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Ordered Liberty

Obama’s Justice Department Charges Menendez … But Not Reid

April 3rd, 2015 - 10:17 am
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Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, right and former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., left, in happier times, November of 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Obama Justice Department has filed its much anticipated corruption indictment against Senator Robert Menendez. He is the New Jersey Democrat who, from his powerful senior seat on the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, has vehemently opposed President Obama’s negotiations with the jihadist regime in Iran, as well as his outreach to Castro’s Cuba.

Two things about the Obama administration cannot be denied. First, the president is desperate to cut a deal with the mullahs on their nuclear program, so much so that he has erased virtually every red line he ever purported to draw and has not been shy about strong-arming naysayers, including our allies in Israel and France.

Second, the Obama’s Justice Department, which features the first attorney general in American history to be held in contempt of Congress (for obstructing the House’s investigation of the outrageous Fast & Furious scandal), is the most politicized in American history – practicing discriminatory law-enforcement that stays its hand against friends (see, e.g., its treatment of New Black Panther Party voter intimidation, Solyndra fraud, and the Obama 2008 campaign’s large-scale campaign finance violations) while punishing critics, scapegoats, and others who dare to cross the president (see, e.g., treatment of Dinesh D’Souza’s de minimis campaign finance violation; of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, producer of the anti-Muslim video the administration fraudulently blamed for the Benghazi massacre; and of Standard & Poor’s, squeezed for a $1.37 billion settlement in a retaliatory suit Justice filed after S&P downgraded the U.S. credit-rating).

Consequently, as discussed here at Ordered Liberty last month when Menendez called an extraordinary press conference to defend himself, it was reasonable to suspect that the impending indictment might be payback for defying the president on Iran – indeed, mocking the White House over talking points that, the senator said, read as if they’d been written in Tehran.

As I hastened to point out in that post, this was not an “either-or” scenario. That is, it is entirely possible both (a) that the administration is harassing Menendez and making an example of the wages of defiance, and (b) that Menendez is in fact guilty of crimes. Discriminatory law enforcement is rarely a matter of trumping up cases. It is more a matter of exploiting the gray areas of prosecutorial discretion. Dinesh D’Souza, for example, was undeniably guilty of campaign finance violations. Nevertheless, the Justice Department typically allows these to be settled by administrative fine … as it did in the case of the Obama 2008 campaign’s offenses. D’Souza, to the contrary, was singled out for a multiple felony prosecution, with the Justice Department aggressively pushing for a significant prison sentence (denied by the judge), even though D’Souza’s $15,000 violation was a pittance compared to the Obama campaign’s concealment of nearly $2 million in donations.

So now that Menendez and his heavyweight donor, Florida opthalmologist Salomon Melgen, have been indicted on 22 corruption counts (comprised of conspiracy, bribery, fraud and false statements charges), it is worth asking: Is Menendez being unfairly singled out for prosecution on conduct in the nature of “everybody does it”? In considering this question, it is worth focusing on that paragon of Beltway rectitude, Harry Reid, who makes an intriguing cameo appearance in the Menendez indictment.

Boiled down to its essence, the 68-page indictment charges Menendez with agreeing to accept “things of value” (expensive gifts, vacations, private plane trips, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions) from Dr. Melgen in return for being influenced to use his powerful office for Melgen’s benefit. The charging instrument describes an unusually lavish donor-pol arrangement. Still, the choreography of pay-to-play contributor and pampered elected official – with the chorus line of connected lobbyists and eager-to-please staffers in between – is hardly atypical of Washington … which is why so many Americans hold their government in such contempt.

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The Obama administration may not have much use for federal law or for Congress’s constitutional role in providing advice on, determining whether to consent to, and enacting any legislation necessary to implement international agreements. But it exhibits cloying reverence for a fatwa — a sharia law edict — issued by a jurist who runs a regime that is the world’s leading state sponsor of jihadist terror.

Even when the fatwa is a patent hoax.

Secretary of State Kerry, like his predecessor Hillary Clinton and his boss President Obama, took time out from his tirades against Senate Republicans’ exposition of the Constitution to praise the fatwa the administration claims that Iran’s top mullah, Ayatollah Khamenei, issued against nuclear weapons. As the Weekly Standard’s Jeryl Bier reports, Kerry, in the course of addressing the administration’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, told the press during a visit to Egypt:

As you all know, Iran says it doesn’t want a nuclear weapon, and that is a very welcome statement that the Supreme Leader has, in fact, incorporated into a fatwa. And we have great respect — great respect — for the religious importance of a fatwa.

Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also sounded a hopeful note about this supposed fatwa in 2012, claiming to have discussed it with “a number of experts and religious scholars,” as well as with Turkey’s Islamist then-prime minister (now president) Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In 2013, President Obama himself proclaimed:

[T]he Supreme Leader [Khamenei] has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has just recently reiterated that the Islamic Republic will never develop a nuclear weapon.

But the “fatwa” in question does not exist.

The invaluable Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has done extensive research into compilations of Khamenei’s published fatwas. (See here and here, and citations therein.) No such fatwa has ever been published.

In a sharia state, particularly the one in Iran that is actually run by the country’s top sharia jurists, fatwas are important statements of governing law, like statutes are in the U.S. Yet despite repeated requests, Iran has never produced the purported anti-nuclear weapons fatwa from Khamenei.

Indeed, as MEMRI elaborates, Khamenei was directly asked about the purported fatwa in a 2012 Facebook exchange:

[I]s it also forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?

He refused to answer the question:

Your question has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent [sic] position, then it will be possible to answer it.

The notion that Khamenei actually believes nuclear weapons violate Islamic law and would issue a credible fatwa to that effect should be seen as absurd on its face. Put aside that Pakistan, which incorporates sharia in its law, has long had nuclear weapons. For over two decades, al-Qaeda has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons and has enjoyed essential support from the regime in Tehran.

Oil-rich Iran has no need to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It has explicitly threatened to wipe Israel off the map. It has been busily been developing weapons systems capable of delivering nuclear bombs in conjunction with its uranium enrichment. It could not be more obvious that Khamenei’s regime, far from rejecting nuclear weapons as anti-Islamic, seeks to acquire them in order to promote the imposition of its Islamic-supremacist ideology.

