Op-Eds

Have you ever been bitten by a sea lion? Pecked by a turkey? Or had two collisions in succession with a lamppost?

Welcome to ICD-10 — where each of the above scenarios has a corresponding government-mandated code.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a coding system used in most countries for research purposes. Here in the U.S., the medical community is also forced to use it for billing. Currently, the U.S. operates under ICD-9, which has 14,000 diagnostic codes.

On October 1, 2015, doctors in the U.S. may be forced to implement the tenth iteration: ICD-10, which has five times as many codes as its predecessor — nearly 70,000 diagnostic codes. Some of these new codes include injuries like getting hurt at the library, suffering burns due to water skis set on fire, suffering injury in an unspecified balloon incident or being mauled multiple times by a duck.

No, really.

The absurdity of these examples aside, ICD-10 will have serious, costly consequences for physicians and patients. With 56,000 more new mandated codes, ICD-10 will require extensive training for providers and their staff. That's time away from patients. It's also money spent on code training instead of being used to hire another doctor or nurse to actually help treat patients.

The use of the wrong code — a realistic possibility, given tens of thousands of codes — can be punished with a significant penalty. Adding an even thicker layer of bureaucracy between patient and doctor, ICD-10 could cost medical practices an estimated $56,000 to $8,000,000 to implement, depending on the size of the practice. After Canada implemented ICD-10, the Vancouver Island Health Authority reported that the average coding time more than doubled, from 12-15 minutes to 33 minutes under ICD-10. The new system helped create a significant backlog of 139 days.

All this time and money being spent on coding means less time for doctors to treat a problem. The harsh reality is that not a single dime of this mandate will help patients.

Just this week, the Obama administration announced a one-year grace period for the implementation of the new code system. Yet this new guidance does nothing for physicians who are unable to implement this costly program by the October 1 deadline. At the very least, both physicians who attempt to implement this burdensome mandate and those who are unable to fully implement it should be given serious relief. The best solution would be to scrap ICD-10 altogether. That is why we introduced and co-sponsored H.R. 2126, the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2015. If passed, this legislation will prohibit the federal government from forcing medical providers to adopt ICD-10. This is just one small way of putting families, patients, and doctors back in charge of health care, instead of having it run by bureaucrats and politicians in Washington.

The federal government must let doctors do what they are trained to do — help people. A new system of 70,000 codes and classifications is not only ill advised, but completely unhelpful to medicine. Doctors want to help the sick and injured — let's help them to do that instead of being tied down with endless paperwork.

Tom Price is a Republican representing Georgia's 6th congressional district. Ted Poe is a Republican politician representing Texas's 2nd congressional district.

TEXAS TRIBUNE

Byline: John Cornyn and Ted Poe

Chained to a bed in a warehouse. Branded like cattle. Set on fire. These are just some of the horrific stories we've heard from women who have suffered as victims of human trafficking here in Texas.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery, plain and simple. Sadly, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Texas has the second-highest number of reported incidents of human trafficking in the country. While this horrific underground industry has been hidden for years in plain sight, the good news is that efforts to fight it are growing across the nation, and Texas is on the front lines.

Last week we had the opportunity to visit the Letot Center, a rehabilitation facility in Dallas where we saw firsthand what can happen when government officials, law enforcement officers, nonprofits and concerned citizens join forces to restore the lives of human trafficking victims. We were joined by advocates from the nonprofit New Friends New Life, an organization that provides job training, financial assistance, life skills coaching and special programs to address the challenges that survivors and their families face. With the addition of a brand-new all-female facility, the Letot Center and groups like New Friends New Life not only provide a safe home for trafficking survivors, but also help arm them with the resources to rebuild their lives.

One brave survivor we met was Amanda Jones, who became a victim of human trafficking after she was kidnapped in Dallas at the age of 15. For nine long years, she lived in terror as she was repeatedly sold for sex. Through the New Friends New Life’s holistic approach — which addresses the physical, mental and spiritual needs of victims — Amanda and her daughter are now living proof that there is hope for trafficking survivors fighting abuse, addiction or poverty.

