We are in the midst of an energy revolution.

Over the last 7 years, the amount of recoverable natural gas in our country has skyrocketed. For the first time in our nation's history, we have more gas than we could use here in the United States even if we tried; our current reserves are roughly 97 times what the U.S. consumed in all of 2011. We could sell the gas on the global market for billions of dollars, creating thousands of jobs in the process, but we are not for one simple reason: bureaucratic red tape.

Back in 1938, when the U.S. was a net importer of natural gas, Congress passed a law requiring any company that wanted to export natural gas to first get approval from the Department of Energy (DOE). Over the last 70 years, this bureaucratic hurdle was hardly noticed as the U.S. was a net importer of natural gas and looked to be for years to come.

That is no longer true. Technology has changed it all. There are some 18 export applications now pending before the DOE. The department's response? No response at all. In the last three years, DOE has granted only two applications.

Granting these applications today would be a much needed economic boost for the U.S. One project alone is projected to create 3,000 new construction jobs, 20,000-30,000 jobs in exploration, drilling and pipe-laying and many other jobs as a result of the project infusing $10 billion into our economy. Some opponents of exporting LNG argue that domestic prices will rise, increasing costs to consumers and businesses which rely on cheap natural gas. Yet, the most respected economic studies show only a modest increase to domestic prices that is far outweighed by the net economic benefits to the overall U.S. economy, including additional exploration and recovery.

In April, in a hearing I held with the world's leading experts on natural gas issues, our witnesses, from labor union representatives to economists, were unanimous in declaring that there was no good reason why the U.S. shouldn't be exporting more natural gas around the globe.

Aside from unquestionable economic benefits, there are also geopolitical considerations that make exporting LNG to our friends and allies a no-brainer. The risk of high reliance on Russian gas has been a principal driver of European energy policy in recent decades. Among central and eastern European states, particularly those formerly aligned with the Soviet Union such as Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the issue of reliance on imports of Russian gas is a primary energy security concern that has ripple effects throughout their foreign policy and jeopardizes essential political and economic reforms. From the U.S. perspective, cheap but reliable natural gas would reduce Moscow's clout while shoring up goodwill amongst our allies.

The Pacific Basin countries, much like the Europeans, have also expressed their desire for American LNG ; the resource-strapped Japanese government for example, has already attempted to secure a Free Trade Agreement waiver to allow exports.

As U.S. foreign policy attempts to "pivot to Asia," the ability of the U.S. to provide energy security and pricing relief to LNG importers will be an important economic and strategic asset.

We are sitting on more natural gas than we could ever consume on our own; it is long past time to update the old 1938 law, dismantle antiquated and bureaucratic road blocks, and take the Department of Energy out of the export license-granting process altogether. That's why I will soon introduce the "Expedite Our Economy Act of 2013," which calls for removing DOE from the process so we can finally get to work.

Even with DOE out of the process, there will continue to be sufficient regulation of the environmental impact and safety of projects from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This is a good thing, and with its technical expertise and timely responses, the commission should continue to be a player in the process.

But, while our unemployment rate still sits north of 7 percent and thousands have been out of work for years, DOE's needless obstruction must come to an end.

Poe, a Republican representing the Houston area in the U.S. House of Representatives, is chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation & Trade.

 

Recently, our female colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to discuss underaged sex trafficking. Not in Southeast Asia or the Middle East, where our attention is usually directed. But right here in the United States, where on any given day, some 250,000 American children, mostly young girls, are at risk of being sold into our nation's burgeoning sex trafficking industry.

 

Why is America's girl-focused sex traffic industry flourishing in its dark and dangerous marketplace? The simple answer is demand. As with any business, legal or illegal, success requires demand for the product being sold. In this case, men constitute the demand. Men are part of the problem. And men are part of the solution.

 

That is why we are joining our female colleagues to declare loudly that "our daughters are not for sale."

 

Understand that the daughters that we're talking about aren't street-wise prostitutes, but on average, 12- to 14-year-old girls. Many are runaways, abducted or lured by traffickers, then raped and beaten into submission. Traffickers have turned their attention from drugs to young girls because, as we are told, criminal enterprises have discovered it is less risky and more profitable to sell young girls than it is to market heroin or crack cocaine. This is happening in America today.

 

Regretfully, the "johns" who pay for these young girls are rarely arrested or prosecuted. More often it is their young rape victims who are re-victimized by a legal system all too quick to label them as prostitutes and, with that, give them lifelong criminal records. Our social welfare system too often fails to provide the necessary services to help these victims.