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It’s Not ‘Either…Or’ with Menendez

March 8th, 2015 - 3:24 pm
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Sen. Robert Menendez speaks to reporters during a news conference, Friday, March 6, 2015, in Newark. A person familiar with a federal investigation of Menendez says the Justice Department is expected to bring criminal charges against the New Jersey Democrat in the coming weeks. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The speculation that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is about to be indicted on corruption charges is well informed enough that Menendez found it necessary on Friday to launch a preemptive self-defense in the media.

Sen. Menendez is suspected of influence peddling on behalf of Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and major donor Menendez describes as a longtime family friend. In 2012 alone, when Menendez was seeking reelection to the Senate, Melgen contributed $700,000 to his and other Democratic campaigns.

In addition, the Washington Post reports, sources claim Melgen has done Menendez various other favors, not least providing prostitutes (including minors) while Menendez stayed at a friend’s Dominican resort home, an allegation the senator vigorously denies. Beyond that salacious aspect of the case, the FBI is investigating whether money and other favors from Melgen induced Menendez to intervene on his behalf in at least two significant transactions: (a) pushing the the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to favor a Melgen-backed company in the acquisition of screening equipment for Dominican Republic ports; and (b) pressuring then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other top officials to resolve a Medicare billing dispute to Melgen’s advantage.

Menendez, a Clinton crony and a generally reliable progressive, has been an unusual Democrat in his vehement opposition to President Obama on two prominent foreign affairs matters: Iran and Cuba. At the moment, the Iran negotiations are of particular significance to the legacy-hunting Obama, who plainly sees cutting a deal on the mullahs’ nuclear program – no matter how rotten a deal – as a potentially defining achievement. Menendez, who has always enjoyed strong support among American Jews, has been scathing in criticizing Obama’s appeasement of the jihadist regime that publicly vows to annihilate Israel and is the world’s leading sponsor of anti-American terrorism.

So, as one would expect, Menendez sympathizers are claiming that the Obama administration’s apparently imminent prosecution of this prominent Democrat is strictly political intimidation: an attempt to criminalize politics-as-usual in order to silence and perhaps sideline a dissenter at a critical moment in the Iran negotiations. Administration sources counter that the investigation of a prominent Democrat shows that the administration is not partisan when it comes to law enforcement; the timing of the charges, they add, is driven not by political considerations but by the statute of limitations: apparently, one or more of the potential charges against the senator will be time-barred if the Justice Department does not indict them soon.

It is only natural that the competing camps should offer these divergent views. The case, however, is not an “either … or” situation. It is perfectly reasonable to believe both that Menendez may be guilty of corruption offenses and that his political opposition on Iran is factoring into the administration’s decision to charge him. Put another way, if Menendez were running interference for Obama on the Iran deal, rather than trying to scupper it, I believe he would not be charged.

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With the Republican surrender on President Obama’s amnesty decree that I predicted over a month ago now taking shape, an appeal to duty may be futile. Nevertheless, it is still worth being blunt about this. The Beltway GOP’s retreat would be a profound dereliction of duty – specifically, the duty that Congress owes to the states.

The federal government, very much including Republican lawmakers and conservative judges, has systematically disarmed the states of their capacity for self-defense. The power to defend one’s territory – including the power to remove aliens who have no legal right to be present – is an ineliminable component of sovereignty. The preservation of state sovereignty, in turn, is part of the core guarantee that induced the states to ratify the Constitution.

At a minimum, then, federal law – made in Congress, where the states are represented – must preserve the sovereign right of states to protect themselves. Obama’s executive action not only bypasses Congress; it undoes and countermands congressional laws designed to fulfill the federal government’s duty to protect the states. The president does not merely purport to establish enforcement priorities, as any president must do. He rewrites federal law under the guise of “prosecutorial discretion.” More blatant, he presumes to confer a de facto amnesty – an adjustment of status from deportable to non-deportable – as well as other legal benefits that the Constitution empowers only Congress to grant – e.g., work permits and Social Security numbers.

Of course, as I explain in Faithless Execution, such actions flout the president’s oath and duty to execute the laws faithfully. But that is not the half of it. Congress, too, is derelict if lawmakers agree – reluctantly or not – to fund Obama’s lawlessness. Senators and Members of the House are not bystanders; they are elected representatives who have a duty to act. It is immaterial how they personally feel about Obama’s malfeasance. The only relevant thing is that they have the power to stop it by refusing to pay for it. If, despite having that power, they consciously devise a legislative process that inevitably results in the provision of funding for the president’s decree, then they are knowingly aiding and abetting his lawlessness. That makes them equally guilty, case closed.

That, moreover, would be a profound betrayal of the states, whose inability to defend themselves from illegal immigration is largely attributable to Congress’s encroachments.

A little history. The federal government was given no responsibility for immigration enforcement. Indeed, for the first century-plus of constitutional governance, there was no Justice Department and nothing remotely resembling the federal domestic law-enforcement system we have today. The Constitution gave Congress the power to set the qualifications for American citizenship. Enforcing the law, including the laws against illegal presence within the territory of a state, was a state responsibility.

Nowadays, this division of power is thought quaint. But it was actually more sensible and humane than what we have now. It recognized that because economic and social conditions vary widely in a large, growing country, a one-size-fits-all immigration policy imposed by Washington would be a terrible idea. Under our former system of federalism, states that wanted to be more welcoming of non-Americans had the capacity to do that. They could reap the benefits of generous immigration policies as long as they did not socialize the costs. This, in turn, encouraged a healthier brand of immigration: people who came to our country because they wanted to be Americans and live the dream of self-made success through hard work.

The state interest in immigration enforcement was always obvious. What was not clear was whether the federal government had a role to play beyond securing the country from foreign invasion. Eventually, a role was divined, mainly by the courts. Ironically, a major part of the rationalization was that because the federal government exercises sovereignty on behalf of the American people as a whole, it has to be able to control its borders and the internal activities of aliens because self-defense in an ineliminable ingredient of sovereignty.

