March 8, 2012
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.
March 8, 2012
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.
March 8, 2012
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.
March 8, 2012
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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December 13, 2011
By Rep. Ted Poe
Op-ed in The Daily Caller
For 10 years, thousands of American troops have fought against terrorism and for the liberation of Iraq. Many have sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom on behalf of people in a land halfway around the world, leaving their families with the memory of their fallen heroes. Meanwhile, American taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on the military equipment used during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, the U.S. is withdrawing from Iraq and thousands of our desert warriors will soon be enthusiastically welcomed home.
The United States is leaving behind a massive amount of military equipment deemed to be too expensive to bring home. Over the past year, 2.4 million pieces of military equipment — worth at least $250 million — have been transferred for free to the Iraqi government, and more gifts are going to be in Baghdad’s Christmas stocking. But some of the modernized pieces of military equipment are coming home to America. The Department of Defense currently facilitates the distribution of this surplus equipment through the Defense Logistics Agency. One place in serious need of security and equipment is our southern border with Mexico.
There is a war raging in Mexico that has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 people since 2006. In 2010, there were more civilian deaths in the town of Ciudad Juarez (just down the road from El Paso, Texas) than in the entire country of Afghanistan. Mexico’s militarized drug cartels are a powerful army complete with narco-tanks, helicopters and a massive stockpile of dangerous weapons. The drug war has destabilized Mexico, yet the administration seems to think that the violence will not reach our citizens. The truth is it already has. Human trafficking and drugs flow north of the border every day. Money and firearms go south over our dangerous and insecure border. The narco-terrorists are fully operational in Mexico and in many major cities in the United States.
Those who say that the border is secure and the violence is contained in Mexico are living in a blissful state of denial far from reality. Case in point: Last week, three SUVs carrying Mexican Zeta cartel soldiers attempted to hijack a tractor truck rig loaded with drugs on a road in Houston and unleashed blazing gunfire. A shootout occurred with police who were tracking the truck. The truck driver was killed; a peace officer was wounded. Three Mexican nationals and another of unknown citizenship were charged with capital murder. Sadly, this brazen violence is a familiar scene on the streets of Mexico. And, now it has become a reality in the United States. The local head of the DEA, Javier Pena, said of the incident in Houston: “We are not going to tolerate these thugs using their weapons like the Wild Wild West.” Until Washington realizes that what happens in Mexico doesn’t stay in Mexico, more cartel shootouts on American streets are coming our way.
Yes, there are towns on the border that are relatively “safe.” But in the vast, wide-open, rugged and desolate regions along the border, between the safer legal ports of entry, the cartels are successfully smuggling illegals and drugs throughout the United States. The loyal local first responders of the southern border are in serious need of modern military equipment and well-trained manpower. Washington officials seem to live in a blissful state of denial about their constitutional responsibility to secure the border and protect our national sovereignty. Since the federal government refuses to give law enforcement officers in the border region the equipment and manpower they need, this equipment should be sent to local and state law enforcement to help stop the aggression against America. It’s time to quickly implement a strategy to defend against this threat to American sovereignty.
November 28, 2011
by Rep. Ted Poe
Op-ed in Human Events
On Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will sit down to a decorated table filled with turkey and all the trimmings such as mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. They will tell stories, laugh and enjoy conversation with their loved ones. But there are other homes around the nation where the dining room table will be accompanied by an empty chair. In that chair once sat a husband, father, brother, sister, son or daughter. It sat a graduate, a friend and a United States warrior. It is now an empty reminder of a courageous American hero who gave his or her life for this country. Today we say a prayer for those families with the empty seat at the table, and we thank them for their sacrifice to this country. At Thanksgiving, Americans must be thankful for the heroes—and the families that they leave behind—that volunteer to fight 365 days of the year all across the world so that the rest of us can be free. Thanksgiving is about more than a turkey and sitting around a dinner table. It is about giving thanks to God for all of the blessings we enjoy, including our troops and our freedom.