 

The agenda that our female colleagues put forth marks a huge step forward by Congress in addressing this national crisis. We, as men, join them in this effort and support these principles and needed steps:

 

  • Law enforcement and prosecutors must treat trafficked girls as victims, not criminals.
  • Exploited and trafficked girls must receive the same legal support and protections as other rape victims and full protection under laws governing child abuse.
  • Social services must provide victims with healing, as well as community education programs, to help everyone better understand the nature of a victimhood that most often includes broken homes, broken relationships and a welfare system that allows kids to fall through the cracks.

 

But the most significant point still focuses on demand.

 

To be sure, the last decade has seen significant federal and state efforts to go after traffickers – most of whom are men. But virtually none of the various task forces is charged with the dual responsibility of targeting buyers – most of whom are also men.

 

That must change. And our laws must be clear. Anyone who buys or sells a child will be caught and punished accordingly, under the full weight of local, state, and federal enforcement agencies. Men, as well as women, need to get behind making both our system of laws and penalties airtight in that respect.

 

On the demand side, there is a cultural component as well as a parent/guardian component at work. Every parent knows that protecting our kids while giving them the independence they need to learn and grow is a delicate balancing act.

 

In the meantime, as congressmen from different sides of the aisle, who are also fathers, we are pressing our colleagues, both male and female, to help assure that Congress, the Justice Department, and the White House address the issue of demand, along with the need for tougher laws and policies, in a shared effort to end this form of modern-day slavery.

 

That is our Father's Day gift to America's most vulnerable daughters.

 

Rep. Rick Nolan is a Minnesota Democrat. Rep. Ted Poe is a Texas Republican and founder of the Victims' Rights Caucus.

Recently, our female colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to discuss underaged sex trafficking. Not in Southeast Asia or the Middle East, where our attention is usually directed. But right here in the United States, where on any given day, some 250,000 American children, mostly young girls, are at risk of being sold into our nation's burgeoning sex trafficking industry.

Why is America's girl-focused sex traffic industry flourishing in its dark and dangerous marketplace? The simple answer is demand. As with any business, legal or illegal, success requires demand for the product being sold. In this case, men constitute the demand. Men are part of the problem. And men are part of the solution.

That is why we are joining our female colleagues to declare loudly that "our daughters are not for sale."

Understand that the daughters that we're talking about aren't street-wise prostitutes, but on average, 12- to 14-year-old girls. Many are runaways, abducted or lured by traffickers, then raped and beaten into submission. Traffickers have turned their attention from drugs to young girls because, as we are told, criminal enterprises have discovered it is less risky and more profitable to sell young girls than it is to market heroin or crack cocaine. This is happening in America today.

Regretfully, the "johns" who pay for these young girls are rarely arrested or prosecuted. More often it is their young rape victims who are re-victimized by a legal system all too quick to label them as prostitutes and, with that, give them lifelong criminal records. Our social welfare system too often fails to provide the necessary services to help these victims.

The agenda that our female colleagues put forth marks a huge step forward by Congress in addressing this national crisis. We, as men, join them in this effort and support these principles and needed steps:

  • Law enforcement and prosecutors must treat trafficked girls as victims, not criminals.
  • Exploited and trafficked girls must receive the same legal support and protections as other rape victims and full protection under laws governing child abuse.
  • Social services must provide victims with healing, as well as community education programs, to help everyone better understand the nature of a victimhood that most often includes broken homes, broken relationships and a welfare system that allows kids to fall through the cracks.

But the most significant point still focuses on demand.

To be sure, the last decade has seen significant federal and state efforts to go after traffickers – most of whom are men. But virtually none of the various task forces is charged with the dual responsibility of targeting buyers – most of whom are also men.

That must change. And our laws must be clear. Anyone who buys or sells a child will be caught and punished accordingly, under the full weight of local, state, and federal enforcement agencies. Men, as well as women, need to get behind making both our system of laws and penalties airtight in that respect.

On the demand side, there is a cultural component as well as a parent/guardian component at work. Every parent knows that protecting our kids while giving them the independence they need to learn and grow is a delicate balancing act.

In the meantime, as congressmen from different sides of the aisle, who are also fathers, we are pressing our colleagues, both male and female, to help assure that Congress, the Justice Department, and the White House address the issue of demand, along with the need for tougher laws and policies, in a shared effort to end this form of modern-day slavery.