Alas, the sovereign right of self-defense is exactly what the federal government has now stripped away from the states. To understand how this happened is to understand why the coming Republican decision to collude in Obama’s lawlessness is so indefensible.

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Egypt Battles ISIS and Sharia Supremacism

February 16th, 2015 - 9:50 am

How does Egypt differ from Saudi Arabia and Qatar? Two ways: (1) It was not invited to join President Obama’s ballyhooed “coalition” of Arab Muslim states fighting against ISIS, and (2) it is actually fighting against ISIS.

Obama, of course, has aligned himself with the anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Semitic Muslim Brotherhood, which, like ISIS, wants to impose sharia globally. Thus the State Department continues to host and consult with the Brotherhood about the future of Egypt, even though the Brotherhood has been outlawed as a terrorist organization – the government it dominated having been ousted from power after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand its removal.

Meanwhile, the new government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who was elected by a wide margin after the Brotherhood was cashiered, is taking the fight to ISIS – including cooperating with Israel in the Sinai, where ISIS is working with Hamas (the Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch), as Caroline Glick detailed last week, here.

Moreover, the New York Times reports that Egypt is conducting airstrikes against ISIS’s new operations base in Libya (the country that Islamists have destabilized and largely overrun thanks to President Obama’s decision to help Islamists overthrow the Qaddafi regime). Unlike the former Brotherhood government that freed jihadist leaders and abetted the persecution of Coptic Christians, Sisi’s government is attacking the jihadists to avenge ISIS’s savage murder of Egyptian Christians. The Times’ David Kirkpatrick notes that:

The Egyptian military said on Monday that it had carried out two rounds of airstrikes in Libya in retaliation for the beheading of more than a dozen Egyptian Christians by a branch of the Islamic State extremist group there.

In a statement Monday morning, the Egyptian military said that it had conducted airstrikes at dawn against training camps and arms depots of the Islamic State group in Libya, but it did not provide further details. The Foreign Ministry said that Egyptian warplanes had struck Derna, a town in eastern Libya that is a hub of Islamist militancy.

* * * * * * *

In a televised address late Sunday night, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt vowed that his country would take action to avenge the killings.

“Egypt preserves the right to respond, with the appropriate manner and timing, in order to carry out retribution on those killers and criminals who are stripped of the most basic of human values,” Mr. Sisi said.

The Egyptian military said in a statement issued around 8:30 a.m. that the dawn strikes were “retribution and response to the criminal acts of terrorist elements and organizations inside and outside the country.”

“We stress that revenge for the blood of Egyptians, and retribution from the killers and criminals, is a right we must dutifully enforce,” the statement said. Egyptian state television showed footage of F-16s taking off in the dark as the statement was read on the air.

* * * * * * *

Egypt’s air assault came less than 12 hours after the main Islamic State group released a video online that appeared to show fighters from the group’s self-proclaimed Tripolitania Province beheading more than a dozen Egyptian Christians.

The Christians were among the thousands of Egyptians who routinely travel across the border to Libya to find work in its oil-rich economy, forging a deep connection between the two neighboring states. About 20 Egyptian Christians disappeared around the coastal city of Surt weeks ago, and last month the Tripolitania Province released a picture showing that it had captured them.

As Roger Simon and Ray Ibrahim have recounted, Sisi, a devout Muslim, began this year by admonishing Islam’s most influential scholars at al-Azhar University that Islam must reform – that it must, in his words, have a “religious revolution.” He was not simply making the fatuous but oft-repeated claims that Islam is innately peaceful and predominantly practiced in moderation. He was imploring sharia jurists to reject unambiguously both violent jihadism and, crucially, the scripturally-rooted ideology that fuels this terrorism:

It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.

So here we have what American officials have always said we’ve desperately needed: A respected Muslim leader of a vitally important Muslim country who is courageously opposing – in word and deed – the jihadists and their ideology. And what is the president of the United States doing? He is denying them the support they need and driving them into the arms of Vladimir Putin.

Besides remaining miffed that Egypt has outlawed the Brotherhood, Obama is busy helping Iran become a nuclear power – even as Iran-backed terrorists seize Yemen and target Israel. So Russia has moved in, pledging to aid economically strapped Cairo in both fighting terrorists and building a nuclear power industry.

If President Obama did not have a disastrous foreign policy, he’d have no foreign policy. Our Islamic allies in combating “violent extremism” are not sharia-supremacists like the Muslim Brotherhood and the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran. Our ally is Egypt.

Update: PJ Media’s Patrick Poole catches al-Jazeera — the jihadist propaganda arm hosted by President Obama’s “coalition” partner, Qatar — recycling old pictures of dead children to make it look like they were killed by Egypt in the retaliatory strikes against ISIS.

The insipid moral equivalence in President Obama’s apologia for Islam at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning has already been deconstructed by such commentators as Roger Simon, Victor David Hanson and Jonah Goldberg. I am bothered, though, by the president’s presumption of equivalence between doctrinal apples and oranges. If, as he maintains, we must engage in comparative religion with a focus on what believers do in the name of their varying faiths, then we should also analyze what their varying faiths tell them to do.

Sounding more like the executive director of CAIR, the president of the United States warned Christians and other non-Muslims to stay off “our high horse” regarding the sadistic murder of a Jordanian pilot, Lieutenant Mouath al-Kasaebeh, by Islamic State terrorists. We must have some humility, explained famously humble Mr. Obama. After all, over the last millennium, “people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

In Islamic doctrine, Jesus (Isa) is considered not God but a prophet. He is deemed to anticipate the final prophet, Mohammed, and to preach a Gospel subsequently perfected by the revelations of the Koran.

From that perspective, then, an analogous answer to Obama’s assertion could be made by recounting the terrible things Muslims have done in the name of Mohammed — an answer that wouldn’t require mining a millennium since it has been just three weeks since Lt. al-Kasaebeh’s immolation and the scene of mass-murdering jihadists braying, “Allahu Akbar! The prophet has been avenged!” as they fled the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

I’m more interested, though, in the deeds of Mohammed himself. When Christians resort to the wrongs cataloged by Obama, they are blatantly deviating from the example of Christ. Can the same be said for Muslims and the example of Mohammed?