As former judges, we strongly believe in not only punishing the people who commit these horrendous crimes, but also helping victims rebuild their lives. And as fathers, we refuse to sit back while children are being bought and sold in our own state. That's why we authored the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act — to provide law enforcement with new tools to apprehend those who commit these heinous crimes, and to provide resources for restoration for the survivors. We're proud that this bipartisan bill has been signed by the president and is now the law of the land.

Under our legislation, a special fund will be created to help these victims get the shelter and services they need, providing them with a fresh start. The law ensures that those who have been sold into slavery are treated as victims rather than as criminals. The legislation will also strengthen law enforcement tools to take down all human traffickers and the organized criminal networks supporting them. Finally, the law targets the predators who purchase trafficked women.  

Partnerships on the federal, state and local level will be instrumental in eradicating these crimes. We must do everything possible to support survivors like Amanda to break the cycle of exploitation, overcome the pain of their experiences and start a new life. We can achieve this if organizations like New Friends New Life and facilities like the Letot Center have the tools and resources they need to serve every victim who comes through their doors.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act will help us accomplish this, and we will continue fighting to ensure that this new law is fully enforced and implemented. 

HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Byline: Rep. Ted Poe and Sen. Rand Paul

We believe that the unrestricted and unconstitutional bulk data collection program implemented by the NSA represents the worst of the Washington Machine, and a recent poll shows that a majority of Americans agree. The government should not have the authority to collect information without first obtaining a warrant. Period.

Our Founders feared a government powerful enough to commit unreasonable searches and seizures, and thus they crafted the Fourth Amendment to protect our right to privacy. Though technology has evolved, the Constitution remains everlasting. Gone are the days where Americans use their cellphones exclusively for phone calls and text messages.

Many people also use their phones for daily activities from tracking their steps to logging their finances or inputting what they ate that day. We believe the Fourth Amendment protects our phone conversations, our emails, our texts, our Internet history, our bank statements and more.

The NSA bulk-collection program tramples our rights. Recently, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals deemed this bulk collection of data illegal. Now, some members of Congress are trying to pass a law that allows this illegal surveillance to continue. We will not stand for it.

The House of Representatives recently passed the USA Freedom Act, which makes some steps to limit data collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act; however, the bill does nothing to limit government spying under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

Contrary to claims that the House bill would "end bulk surveillance," the truth is it would not. The NSA uses Section 702 as a means to gather not only data, but actual content of communications - content of your phone calls, texts and emails. Section 702 is more intrusive than Section 215.

In the course of this collection, the content of American citizens, many of whom have done nothing wrong or illegal, is also collected. Current law allows law enforcement to then search through this data for information and they can do so without a warrant. Reverse-targeting of American citizens is inconsistent with the Constitution and must stop now.

Opponents of civil liberties will argue that these mass invasions of privacy will make us safer. We refuse to believe that you must give up your constitutional rights for national security. Casting too wide of a collection net for intelligence can be a distraction from the analysis necessary to stop plots and - to counter terrorism.

Let us be clear: The NSA should keep close watch on suspected terrorists to keep our country safe. But before invading the privacy of American citizens, a warrant must and can be obtained in a timely manner. Programs that permit due process and are held accountable by an open court will serve as a just way to collect intelligence. The sacrifice of our personal liberty for security is and will forever be a false choice.

We have introduced several pieces of legislation that would restrain the federal government. This legislation includes HR 2233, the End Warrantless Surveillance of Americans Act. HR 2233 would prohibit warrantless searches of government databases for information that pertains to U.S. citizens. It would also forbid government agencies from mandating or requesting "back doors" into commercial products that can be used for surveillance. The legislation mirrors an amendment we offered to the USA Freedom Act, which was backed by a broad bipartisan coalition, including members of Congress and outside groups across the political spectrum. We are proud to represent the masses in the fight for NSA reform, and we will continue to stand united in defense of the Bill of Rights.

