by comments from the UN Human Rights Commissioner questioning the legality of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip. He even suggested that Israel deliberately killed civilians in Gaza.

Unfortunately, more often than not, this has become the response from the UN. History reveals that Hamas has used cease-fires as a “time out” to rearm itself with more Iranian rockets. Then at some “appropriate time,” it shoots them into Israel again. The US is following suit and backing off Israel’s right to defend herself. It, too, wants negotiations.

The self-righteous international community misses the heart of the matter.

To place a recognized terrorist organization like Hamas on the same level as the democratic, sovereign State of Israel is not only wrong, it’s nutty. The most important difference between Hamas (and by extension the PLO, since they have yet to revoke their Palestinian Authority unity government with Hamas), and Israel is that Hamas’s goal is the destruction of the Jewish state.

The international outsiders cry peace, peace, but there can be no peace as long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel exists because the Jews persist in surviving.

The United States’ legal, moral and sane response should be to support the Jewish state by encouraging Israel to, once and for all, end the terrorist threat to Israelis posed by Hamas. Hamas must be defeated. This will also protect Palestinian Arab civilian lives. The United States must stand with Israel in this effort. We must work to thwart diplomatic narratives that legitimize Hamas. We Americans must end our own political and financial support for the current Palestinian leadership that supports Hamas. We must make clear to the world that the Jewish State of Israel will, in fact, endure – whether Hamas and Iran like it or not.

And that’s just the way it is.

The author is a US congressman (R-Texas), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Daily Caller 

By: Rep. Ted Poe 

Norwegian Air International (NAI) recently made headlines with its announcement to launch a low cost airline in the U.S. This may sound great on the surface — who doesn’t want to save money on flights? — until you realize what NAI is intending to do: set up a shell corporation to skirt existing laws and put American carriers at a competitive disadvantage. That’s why I joined 40 of my colleagues in the House and Senate to urge Secretary Anthony Foxx to quickly reject NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit.

NAI’s parent company currently flies to the U.S. under the name Norwegian Long Haul. That operation was set up like any other airline and as such, it competes with U.S. carriers under the same rules and regulations. My concern is not with Norwegian Long Haul, but with its new affiliated company, NAI. NAI has created a new business model to skirt existing laws in an attempt to evade market forces.

By registering their planes in Ireland, hiring crew members through Singaporean contracts, and then basing those crews in Thailand, NAI is structuring a flag-of-convenience air carrier that will not be subject to the individual laws of any one country. No U.S. airlines have that option in the marketplace, nor do any other global airlines. In effect, if our government signs off on NAI’s permit, it signs off on this type of business model. That means NAI will have created its own governing structure, one removed from the transparency rules, labor laws, and safety regulations we take for granted today.

This not only presents legal concerns, but also security ones.

NAI appears to be just a shell company, created explicitly to avoid U.S. and Norwegian labor, tax, and regulatory laws. Its aircraft, registered in Ireland, have no plans to fly to or from Ireland. This makes surveillance and oversight of the airline difficult. How is the Irish Aviation Authority, responsible for ensuring the safety of the airline’s operation, supposed to effectively ensure compliance with acceptable international standards? This structure resembles the cruise line industry, where ships registered in Panama and Liberia never touch down in those ports. We need only look to the unfortunate Carnival Triumph disaster in the Gulf last year, where hundreds of people were stranded at sea for days with no food, running water, or power to know how that system of safety “oversight” works for American consumers.

This shell structure also threatens the free market, which requires a level playing field. NAI wants to escape that system for its own gain with an anti-competitive scheme, at our airlines’ and our economy’s expense. For the sake of free and fair competition and to ensure appropriate oversight and security, the Transportation Department should deny NAI’s application for a foreign air carrier permit.



You don’t have to tell us that Republicans and Democrats do not agree on much these days in Congress. Whether the subject is to repeal Obamacare or raise the nation’s minimum wage, Congressional Republicans and Democrats—for the most part—line up along party lines, and it is easy to then assume that all issues in Washington are inherently partisan.

But members of Congress are more than members of political parties. We are mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, and grandmothers and grandfathers.  And this common bond unites us together stronger than the bonds of partisanship. We absolutely must protect our nation’s children just as we protect the children who are in our homes and in our families.