In 627 AD, the prophet orchestrated the mass-murder of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe after they had surrendered to the Muslims. He presided over the beheadings of somewhere between 600 and 900 members of the tribe – including all young boys who had reached puberty. The women and the remaining children were taken as concubines and slaves (with some of the women sold for horses and armor). All the tribe’s wealth was confiscated.

This is not speculation. The incident is explicitly recorded in Koran. (By the way, I use the Koran approved and published in various languages, side-by-side with the original Arabic, by the Saudi government’s Ministry of Hajj and Endowments. The Kingdom has widely disseminated this version throughout the world, particularly Islamic schools.)

As recounted in Sura 33:25-27:

Allah turned back the unbelievers for (all) their fury: No advantage did they gain; and enough is Allah for the believers in their fight. And Allah is full of strength, exalted in might.

And those of the people of the book [the Banu Qurayza] who aided them – Allah did take them down from their strongholds and cast terror into their hearts, (so that) some ye slew, and some ye made captives.

And He made you heirs of their lands, their houses, and their goods, and of a land which ye had not frequented (before). And Allah has power over all things.

Mohammed’s first authoritative biographer, Mohammed ibn Ishaq (d. 768), elaborates with this account (reproduced at wikiislam.net):

Then [the Banu Qurayza] surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina[.]… Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka`b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.

As they were being taken out in batches to the apostle they asked Ka`b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, “Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!” This went on until the apostle made an end of them. Huyayy was brought out wearing a flowered robe in which he had made holes about the size of the finger-tips in every part so that it should not be taken from him as spoil, with his hands bound to his neck by a rope. When he saw the apostle he said, “By God, I do not blame myself for opposing you, but he who forsakes God will be forsaken.” Then he went to the men and said, “God’s command is right. A book and a decree, and massacre have been written against the Sons of Israel.” Then he sat down and his head was struck off.

Ibn Kathir, a revered fourteenth century scholar of sharia jurisprudence and biographer of Mohammed, adds:

Then the Messenger of Allah commanded that ditches should be dug, so they were dug in the earth, and they were brought tied by their shoulders, and were beheaded. There were between seven hundred and eight hundred of them. The children who had not yet reached adolescence and the women were taken prisoner, and their wealth was seized.

This was six centuries after the Gospel of the New Testament. Even if he did not turn the other cheek, the prophet could have shown compassion to his enemies. They had surrendered. Even if he had been determined to seize their territory and wealth, he could have allowed them to evacuate. Instead, he killed, enslaved, and sold them off.

Some background is necessary before we get to a second incident in the life of the prophet. Earlier this week, the Islamic State released a slick video showing Lt. al-Kasaebeh being burnt alive in a cage. The Obama administration spun into action … fresh off offending both the Egyptian government and most Americans by hosting some of its friends from the outlawed and virulently anti-American Muslim Brotherhood at the State Department. Echoing Islamists, administration officials assured us that, while this sort of barbarity was a staple of fifteenth century Christianity — it was against everything Islam stands for, and thus utterly slanderous for ISIS to rationalize it as Islamic warfare.

Inconveniently, the Koran proclaims that immolation is a punishment favored by Allah, so much so that the skin is constantly replaced to prolong the agony. It is imposed, moreover, not for anything particularly treacherous — just for refusing to accept Islam. Sura 4:56 explains:

Those who reject Our signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire. As often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the chastisement: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.

Now, according to “Muslim clerics” far and wide, as reported by Reuters, immolation is “considered despicable by Islam, no matter what the context.” How can that be when the Koran tells us Allah Himself has prescribed immolation as a suitable punishment? Because, Islam’s defenders rationalize, the immolation promised in the Koran is for Allah alone to impose in the afterlife, not for men to presume to impose in this life. “Only God tortures by fire,” tweeted Salman al-Odah, a Saudi sheikh.

That’s not very persuasive. There are, after all, numerous cruel penalties that Islamic scripture has Allah directing Muslims to impose — scourging, stoning, beheading and so on. Indeed, while in one breath condemning the torching of the pilot as a “lowly terrorist act” by a “Satanic, terrorist” group, Reuters quoted Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (the ancient seat of Sunni scholarship), as pronouncing in the next breath that the ISIS killers should be “killed, crucified or have their limbs amputated.”

As Robert Spencer points out, the grand sheikh clearly drew that sharia sentence straight out of the Koran. Specifically, according to Sura 5:33:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, crucifixion, or the cutting of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land[.]

The verse goes on to say that, for those condemned, these punishments are to be “their disgrace in this world”; then, after death, another “heavy punishment” awaits them — presumably, the eternal barbecue foretold by Sura 4:56.

So at best, fire is frowned upon, but death by crucifixion and amputation is recommended. Not terribly comforting.

But it gets worse. There is also an eye-for-an-eye dimension of Islamic jurisprudence. Back to Sura 5, this time verse 45: “We ordained therein for them, ‘Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” This is why, for example, in Saudi Arabia, where sharia is the law of the land, the government had a prisoner’s eye surgically removed after he was found guilty of an assault that damaged his victim’s eye.

Lt. al-Kasaebeh was captured while on a mission to firebomb Islamic State targets. The jihadists thus contend that setting him on fire was the reciprocal, scripturally prescribed punishment. That rationale is disturbing to us in the West, where — unless you’re frozen, Obama-like, in the fifteenth century — we do not criminalize honorable combatants who conduct legitimate attacks on enemy forces (and we don’t, in any event, do immolation).

Nevertheless, ISIS’s argument carries considerable weight in Islam. Even in the Reuters report that tries hard to depict universal Muslim condemnation of ISIS, a Jordanian cleric known as Abu Sayaf (a/k/a “Mohamed al-Shalabi”) is quoted as grudgingly saying, “Even if the Islamic State says [the Jordanian pilot] had bombed and burnt and killed us and we punished him they way he did to us, we say, ‘OK, but why film the video in this shocking way?’” In other words, burning the pilot alive is justifiable; it’s the bad PR from recording it that is unacceptable.

