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.

U.S. Daily Review

August 22, 2012

By Hon. Ted Poe, Member of Congress, Contributor, US Daily Review

In 2004, then President Bush granted Pakistan major non-NATO ally (MNNA) status in an effort to get Pakistan to help the United States fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban. MNNA status is significant, granting critical benefits in the areas of foreign aid and defense cooperation. An MNNA country is eligible for priority delivery of defense material, an expedited arms sale process, and a US loan guarantee program, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports. It can also stockpile US military hardware, participate in defense research and development programs, and be sold more sophisticated weaponry.

Eight years after its MNNA designation, the evidence shows that Pakistan is the Benedict Arnold nation in the list of countries that we call allies. Despite our pleas, Pakistan has stubbornly refused to go after in any meaningful way terrorists that are killing our troops. In fact, from November 2011-July 2012, it cut off the supply route to our troops in Afghanistan. It was not until the U.S. agreed to pay three times as much as before that Pakistan reopened the route.

In June 2011, Pakistan tipped off terrorists making IEDs not once but twice after we told them where the bomb-making factories were and asked Pakistan to go after them. Last fall, then Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen called the terrorist Haqqani network in Pakistanís tribal regions a ìveritable armî of Pakistanís intelligence service. And in February 2012, a NATO report agreed, stating that the ISI is aiding the Taliban and other extremist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan by providing resources, sanctuary, and training.  Most recently, Islamabad arrested and convicted the heroic doctor who, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, gave us ìintelligence that was very helpfulî in identifying the exact location of Osama bin Laden. You would think helping us get the worldís #1 terrorist, the terrorist that killed thousands of Americans, was a good thing, but apparently the Pakistanis disagreed. Pakistan sentenced him to thirty-three years in prison.

I believe we need to make a clean break with Pakistan and not give them another dollar more than the $21.5 billion they received from us since 2002. My colleagues in the House seem to be coming around to this fact- on July 18 they unanimously passed my amendment to cut military aid to Pakistan in half. The logical next step is stop providing them expedited access to our own sophisticated weaponry. To that end, I will soon introduce a bill to strip Pakistan of its major non-NATO ally status. Too many of our own men and women have died because of Islamabadís treachery. We donít have to pay Pakistan to betray us; they will do it for free.

WASHINGTON, August 3 -

Rep. Ted Poe: The Drones are Coming

For years, the United States has used drones to track foreign terrorists overseas and catch outlaws along the border. But now, thousands of drones are heading to the homeland. Drones are already used for certain purposes here in the United States, but the FAA will soon dramatically expand the use of drones to operate nationwide by the year 2015. It is estimated, by 2030, 30,000 of them will be flying in American skies. Who and what will all of these new eyes in the sky be looking at? No one really knows.  But whether we like it or not, the drones are coming.

Who will operate these drones, and what will be their mission? Could it be a suspicious government agent who thinks someone looks kind of funny? The EPA bureaucrat who wants to snoop on somebody’s farm and watch Bessie the cow graze in the pasture? Or a nosy neighbor who wants to make sure someone’s shutters are pretty and the flowers don’t violate the homeowners’ association rules? This is the kind of world that Americans could face as we enter this uncharted and unprecedented world of drone technology. Just because Big Brother can look into someone’s back yard with a drone doesn’t mean they should. That’s why we have the Fourth Amendment. Congress has the legal obligation to ensure that the Fourth Amendment rights of private citizens are protected in this new “drone world.” You see, the Fourth Amendment says that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated…” The Founders wrote the Fourth Amendment to stop this kind of government intrusion into our lives.

The Constitution limits eavesdropping, snooping, and spying on American citizens. While there are some legitimate uses for drones domestically, such as monitoring forest fires, floods and hurricanes, tracking an escaped bank robber, and other law enforcement uses, it is up to Congress to define and limit their use so that the Fourth Amendment and the right of privacy are protected.

That is why I am introducing the Preserving American Privacy Act. Now is the time for Congress to act, not in 2015. With the increased technology of surveillance, Congress must be proactive in protecting civilians from drone surveillance by law enforcement and other private citizens. This bill will ensure the privacy of Americans is protected by establishing guidelines about when and for what purpose law enforcement agencies, private citizens, and businesses can use drones.

First, it would prevent the FAA from issuing a permit for the use of a drone to fly in the United States airspace for the law enforcement purposes unless it is pursuant to a warrant and in the investigation of a felony. This would apply to Federal, State, and local jurisdictions. The warrant exceptions and exigent circumstances rules that are already the law of the land would be the same as those that are applicable in the Federal, State, or local jurisdiction where that surveillance occurs. The bill also includes a clear statement so that it does not prevent the use of drones for border security purposes. Bottom line: no one should be spying on you unless they have the legal authority to do so.

It would also prevent the FAA from issuing a permit to any private individual for the use of a drone for the surveillance of a U.S. citizen or the property of a U.S. citizen unless that person under surveillance has consented or the owner of the property has consented. There may be some other lawful exceptions as well. No one should be looking at another citizens’ private property unless they have permission to do so.

Lastly, this bill would ensure that no evidence obtained from the use of a drone may be used at an administrative hearing. This means that the EPA can’t spy on Bessie or claim that the water on a Nebraska farm is not clean enough.

Americans expect their constitutional rights, privacy and property will be protected by their government—after all that is the reason we have government in the first place.  So, Congress must decide now when drones can and cannot be used in order to ensure constitutional safeguards. This decision cannot be left up to government agencies, special interest groups, or others. And it’s a decision that can’t wait.

Technology may change with time, but the Constitution does not.

And that’s just the way it is.

Headline In The News 3

July 26, 2012

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July 26, 2012

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July 26, 2012

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