That is our Father's Day gift to America's most vulnerable daughters.

Rep. Rick Nolan is a Minnesota Democrat. Rep. Ted Poe is a Texas Republican and founder of the Victims' Rights Caucus.

- See more at: http://www.poe.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&;task=view&id=9181&Itemid=167#sthash.1OEU5aJd.dpuf

Recently, our female colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to discuss underaged sex trafficking. Not in Southeast Asia or the Middle East, where our attention is usually directed. But right here in the United States, where on any given day, some 250,000 American children, mostly young girls, are at risk of being sold into our nation's burgeoning sex trafficking industry.

Why is America's girl-focused sex traffic industry flourishing in its dark and dangerous marketplace? The simple answer is demand. As with any business, legal or illegal, success requires demand for the product being sold. In this case, men constitute the demand. Men are part of the problem. And men are part of the solution.

That is why we are joining our female colleagues to declare loudly that "our daughters are not for sale."

Understand that the daughters that we're talking about aren't street-wise prostitutes, but on average, 12- to 14-year-old girls. Many are runaways, abducted or lured by traffickers, then raped and beaten into submission. Traffickers have turned their attention from drugs to young girls because, as we are told, criminal enterprises have discovered it is less risky and more profitable to sell young girls than it is to market heroin or crack cocaine. This is happening in America today.

Regretfully, the "johns" who pay for these young girls are rarely arrested or prosecuted. More often it is their young rape victims who are re-victimized by a legal system all too quick to label them as prostitutes and, with that, give them lifelong criminal records. Our social welfare system too often fails to provide the necessary services to help these victims.

The agenda that our female colleagues put forth marks a huge step forward by Congress in addressing this national crisis. We, as men, join them in this effort and support these principles and needed steps:

  • Law enforcement and prosecutors must treat trafficked girls as victims, not criminals.
  • Exploited and trafficked girls must receive the same legal support and protections as other rape victims and full protection under laws governing child abuse.
  • Social services must provide victims with healing, as well as community education programs, to help everyone better understand the nature of a victimhood that most often includes broken homes, broken relationships and a welfare system that allows kids to fall through the cracks.

But the most significant point still focuses on demand.

To be sure, the last decade has seen significant federal and state efforts to go after traffickers – most of whom are men. But virtually none of the various task forces is charged with the dual responsibility of targeting buyers – most of whom are also men.

That must change. And our laws must be clear. Anyone who buys or sells a child will be caught and punished accordingly, under the full weight of local, state, and federal enforcement agencies. Men, as well as women, need to get behind making both our system of laws and penalties airtight in that respect.

On the demand side, there is a cultural component as well as a parent/guardian component at work. Every parent knows that protecting our kids while giving them the independence they need to learn and grow is a delicate balancing act.

In the meantime, as congressmen from different sides of the aisle, who are also fathers, we are pressing our colleagues, both male and female, to help assure that Congress, the Justice Department, and the White House address the issue of demand, along with the need for tougher laws and policies, in a shared effort to end this form of modern-day slavery.

That is our Father's Day gift to America's most vulnerable daughters.

Rep. Rick Nolan is a Minnesota Democrat. Rep. Ted Poe is a Texas Republican and founder of the Victims' Rights Caucus.

By POLITICO

 

A generation can seem like a century in the Internet age. Constant innovation is transforming the way we work, learn, communicate and even relax. Advances in technology are essential to our global competitiveness and economic growth. Change usually brings challenge, and at times, our laws must adapt to reap the benefits of innovation without abridging our civil liberties, a challenge our government has been reluctant to accept.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act was passed in 1986, 27 years ago, a virtual eternity in the Internet age. Despite its modern-sounding name, ECPA predates the World Wide Web. It was written when few people owned home computers and even fewer communicated by email. Those who did rarely kept their old emails. Hard drives were small and expensive. Email service providers offered limited storage capacity. No one knew what the “cloud” was or even anticipated that it could exist.

Back then, lawmakers believed they could protect the privacy of Americans by restricting government’s authority to read their email without a search warrant to content older than 180 days. They couldn’t imagine why or how anyone would store email that long. My, times have changed.

The world of 1986 is gone, and it has been replaced by a world with free, unlimited email storage, high-speed broadband and cloud computing. In today’s world, we keep many of our most personal possessions online indefinitely: family photographs, schoolwork, sensitive communications, financial records, business plans, personal calendars and even weekend shopping lists.