Last June, Republican and Democratic women members of the House of Representatives joined forces to sign a proclamation that “Our Daughters are Not for Sale” where they declared a shared commitment to end human trafficking and exploitation of American girls.

And thankfully it was not long until the men followed suit with a “Fathers of Congress” event with members from both parties and both representatives and senators coming together for one single purpose: giving their voices to help girls in the United States who are being bought and sold for sex.

As for the two of us, even though we come from different parts of the country and are registered in different political parties, the facts about human trafficking in the United States haunt us equally. Unfortunately, many girls and boys are arrested and charged with prostitution. A child who is not of the age to consent to sex cannot be a prostitute and should not be arrested at all but rather treated for what they are: victims. And the men who exploit children should never be called johns but should rightfully be called child abusers.

A recent study cited by the Department of Justice concluded that at least 100,000 young people are at risk for commercial exploitation.

According to the DOJ, the average age of entry for child sex trafficking victims in the United States is 12-14 years old.

And, not surprisingly, some of the nation’s most vulnerable children are most at-risk of being trafficked. In fact, cities throughout the nation report that the vast majority of child victims of trafficking are current or former foster youth. Additionally, the National Runaway Hotline concluded that one in three teens on the street will be lured into the sex trade within 48 hours of leaving home.

A national problem requires a national answer. Members of Congress from both sides are working across the aisle to advance a number of bills to prevent trafficking, protect and serve victims, and prosecute exploiters.  

For example, the “Justice for Human Trafficking Act” and the “End Sex Trafficking Act” have attracted Democrats and Republicans from across the country and the ideological spectrum because they will greatly increase victims' access to services, curb the demand that is fueling the child sex trafficking market, and punish individuals who purchase underage girls for sex.

To better protect our foster youth from exploitation, there are the bi-partisan “Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act” and the “Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act.” These bills will ensure that child welfare agencies are better equipped to prevent victimization and provide the appropriate services to foster youth who have been exploited.

These bills will also enable us to collect essential information in order to understand the scope of child trafficking in our states and communities and monitor trends.

When it comes to helping the children most in need, we have removed our partisan blinders to focus on well thought-out and practical solutions.

Now it’s time for Congress to take action and move our bills into law.

Our nation’s future depends on it.

Bass has represented California's 37th Congressional District since 2011. She sits on the Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs committees. Poe has represented Texas's 2nd Congressional District since 2005. He sits on the Judiciary and the Foreign Affairs committees.



May 12 2014

The PA has not fulfilled its obligations

The Jerusalem Post

The most recent collapse of the tedious and tiresome diplomatic kabuki theater commonly known as the Israeli- Palestinian peace process was wholly predictable.

Once again Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has demonstrated that he is not prepared to make any real compromises for peace. On the contrary, while Israel was making efforts to advance the negotiations with the Palestinians while putting up with the usual US pressure, Abbas signed a pact with Hamas.

Clearly Abbas prefers peace with the terrorist group Hamas over peace with the Jewish State of Israel.

Hamas, lest we forget, is a murderous terror organization that calls daily, as well as in its constitutional charter, for the destruction of Israel. Hamas insists that Muslims are enjoined as a matter of religious doctrine to wage war on Jews and to kill them.

Hamas has fired over 10,000 rockets and missiles at Israel. Over the years, Hamas’ suicide bombers have murdered hundreds of innocent Israeli and American civilians even in the center of Israel’s cities.

It is for this reason that Hamas is designated as a terror organization by the US, the EU, Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan and even Egypt. Hamas does not recognize “human rights” and routinely oppresses women, hangs and murders political opponents, denies freedom of religion to Christians, denies freedom of the press, etc. At every opportunity Hamas leadership rejects the idea of ceasing its terror activities against Israel, or supporting negotiations with Israel, much less recognizing previous diplomatic agreements between Israel and the PA.

This pact between Abbas and Hamas is a direct continuation of the Palestinians’ refusal to advance the peace process negotiations.

In February Abbas rejected the framework principles that were proposed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and refused to even discuss recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.

Even more telling, Abbas once again materially breached existing interim peace agreements when he had the PA unilaterally apply to join international agreements (a continuation of its previous material violation when it sought and obtained recognition of “statehood” by the UN General Assembly).

