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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Iran Owes Terror Victims Billions of Dollars, Says Activist Lawyer

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

An Israeli lawyer who has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims has asked Obama administration officials why they are discussing letting Iran off the hook on sanctions while it owes American relatives colossal sums of money.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who heads the Israel Law Center, has won billions of dollars for relatives of terror victims in lawsuits against the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organization as well as banks and other agencies that aid terrorists or act as a pipeline for funds for them.

She wrote Under Secretary Wendy Sherman last month, “Iran must not be allowed under any circumstances to avoid making payment of reparations and due compensations to the families of those whose lives they have destroyed through terrorism…and through the terror organizations it supports: Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.”

In a blog posted this past week on The Hill website based in Washington, Darshan-Leitner noted that Sherman did not respond, and she added, “As a result of lawsuits taken by American victims of terror in U.S. courts, the Iranian regime currently owes billions of dollars from decades of terrorist activity resulting in dozens of victims and severed families. This debt has yet to be recognized or paid by the Iranian government with no sign of an intention to do so.”

She called on Congress to ensure that the U.S. government is working to keep the interests of the terror victims’ families on the table.

Darshan-Leitner pointed out that when George W. Bush was President, he conditioned repealing of any sanctions against Libya on payment of reparations to the victims of Libyan terror. “This move resulted in the payment of $1.5 billion dollars to the victims’ families,” she wrote.

On the other hand, Bush also removed North Korea from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in 2008, without compensation being paid to American families, she added.

“We fear this lack of response not only portends a potential Iranian exemption from paying reparations and giving due compensation to families affected by terror in return for normalization of relations, but that it also signals a softening of Sherman’s position on the proliferation of terrorist activity and most significantly, creates difficult implications for the United States’ reputation as a pillar of justice in the war on terror,” according to Darshan-Leitner.

Her blog continued, “As lawyers for American, Canadian and Israeli victims of Iranian terror, we call on Congress to take action and place a check on Under Secretary Sherman in this current round of negotiations… We call on all members of Congress to ensure that victims of terror are not forgotten and to help make the Iranian regime provide the proper reparations and due compensation for the innocent lives taken at the hands of terrorist activities and not to gain a free pass in the name of diplomatic maneuverings.”

‘No Pause’ in AIPAC Iran Sanctions Campaign

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said there would be “no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts” to seek new sanctions on Iran.

The statement late Saturday came after days of reports that top pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC, had agreed in a meeting with senior White House staffers to suspend for 80 days lobbying for increased sanctions on Iran.

“AIPAC continues to support congressional action to adopt legislation to further strengthen sanctions and there will absolutely be no pause, delay or moratorium in our efforts,” said the statement by AIPAC President Michael Kassen.

Obama administration officials have said that passing intensified sanctions would be counterproductive while renewed negotiations are underway with Iran aimed at making its nuclear program more transparent and ensuring that Iran is not working to make a bomb.

Top officials have met with senators in recent days to ask them not to advance intensified sanctions passed over the summer by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congressional proponents of the sanctions, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have said that sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table and should be upheld to extract meaningful concessions.

That outlook was echoed in the statement by AIPAC’s Kassen.

“AIPAC supports diplomatic efforts to achieve an end to Iran’s nuclear program,” Kassen said.

“Diplomatic talks have been made possible because of the strong sanctions passed by Congress and implemented by the administration,” he said. “Until Iran suspends its enrichment program, additional sanctions are vital for diplomacy to succeed.

White House Presses Congress Not To Intensify Sanctions

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

The National Security Council has asked Congressmen at a White House briefing to delay passing new Iran sanctions, according to BuzzFeed.

The meeting with top staffers from congressional committees dealing with Iran sanctions was called after the Obama administration launched renewed talks this month with Iran in the wake of pledges from its newly elected president, Hassan Rouhani, to cooperate with major powers in making Iran’s nuclear program more transparent.

Administration officials have said sanctions will remain in place until Iran tangibly shows it is abiding by U.N. Security Council resolutions and suspending uranium enrichment, but some congressional leaders, in line with the policy advised by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, want to intensify existing sanctions as a means of increasing leverage over Iran.

On the Job but Not Getting Paid?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

I’m very glad Congress and the president decided to make sure the uniformed military will get paid during the government shutdown.  That was the right thing to do.  The move averts a game-of-chicken mistake made in late 1995, when Bill Clinton was dispatching troops to Bosnia while their pay was in jeopardy.