Poe, a Republican, represents Houston in the U.S. House of Representatives. Paul, a Republican, represents Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.

CYPRESS CREEK MIRROR

Byline: Rep. Ted Poe

It’s Friday night. You come home from work, tired and hungry for supper.

There is a big stack of mail on the table you sift through, including one piece addressed to you from the government.

You open the envelope only to find a survey.

The survey asks you to asks a series of questions like: How many toilets do you have in your house? When do you leave and return from work? Does anyone in your home suffer from mental illness? Does your house have a sink with a faucet? Do you have a refrigerator?

This government-mandated questionnaire is known as the American Community Survey. Three million Americans each year are “lucky” enough to be selected to answer this mandatory survey. The American Community Survey is independent from the Census. This survey is more intrusive, more personal and more time consuming. Not to mention, it is 28 pages long and mandatory.

Understandably, many people dismiss this survey, tossing it out or feeling too uncomfortable to divulge such personal information. But throwing it away does not make it disappear.

If you fail to answer the survey, the government will come after you. It begins with phone calls. If the calls go answered or the survey is incomplete, the calls will increase from weekly to daily. Then the eyes of the federal government are sent to houses of the unwilling, to ring the doorbell and peak in the window. This is harassment. No one wants the government doing drop-ins to their home. Quite the opposite, the majority of Americans want the government to leave them alone.

And on top of all the harassment and intimidation by Census Bureau emissaries, citizens who still choose not to answer, are threatened with a criminal penalty, and in some cases face up to a $5,000 fine.

In an effort to help protect American’s privacy, I reintroduced legislation that would make the American Community Survey voluntary. This survey is another example of unnecessary and completely unwarranted government intrusion.

The federal government has no right to force Americans to divulge such private information, especially information that they are uncomfortable giving away.

But this is happening all over America and even right here in Southeast Texas. I have had neighbors contact me for years complaining about this government harassment.

According to the Constitution, article 1, section 2, a count of the nation’s population is required to be conducted every ten years. The purpose of the Census is to apportion congressional seats and levy direct taxes. But the American Community Survey achieves none of that, except information on American’s toilet flushing patterns.

I believe in a limited government and will work to protect American citizens from government abuse and harassment. Bottom line, Americans should have the choice on whether they want to tell Washington how many toilets they have.

And that’s just the way it is.

BREITBART

The following op-ed was authored and submitted to Breitbart Texas by Congressman

Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)

Nearly two years have passed since a then-unknown 29-year-old nerd-turned-international fugitive aired the NSA’s dirty secrets to the world. Edward Snowden is no patriot. However, the alarming information about the NSA’s abuse of power he revealed cannot be ignored. Until Snowden, most Americans were unaware that their own government was trampling on their Fourth Amendment rights. Most people did not know their every move could be tracked by Big Brother. They trusted that this agency acted purely in the interest of national security to keep us safe. Not only were Americans in the dark on this, but so were many Members of Congress (including myself) who voted for legislation that NSA then used and abused to conduct its rogue activities.

Post 9/11 and with two ongoing wars, many believed that government surveillance – including warrantless searches and seizures – was limited to foreign nationals, not American citizens. That would be consistent with federal law and the Constitution. But this did not happen. For example, NSA uses Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act permits targeted surveillance when that surveillance is justified by a court. Instead, NSA collects bulk meta data—such as surveillance of phone numbers in whole zip codes or phone carriers. These Soviet Style dragnet tactics went far beyond the scope of what Congress authorized in Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Government simply cannot disregard the law just because it is inconvenient.

