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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Headline In the News 1

July 26, 2012

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Thursday, March 8, 2012 06:09 PM

By: Rep. Ted Poe

Editor's Note: Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, wrote this column exclusively for Newsmax.

Where I come from, we don’t reward bad behavior; we punish it. Earlier this month, in its FY2013 budget request, the Obama administration asked for $2.2 billion, an additional $500 million to what the U.S. gave Pakistan in 2011. The administration justifies this as fulfilling our commitment to Pakistan. But, what about Pakistan’s commitment to us? Let’s review the events of this past year and you be the judge.

The day Osama bin Laden met his maker will go down as one of the greatest moments in American history. His long reign of terror ended when our tenacious and determined Navy SEALs brought swift justice to this evil coward, bringing a decade-long manhunt to a close. Unfortunately, Pakistan did not share this same determination. Our manhunt did not end in a remote cave in the mountains, but in a palace in a bustling military town just 35 miles from Islamabad. To think that the most senior levels of the Pakistani government did not know he was there requires, as Secretary Clinton has said, the willing suspension of disbelief. That dog just won’t hunt.

Islamabad’s reaction to our taking out the world’s #1 terrorist only confirmed our suspicions. Shortly after the raid and capture of bin Laden, Pakistan outed our CIA station chief in Islamabad and arrested Pakistani informants that led the United States to find bin Laden. Pakistan charged Dr. Shikal Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who Secretary Panetta said was critical in our effort to get bin Laden, with treason. If Pakistan considered bin Laden a mutual enemy, then Dr. Afridi would have been honored as a hero. Instead, he is being held as a criminal.

The more we learn about Pakistan, the worse it gets. For years, the United States paid Pakistan civilian foreign aid as well as military reimbursements for their so-called efforts to go after Islamic militants. But last May, we found out that Pakistan has tried to cheat the United States by filing bogus reimbursement claims for some time now; a whopping 40 percent of these claims have been deemed faulty and rejected by our government. Pakistan is eager to collect American money but their willingness to go after the Taliban is dubious.

It gets worse. A month after bin Laden’s capture, the United States identified bomb making factories where IEDs were made to kill American soldiers. Instead of going after the militants at the factories, apparently Pakistani intelligence officials tipped off the bad guys. To top it off, according to Admiral Mike Mullen, the government of Pakistan supported the killing of Americans. “With ISI [Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency] support, Haqqani operatives plan and conducted” a truck bomb attack that wounded more than 70 U.S. and NATO troops on—get this—September 11. Why do we send American money to a country that appears to be complicit in the murder of our troops?

Hatred for America is at an all-time high in Pakistan. Americans turn on their TV sets at night and see images of our flag burning in the streets. Just this week, Pakistanis in Karachi held an anti-American rally that placed an individual wearing a mask of President Obama in a noose. Pakistan leaders are adding to the animosity by continuing to vilify the United States on the one hand and, on the other hand, taking our money. They are playing both sides.

America must realize that Pakistan is the “Benedict Arnold” to America in the war on terror. The Administration’s request to send more money to Pakistan must be denied. The American people are wondering, why is our government paying these people to hate us? They will do it for free. Maybe we shouldn’t pay them at all.

And that’s just the way it is.

The Hill

By Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) - 02/29/12 12:38 PM ET

For nearly a decade, the United States has invested money, sweat, blood and tears all in the name of a free and democratic Iraq. Before the war, Iraqis suffered under the oppressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Recent events have led me to believe that perhaps the new government does not value freedom any more than the last.

As a member of Congress, I have been fortunate enough to go to Iraq several times to visit our troops. During my last visit with a bipartisan Congressional delegation we also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. During a nearly two hour-long discussion I asked one simple question: "Can we go see Camp Ashraf?" 

I represent a number of Iranian Americans who have family members in the camp. They were particularly worried at this point since Iraqi forces had killed 36 residents at the camp just weeks before. But our simple request was met with a defiant, “no.” All of a sudden, the meeting was over. It left me wondering -- what does the prime minister have to hide? Later that day we learned that Prime Minister Maliki had ordered us evicted from Iraq. We did not leave the country until we finished visiting our troops and other Iraqis.