As long as preparations are made beforehand, meanwhile, there’s enough in the trusts to make sure Social Security and veterans’ pension payments go out next month as well as this month. That’s a relief to millions of elderly who can’t just go start harvesting vegetables or sweeping floors if their checks don’t come in.  We can assume Congress will keep a sharp eye out for the potential problems, and make provision for them.

That leaves our Border Patrol, FBI, other federal law enforcement agents, federal firefighters, and air traffic controllers, some of the 80% of federal workers who will remain on the job during the shutdown.  At least some of them are reportedly being required to work without their latest-due paychecks being in the bank, until the government is “open” again.  It’s not fully clear how many or which of these workers are having to show up for work with their pay suspended.  I’ve seen reports that suggest some are being paid; other reports seem to indicate that law enforcement and essential-services people are working without pay (i.e., presumably, pay delayed, not “pay never coming”).

In any case, as happy as I am to see the EPA and other agencies off the job, I’m concerned about morale among the hard-working law enforcement and essential-services folks.  They do a tough job 24/365, and a lot is being asked of them today, and for as long as the shutdown lasts.

We can hope the shutdown will last only a couple of days.  Presumably, Congress will be looking out for these workers, and have a care for the hardships they will face if the shutdown goes longer than that.  (In extremis, much could probably be done, even within the current debt ceiling, through issuing IOUs to the Social Security trust fund.)  As with those in all professions, the younger workers – with kids, mortgage and college-loan payments, living paycheck to paycheck – will be the hardest hit.

If the shutdown does become extended, those who have the means can consider donating to organizations that provide a helping hand to these particular federal workers in their time of need.  Here are some links to get you started:

Federal Law Enforcement Foundation

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Foundation

Wildland Firefighters Foundation

Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (especially for non-law enforcement personnel; air traffic controllers are members of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, or NATCA, a labor union with some funding for mutual aid, as well as its own charitable foundation)

I (Heart) Public Safety Network (umbrella network coordinating various forms of assistance to public-safety programs, public-safety workers, and their families)

Note:  per the Washington Post summary at the first link, U.S. Postal Service workers should be getting paid on schedule.  Except for its annual requests for bailouts, USPS is “self-funding,” and should last through the shutdown, however long it goes.

9/11 Spreads in the Middle East

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Al Qaeda was alive and well in the Middle East Wednesday, the 12th  anniversary of the terrorist web’s attacks on the United States.

Two of Al Qaeda-linked terrorists are not so alive and well, but they had the joy of knowing they will be welcomed by 72 virgins for having killed at least 11 Egyptian soldiers and civilians in a double suicide bombing attack at Rafiah, the divided city that straddles the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Bin Laden is long and gone, but he left behind thousands of monsters who are united by a hatred of the West and a burning desire to inflict radical Islam rule on the world.

Al Qaeda is not a monolithic group, but its ideology inspired what are commonly known as “Al Qaeda-linked groups.”

Marc Sagemen, a former CIA officer and now a psychiatrist and counter terrorism consultant, has pointed out, “We like to create a mythical entity called [al-Qaeda] in our minds, but that is not the reality we are dealing with.” He described the terrorist organization as a “loose label for a movement that seems to target the West.”

Al Qaeda and copy-cat groups operate in dozens of countries and in the past three years have helped turn the Middle East into fertile ground to establish a base of power to spread hate and death in the West.

Libya, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Syria are in danger of extinction as countries. President Shimon Peres noted Wednesday that if Syrian President Bassar al-Assad does not play ball and come clean with its stockpile of chemical weapons, it will continue to dissolve into “ a number of countries.”

The Russian RT news agency reported on Wednesday a disgusting example of what goes though the demented minds of Al Qaeda terrorists.

Raouchan Gazakov brought his family to Syria, taught his 5-year-old son to make bombs and bade farewell to his relative, a suicide bomber,” he told RT’s Maria Finoshina in a Damascus prison, where he explained why he came to fight for Al-Qaeda.

“A group called Murad approached me a year ago and convinced me that Muslims in Syria are being oppressed and killed, and that I should go and take up arms against Assad for world jihad.” Raouchan sneaked into Syria last January through Turkey, from where he was accompanied by two men saying they were from Al Qaeda. Once in Syria, he joined an Egyptian-run jihadist group.