The way we communicate electronically has changed, but the law related to its privacy has not. ECPA allows government agencies to demand from service providers any email, any documents, anything at all that we’ve stored online for longer than 180 days. Big government can call on a private company to turn over your information if it’s been stored online for more than six months. This circumvents the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures” of Americans’ “persons, houses, papers and personal effects,” except when there is probable cause to believe a crime is being committed and a judge has issued a search warrant. Our right to privacy has been curtailed by a law written for a time that exists only in memory, For technology, that seems as outdated to us as the telegraph.

The government can’t tap our phones without a search warrant. It can’t read our mail without a warrant or enter our homes, or search records that we keep in file cabinets. But ECPA authorizes the government to read emails and social media messages or any property we store in the “cloud” without a warrant and without evidence that we are engaged in criminal behavior. That’s an unnecessary invasion of privacy that reduces every American’s freedom. Why should the law treat digital data stored in the “cloud” any differently than papers stored in a file cabinet in our home? It doesn’t make any sense.

Cloud-based services have become indispensable to the success of Texas and U.S. businesses, especially small businesses and startup companies. The global cloud market is expected to reach a value of more than $240 billion by the next decade. American companies invented cloud computing, and we should dominate the global market. The worst thing that we could do to our competitiveness is to hold American companies back with outdated laws. But that’s what’s happening right now.

 

The government’s unrestricted authority to demand production of private information stored in the cloud “will kill cloud computing” by destroying confidence in U.S.-based services and driving businesses to other countries, which have stronger privacy protections. That’s what the CEO of Data Foundry, a Texas-based data services provider has warned. Unless we act now, we are approaching a time when other countries possess greater safeguards for personal privacy than those assured by the country founded on the ideals of universal liberty.

To avoid this prospect, we must modernize our laws to respect our rights when applied to the modern realities of the digital world. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and I have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Online Communications and Geolocation Protection Act, to do just that by revising an outdated ECPA to protect Internet users from intrusive and unwarranted government surveillance.

H.R. 983 requires the government to show probable cause and obtain a search warrant to access electronic communications just as it would to tap someone’s telephone. The government would need a warrant to compel service providers to produce documents stored in the cloud and to intercept or demand disclosure of personal location information generated by our cellphone and other mobile devices over time.

Technology may change, but the Constitution does not. We’ve written the legislation to be technology neutral so our privacy safeguards can’t be weakened by future innovations. It will encourage the growth of cloud computing in Texas and across the U.S. — and improve our competitiveness in world markets. That would create and protect American jobs. Most important, it reaffirms that while the pace of change in our world is ever accelerating, our founding ideals and civil liberties will exist unabridged forever. And that’s just the way it is.



The Hill

January 4, 2013

By Reps. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)

One night in 1985, when Lavinia Masters was 13 years old, she said goodnight and went to sleep in her Dallas home. She awoke suddenly to find a knife at her throat and an intruder sexually assaulting her.
 
On an ordinary Monday afternoon in 1996, Kristin Yorke was at home in New York City when her roommate returned from work. Unbeknownst to them both, a stranger lurked, forced his way into their apartment and raped both women.

Unfortunately, these women had to wait far too long to get justice. After both crimes, the victims contacted the police, went to the hospital and had DNA evidence collected in a rape kit, a critically important tool that gathers forensic evidence to link a rapist to a crime. Unfortunately for many victims, rape kits often sit on the shelves of evidence rooms across the country - some untested for years, some discarded before ever being tested and some languish for so long that the statute of limitations on the crime of rape has expired. And so was the case for Lavinia and Kristin. While their circumstances were different, their rape kits eventually ended up on a shelf in a storage facility. Victims should not be robbed of justice because of a bureaucratic backlog.
 
Lavinia’s evidence sat untested for two decades. She took it upon herself to contact the Dallas Police Department when she learned about a program that helped process backlogged rape evidence. While it took some time for her kit to be found and tested, she discovered that her assailant, Kevin Glen Turner, was in jail for other crimes. If he had been caught earlier, perhaps he would not have been out on the street to continue his crime sprees. Sadly for Lavinia, she was denied justice in court because the statute of limitations had run.
 