Now, with all that as context, let’s consider another episode from the prophet’s life, which, as Mr. Spencer points out, is conveniently omitted by al-Azhar’s grand sheikh, his fellow sharia jurists, and Islam’s Western apologists in the White House and beyond. The incident is recorded in Ibn Ashaq’s biography of the prophet (italics mine):

Kinana b. al-Rabi`, who had the custody of the treasure of B. al-Nadir, was brought to the apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came … to the apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the apostle said to Kinana, “Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?” he said Yes. The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-Awwam, ‘Torture him until you extract what he has,’ so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the apostle delivered him to Muhammad b. Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.

So at Mohammed’s direction, a man’s chest was set on fire to extract information from him before he was beheaded. Well, at least he wasn’t waterboarded.

Robert adds a hadith from the authoritative Sahi Bukari collection (No. 626 in Book 1, Volume 11) (again, my italics):

Certainly I decided to order the Mu’adh-dhin (call-maker) to pronounce Iqama [the call to prayer] and order a man to lead the prayer and then take a fire flame to burn all those who had not left their houses so far for the prayer along with their houses.

Relatedly, Raymond Ibrahim directs our attention to an incident involving the prophet, recorded in another Bukari hadith (No. 261 in Book 4, Volume 52). The story involves eight starving tribesmen who sought the prophet’s help. Mohammed directed them to a shepherd, who fed them until they recovered their health. But they turned on the shepherd, killing him, and renouncing Islam. When he was informed, Mohammed ordered that they be captured and – besides having their hands and feet cut off – that iron be heated by fire and passed over their eyes, blinding them.

President Obama says we need to approach comparisons of religion with humility. I’m all for that. In a 2011 NRO column, I traced the evolution of Christianity in America from the often harshly theocratic origins of the original colonial settlements to the tolerant pluralism of modern times. The president, however, misses the point of humility. It is to refrain from dismissing out of hand the hope that Islam, too, will eventually evolve. It is not license to remain willfully blind to the dangers posed to us by its doctrine, as widely understood and practiced by a mainstream faction of Islam for centuries, right up to the present day.

Courageous Muslim reformers are laboring to advance an evolution — and they risk death at the hands of radical Muslims who regard them as apostates, an offense Islam punishes by death. We can humbly encourage the reformers while rationally acknowledging that their labors are very uphill. To repeat what I wrote in the 2011 column:

Cultures are dynamic. They change drastically over time. [But] there are grounds for concern that Islam’s will have a harder time evolving — the blights on our history are rooted in human failure to apply Judeo-Christian doctrine, not in the doctrine itself. [By contrast,] Islam’s problems are more about Islam than about Muslims.

That remains true, Obama’s wayward moral equivalence notwithstanding. Islam regards the Koran as the immutable word of Allah. In Sura 33:21, Allah gives Muslims the following admonition regarding Mohammed, “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the Final Day.” Muslims are commanded to imitate their prophet. It is undeniable that their prophet was, to put it mildly, an aggressive warrior.

With regard to that aspect of Mohammed’s legacy, there is nothing equivalent to it in Christianity.

It is not humility but delusion to pretend that modern Islam is just fine as is. It is not humility but cowardice to indulge the suicidal notion that our own past sins render us unfit to condemn today’s atrocities.

How is our nation dealing with the continuing menace of Islamic supremacism, the ideology that catalyzes the jihadist and cultural threat to the West?

At the Freedom Forum in Iowa last Saturday, Newt Gingrich drew an apt analogy to the period from the end of World War II through 1948, as the Iron Curtain consigned half of Europe to tyranny: Imagine that the president of the United States had been not Harry Truman but Stalin’s useful idiot, Henry Wallace – the former vice president whom FDR thankfully dumped from the Democratic ticket in 1944.

Had that happened, Gingrich opined, our president would have been assuring us, “There is no KGB. There is no Comintern. The Soviet Union is not a threat. Communism is okay. I don’t think you should be worried about all these things.”

Meaning: What we’d have had is defeat in the Cold War.

Newt’s admonition was clear. In a rousing speech about “America’s survival,” the former House speaker argued that, after being at it for fourteen years, we are losing “the war with radical Islamists.”

His main point, one very similar to the contention advanced by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal (in a recent London speech that was the subject of my NRO column last weekend), is that we are at war with an enemy that seeks to destroy the West, and that we cannot win the war without telling the truth about the enemy — indeed, “without admitting it’s a war.”

In the interest of candor, then, I will concede that I am not crazy about the term Newt uses to describe the enemy: “radical Islamists.” The right term is “radical Islam.” An Islamist is a Muslim who wants repressive, discriminatory sharia imposed. In the West, an Islamist is radical by definition.

It is not pedantry to raise this difference. When we say “radical Islam,” we concisely divide our enemies – extremist, sharia-supremacist Muslims, violent or nonviolent – from the rest of Islam, with which we would like to live amicably. But saying “radical Islamist” implies that there must also be “moderate Islamists.” There aren’t, of course, but the progressives’ insistence that there must be has led to exactly what the former speaker is rightly concerned about: paralyzing political correctness and reckless policy errors (e.g., Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood) – the things that obscure the threat to us.

Still, any difference of opinion on this point is narrow. “Radical Islamist” is geometrically more clarifying than the Beltway’s willfully blind preference, “violent extremist.” Moreover, in invoking “radical Islamists,” the former House speaker is clearly referring to violent jihadists – i.e., Islamists who commit terrorism. Terrorists are radical even among Islamists – although Islamist support for terrorists (at least moral support and often material support) is alarmingly high.

Our bipartisan ruling elite attempts to minimize the ideological underpinning of the Islamist threat as well as its geographical scope. Gingrich was firm that the jihad is formidable, unified and global. In its blatant contempt for our government, the Iranian regime locks up a journalist and enables its proxies to rout Yemen (which Obama had touted as a counterterrorism success) — confident that the Obama administration will keep talking to them and appeasing them no matter what they do. ISIS, of course, has obliterated the border between Iraq and Syria even as Western leaders grope for country-specific policies based on a map that no longer exists.

But that’s not the half of it. As Gingrich elaborated, Western intelligence estimates about ISIS in Syria and Iraq warn us of at least 1,000 jihadists from France, 600 from Britain, and 100 from the United States. Many if not most of these Islamists will return home not just with training and combat experience but with an enhanced prestige that comes with taking part in the jihad – a prestige that makes them more effective recruiters, fundraisers, and practitioners of domestic jihad.