Those of us who have been keenly observing this unfold over the years are hardly surprised. The PA has never actually fulfilled any of its obligations under the various interim peace agreements since its founding in 1994. For example, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement continues unabated on a daily basis in the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Even during the current round of failed peace negotiations Tawfiq Tirawi, the influential Fatah Central Committee member, openly rejected coexistence with Israel and called for a return to violent “resistance”: “I say, from a position of responsibility, not a centimeter of Jerusalem will be liberated unless every grain of Palestinian soil is soaked in the blood of its brave people...

What will bring back Jerusalem are the struggle and the resolve... We have conducted negotiations, while not laying down the rifle. It [the rifle] may be resting but we will not neglect our principles. We will rest the fighter’s rest, but each period has its method of struggle.”

Even more significantly, Palestinian terrorists and terrorist groups continue to freely operate and arm themselves despite obligations that mandate they be stopped and their weapons confiscated. The only substantive efforts the PA has ever made to curtail terrorism have been against those Palestinian factions that rival Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, principally Hamas.

Even then these anti-terror actions were taken only when Fatah feared the power and communal influence of its rivals.

A little review of the Fatah-Hamas conflict is in order here: Fatah is the dominant party of the PLO and the ruling party of the PA; while the PLO has been telling the West that it renounced violence and is committed to peace since 1993, many of its member groups, like Fatah, have routinely engaged in terrorism and violence since then, and continue to tell Arabic audiences that the destruction of Israel is still the endgame. Hamas is the religious party, and offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to be committed to Israel’s destruction, and has never pretended to, or flirted with, alternative positions.

In 2006 Hamas, which is not a member of the PLO, democratically won control of the PA’s legislative body. Tensions between Fatah and Hamas had already been on the rise as early as 2005, but after Hamas’ legislative win in 2006, the two groups began to openly fight; by the end of 2006 the violence was in full swing. Having repeatedly failed to reach a deal to share government power, the fighting and violence between them took another turn for the worse in June 2007. By the time the dust had settled in August 2007, hundreds of Palestinians had been brutalized and killed by both sides, and Hamas had taken total control of the Gaza strip.

Since then the PA has been split into two distinct polities – the Fatah-ruled PA and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Both entities believe themselves to be the one true representative of the Palestinian Arab people.

Since this civil war between them, Fatah has sought to make nice with Hamas multiple times so that they can be unified in their “struggle” against Israel. It is only in this context that the PA has ever curtailed terrorism – all in the effort to prevent Hamas from extending its rule beyond Gaza and knocking Fatah out of its top-dog position. Incidentally, this is also why there have been no PA presidential elections since 2005 and no PA legislative elections since 2006, and why Mahmoud Abbas is in the ninth year of his four-year term.

Since 1994, direct financial assistance from the US to the Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has exceeded $5 billion. Since FY2008, US direct assistance has averaged around $600 million: approximately $200m. in direct budgetary assistance; approximately $100m. in “non-lethal” security assistance for the PA in the “West Bank”; approximately $300m. dedicated to project assistance for the “West Bank” and Gaza through US government grants to contracting organizations and NGOs. This doesn’t even consider the billions the US taxpayer has gifted over the decades to the Palestinians via the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Yet despite such US taxpayer largess to the Palestinians, the United States has gotten little return on its expenditures.

Under current US law, American financial aid to the Palestinians will be stopped once a unity deal is reached with an unrepentant Hamas. Despite this likely cut-off in aid, Abbas’ PA continues to be more interested in peace with Hamas than with Israel. That suggests a far more robust resonance of the Hamas message and ideology than anyone cares to admit.

Under the circumstances, it seems idiotic to expect Israel to continue to negotiate with any Palestinian government that is playing nice with Hamas. Likewise, it seems absurd for the US to continue both to push this process along, and to subsidize the Palestinians in their efforts. The US would do well to stand with Israel, rather than attempt to push her into folly.

Mar 18 2014

Crime pays - for Palestinian terrorists

The Jerusalem Post

When a Palestinian murders an Israeli or an American in Israel, they can wind up receiving a salary in excess of $40,000 a year, for their crime.

The more serious the crime the more money the criminal receives after going to prison.

Absurd? Yes. True? Yes again.

When a Palestinian Arab terrorist murders an Israeli or an American in Israel, they can wind up receiving a generous salary, in excess of $40,000 a year, for their crime. And if you are a US taxpayer, you are footing part of the tab.

As chairman of House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, I recently held a hearing on “Threats to Israel: Terrorist Funding and Trade Boycotts.”