We also now realized that the agency has misused and expanded the intent of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). NSA uses Section 702 as a means to gather not only data but content and to allow law enforcement to later search this data for information about American citizens without a warrant. Because it gathers and searches content of individual communications, Section 702 is more intrusive than Section 215. FISA permits the collection of such data of a suspected agent of a foreign power, but the federal government is also storing and later searching the content of emails, text messages and phone calls of American citizens — all without a warrant. In the course of this collection, the data of American citizens, many of which have done nothing wrong or illegal, gets collected. That kind of reverse targeting of American citizens is not what Congress intended, is inconsistent with the Constitution and must stop.

The NSA has claimed it has no interest in monitoring the activity of “ordinary” Americans. My response to that is simple: then don’t do it. But, most Americans have a hard time accepting that line. They question that 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.

It’s time for Congress to reign in this blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment and stop the warrantless searches Americans. This issue—protecting the Fourth Amendment—has unified liberals and conservatives. This week, Congresswoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) 21%, Congressman Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) 91%, and I introduced the End Warrantless Surveillance of Americans Act. The bill would prohibit warrantless searches of government databases for information that pertains to U.S. citizens. It would also forbid government agencies from mandating or requesting “back doors” into commercial products that can be used for surveillance. The legislation mirrors an amendment we offered to the USA Freedom Act, which was backed by a broad bipartisan coalition including Members of Congress and outside groups across the political spectrum.

The USA Freedom Act that passed out of the Judiciary Committee last week is an improvement over current law and a step in the right direction. But we can do more to protect the Fourth Amendment. In addition to stopping bulk data collection, Congress should also act now to fix the other loophole and stop warrantless searches under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Failure to address this gaping loophole in FISA leaves the constitutional rights of millions of Americans vulnerable and unprotected. This bill also ensures that the federal government does not force companies to enable its spying activities. The NSA has and will continue to violate the constitutional protections guaranteed to every American unless Congress intervenes. Until we fix this and make the law clear, citizens can never be sure that their private conversations are safe from the eyes of the government.

Last year the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed similar legislation as an amendment to DOD Appropriations. Congress should do all that it can to reform our national intelligence agencies and to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, including passing this legislation to close the loophole and ensure that the NSA abides by the letter and spirit of the law. It is our duty to make this right and ensure that the Fourth Amendment rights of the people we represent will no longer be trampled on by the NSA. And that’s just the way it is.

Congressman Poe is a senior Member of the House Judiciary Committee and a former Judge.

THE HILL

Byline: Reps. Ted Poe and Carolyn Maloney

A miraculous thing happened recently in Washington. Both parties came together to negotiate important legislation, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, moving beyond partisan attacks and rhetoric to find common ground. Their compromise passed the Senate by a vote of 99-0. This is not only important from a procedural, functional standpoint, it’s important because it will help fight a major problem in our society: human trafficking, one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the United States. We urge the House to bring the Senate bill up for a vote without delay.

Many of us do not realize that in this nation, and in our own backyards, individuals are held against their will, their bodies sold repeatedly day in and day out. This modern-day form of slavery is an enormous black market, with an estimated value of $9.8 billion in the U.S. The average age of children sold into the sex trade is just 13. As Americans, and as parents and grandparents, we cannot turn a blind eye to this fact any more. Human trafficking is real. It is in every state, city and suburb in America. It is imperative that we protect American children from the traffickers who prey upon the most vulnerable in our society.

The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act is a robust and aggressive response that does three main things. 

First, the bill targets demand. Going after those who buy and sell our children will help decimate this industry. The legislation treats those who pay for sex with minors and other trafficking victims as criminals and will help prosecutors put them where they belong: behind bars. 

Second, the bill focuses on restoring the victims. Children who are sold for sex are victims, not prostitutes, and it’s time to treat them as such by ensuring that they have a safe place to stay, resources they need for rehabilitation and services uniquely tailored for human trafficking survivors. 

Lastly, the bill provides resources to train law enforcement and others who may come into contact with human trafficking victims to better identify and respond to their needs. The bill creates a fund built from fees and fines collected from convicted traffickers. 

We urge the House to bring S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, to the floor for a vote and send it to the president’s desk for signature. It will be a powerful day when Washington can stand together to proclaim, “Our children are not for sale.”