Kristin didn’t think justice would ever be served until a proactive Assistant District Attorney decided to have her kit tested in 2005, with newer technology as the statute of limitations was drawing near. Once the evidence was tested, she learned that it matched that of Leroy Johnson, who like Lavinia’s rapist, had been convicted of various other crimes including rape. The discovery of Kristin and her former roommate’s evidence put him behind bars for two consecutive terms of 25 years without parole, ensuring that he cannot harm anyone else ever again.
 
Lavinia and Kristin’s stories are not isolated. Across the country, rape kits sit on shelves, denying women justice. There are multiple reasons for the backlog – from low prioritization of the evidence to lack of funding and resources. But, regardless of the reasons, this issue has reached epidemic proportions. That’s why we’ve introduced the SAFER Act, a companion bill to legislation introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). SAFER would allow existing funds to be used to provide grants to states and localities to audit their rape kit backlog as well as require aggregate data to be posted online to help track the progress and results of these audits. SAFER also increases the amount of current funds that can be used directly to test rape kits.
 
It’s time Congress passed this bipartisan measure that would allow criminal evidence to be accounted for, ultimately helping rape victims to receive the justice that they deserve.

Poe, a Republican from Texas, is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Victims' Rights Caucus and the leade sponsor of the SAFER Act. Maloney is a member of the Victims' Rights Caucus and the lead Democrat sponsor of the SAFER Act.

POLITICO

December 16, 2012

By Rep. Ted Poe

On Election Day, the American people voted for the antithesis of change: They voted for the status quo of more government, more giveaway programs, less freedom and less individuality. In this election, the Republican Party should have had an easier time convincing Americans that they would be better off if we changed course. Tangled up in embarrassing statements about rape and abortion and notably silent on immigration, the electorate chose what they knew over what they perceived incorrectly as closed-minded and out of touch. This allowed the radical left to use fear tactics to convince many of the falsehoods that Republicans just don’t care. Where does that leave the GOP?

For Republicans, the road forward still involves the tried and true, ingrained-in-our-souls principles of limited government, individual liberty and fiscal responsibility. Many within the changing electorate — which does not currently favor the GOP — share these principles. But, if we continue to follow the party faithful that refuse to become more inclusive, it may be years before we see a Republican in the White House. It’s time to change course, which we can do without sacrificing our core principles. It’s time for Republicans to take the lead on immigration reform.

Our immigration system is broken. A decades-long problem does not get fixed with a bumper-sticker solution. Rather, a permanent fix must include a workable and reasonable approach that sets clear guidelines for high-skilled labor and day labor, for the so-called DREAM generation and for those that have illegally entered the U.S. for no other reason than to commit violent crimes. We can start with what is easily agreeable by all: Take those criminals and return them to their former homes. Our jails are overcrowded and our bills are piling up. More than 20 percent of federal prisoners were illegally in the country when sent to prison.

A good starting point for a legislative package is the so-called Texas Solution. Although I don’t agree with all points on the list, it’s a start. And, importantly, it includes a verifiable, temporary guest worker program. In addition, we should start a documentation process that includes a photograph, biometric data like a fingerprint and other identifying information. Documentation does not mean citizenship and all of the rights that the term bestows. It means a type of legal status, either temporary or permanent, for some that are here, and it also means a pathway home for those who are here to commit crimes. Those given legal status would contribute to the U.S., primarily by paying taxes, for the benefits that they enjoy by being in the U.S. Amnesty is not an option. Those who receive documentation eventually may apply for citizenship, and those who have served in our military should be placed ahead of the line. One thing that has been absent from the latest talk on immigration is that not all of the undocumented seek citizenship; what they want is legal status. They want to be able to live here and work here without the fear of not knowing what tomorrow brings. They need some certainty in a process (which Washington has never been good at providing).

Additionally, the legislation must get rid of the purposeless visa lottery system. Visas should be awarded — imagine this — to those who benefit our nation. We have a deep need for high-skilled labor, and while we work on a long-term plan for STEM education for American students, we should do what we can to discourage foreign workers who are American-educated and American-employed from taking what they’ve learned here, going back home and competing against our workers. This should not be controversial.

Lastly, immigration reform must be handled in conjunction with border protection. Our country can’t have one without the other. Contrary to what the current administration says, the border is not secure. To the legislators of non-border states from both parties who think that the border is secure, I invite you to go with me to the Texas-Mexico border to see otherwise. The solution may be to handle both matters in tandem and to implement immediate border-protection measures, such as providing adequate resources (human and equipment) to state and local law-enforcement entities, putting boots on the ground and enacting stiffer penalties for certain elements, like the scourge of human trafficking. Of equal importance is this: Congress needs to rid itself of the “not-in-my-backyard” mind-set when it comes to border violence and trafficking. The drug cartels’ networks have expanded into extortion and kidnapping and impact every state and district. And, Hispanics are often the victims of this lack of border protection.