Another terrorist in a Syrian prison, Amer El Khadoud, related that he left a normal family life in France to join the Syrian jihad with an Al-Qaeda affiliated group.

The Washington think tank Bipartisan Policy Center recently concluded, “The civil war in Syria may provide Al-Qaeda with an opportunity to regroup, train and plan operations. Foreign fighters hardened in that conflict could eventually destabilize the region or band together to plot attacks against the West.”

Congress heard the same message Tuesday.

“Al Qaeda and its allies dominate a large portion of northern Syria and play a key role in fighting throughout the rest of the country,” Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the House Homeland Security Committee.

His scary appraisal contradicted that of  John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State and Wishful Thinking. He said Al Qaeda does not play a major role in Syria.

Thomas Joscelyn, an analyst with the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, dumped that idea into the Foggy Bottom sea of illusions. He told the House committee on Tuesday, “These same al Qaeda-affiliated forces have fought alongside Free Syrian Army brigades. Al Qaeda has made the fight for Syria a strategic priority.”

Al Qaeda and similar groups have not forgotten 9/11.

“The Islamic Emirate of Libya,” a terrorist organization that may be an Al Qaeda affiliate first reported in 2011, warned on Tuesday that it will “celebrate” 9/11 with terrorist attacks on certain targets, such as the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

In Somalia, terrorists who work with Al Qaeda have staked out headquarters, according to the country’s Mareeg news website.

One of the terrorists is Taliban spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who gave bin Laden and Al Qaeda leaders’ shelter prior to 9/11.

And there is  Sirajuddin Haqqani, a warlord and leader of the Haqqani network that fights American forces in Afghanistan from his base in Pakistan and which hosts Al Qaeda terrorists. He is the leader of the Haqqani network and is a veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

Obama Wants Congress to Delay Action on Syria

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

President Obama asked Congress to delay a vote on whether to strike Syria while he consults with Russia over a deal that would end Syria’s chemical weapons program.

“I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path,” Obama said in a national address Wednesday night.

The Russian option, which emerged over the last two days, would transfer Syrian chemical weapons to international control for destruction. Syrian officials have said they will consider it.

A number of pro-Israel groups have in recent days heeded the White House call to urge Congress to endorse a strike, although it seemed an uphill battle, considering the lack of popular support for such a strike and resistance among a majority of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives.

These groups and the White House have emphasized the Israel is not the preeminent factor in considering such a strike, and although Obama cited in his speech a threat to U.S. allies, including Israel, should Syrian’s Assad regime become more promiscuous in the use of chemical weapons, he also said that Israel should not fear retaliation in case of a U.S. strike.

“Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise, and our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the United States of America,” he said.

In making the moral case for a strike should such a deal fall through, Obama cited the horrors of the 20th century, including the Holocaust, noting that these were premises for international bans on the use of chemical weapons.

“In World War I, American GIs were among the many thousands killed by deadly gas in the trenches of Europe,” he said. “In World War II, the Nazis used gas to inflict the horror of the Holocaust.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a foreign policy leader among Republicans, criticized Obama’s plan to entertain the Russian offer for lacking particulars, but did not dismiss it out of hand.

“Such a plan would require the United States, together with our friends and allies, to immediately introduce a tough U.N. Security Council Resolution that lays out what steps Syria would have to take to give up its chemical weapons, including making a full and accurate declaration of all of its chemical weapons and granting international monitors unfettered access to all sites in Syria that possess these weapons,” McCain said.

Kerry Links Attack on Syria with Deterring Iran

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned House Armed Services Committee Tuesday that failure to grant President Obama the freedom to attack the Assad regime in Syria will strengthen the hand of Iran.

“Iran … [is] watching what you do and whether or not this means something,” he said. “If we choose not to act, we will be sending a message to Iran of American ambivalence, American weakness. It will raise the question…, “Do you really mean what you say? Are you really going to do something?…

“And with this authorization, the President is asking for the power to make sure that the United States of America means what we say.

Kerry added that the failure to act is much riskier than an attack, in which case “Assad will believe that he has license to gas his own people again. And that license will turn prohibited weapons into tactical weapons….

We cannot afford to have chemical weapons transformed into the new convenient weapon, the IED, the car bomb, the weapon of everyday use in this world. Neither our country nor our conscience can bear the costs of inaction, and that’s why we’ve come before you, at the instruction of the President, to ask you to join us in this effort.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kerry-links-attack-on-syria-with-deterring-iran/2013/09/10/

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