Poe has represented Texas’s 2nd Congressional District since 2005. He sits on the Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary committees. A former prosecutor and criminal court judge, Poe is the founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus. Maloney represents New York’s 12th Congressional District and has served in the House since 1993. She sits on the Financial Services and the Oversight and Government Reform committees. She is the co-founder and co-chairwoman of the Human Trafficking Caucus.

NEWSMAX

Byline: Rep. Ted Poe

Today we face an enemy as tenacious and as ruthless as any our nation has ever faced, but our President doesn’t want to talk about it. 

Political correctness and tip-toeing around the issue will not defeat or destroy ISIS. The enemy must be clearly defined, the victims must be defined and our strategy must be defined. 

Many parts of our world are on fire, both figuratively in terms of geopolitics, and literally in terms of ISIS marching across the Middle East and northern Africa, burning and beheading bodies in its wake. 

The Islamic Republic of Iran, despite the P5+1 talks spearheaded by President Obama, is continuing to spin its centrifuges, develop its ballistic missile technology, arm and subsidize radical Islamic terrorists that target U.S. national security interests, and move ever closer to a nuclear offensive capability with which to threaten our ally Israel, Europe, and ultimately, the United States. 

There are, to be sure, other threats from Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and related terrorist groups. The common denominator throughout each of these organizations is radical Islam. And as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in his joint address to Congress: "When it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy -- is your enemy." 

Yet President Obama cannot bring himself to define this threat as clearly and cannot even demonstrate that he has a strategy to defeat the enemy.

Recently, radical Islamic terrorists in France murdered most of the staff of a satirical magazine in the name of their religion. The same terrorists then targeted a kosher grocery store, killing French Jews in the name of their religion. Yet President Obama was reluctant to engage the issue, fudging both the identity of the perpetrators and of the victims. 

Instead of recognizing a targeted anti-Semitic, terror attack against Jews, the President stated that it was “entirely legitimate for the American people to be deeply concerned when you’ve got a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.” 

According to the President, these religiously, unaffiliated “zealots” just “randomly” shot up the place—nothing whatsoever to do with it being a Jewish target. That’s factually wrong and an insult to the victims themselves.

Of course, the leader of the free world here is no less insensitive to Christian victims than to Jewish ones. 

Following the burning alive of a Jordanian captive by ISIS, the President took to the podium at the National Prayer Breakfast and self-righteously compared the acts of ISIS to Christians during the Crusades as if to justify current day world turmoil and the spread of Islamic jihad. As if the murders of thousands of Christians by ISIS can be cast aside because, after all, way back when the Crusades were bad, too. This is somehow supposed to help us defeat ISIS? 

Such an overly simplistic world view may be a good talking point, but it is not way to defeat an enemy hellbent on starting a Twenty-First Century Islamic crusade. Let us not forget that through just last year, President Obama referred to ISIS as “not Islamic” and attempted to minimize the threat by opining that ISIS was simply al-Qaida’s “junior varsity team.” 

The name ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS began as al-Qaida in Iraq with around 1,000 soldiers, but has since grown to more than 30,000 strong according to CIA figures (although other estimates put it closer to 200,000 outlaws). 

ISIS now also has a reach that spans the Middle East and northern Africa and is separated from Europe only by the Mediterranean Sea. ISIS even has other Islamic terrorist groups around the world pledging their allegiance and American citizens fleeing the country to join its ranks.

Today, in the year 2015, terrorists are beheading and burning people alive in the name of Islam. Unfortunately, the U.S. President has refused to call it what it is—murder in the name of radical Islam. 

Before we can achieve success – defeating and destroying ISIS – we must at least be able to identify who they are: terrorists who kill in the name of Islam.


CNN

Byline: Rep. Ted Poe

U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The views expressed are his own.