The GOP’s core principles are sound, but it’s time for a “come to Jesus” meeting. There is a perception among many Americans that the GOP has tried to exclude certain groups, such as Hispanics. Those days are over. We are the party of “we the people, by the people, for the people,” but we must work much harder and embrace a more publicly open-minded approach so that we are not “we the few.” Otherwise, the Republican Party will go the way of the Whigs.

Rep. Ted Poe is a Republican from Texas.

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

December 4, 2012

By Rep. Ted Poe

The United Nations last week voted overwhelmingly to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a nonmember observer state of the world body. The vote was not even close -- 138 delegates in favor of the measure, nine against and 41 abstaining.

Despite a cease-fire reached between Israel and Hamas, the Middle East remains volatile. Making the Palestinian Authority a nonmember observer merely endangers an already shaky peace process.

The United States voted against such recognition. It has been clear from the beginning that the Palestinian Authority is seeking the benefits of statehood without any responsibility. A state is, by definition, a geographic territory with a sovereign government, yet the Palestinian Authority admits to not knowing the location of its borders. It is impossible to have a state that cannot define its own land.

The Palestinians previously agreed in the Oslo Accords to negotiate statehood issues with Israel. This latest move is the equivalent of walking away from the negotiating table (which already was in pieces from Hamas attacks). The Palestinians take for granted the help Israel gives to their economy, including more than $100 million a month in taxes and allowing more Palestinians to travel to the West Bank. Israel is not holding up the peace process. Palestinian Authority officials think their newfound title will give them an even stronger bargaining position in their negotiations with Israel, but recognition from a biased international body will do nothing to advance peace.

The real reason the Palestinians have pulled this U.N. stunt is the perks they could gain. If the Palestinians decide to join the International Criminal Court, they could bring war-crimes charges against Israel, putting the fate of Israelis in the hands of an international judge. This court is so dangerous that even President Obama refuses to allow Americans to be prosecuted by it. So far, the Palestinian Authority remains fiercely committed to bringing Israel to the International Criminal Court. Many of the nations that support Palestinian statehood have requested assurance that Israel would be left alone if upgraded status was granted. The PA defiantly rejected those requests. On Nov. 28, the day before the U.N. vote, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Oragnization (PLO), said, "We have not succumbed to pressure, we did not give any commitment." The world should know they mean what they say. Granting them this request means endangering Israel. Now more than ever, it is crucial that the United States shows the world its unwavering commitment to the security of Israel.

America must hold President Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies in the PLO responsible for their actions. Last year, we gave $495 million to the Palestinian Authority (PA). During the same time frame, Mr. Abbas' office budget was $72 million. He refuses to tell us or anyone else how he spends the money. There even are press reports that his own salary is $1 million a month. According to their own documents, the PA spent $194 million last year alone on offices that helped promote the Palestinians' push for recognition at the U.N. The United States should immediately cut funding to the PLO by at least $72 million next year and require Mr. Abbas to be transparent about his budget.

Peace will not come from decisions made by a corrupt international body. The United Nations should not have inserted itself into the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. As former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold said: "If there was a U.N. resolution whose first clause was anti-Israel and whose second clause was the earth is flat, the U.N. would pass it." If the Palestinians were committed to peace, they would be working with Israel, not hiding behind the U.N.

Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Hill

November 29, 2012

By Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas)

Today, the United Nations will vote on whether or not to recognize the Palestinian Authority as a nonmember observer state of the UN. With 132 nations having already recognized the Palestinian territory as a sovereign state and only 97 votes needed, I suspect the Palestinian Authority’s effort will be successful. Yet, despite a ceasefire reached between Israel and Hamas last week, the Middle East remains a volatile tinder box far from peace. Admitting the Palestinian Authority as a nonmember observer state will hurt, not help, a peace process that is already on shaky ground.

The United States has opposed the Palestinian Authority’s effort from the very beginning because it recognizes the instability that such recognition would create. The Palestinian Authority wants all the benefits of a state, without any of the responsibility. They fully admit that they don’t know what their borders are. By definition, a state is a geographic territory with a sovereign government. Yes, there are some countries with border disputes, such as India and Pakistan in the Kashmir region, but the Palestinians have no agreed upon border whatsoever. What is a state if it can’t define its own land?
 
