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Posts from February 2010
WASHINGTON – Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14), the Ranking Republican of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, issued the following statement this morning on the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile early this morning.

Mack said:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile today following this devastating disaster. As countries across the hemisphere monitor the possibility of a tsunami, we hope and pray that there is no further destruction or loss of life.

“My office has been in constant communication with the State Department and the Chilean Embassy, and we will continue to monitor the situation as the rescue and relief efforts get underway.

“As Chile begins to rebuild and recover, the United States, and indeed the entire hemisphere, stands ready to help.”

As printed in the The Jewish Journal
February 24, 2010
Contact: Tom Pfeifer, (202) 225-5811

Immediate Strong Sanctions Needed on Iran
U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, Special to the LA Jewish Journal

The mullahs who run Iran celebrated the 31st anniversary of their revolution Feb. 11th by “punching” the West with claims their regime has produced 20 percent enriched uranium. While 90 percent enriched uranium is considered weapons grade, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that too is on the way and declared that Iran was a “nuclear state.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives have now passed new sanctions legislation aimed towards trying to avert Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but have not worked out their differences to send the bill to the President.

The President should not wait for Congress. He should act to immediately impose sanctions on Iran using his existing authority and mount a relentless campaign to recruit other nations to follow suit.

While the President said he would make such an effort in a matter of weeks, those are weeks we cannot spare if we are serious about trying to prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons. We must be vigilant and keep Iran at the forefront of our attention.

The Obama Administration’s attempts over the past year to negotiate with Tehran have failed. While the Administration was preoccupied with issues such as global warming and health care, we must not allow other issues to obscure our focus on Iran as one of the most dangerous foreign policy problems we face.

In unclassified testimony this month before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, of which I am a senior member, National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair acknowledged that the Iranian regime continues to “flout UN Security Council restrictions on its nuclear program” and that “there is a real risk that its nuclear program will prompt other countries in the Middle East to pursue nuclear weapons.”

Blair testified in his Annual Threat Assessment that Iran “has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons.” Further, Blair said our intelligence assessment is that Iran has the means to deliver such weapons.

“Iran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East,” Blair told the committee, “and it continues to expand the scale, reach and sophistication of its ballistic missile forces—many of which are inherently capable of carrying a nuclear payload.”

Some factors suggest Iran may be particularly vulnerable to sanctions now. Iran’s economy is increasingly shaky, there are divisions even within the regime, and there is a wide-based popular opposition movement. Iranian inflation is believed to be as high as 20 percent and unemployment is high, especially among the young, who are the majority of the population.

Although it is oil-rich, Iran is refinery poor and relies on foreign imports to supply 40 percent of its fuel needs. That makes Iran particularly vulnerable to international sanctions to block fuel imports, a central focus of the sanctions bill I cosponsored that passed the House and Senate. Sanctions could also be aimed at isolating Iran’s central bank and its ability to move funds through the international banking system. No option should be taken off the table.

The Iranian regime has used every delay in imposing tougher sanctions so far to its advantage and hopes to keep a divided and indecisive world at bay while it makes its nuclear arsenal a fait accompli. Strong American leadership is needed if reluctant nations, such as China and Russia, will turn away from short-term advantage and realize a nuclear-armed Iran is not in their interests either.

January 27 marked the 65th anniversary of the Auschwitz death camp liberation. It is tragically ironic that the House passed a resolution I cosponsored commemorating that liberation just as Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad was renewing his oft-repeated call for a second Holocaust to wipe Israel from the face of the map.

The United States must not stand by impotently while Ahmadinejad acquires the means to carry out his horrific threat. We must impose sanctions against Tehran now and do everything we can to stop him and his regime from making their evil wish a reality.

— Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly represents Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in Congress and is a senior member of both the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees. He is the ranking Republican on the House Subcommittee on Europe.
Seeking to bar terrorists from receiving the same rights as Americans, U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) is filing an amendment Tuesday with the House Rules Committee that would prohibit non-US citizens from receiving protection under the Constitution.

Inglis’ amendment will be considered by the Rules Committee as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2010, scheduled to come to the House Floor later in the week.

“We need to be able to detain and interrogate terrorists in an appropriate setting to gain time-sensitive, actionable intelligence to prevent coordinated attacks and to protect all Americans,” Inglis said. “Terrorists who attempt cowardly and deadly attacks on U.S. soil should not be afforded the same legal protection as other Americans.”

Under the amendment, the Attorney General would have to consult with members of the Intelligence community, the Director of National Intelligence, CIA, FBI and Secretary of Defense to decide whether to channel the individual combatant to civilian court as a criminal suspect or to a military tribunal as an Underprivileged Enemy Belligerent (enemy combatant) under the Military Commissions Act of 2009.

Under this scenario, the Christmas Day bomber would be detained for attempting to commit terrorism and would not be provided the same Constitutional rights as an ordinary criminal defendant.

Ordinary criminal suspects are provided with the right to a fair trial. An enemy combatant is provided with rights established under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, which balances the need for a fair trial with our national security interests.
Members of Congress are stepping up efforts to stop civilian trials on U.S. soil for the 9/11 terrorists, including the self-proclaimed mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

Bipartisan legislation introduced with 38 cosponsors including Rep. John Boozman (R-AR), blocks funding for the trial in any American community but allows for a military commission at Guantanamo Bay or another secure military facility.

“These terrorists are dangerous enemies of our nation and they need to be dealt with in a way that demonstrates our country's commitment to justice and maintains our respect and good standing in the rest of the world. I do not believe that bringing them to stand trial in New York City or any other community on U.S. soil accomplishes that nor does it do anything to make Americans safer. There is a potential that a civilian trial could jeopardize our national security by forcing us to expose details regarding our intelligence and intelligence gathering process,” Boozman said.

Last November, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four co-conspirators currently held at Guantanamo Bay would face a civilian trial in New York City. Since then, New York City leaders including Mayor Michael Bloomberg have voiced their opposition to the trial because of security concerns as well as the cost, which is estimated to be $250 million a year.

H.R. 4556 was introduced in the House by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and a Senate companion was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
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