Meanwhile, as the threat intensifies, Western governments, led by our own, continue to lie about it. The ruthless Boko Haram jihadist organization in Nigeria has 10,000 fighters (and, as the Wall Street Journal reported this week, it eyes conquest in nearby Chad, Cameroon and Niger). Yet, under Hillary Clinton, the State Department would not even designate it as a terrorist organization – even though, Gingrich sharply observed, Boko Haram named one of their main training camps “Afghanistan” in honor or the Taliban.

Again, that’s not the half of it. Under Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, the State Department has declined to designate the Afghan Taliban itself as a terrorist organization. This underscores Newt’s on-target assessment that, when it comes to obfuscation about Islamic supremacist ideology, the State Department was nearly as bad under Bush as under Obama. And while Bush at least included the Taliban as a terrorist organization in a 2002 executive order, Obama spokesmen have spent this week spinning the risible yarn that the Taliban is not a terrorist organization but a purely domestic “insurgent” group.

In truth, as the former speaker asserted, we have an elite in both parties that is unwilling to tell the truth. You can’t win the war without telling the truth and without admitting it’s a war. As he put it, there is a common thread that unites the enemy, wherever on earth the enemy operates: They “hate our civilization and would impose their religion by force.”

This cannot be blinked away – neither by what Gingrich tartly but accurately diagnosed as Obama’s “pathological incapacity to deal with reality,” nor by the ineffable John Kerry’s insistence that jihadist terror has nothing to do with Islam – that these atrocities are committed by “specific, unique, random individuals” who just happen to be Muslims bent on imposing sharia.

From his national security right perspective, Newt anticipated and dismissed as “Baloney!” an attack on his position from the strange-bedfellow alliance of antiwar leftists and extremist libertarians who see U.S. counterterrorism as a greater threat than the jihad. It is the claim that what Gingrich is really calling for is “an army of 7 million” so we can “occupy everywhere” in the Middle East.

As he countered, we are talking about defeating an enemy whom we must identify. And in identifying that enemy “we can draw a clear distinction.” To wit:

If you are a Muslim, and you want to live in peace with your neighbors, and you have no problem with people converting in both directions, and you’d like to be allowed to have a mosque but, by the way, they can have a synagogue, a temple, or a church – I have no problem with Muslims who are prepared to live in diversity. But if you’re a Muslim who believes you are going to impose sharia by cutting off my head, I have a desire to kill you before you cut off my head.

The ensuing standing ovation from Freedom Forum attendees carried a salient message for the GOP’s field of would-be presidential nominees: A Republican will not win the White House in 2016 unless national security is a major issue and one on which Republicans hold a decisive edge.

The keys to gaining that edge are candor, clarity and courage. As Newt recounted, Churchill took the time to read and understand Mein Kampf. He was unafraid to call the threat to civilization what it was, even when no one in England or Europe wanted to listen. Reagan – “not having gone to Harvard Law School and been thoroughly educated in how to avoid reality” – understood that when Stalinists said they wanted to conquer the West, what they meant was … that they wanted to conquer the West. In his “magnificent” post-9/11 speech to a joint session of Congress, George W. Bush warned rogue regimes that they had a choice to make: With us, or with the terrorists?

It is again time – past time – to be bold in calling the threat against us what it is, and in understanding why it seeks to conquer us (i.e., in grasping that it is about their ideology not our flaws). That has been the essence of self-defense throughout history, and it hasn’t changed.

Among the best parts of Newt’s excellent speech was its call for practical action. With Republicans now in control of both houses of Congress, he argued that conservatives can serve the cause of national security by demanding months of hearings to examine, to speak bluntly about, the Islamist challenge to the West. Gingrich’s suggestions along these lines tracked his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed:

  • Appraise the strength and growth rate of the enemy.
  • Assess the danger on a country-by-country basis, through each jihadist hub – Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.
  • Shine a spotlight on the Muslim Brotherhood – the enemy’s theoretical backbone that is “so little understood by Washington elites that it deserves its own set of hearings.”
  • Identify the primary sources of funding, especially in the Gulf.
  • Learn from Arab countries that have successfully contained the radicals.
  • Study the radicalization process, particularly the role of mosques and social media in recruiting young Muslims into terrorism.
  • Tackle “the Islamist cyberthreat” – in fact, as Gingrich declared (to much applause), we should be “driving them off the Internet.”

The recent barbarities in Paris, the stepped up pace of al Qaeda and ISIS atrocities, must be a wake-up call. For Newt Gingrich, conservatives do not just have an opportunity to lead the way. If America is to survive as we know and love her, conservatives must see that opportunity as a duty. The hour is growing late.

Here we go again.

Last month’s “CRomnibus” debacle underscored a divide between the conservative base that gave Republicans a resounding victory in the midterm elections and GOP leadership on Capitol Hill: The base wants Obama’s lawlessness stopped; leadership wants to show that Republicans can “govern” by working cooperatively with Obama – in effect, codifying his lawlessness.

Prepare for the next betrayal: Republicans are about to surrender on Obama’s amnesty for illegal immigrants. The surrender, which will be portrayed as a reluctant but noble compromise for the sake of “homeland security,” was baked in the CRomnibus cake.

Within what seemed like the bat of an eye, Republicans crushed their supporters’ spirits by following up their November triumph with a monstrous 1,774-page budget bill that forfeited Congress’s major weapon against executive lawlessness, the power of the purse. The CRomnibus underwrote the government through 2015, expending a staggering $1.1 trillion on such Obama priorities as the full funding of Obamacare – notwithstanding Republican campaign vows to work tirelessly to kill Obamacare.

The base became livid when GOP leaders teamed up with the White House to whip against conservative opposition to the CRomnibus bill. As I recounted last week, conservative leaders across the country responded with a “Citizens’ Mandate from the November 2014 Elections,” demanding that the new, GOP-led Congress heed the voters’ call to “Stop the Fundamental Transformation of America.”

Given that the president proclaimed his imperious amnesty decree on the eve of the election, its unpopularity may have been even more critical to the GOP’s November sweep than Obamacare’s. Republicans knew they would have to make a show of fighting it.