The Palestinians themselves agreed to resolve statehood issues at the negotiating table in the Oslo Accords (which means they are required to negotiate bilaterally with Israel). Now they are figuratively walking away from the negotiating table and literally blowing it up with attacks from Hamas. Meanwhile, Israel continues to help the Palestinian economy, including collecting over $100 million a month in taxes for the Palestinians and allowing more and more Palestinians to travel to the West Bank. One thing is for sure: it is not Israel that is holding up the peace process.
 
With upgraded status at the UN come certain benefits. Here lies the real desire for the Palestinian UN gambit. A Palestinian state could bring war crimes charges against Israel in the International Criminal Court, putting the fate of Israelis in the hands of some international judge. This Court is so dangerous that even President Obama refuses to allow Americans to be prosecuted by it. The Palestinian Authority remains fiercely committed to bringing Israel to the International Criminal Court. Many of the nations who support Palestinian Statehood have requested assurance that Israel would be left alone if statehood was granted. The Palestinian Authority defiantly rejected these requests. Just yesterday, Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the PLO said : “We have not succumbed to pressure, we did not give any commitment.” The world should know they mean what they say; granting them this request means endangering Israel.
 
Yes, the Palestinians may be successful today and no, the U.S. does not have veto power in a UN General Assembly vote, but there still can and should be consequences for the irresponsible actions of President Abbas and his old cronies in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Last year, we gave the Palestinian Authority $495 million. In the same timeframe, President Abbas’ office budget was $72 million yet he refuses to tell us or anyone else how he spends it. There are even press reports that his own salary is $1 million a month. According to their own documents, the Palestinian Authority spent $194 million last year alone on offices that helped promote the Palestinians’ push for recognition at the UN. The U.S. should immediately cut funding to the PLO by at least $72 million next year and require President Abbas to open up his budget for all to see. The days of giving money away to other nations with no transparency and no consequences for  irresponsible behavior should be over.
 
The United Nations has no business getting involved in the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN said: “If there was a UN resolution whose first clause was anti-Israel and whose second clause was the earth is flat, the UN would pass it.” Peace will not come from decisions made by a corrupt international body. If the Palestinians were committed to peace they would be working with Israel, not hiding behind the UN. And that’s just the way it is.

Poe is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Leader

November 28, 2012

By U.S. Rep. Ted Poe

Jessica Ford had big dreams of becoming a doctor when she was growing up. Like many
young girls, Jessica was just trying to find her way in life when she ran away from
home. After she ran away, she met a man who made her feel safe. He claimed to have
all the answers to her problems. She fell in love. Unfortunately, Jessica didn’t
realize she was falling in love with a predator.

Unbeknownst to Jessica, her new love identified her as prey and lured her in to his
control by taking advantage of her vulnerability. Before she knew what was
happening, she was his slave–threatened, raped and force into prostitution. Her
predator sold her for sex in her city and trafficked her in other places. This
nightmare – living in slavery – lasted for thirteen years.

Jessica lived in constant fear of the men who owned her during those years. Not only
did they steal her childhood, they stole her identity. She was an object to them,
sold on an underground market just like any other commodity in demand. The sick
reality of this market is best explained by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Zack:
“With selling a girl there’s a huge advantage. After you sell a kilo of cocaine, you
have to then buy another kilo of cocaine, but you can sell a girl or boy over and
over again. It’s an incredible renewable resource.” Jessica’s nightmare didn’t start
in a third world country; it started right here in Houston, Texas.

Human trafficking is the second largest organized crime business in the world,
generating $32 billion a year. This dastardly deed occurs all over the world, but
most people don’t know that it occurs right here in the United States.
Unfortunately, Texas has become a hub for human trafficking-in 2007 nearly 1/3 of
the calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline came from our state. The many
interstates, airports and ports in Houston make our city convenient for traffickers.
Trafficking rings operate in places that you see along the streets in our
communities, like some massage parlors where women are sold for sex. This modern day
slave trade occurs right in our own backyard. It seems like a Hollywood movie, but
this is reality.

There are many faces of trafficking victims, but typically the victims are women -
both adult and child. In less frequest instances, the victims are men. Some are
people who are smuggled here from another country believing they will have a job.
Others are vulnerable American children. In many cases, these victims are forced
into sex and/or labor trafficking to repay a debt. Sadly, too many of them are
treated as criminals and not what they really are—victims of crime.