That day confirmed everything I had heard about the attitude of the Iraqi government towards Camp Ashraf. And, now we have Camp Liberty. Residents of Camp Ashraf (commonly called the MEK) were moved into this new camp so the UN could begin processing their political refugee applications and remove them from Iraq. Ironically a name that is synonymous with freedom. But once again, Iraq is silencing residents of the camp and hiding it from the rest of the world. If there's really nothing to hide about Camp Liberty, let the world see what's taking place. 

The reality is that Camp Liberty is worse than any prison of ours. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani described it best: “This is not a relocation camp. I have seen relocation camps. I know what relocation camps look like. And I know what jails look like. This isn't a jail. This is a concentration camp. That's what it is. This is a concentration camp. Let's call it what it is.”  

Even in prisons, we allow lawyers to see their clients and families to see their loved ones. But not in this camp. You can’t help but think good ol’ Maliki has something to hide again. But word is leaking out -- there is not enough drinking water in the camp, and ruptures in the sewage system are having to be fixed by hand by the residents. Iraqi Guards at the camp do not follow any sort of rules and continually violate the privacy of the residents, many of whom are women.

This is a problem that is only going to get worse unless the Obama Administration puts more pressure on the Iraqi government to stop violating the fundamental human rights of the residents. So far, there is no guarantee that residents from Camp Ashraf will not be forced into Camp Liberty. With thousands more residents expected, the already inhumane conditions will only get worse. 

What’s more, no one, not even the UN, is confident that once a political refugee determination is made other countries will accept these refugees. Why? Because the U.S. State Department incredibly still has the MEK designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The designation is a relic of an old, failed foreign policy strategy that did this as a favor to Iran’s leaders for better relations. 

Foreign relations with Iran have gotten worse, not better. Since then, we’ve seen that the real terrorists are the mullahs of Iran and the tiny tyrant in the desert, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, not the opposition groups that want democracy in Iran. Both the EU and the UK have removed their FTO designation from the group -- why not the United States? As Iran defiantly marches towards nuclear weapons, the best hope for the world is the people of Iran throwing off the chains of their repressive rulers and bringing freedom and democracy to their country. The longer we keep opposition groups who want to do just that on the FTO list, the less likely it is that the light of liberty will ever have a chance to shine in Iran. The U.S. State Department must remove the MEK from the FTO list immediately.

And that’s just the way it is.

Rep. Poe (R-Texas), is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

HUMAN EVENTS

We hear about religious persecution throughout the Third World, but the Catholic Church is being targeted right here in the United States. For centuries, people have fled to this country to escape religious discrimination. Now our own government is a villain to religion. The Obama administration is chipping away at this cornerstone of our society by violating the religious liberty of those who hold fast to certain beliefs, in particular those of the Catholic Church.

Through its unconstitutional health care law, the administration is pursuing a policy that will force Catholics to either violate their teachings or face the wrath of the government. This is a choice no American should have to make. The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly defines freedom of religion. Our founding fathers purposely guaranteed this freedom first because it is the most important.  The Constitution has protected religious liberty for over two hundred years. Apparently, the White House believes separation of church and state is a thing of the past. According to this policy, religious organizations will be forced to provide their employees with medical insurance that covers free contraceptives and sterilization.  While houses of worship are exempt, religiously affiliated organizations, such as hospitals and universities, were mandated to comply with this government edict.  This decree forces Catholic organizations to choose between either violating their religious faith or not furnishing their employees with health care coverage.  The administration is well aware that this goes against the basic tenets of the Catholic religion as well as other faiths. It is not the right of the government to alter or manipulate the conscience of any individual—Christian or non-Christian.

Now, people from all faiths are coming together to defend the freedom of religion. This government sponsored act of aggression against religious liberty has awoken a sleeping giant that will not rest until the administration rescinds its attempt to implement statism. People who believe in the First Amendment will not and should not let this government assault on the Constitution stand.  By prohibiting the free exercise of religion, the administration is punishing Catholics for exercising their religious beliefs.  This issue is about much more than contraception and the hot button issue of pro life versus pro choice. Regardless of where Americans stand on the issue, it is alarming that the federal government would punish religions for their beliefs attempt to create a substitute religious doctrine. If this edict stands, what’s next?

In an artificial attempt to appease people of all faiths, the White House crafted a so-called “accommodation”. Make no mistake – their new plan makes no real changes to this discriminatory policy. Under the new proposal, religious groups would still be required to provide their employees with health insurance that covers contraceptives for free, but the contraceptive coverage will not be explicitly stated in their plans.  The administration also shuffled around the cost from the employers to insurance companies, who will now be forced to pay for contraceptives and sterilization. Perhaps most importantly, the administration conveniently left out all of the religious organizations who are self-insured and therefore do not work with external insurance companies. I suppose they will still be forced to violate their conscience or pay the price. So much for a compromise.

Religious principles are not negotiable. No government has the legal or moral right to make any religion violate its convictions or decide what does or does not violate conscience. Religion is one area that is immune from government regulation under our Constitution. People of faith will not submit to this Administration’s deliberate attack on religious liberty. Catholics, Protestants, and Jews are united in their effort to stand up against this government act of tyranny. The holy line has been drawn in the sand by a coalition of all religions. 

And that’s just the way it is.

Washington Times

By Rep. Ted Poe

Illustration by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

On Jan. 4, stargazers all over the world were dazzled by the very first meteor shower of 2012. The West Virginia Mountaineers beat the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl. Politicos were busy spinning the results of the Iowa Caucus. The payroll-tax saga was still fresh in our minds, and the camera lights were dark on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile in Cleveland, President Obama was back on the campaign trail, touting his four "recess" appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board. This may have been a great sound bite for the president, but his appointments violated the Constitution. The appointments were neither made while the Senate was in recess nor confirmed by the upper chamber. Instead, the administration trampled on the Constitution and went its own way.

As we all learned in high school civics, the executive branch gets its power from Article II of the Constitution. Included in this section is the president's authority to appoint certain unelected public officials with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. The Founders included this provision in the Constitution because they envisioned cooperation between the executive and the Senate. Cooperation between the executive and Congress? Sadly, there is no such thing under this administration. In the event that the Senate is in recess, the Constitution does permit the president to make temporary recess appointments. Inconveniently for the president, on Jan. 4, the Senate was not in recess long enough to allow for recess appointments. But this White House seems to live in a world far from reality where the executive can say when Congress is in session and when it is not. So much for separation of powers.

According to the administration, the Senate was in recess so the appointments were constitutional. If that were true, how could the controversial payroll-tax-cut extension - signed by the president on Dec. 23 - be signed into law? Congress cannot pass legislation unless it is in session. If the Senate was in recess as the administration says, this law would be null and void. The executive cannot have it both ways based on what is on the political agenda. According to the Constitution, if the House or Senate wants to recess, it must get consent from the other chamber. The House did not consent to a Senate recess nor did the Senate ask the House for its consent. The executive cannot use linguistic gimmicks to redefine the words "recess" and "session" to his own liking. It is Congress that decides when it is in session, just as the president decides when he is on recess in Hawaii.

Our Founding Fathers were determined to build a country where freedom was protected and government was limited. They designed the framework for the American government in the Constitution. This document has been the glue that has held our democracy together for more than 200 years. It ensures that power is separated between three branches of government and that no one person is immune from the rules. Not even the president of the United States.

The Constitution is not optional. This administration's chronic disregard and disrespect for the law of the land is unprecedented and cannot be tolerated. Congress will explore all options to check this constitutionally questionable abuse of power by the executive branch. The House Judiciary Committee will discuss on Wednesday this executive power grab and will explore possible next steps by Congress. Mr. Obama is not the only one who swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Congress has the constitutional obligation to check the actions of the executive branch. After all, that is what separation of powers is all about.

Rep. Ted Poe, Texas Republican, is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and was a judge in Houston for more than 20 years.

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