But nothing more than a show.

Republicans can only stop the amnesty by denying funding for its lawless implementation – which is to include the processing of millions of illegal aliens for relief from deportation and the issuance of work permits. But such exploitation of the power of the purse can work only if Republicans are willing to let the government shut down when, inevitably, Obama refuses to sign their defunding bill.

Trembling with fear that such a shutdown, no matter how partial and trivial, would be used to suggest they are incapable of “governing,” GOP leaders have foresworn the possibility. This is doubly foolish: (a) in our constitutional system, it is mainly the executive who governs, so Republicans could not “govern” even if they had a cooperative president to work with, and (b) since Republicans would be offering to fund everything else in the government except Obama’s unpopular amnesty, it would be manifest that Obama, not the GOP, was (very partially) shutting down the government.

Unfortunately, GOP leaders are hewing to their “no shutdowns under any circumstances” position (in conjunction with their “no impeachment no matter what Obama does” position). As they well know, they are thus giving our lawless president license to be as lawless as he chooses to be – their promises to “fight” on this or that are not genuine. They are hoping, though, that you don’t know that.

So all that remains of the promised “fight” against amnesty is the theater by which surrender is to be played out. That was already determined in the CRomnibus. It will be the Theater of National Security.

With constituents burning up their phone lines to protest the CRomnibus as it headed to a vote, jittery Republicans pleaded with leadership for a fig leaf they could portray as real opposition to Obama. GOP leaders accommodated them by carving the Department of Homeland Security out of the agreement to fund the whole government for a year. The DHS behemoth includes the agencies that enforce – or, rather, refrain from enforcing – the immigration laws. Under the accommodation, DHS would be funded only into February. Republicans therefore rode out the CRomnibus storm by assuring the rubes that, upon taking control of Congress in January, they’d finally be poised to slash funding from the agencies slated to implement Obama’s amnesty.

Shrewd: The scenario enabled Republicans to maintain their pose as opponents of unconstitutional executive amnesty (even though many of them actually support Obama’s amnesty policy). Yet, it also provided a ready-made excuse for retreat. How, after all, could Republicans possibly put funding for “homeland security” in jeopardy? By teeing up the controversy as if it were a battle over anti-terrorism dollars, rather than pro-amnesty dollars, Republicans left themselves an escape hatch: When the time was right, they could withdraw their opposition to Obama’s amnesty scheme while portraying themselves as mature, responsible guardians of public safety.

As if on cue, jihadists trained by al Qaeda carried out mass-murders in Paris. Meanwhile in Cincinnati, Christopher Lee Cornell, a would-be Islamist terrorist inspired by ISIS, was arrested for planning to bomb the U.S. Capitol.

Instantly, the GOP spin machine cranked into high gear: Senator John Cornyn, now the majority whip, promised an “unequivocal commitment to funding” DHS – “we’re not going to put that at risk under any circumstances.” “We recognize the important role that the Department of Homeland Security plays in this country,” intoned John Thune, the Senate’s third-ranking Republican. According to his House counterpart, GOP Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republicans must “work very closely with the president,” when it comes to “keep[ing] the country safe.” Senator Rob Portman chimed in that the plot against the Capitol by a man from his home state of Ohio made him “acutely aware” of the frightening ramifications of putting DHS funding at risk.

Perhaps Sen. Portman and his colleagues should study the Capitol bombing plot more closely. What they might notice is that it is an FBI case, not a DHS case. Here is the criminal complaint, sworn out by an FBI special agent, working in conjunction with the FBI’s Cincinnati-Dayton Joint Terrorism Task Force. The FBI runs several JTTFs throughout the country. In the main, they combine FBI agents with state and local police – who are the real force multipliers in counterterrorism. There is some participation, albeit not much, from other federal agencies.

The fact is that virtually every terrorism prosecution in the United States results from FBI investigations. When it comes to counterterrorism, the FBI – the premier intelligence and enforcement arm of the Department of Justice – is our actual department of homeland security. And as for terrorist threats from outside the country, security for our homeland is provided by the armed forces and the intelligence community, into which taxpayers pour hundreds of billions of dollars annually. When there is a domestic angle to pursue, those departments – and our allies overseas – call in the FBI.

Yet, under the regnant Washington illusion, a bloated, dysfunctional bureaucratic sprawl that houses a hodgepodge of 22 agencies simply must be essential to homeland security because … the pols decided to call it the “Department of Homeland Security.” You know, the same way your health is somehow better protected and more affordable because the pols decided to call a statute the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (“And if you like your homeland security, you can keep your homeland security …”)

Have a gander at DHS’s own listing and description of its component agencies. Many of them have little, if anything, to do with combatting the jihad. The ones with obvious counterterrorism sidelines – such as the immigration and border security services – are the very agencies that, under Obama, are not enforcing the laws adequately.

How does it promote homeland security to pay for enforcement agencies that do not perform their enforcement missions?

As I’ve maintained since its inception, DHS should never have been created in the first place. It was a typical Washington “Look, we’re doing something!” reaction to the 9/11 attacks. It is grossly overfunded (now at $60 billion, up threefold from its original budget just a dozen years ago). It is bloated. Its most notable contributions to counterterrorism have been (a) a report suggesting that the real terror threat came from small government conservatives and veterans returning home from war, and (b) retaining Islamist consultants to help purge information about Islamic supremacist ideology from materials used to train law-enforcement and intelligence agents – including a ban on such words as jihad and Islamofascism. The department is poorly run, mired in scandal, and apparently impossible to audit.

And did I mention that it is systematically refusing to enforce the immigration laws, notwithstanding the president’s oath to execute the laws faithfully?

A number of agencies currently housed in DHS perform important counterterrorism functions. Those agencies should be reassigned to more appropriate departments. The Coast Guard, for example, could return to the Department of Transportation (where it was for nearly 40 years before DHS came into existence) but with liaison to the Defense and Justice Departments as well as participation in the FBI’s terrorism task forces. But it is simply not true that DHS gives the United States value-added security that we could not have if it did not exist.

More significantly for present purposes, the Republicans’ “homeland security” rationalization for caving in on the fight against the president’s lawless amnesty is bogus. As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York recently noted, Congress routinely attaches riders to spending bills, dictating how money may or may not be spent – indeed, there were more than 450 such riders in the CRomnibus itself. Palpably, Congress can fully fund all of DHS’s national security and counterterrorism functions while attaching riders directing that no funds be expended on the execution of Obama’s amnesty – no registration, no issuance of government benefits, no employment authorizations, etc.

Would Obama veto such a bill? He might – although he has signed many such bills over the years despite chafing at their spending restrictions (e.g., the prohibition against using public funds to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and bring detainees into the United States). Even if he vetoed the bill, however, it would be abundantly clear that the veto was over immigration policy, not homeland security. Having voted to fund homeland security functions, Republicans could not credibly be accused of undermining our national defense against terrorism just because the context of the immigration debate is labeled a “homeland security” bill.

If Republicans surrender on amnesty for illegal aliens, it will be because they decided to surrender on amnesty for illegal aliens. It will be because their vows to fight Obama were so much empty rhetoric. It will have nothing to do with homeland security.

Notwithstanding the incontrovertible, seemingly undeniable evidence that the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris was a terrorist attack, the Obama White House initially engaged in its maddening practice of refusing to state the obvious for fear of offending Muslims.

As the Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper reports, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest insisted on labeling as “an act of violence” the murder of a dozen people by Allahu-Akbar!-screaming gunmen. When CNN pointed out that French President Francois Hollande had, without hesitation, described the atrocity as an “act of terrorism,” Earnest spluttered that “if based on this investigation it turns out to be an act of terrorism, we would condemn that in the strongest possible terms, too” – but he declined to draw that conclusion.

Reports of this exchange obviously embarrassed the White House. Subsequently, the president issued a statement that categorically referred to the mass-murder as “this terrorist attack” and the gunmen as “terrorists.”

Still, it is clear that Earnest had simply been following established administration practice – the shenanigans that, in the leading example, gave us “workplace violence” after the jihadist murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood.

Why is the administration so reluctant to call terrorism terrorism? Because the president has taken to absurd lengths a practice, started in the Bush administration, of avoiding words that associate violence with Islam – indeed, that connote an Islamic justification for violence.

In the Bush days, this PC-drivel held that we should avoid terms like “jihad,” “Islamo-fascist,” and “mujahideen” (jihadist warriors) because they implicitly accorded terrorists an esteemed status and legitimized their brutality – as if Islamic supremacists cared what we think; as if their perception of legitimacy hinged on the words used by the enemies they despise rather than their own doctrine.

Under Obama, the purge has extended to the word “terrorism” itself. It is to be avoided because “terrorism” has been so frequently uttered in conjunction with “Islam” that a causal connection might be inferred.

You don’t say!

Of course, one who studied Islamic doctrine might point out that the scriptures invoke the word “terror” in explicitly endorsing wars of conquest against non-Muslims (see, e.g., the Koran’s Sura 3:151: “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers …”; Sura 8:12: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”; Bukhari Hadith 52:220: “Allah’s Apostle said … ‘I have been made victorious with terror.’”) But why study the ideology of Islamic supremacists? After all, we’ve got the feel-good dogma of Western progressives, who insist that terrorism is not only unrelated to Islam but is, in fact, “anti-Islamic activity,” as former British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith maintained.

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The Obama talking point being repeated by the administration’s note-takers in the media is that it makes sense for the president to try a different approach on Cuba because the policy of isolating the dictatorship has not “worked.” Naturally, what is meant by “worked” is not stated.

I’m trying to figure out what exactly the supposed flaw has been in the policy of isolating a brutal regime diplomatically and imposing a trade embargo on it – one that is a lot more like a screen than a wall – in order to pressure it to reform.

American presidents have vast foreign policy powers and plenary control over which regimes the United States recognizes and conducts diplomatic relations with. The Cuban embargo, by contrast, was established by statute and can only be repealed by Congress. Thus, it has many times been repeated over the last 24 hours that, in reestablishing diplomatic relations, President Obama has gone as far as he can on his own – the rest being up to lawmakers.

Wrong.

Several laws control the embargo. Among the most recent is the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (codified in Chapter 69 of Title 22, U.S. Code). Section 6005 of the law outlines sanctions imposed against Cuba – the qualified blockade, prohibition on some financial transactions, and limitation on remittances.

But then there is Section 6007, the waiver provision. This tells us that, while it is true that it would require an act of Congress to repeal the restrictions on Cuba, no legislation is necessary to ignore the restrictions. The act empowers the president to do that on his own. All he needs to do is represent to Congress that the Cuban government

(1) has held free and fair elections conducted under internationally recognized observers;

(2) has permitted opposition parties ample time to organize and campaign for such elections, and has permitted full access to the media to all candidates in the elections;

(3) is showing respect for the basic civil liberties and human rights of the citizens of Cuba;

(4) is moving toward establishing a free market economic system; and

(5) has committed itself to constitutional change that would ensure regular free and fair elections that meet the requirements of paragraph (2).

Similarly, Section 6006 enables the president to provide humanitarian aid (food, medicine, and medical supplies) to Cuba … provided he represents to Congress that the Cuban government

(1) has made a public commitment to hold free and fair elections for a new government within 6 months and is proceeding to implement that decision;

(2) has made a public commitment to respect, and is respecting, internationally recognized human rights and basic democratic freedoms; and

(3) is not providing weapons or funds to any group, in any other country, that seeks the violent overthrow of the government of that country.

In other words, it has been American policy for decades – the policy Obama says does not “work” – that the United States may and should provide significant aid as long as Cuba, in return, stops terrorizing its citizens, respects basic human and civil rights, respects democratic freedoms, refrains from arming terrorists and insurrectionists, liberalizes its economy, establishes a free press, and lays the groundwork for free and fair elections.

So, if that hasn’t “worked” to encourage Cuban reform, what is the president suggesting will “work”? Giving Cuba aid and legitimacy without requiring the regime to change? Why would we want to give an American taxpayer dime to, or help legitimize in any way, a regime that rejects these basic elements of a civilized society?

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