When I came to Congress, I founded the bipartisan Congressional Victims Rights
Caucus. The Caucus works to bring attention to human trafficking. Legislatively, the
Trafficking Victims Protection Act has brought about considerable changes in the way
that the federal government responds to trafficking and coordination worldwide. We
are working towards reauthorizing this important bill.

On the state and local levels, Texas has taken significant steps forward to prevent
trafficking, prosecute traffickers, and help victims. In Harris County, Precinct 4
Constable Ron Hickman and County Attorney Vince Ryan have made cracking down on<a
human trafficking a top priority. They're working hard to close illegitimate
businesses and arrest and prosecute those exploiting the vulnerable. The biggest
challenge we face to battling this crime is the endless demand by customers.</a

Human Trafficking is modern day slavery. It's a human rights issue. Bringing
awareness to the problem is the first step. We must continue to tell stories like
Jessica's. Collaboration between federal, state and local governments is also key.
Together, we can strengthen penalties for traffickers and buyers. And most
importantly, we can't forget that those who have been trafficked are the victims. We
must treat them like victims. They need assistance as they recover from servitude
and rebuild their lives. Together we can eradicate the scourge of human trafficking.
And that's just the way it is.

Poe represents Texas District 2, which — starting in January — will include portions of the Heights and the Washington Avenue corridor. He is a former Harris County judge and the founder of the
bipartisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus.

 

It was September 1972. People from all over the world were gathered in Munich, Germany for the Olympic Games. This event was filled with the promise of post-World War II optimism and unity, but that optimism turned to violence and turmoil overnight. The world awoke to images of a deadly hostage situation rapidly unfolding in the Olympic village. After a dramatic standoff, eleven Israeli hostages were massacred by a terrorist group called “Black September”. The Israeli government did not hesitate in its response. For twenty years, Israel hunted the murderers down all over the globe from Paris to London, Beirut to Stockholm. One thing became clear to the terrorists: if they hurt Israelis, there would be consequences. Israel would find them, and it did.

Immediately, the terrorists justified the attacks by blaming a movie. Make no mistake: this is simply an excuse by those who despise Americans, our values, and human life. It’s the fault and responsibility of the killers. They murder in the name of religion. These were planned and coordinated terrorist attacks and, since then, anti-American hostility has spread to Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia and even London.

When we have been tested by terrorists in the past, the United States (just like Israel) has gone after those who attack us. When, in 1996, 19 American soldiers were murdered in Saudi Arabia, we responded. At the time, President Clinton said: “The cowards who committed this murderous act must not go unpunished. We will not rest in our efforts to find who is responsible for this outrage, to pursue them and to punish them.”And, when nearly 3,000 people were murdered on 9/11, we responded. President Bush said, “The search is under way for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice.” In his initial response, President Obama rightly condemned the “senseless violence,” but, unlike his predecessors, he did not promise to deliver justice. Is it still U.S. policy to deliver justice when we are attacked?

The truth is our enemies continue to test us because they no longer fear us. Why should they? The world no longer knows where America stands. Not our allies. Not our enemies. Even Americans are uncertain what our foreign policy is towards terrorists. Our president doesn’t even know where we stand. When asked if Egypt was our ally, President Obama said: “I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy.” A White House spokesman later explained, “Ally is a legal term of art.” Well, what does that political doubletalk mean? What is our foreign policy when a U.S. Embassy is attacked? What is our foreign policy in North Africa? Thousands of Americans are overseas defending and representing our nation, while radical fundamentalists storm our embassies. They do not fear the consequences of their actions because they do not know what those consequences will be. Are there any?

Meanwhile, in the middle of this turmoil, the president does not have time to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel, our strongest partner against terrorism in the region. Nor does he have time, apparently, to attend more than half of his daily intelligence briefings since becoming president. One can’t help but question what the priorities of this administration are. This past week’s events remind us that Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the fight against terrorism is not.

We must bring justice to the terrorists because justice is what we do in America. The U.S. must hold those who attack us accountable. The president often uses the pet phrase “let me be clear.” His message to terrorists should be clear—leave us alone. If you attack Americans, we will come find you. The Libyan killers must meet the same fate as the members of “Black September.”
And that’s just the way it is.

Poe is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Anti-Terrorism Caucus.