(CNN)Reports Wednesday that three men have been arrested over plans to travel from New York to join ISIS -- and that one of them allegedly posted online about his desire to shoot the President of the United States -- is simply the latest reminder that terrorist groups and their sympathizers are exploiting the freedom of cyberspace.

Earlier this month, ISIS posted a video of its horrific burning of a captured Jordanian pilot. Unfortunately, this was not the first time ISIS has used Twitter, an American social media company, to broadcast its barbaric acts to the world. In August, when ISIS released the gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley, it also used social media. In fact, ISIS has been using Twitter for years.

Nor is ISIS the only terrorist group on Twitter.

Hamas, Hezbollah and the al Qaeda branch in Syria, al-Nusra Front, are all on Twitter. On January 14, the al Qaeda branch in Yemen, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or simply AQAP, claimed responsibility via Twitter for the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 17 people. The group has two official accounts on Twitter.

There are many more examples from such groups, all of which have officially been listed as foreign designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. It's with this reality in mind that on January 27, my subcommittee held a hearing on terrorists' use of social media. At those hearings, experts detailed how terrorist use of social media platforms has long been a problem.

If social media is being used to help radicalize thousands of people and raise millions of dollars from many more, the question all this raises is this: Why is no one shutting them down? Because American companies aren't. And nor is the American government.

    I've heard two arguments for why we should keep the status quo.

    The first -- and easiest to set aside -- is the claim that if the U.S. government were to shut down terrorists' social media accounts, these measures would be violating terrorists' free speech rights.

    My own belief is that the Constitution does not apply to terrorists.

    These thugs gave up their right to free speech the first time they killed innocent civilians. We should certainly not be helping them kill more. But this isn't just my thinking.

    The Supreme Court has already held this to be the case in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, when it ruled that if someone has aided a terrorist organization, their free speech rights were not protected. Indeed, free speech does not apply when it harms others, such as creating and distributing child pornography.

    The second argument is that terrorists' use of social media provides the intelligence community with information that they would not otherwise be able to acquire. But while terrorists may slip up from time to time, they are also aware that by its very nature, social media is about sharing, which means what they say can easily become widely shared.

    Nor is terrorist use of social media a new phenomenon. We have had years to weigh the kind of intelligence that we can gather about terrorist groups against the advantages in messaging and recruitment that terrorists gain from it. And from what I have heard, allowing this public, online jihad to continue has provided no significant intelligence breakthroughs. The fact that there are more terrorists using social media than ever before should say all we need to know about whether they are benefiting from it.

    To put it bluntly, private American companies should not be operating as the propaganda megaphone of foreign terrorist organizations.

    So what needs to change?

    For a start, social media companies themselves need to do more. It is not good enough to only pay attention when bad press threatens a company's public image after something truly horrific is posted online. Instead, companies not only have a public responsibility but a legal obligation to do more. Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that it is unlawful to provide a designated foreign terrorist organization with "material support or resources," including "any property, tangible or intangible, or services."

    That's about as comprehensive as you can get.

    What's more, most social media companies already have terms of service with prohibition of threats of violence that would preclude terrorist use of their platforms. But companies need to do a better job of enforcing their own terms. The lack of child pornography or stolen copyrighted material on social media platforms -- content that is quickly removed if it appears at all -- demonstrates what these companies can do.

    With this in mind, they would do well to consider having dedicated teams that remove terrorist content, and also streamline reporting processes for offensive content so users can easily report terrorist use on their platforms. Companies have the technology and the resources to crack down on terrorists' use of their platform; they just need the motivation to act.

    This is where the federal government can assist.

    In 2011, the White House promised a strategy to prevent online radicalization. But more than three years later -- and despite a summit last week aimed at tackling extremism -- we are still waiting on a that strategy. Without one, the federal government's efforts to combat terrorist use of social media will be as haphazard and lackluster as the efforts of private social media companies. Instead, we need a strategy that clearly articulates our goals and roles, and the responsibilities of each federal agency that needs to be involved, as well as how we are going to work with civil society.