One of the expert witnesses who testified before the committee was Edwin Black, an investigative reporter and New York Times bestselling author. In his detailed and heavily documented account Black explains how this morally outrageous system works.

The United States gives to the Palestinian Authority (PA ) hundreds of millions of US dollars each year, as do other donor countries. The PA then spends this money. One of the PA ’s top budget priorities is to pay the salaries of Palestinian terrorists who have been convicted of murdering, or attempting to murder, Israelis – with higher salaries doled out on a sliding scale.

The more ghastly the atrocity and the higher the prison sentence, the greater the PA salary.

The moment a Palestinian is convicted of an act of terror – “violent resistance” is the Palestinians’ preferred propaganda term – against Israel, whether against a soldier or civilian, that convicted terrorist is automatically entered into the PA ’s public payroll to receive a generous monthly salary (to be paid from the date of his or her arrest, not conviction). Salaries range from around $400 a month to up to $3,400 a month – up to 10 times the average pay earned by many working Palestinians, according to Black.

This policy of automatically putting Palestinian terrorists on the official PA payroll is enshrined in official PA public law – known as the “Palestinian Law of the Prisoner.” This law has been unofficially on the books since the PA came into existence in 1993 following the Oslo Peace Accords, and was then regularized, formalized and made official in 2004. The salaries are administered by the PA ’s Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, established in 1998.

These payments amount to almost $10 million a month in some years and constitute around six percent of the PA ’s annual budget, according to the PA ’s own Finance Ministry. According to Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli-based NGO, the PA paid $100m. to terrorists in 2013.

There is even a semi-official Palestinian watchdog group called the Prisoners Club which ensures the PA ’s compliance with the law and pushes for payments as a prioritized expenditure.

So that even during the PA ’s frequent budget shortfalls and financial crises, these terrorists’ salaries will be paid before any other fiscal obligations.

The Prisoner’s Club was established in 1994, and operates on funds received from the PA budget.

Beyond these official salaries, and periodic bonuses, these terrorists are lauded by the PA and the Palestinian culture as heroes, and their children are accorded special status, including tuition breaks at PA academic institutions.

These payments are not welfare to the families of “violent resistance” fighters, but actual salaries to them, to be disbursed by power of attorney to whomever they, the terrorist, choose – could be to family, a mistress, or even a terrorist organization. The terrorist retains total control of his or her salary.

Indeed the promise of a generous PA salary is itself, perhaps, a cause of Palestinian terrorism. One convicted Palestinian terrorist, Husni Najjar, for example, recently told Israeli police that he planned a second, fictitious terror attack against Israelis because he knew he would receive a hefty salary from the PA if he was imprisoned for it. His previous offense was helping to plan a suicide bombing which was foiled. For this act of terrorism he received about $13,000 in total from the PA in salary. That amount was not enough for him. With his second conviction he was hoping to increase that tenfold to pay for his recent wedding and cover his debts.

Using US taxpayer dollars to reward and incentivize terrorism against civilians is not merely illegal, but sickening and immoral. Money is fungible, however, meaning that the millions of American taxpayers’ dollars we give to the PA frees up an exactly equal amount of millions to be spent in any way the PA wishes, free of all American restrictions.

So in a very real sense, every US dollar given to the PA serves as an indirect American taxpayer subsidy of whatever the PA chooses to spend its money on, including activities that are illegal under US law and activities that the United States otherwise opposes and seeks to stop. This is even assuming – perhaps a very big assumption for a famously corrupt governing authority – that not a single dollar of US taxpayer monies gifted to the PA ’s general budget to help them make payroll is ever diverted or misappropriated directly by the PA for such purposes.

Even more galling, some of these salaried PA terrorists have killed and maimed US citizens! What is to be done? First and foremost, we need to stop subsidizing Palestinian Arab terrorists. We can start by halting all funding to the PA until they abolish the Law of the Prisoner.

Short of this, we can halt all direct budgetary assistance – there is no reason why the US taxpayer needs to help the PA make payroll while such “employees” are on the public paybill.

Paying terrorists for committing crime is absurd folly. American taxpayers and the families of victims deserve better. If anything, money should be going to the victims. In any event, we do not need to pay terrorists to kill Israelis and Americans. They will do it anyway.

And that’s just the way it is.