Where did Thanksgiving come from? In 1620, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Fleeing religious persecution, they vowed to make a better life for all in North America. The Pilgrims, unaccustomed to the Massachusetts winter, would not have survived their first winter without the help of the Indians, who brought them food, saving them from starvation. During the following year, the Pilgrims’ conditions improved in Massachusetts, leading to a productive harvest season. To celebrate and give thanks to God for the harvest, the Pilgrims, invited the Indians who had helped them the previous winter, and held a three-day feast. This feast was the birth of what is today known as Thanksgiving.
A common misconception about Thanksgiving is that it was annually celebrated following 1621. Actually, for the next 150 years, the American colonists would only celebrate Thanksgiving when there was cause to do so. In 1789,
November 18, 2011
By Rep. Ted Poe
Op-ed in The Washington Times
Mr. President, stop delaying for political gain. You have had three years to approve or deny the Keystone XL pipeline. The Nov. 1 deadline set by the House of Representatives has come and gone, blatantly ignored by the Senate, and now the administration has kicked the can down the road until first quarter 2013, conveniently right after the 2012 elections.
Immediate approval of this pipeline is the only option in the national interest of the United States. It is a golden opportunity for America. Americans are in need of a stable source of energy and they are thirsty for jobs. This project will provide both, free of cost to the taxpayers. It will enhance our national security, energy security and economic security.
The pipeline will inject energy and jobs into the United States - two things we desperately need to revive our economy. At a time when 14 million Americans are unemployed, it is inexplicable to wait any longer. It’s unforgivable to decide against job creation. It is estimated that this project would create thousands of well-paying jobs in America. It would also provide a consistent source of energy by decreasing our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern countries for oil. The United States would receive 700,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Canada through a pipeline that would end right in my congressional district in southeast Texas. This would increase the supply of oil in America. As we all learned in Economics 101, higher supply of a commodity lowers its price. In all aspects, this is a slam dunk for the American people.
Canada is one of our closest trading partners, and it is also our largest supplier of oil and natural gas. Our ally to the north is looking to expand its exports of oil sands, and it wants the United States to be its best customer. If the U.S. passes on the opportunity to grow this trading relationship, Canada will take its valuable product to other countries who are eager to increase their energy supply - like the Chinese. Canada won’t wait for U.S. political approval.
In recent weeks we have seen a rise in the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline from radical environmentalists who are against this jobs- and energy-creating project all in the name of hypothetically saving the environment. They are so blinded by their hatred of “big oil” that they overlook the facts. Their resistance to this project is perplexing; pipelines are without a doubt the most cost-effective, safest and environmentally sound way to transport oil and natural gas. The environmental advocates say that the pipeline will discharge oil sands into our water supply and harm Americans. In reality, for every barrel of oil shipped across 1,000 miles, less than one teaspoon of liquid is lost from a pipeline. Transporting goods by pipeline also has the lowest carbon footprint compared with every other mode of transportation, including barge, truck or rail. Transporting oil through a pipeline is certainly safer then transportation on an oil tanker from Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps they think it would be a better idea to transport this crude oil on trucks and railroads. Consider this: a medium-sized pipeline (150,000 barrels a day) carries as much oil as more than 750 trucks or a 75-car train. A pipeline of this size (750,000 barrels a day) would require seven times those numbers. That means an additional 5,250 trucks on the road. What kind of carbon footprint will that leave? Even the State Department concluded in its environmental impact statement, “trucking would result in substantially higher greenhouse gas emissions and a higher risk of accidents than transport by pipeline.” Energy and job creation cannot be held hostage by fear-mongering and propaganda.
If it really is the No. 1 priority of this administration to create jobs, why is it putting off a decision for so long? Refusing energy and jobs from a stable ally through a privately funded pipeline built by Americans is mind-boggling. It’s time for the president to make a choice based on what’s best for the country and not what’s best for his re-election. This country needs energy and it needs jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline would provide both. America simply cannot afford for him to delay this project. Doing so would be a conscious decision not to provide relief to people who are ready to work and unable to afford expensive energy costs. This project is truly shovel-ready. Mr. President, saddle up and ride with us now. We can’t wait until after your campaign.
Rep. Ted Poe is a Republican from Texas. His district would be the terminus for the Keystone XL pipeline.