    It is mindboggling to think that those who behead and burn others alive are able to use our own companies against us to further their cause. But that is exactly what is occurring.

    American newspapers would have never allowed the Nazis to place an ad for recruitment during World War II. Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations should not be allowed to use private American companies to reach billions of people with their violent propaganda in an instant, all for free.

    Red State

    Byline: Tony Perkins and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) 

    Last week people around the world were horrified when a gruesome video emerged of ISIS terrorists burning a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage. King Abdullah of Jordan responded to these barbaric acts quickly and decisively, promising and delivering a severe response. Meanwhile back in Washington, President Obama responded in a different way. At the National Prayer Breakfast he took to the podium and self-righteously compared the acts of ISIS to Christians during the Crusades as if to justify current day world turmoil and the spread of Islamic jihad.

    He upbraided those of us deeply concerned with the growing threat of radical Islamic extremism. We do not accept the President’s dressing down of Christians. His words almost dismiss the killing of Christians by certain Muslims because of the Crusades—really? Today, in the year 2015, terrorists are beheading and burning people alive in the name of their religion. They are indiscriminant in their murder—killing other Muslims, Jews and Christians. The President is timid and refuses to call it what it is—murder in the name of radical Islam.

    Mr. Obama charges us not to forget our mistakes, yet he seems intent on ignoring our successes – successes so remarkable that they constitute a good measure of America’s exceptionalism. He also warns us not to forget that some professing Christians have, in the increasingly distant past, sometimes used their espoused faith as a pretext to justify evil. No true Christian affirms brutality or bigotry in the name of Christ nor, more importantly, do the teachings of Jesus give them warrant. One is left to wonder to whom the President’s pointless and hostile rebuke directed and if, in making it, he even gave a thought to the hundreds of thousands of Christians now living in crowded poverty after being driven from their homes by ISIS – or to those thousands mourning the savage slaughter of their loved ones by that same Islamic movement.

    He might answer that his intended target was those who claim Islam is intrinsically violent and that, in fact, ISIS, the Boko Haram, Hamas, the French terrorists and their ilk are theological aberrations.

    The great majority of Muslims in the world are not terrorists and are as appalled by the actions of their co-religionists as are decent people everywhere. It would be helpful for peace if more leading voices of Islam were more vocal in denouncing this demonic brutality.

    American presidential leadership is sorely needed. A Churchillian leader would not hesitate to lead the way in defining our enemy—radical Islam. A Churchillian leader would more aggressively lead an international coalition of leaders from across the globe – especially those from Muslim countries – to isolate the virus of Islamic terrorism. ISIS is not the only terrorist group, there are several, and they are unquestionably the single greatest threat to peace and stability in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and work to destroy it. Sadly, another Sir Winston Mr. Obama is not. In fact, he can’t even define the enemy. Political correctness trumps reality for this President. The American President has largely been missing in action, and the terrorists know it. Like many of our enemies, the terrorists act the way they do because they no longer fear us. Whether in dealing with Islam or foreign policy in general, President Obama insists on making all things morally equivalent, rendering clear moral distinctions virtually impossible to realize. He condemns religious violence without noting that the persecution of Christians around the world is the great religious crisis of our time.

    The President’s understanding of the world is more reminiscent of a child’s description of the ride on Disneyland’s It’s a Small World, than a sober, honest appraisal of the crumbling of the international order. He is not leading. His tenuous statements about terrorism, evil and the dangers of radical Islam only confuse our friends and embolden the enemies of freedom.

    America is imperfect; we get it, Mr. President. But it is also great and noble, and if we can borrow from history for a moment, it remains what Lincoln called “the last, best hope of earth.”

    Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.
    Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) has represented Texas’s 2nd Congressional District since 2005. He serves on the Foreign Affairs and the Judiciary committees.

     

    Newsmax

    Byline: Ted Poe

    It was a cold winter morning in Paris just before lunchtime. Two masked men armed with AK-47s approached a woman standing outside the door of the Charlie Hebdo office, forcing her to let them inside. Once inside the doors, they gunned down the security guard in the lobby and ran up to the second floor shouting, "Where is Charb? Where is Charb?"