For many people in the developing world, Valentine’s Day is just another day of hardship. In the world’s poorest areas, throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America, millions of people are living without access to basic components of human survival – safe, clean drinking water, and  a clean, working toilet.

The burden of finding and fetching water falls disproportionally on the shoulders of women and girls. Because of cultural taboos, women and girls also suffer more from the lack of sanitary facilities. One in three women worldwide risk shame, disease, harassment and even attack because they have nowhere safe to use a toilet. On their long, daily trek to find clean water for their family, women and girls are in significant danger of gender-based violence.

Women and girls should not have to live in fear every time they head out to collect water or use the toilet, and we should do everything we can to put an end to it.

Thankfully, there is a global movement to take action against gender-based violence on Valentine’s Day. The One Billion Rising campaign seeks to stop violence against women and girls. It calls on people around the world to “harness their power and imagination to rise for justice.”

I’m taking action and want you to do the same. Last August, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and I reintroduced the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act (HR 2901), a bipartisan bill that will improve the well-being, education, economic opportunity, safety, and dignity of the 768 million people who don’t have safe drinking water and the 2.5 billion people who live without a basic latrine. By improving our government’s focus on the poorest of the poor and the countries and communities suffering most from water-related diseases, Water for the World will save many lives. Most importantly, it will use current funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene more effectively. It is a smart bill that won’t break the bank.

There is significant support for this bill around the country. People in all 50 states are doing their part, volunteering their time and resources to international safe water and sanitation projects through Rotary clubs, church groups, schools, and charities. I’m doing what I can with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to push this bill ahead on Capitol Hill. Now, I urge you to help me with this effort.

All of us can agree that politics stop at water. It’s a serious issue, but a solvable one. Women and girls deserve to be free from the fear of violence and harassment trying to fulfill basic needs. For this Valentine’s Day and One Billion Rising, join me in taking action.

Poe has represented Texas's 2nd Congressional District since 2005. He sits on the Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary committees.

It’s Tuesday morning. A citizen wakes up, writes emails and makes a phone call. 

The person has a meeting soon, so he pulls up Google Maps to figure out a route. 

He then hops into a cab, checks Facebook on his phone, texts his friend and plays ‘Candy Crush’ on his iPhone. 

After the meeting he heads to the office, logs on to his computer and G-chats with a friend about where he plans to go for dinner that evening. 

Later that evening, after dinner, he uploads a photo from dinner on Instagram. Throughout the day, the government was with him every step of the way.

Until last year, most Americans were unaware that their every move could be tracked by Big Brother. 

Through the NSA, the government has the ability to read emails, texts, phone logs, track location and movements, snoop and collect information about individuals through smart phone apps, read g-chats and look at private photos. 

The failure to disclose any of this information until recently is why Americans fear for their privacy. And they should. Big Government kept a big secret.

How did we get here? Over the years, technology has rapidly evolved and given power-hungry, unelected bureaucrats the capability to sift through data and find out more information than ever. But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. But the ease of access to this information was too tempting for government. They snooped, and now we know.

The White House claims that the NSA has no interest in monitoring the activity of “ordinary” Americans. But, most Americans have a hard time accepting that. They question the truth in that statement for the simple fact that had Edward Snowden not revealed what was really going on within NSA in the first place; this snooping and spying would still be going on in the dark shadows of government operations. And, equally important, they know that this snooping and spying is still going on today.

Furthermore, NSA’s own internal watchdog revealed dozens of instances where employees misused their intelligence capabilities to spy on people, even ex-girlfriends. Why? Simply because they can.

The secret truth we are learning is that for years the NSA has quietly snooped and spied on millions of people without a warrant or justification to do so. 

In my opinion, illegal activity has occurred.  NSA argues that its employees only carry out the actions necessary to find terrorists and protect our country. They have even claimed that terrorist attacks have been prevented as a result of their actions. 

If this is true, those success stories should be made public. At a Judiciary Committee hearing last week, I asked Deputy Attorney General James Cole how many criminal cases have been filed as a result of this massive spying operation. 

His answer? Maybe one.  And he wasn’t even 100% sure of that.   

That’s right, the NSA has launched one of the largest data collection programs in U.S. history that monitors who we call, how long we talk to them, who they called, and where our calls were made from, all in order to “maybe” catch one bad guy. 

In any event, the ends do not justify the means. NSA has trampled on the Fourth Amendment rights of millions of Americans. 

The Patriot Act permits targeted surveillance when that surveillance is justified by a court—it does not permit the intrusive activities brought to light by Snowden. 

This old Soviet-style, dragnet approach -- casting a wide net in hopes of catching a big fish -- is not permitted under the law. It is also unconstitutional. It is similar to police searching homes in in an entire zip code looking for one outlaw. 

No judge would permit this but t

On January 14, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted, “Our relationship [with] the world is based on [the] Iranian nation’s interests. In Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to [the] Iranian nation's will.”

While the tweet has since been deleted, the point is clear: when negotiating, you know you’re getting a bad deal when the other party interprets your acceptance as surrender. Yet this is exactly what happened last week after the Obama Administration signed an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.

The interim deal signed between Iran and the P5+1 countries has now gone into effect. Iran will supposedly freeze components of its nuclear program, and in return, we will undo our most important sanctions against them, to the tune of $20 billion. Iran will benefit even more than that though when foreign companies are allowed to re-enter its markets. 

Iran’s oil and gas industry alone would see billions of dollars pour in. After the initial deal was agreed to in December, European energy companies wasted no time before meeting with the Iranian oil minister. If foreign companies are fully allowed back in, $20 billion would be a drop in the oil drum compared to what Iran would then get in energy investment alone. This would also make it tougher to re-introduce sanctions should Iran renege on its side of the deal.

It is clear how much Iran benefited from this agreement, but what did the rest of the world get? Unfortunately, not much except for a guarantee that the world could very soon be a more dangerous place.

The Geneva Accord stipulates that Iran limit uranium enrichment to five percent—the level needed to produce electricity. It also forces Iran to dilute or convert its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium, a key component for making nuclear weapons. On the surface, these terms might sound plausible if they were permanent changes to the regime’s capabilities, but they are not. 

Hours after Iran signed the agreement, its deputy foreign minister and top nuclear negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, boasted on Iranian state television that Iran could “return to the previous situation in a day.” At any moment, Iran can flip the switch and start enriching weapons-grade uranium. Our sanctions will not be as easy to resurrect. If they do start enriching again, the international community would have very little leverage to stop them. What then?

The agreement also bars Iran from installing nuclear equipment at its heavy water reactor in Arak but allows it to continue constructing it. This is a grave mistake. Iran claims that it wants to produce isotopes for nuclear medicine, but reactors also play an essential role in nuclear weapons programs. The Arak reactor’s size and design is too big for a peaceful reactor. Experts say it more closely resembles a nuclear weapons facility. When asked if he thought the Arak reactor could be used for peaceful purposes, former State Department non-proliferation official Robert J. Einhorn said, “Yes it could. A 12-inch hunting knife also could be used to spread jam on your toast in the morning.”

Even if one believed that Iran only wanted the reactor for medicinal use, it’s still a potential threat. That’s reason enough to give the world concern. Once the reactor is built and filled with nuclear material, either for scientific or military purposes, it will be nearly impossible to destroy. The reactor is essentially invincible. A military strike on it would release dangerous radioactive particles into the air like a Persian Chernob

As we begin 2014, it's worth reflecting on where we stand in our fight against al-Qaida and global terrorism.


Over the past year, in my role as chairman of the Terrorism Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I've held a multitude of hearings examining the threat from al-Qaida and its affiliates.

Dozens of renowned terrorist experts and Obama administration officials gave their input on the current state of play. After all that, I'm left with the unfortunate conclusion that we are not winning this war. We don't even have a strategy.

Throughout 2012 and much of 2013, the administration has toed the line that al-Qaida is on the path to defeat and with it, that terrorism is no longer the threat it once was. Nothing could be further from the truth.

During his landmark counterterrorism speech in May 2013, President Barack Obama all but declared an end to the global war on terror. He said that al-Qaida was "on the path to defeat" and that the threat we now face is similar in scale to the threats we faced before 9/11, suggesting that this was somehow a positive revelation.

I'd like to remind the president that the terrorism threat pre-9/11 was actually pretty frightening and led to the destruction of the Twin Towers, part of the Pentagon, and more than 2,740 deaths, not to mention a crippling effect on the U.S. economy. Pre-9/11, al-Qaida maintained large-scale operations in South Asia, complete with training camps and operational capabilities.

I'm not sure what he considers a "victory," but that's certainly not my definition.

In fact, even before the president's counterterrorism eulogy, the White House touted the death of Osama bin Laden as the death knell to al-Qaida.

All of this really makes me wonder if the White House understands al-Qaida, the threat, and its expansion over the past few years. Right now, al-Qaida controls or operates in more territory around the globe than at any point since its creation in 1988. Al-Qaida and its affiliates are resurgent in Iraq, a major player in Syria, a force in Yemen and Somalia, still active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, operational in the Caucasus, and in pockets throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This isn't what I'd call success.

Today, al-Qaida is a complex, adaptive, and resilient organization. The administration's successes against high-value targets have fostered a false sense of security.

Over the past several years, al-Qaida has developed a new strategy to foster affiliate groups that still maintain strong connections to the core. Take Syria for instance. A terrorist named Abu Khalid al Suri is fighting for a hardcore jihadist organization named Ahrar al-Sham. Ahrar al --Sham does not self-identify as al-Qaida. Yet Suri is a leading figure in the movement and serves as al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's main representative in the Levant, according to the Long War Journal.

Having been a former trusted courier of bin Laden himself, Suri is about as plugged-in to core al-Qaida as you can get.

So although al-Qaida may not have its name plastered all over the Middle East or publicly announce its affiliations and locations, it is always lurking beneath the surface. This doesn't mean al-Qaida is weakened or on the verge of defeat, it means it has altered the way it conducts its terror campaign and spreads its roots. Burying our heads in the sand and pretending it isn't so only increases al-Qaida's likelihood of controlling territory or launching successful attacks.

I, along with many of my colleagues in Congress, believe the American public is no safer today than we were a year or two years ago. Unfortunately, a rise in domestic fatalities from terrorist-related acts and terrorists' connections to inc

As the old Israeli saying goes, “What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.”

Iran and six world powers, including the United States, are meeting in Geneva to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The US must be clear and unequivocal: There will be no reductions in sanctions without verified steps to show that Tehran is abandoning, not just freezing, its nuclear weapons program.

Sanctions are what have brought Iran to the table to talk in the first place. In 2012, the Islamic Republic’s net exports of petroleum dropped to their lowest level since 1990. Its GDP has dropped for the first time in 20 years. The Iranian Central Bank acknowledged an annual inflation rate of 45 percent in late July 2013; many economists believe it is more likely in the 50-70 percent range.

In short, the Iranians are feeling the pinch. The sanctions are working.

But getting the Iranians to the negotiating table is not good enough.

If we reduce sanctions now, we give up one of our main sources of leverage for the negotiations. Why stop what is working before we even start talking? Tehran wants to ease the sanctions to a tolerable enough level so that it can continue developing nuclear weapons without pain to its economy.

If we ease sanctions now, Iran will doubt our resolve, continue to run out the clock, and develop nuclear weapons knowing that there will be no serious consequences.

If the US caves in at this critical time, other countries around the world will likely follow its lead and ease their own sanctions. In short, we would be right back to where we were in 2004: Iran marching toward a dangerous nuclear weapons program with no significant sanctions in place. Only this time, it would be much worse. Tehran has continually blocked international inspectors from seeing its nuclear facilities because it has something to hide.

Iran is closer than ever before to crossing the threshold and developing a nuclear weapon. Iran’s stockpile of medium-enriched uranium has nearly doubled in a year, and its number of centrifuges has expanded from 12,000 in 2012 to 19,000 today.

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, a recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security states. It goes on to say that if Iran built a covert enrichment plant with the specific purpose of enriching uranium as quickly as possible, with current Iranian technology it could produce enough material for a nuclear bomb in a week. Backing off from sanctions now should not be an option. We simply do not have time.

If we want diplomacy to succeed, we shouldn’t be talking about reducing sanctions but rather ratcheting them up. My colleagues and I in the House of Representatives passed an additional sanctions bill in July that would inflict even more pain on the Iranian regime. These new sanctions would go after more sectors of the Iranian economy and more individuals in the Iranian government. The US Senate should ignore the president’s objections and pass these sanctions immediately. If peace is to carry the day, we cannot start backing down now.

Nobody wants war with Iran. We should not give up the one peaceful tool that has finally impacted the Iranian regime enough to change its cost-benefit analysis. It would be foolish and dangerous to reduce sanctions without Iran proving that it is dismantling its nuclear weapons program. And that’s just the way it is.