    Charb was the nickname for the newspaper’s editor, Mr. Charbonnier. After reaching their target, they executed him and 10 others. They exited the building shouting, "Allah Akbar" or "God is the Greatest." They killed a police officer outside, fled the scene and continued to yell: "We have revenged the Prophet Muhammad!" before getting in their car and speeding away.

    Over the next two days, the French government conducted a massive manhunt for the two masked gunmen. The brothers were on the run for two days until January 9th when police cornered them in a standoff near the Paris’ airport where they held one hostage. Later that day, police rescued the hostage and the terrorists were killed, going out just like they wanted in a massive firefight as "martyrs".

    The two men responsible for the initial attack were Cherif and Said Kouachi, brothers with a long history of terrorist connections. A decade ago, Cherif and Said were involved in a Paris jihadi outfit that worked to send French Muslim men to Iraq to fight Americans.

    Cherif tried to go to Iraq but never made it because French law enforcement arrested him before he could leave the country. In his trial, Cherif said he dreamed of attacking Jewish targets in France before deciding to try to fight in Iraq.

    Having already spent 3 years in pre-trial detention, Cherif was released. While in detention, Cherif befriended Djamel Beghal, a French-Algerian champion of jihad who was jailed in 2001 for planning an attack on the American Embassy in Paris. Cherif was also connected to a 2010 plot to break out an Algerian Islamist from prison who was in jail for being connected with a 1995 wave of bombings in the Paris Métro and on regional trains.

    Perhaps the most dangerous friend the Kouachi brothers made along the way was the late Anwar al-Awlaki — the American born leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. It has now been confirmed that Kouachi met with al-Awklaki in 2011 and that al-Awlaki financed the attack that was apparently in the works years ago.

    Hours before he met his maker, one of the Kouachi brothers, called in to a French TV station to brag about his terrorist connections: "We are just telling you that we are the defenders of the prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and that I, Cherif Kouachi, was sent by al-Qaida in Yemen. ... And that I went there and that it’s imam Al-Awlaki that financed me."

    Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, has also claimed responsibility for the attack.

    We have heard this story before. Young, vulnerable people across the globe are recruited to travel overseas where they are befriended and brainwashed by radical Islamic jihadists who preach hate and murder. Their terrorist mentors indoctrinate and infect them with the cancer of radical Islam and send them back to their home country to inflict terror and kill.

    The seeds of violent extremism are planted all over the world and the attacks come whether it is days (or in this case years) later. Lately, we have seen this in America where terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS) have targeted and recruited disillusioned young people primarily through the Internet and social media. This is one of the most overlooked weak spots in our national security today.

    American passport holders who travel overseas to fight with the Islamic State are not going to come back to open coffee shops; they are coming back to kill. We cannot let them come back at all. That is why I have reintroduced the FTO Passport Revocation Act.

    This legislation would authorize the revocation or denial of passports and passport cards to individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations. The Benedict Arnold traitors who have turned against America and joined the ranks of foreign radical terrorist armies should lose all rights afforded to our citizens. This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from traveling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice.

    Most important, this legislation will prevent turned Americans from entering the United States under the radar and undetected. As we saw in France, sleeper cells that are well-financed by groups in the Middle East have a longstanding order to attack whenever the time is right. We need to act before, not after, they come back to the United States.

    The French prime minister said it best: "We’re fighting a war, not a war against a religion, not a war of civilizations, but to defend our values, which are universal. It’s a war against terrorism and radical Islamism, against everything that aims to shatter solidarity, liberty, brotherhood."

    The Paris attacks are a reminder that the cancer of radical Islam stretches far beyond the borders of the Middle East. The United States must do everything in its power to contain it outside our borders before the fight once again comes to us. And that’s just the way it is.

    Poe is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism.