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Carter and Robinson: The Hamas Jihad’s Useful Idiots

August 6th, 2014 - 4:29 pm

Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson have jointly penned a characteristically appalling op-ed in Foreign Policy magazine assigning primary blame to Israel for the war in the Middle East. The key to ending the violence, they contend, is for the United States and the European Union to recognize the Hamas terrorist organization as a legitimate “political force.”

According to the authors, the latest outbreak of fighting was triggered neither by Hamas’s murder of three Israeli teenagers nor its firing of thousands of missiles into Israel. Rather, they proceed from the premise that Israel is the culprit, for what Carter and Robinson deceitfully describe as:

[Its] deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.

This surely reflects Obama administration thinking, as well. Obama’s presidency has aptly been called the second (and now third) Carter term — a downward spiral from the shambles made of American foreign policy in the late seventies. Mrs. Robinson is the former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner for human rights, whose pro-terrorist sympathies and anti-Israel animus were ably chronicled several years back by Michael Rubin. (See “Mary Robinson, War Criminal?”) In 2001, she led the notorious Durban conference (the “World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Zenophobia and Related Intolerance”) that was so rabidly anti-Semitic the American delegation stormed out. Yet, eight years later under a new, hard-Left administration, there stood Robinson in the White House being honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Of course, anyone who grasps the details of the “unity government” and Hamas’s strategy in agreeing to it quickly realizes it is the antithesis of “a promising move toward peace.” In fact, Hamas is simply applying the Hezbollah model to the Palestinian territories. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist organization — Iran’s forward jihadist militia and oft-time Hamas mentor — agreed to participate in a unity government while maintaining the independence of its jihadist military and intelligence apparatus. That is exactly what Hamas has done.

As this excellent analysis by Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute relates, Hamas’s agreement to join its rival Fatah in a unity government does not relinquish control of either its 20,000-strong jihadist force, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, or its internal intelligence and security apparatus. These forces are already far stronger than the Palestinian Authority’s security forces under the control of Fatah (which Hamas routed and ejected from Gaza in 2007).

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Those who get their Hamas news from Nancy Pelosi, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan (our “NATO ally” Turkey), or the many Muslim Brotherhood friends of the Obama administration and its State Department may think of this ruthless jihadist enterprise as a “humanitarian” or “political” organization. But if you want to know the real Hamas – and don’t have time to read the Hamas charter, which explains it will be satisfied with nothing less than the destruction of Israel – you would do well to listen to an important interview Mark Levin conducted last night.

Mark’s guest was Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Hamas defector who is the son of one of the organization’s founders, operated at the highest levels of Hamas, and understands the organization through and through.

The interview – which you can listen to here – makes many important points. The one I think is most significant for Americans is Mr. Yousef’s explanation that Hamas is not a nationalist political organization. Since the days of the Clinton administration, which means the early years of Hamas, it has been the practice of the United States government to portray Hamas as if, though a terrorist organization, it is just a local group with a local agenda – akin to, say, the IRA. In point of fact, as Mr. Yousef details and as the Hamas charter corroborates, Hamas is and self-identifies as part of the global Islamic supremacist jihad. Its short-term goal is the destruction of Israel, but its aspirations are not limited to national boundaries drawn by the West – it wants a global caliphate just like its parent organization, the Brotherhood, does; just like its once and future patron, Iran, does; and just like its sometime rival sometime collaborator, al Qaeda, does.

That is, Hamas is not just Israel’s enemy; Hamas is our enemy. That is how Hamas sees itself, even if we remain willfully blind to this fact.

How have we ever gotten to a point where an American government believes it should not only be an impartial “honest broker” between an enemy of the United States and an ally of the United States, but that we should actually put our thumb on the scale on behalf of the enemy?

The Washington Post reports that the presiding judge in the military commission prosecution of the 9/11 plotters has severed from the still unscheduled trial one of the five defendants, Ramzi Binalshibh.  That means that, if ultimately tried at all, Binalshibh would be tried separately, who knows when.

As related in the report, the ruling seems very strange. The judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, is said to have explained, as the Post puts it, that “the court needs to resolve whether Binalshibh has the mental capacity to participate in the trial.” This is difficult to square with the report’s simultaneous assertion that “neither the government nor Binalshibh’s lawyer argue that he is mentally incompetent.” To be sure, there have been questions for years about the terrorist’s mental state; but one of his civilian lawyers insisted to the Post that Binalshibh wanted to go to trial with his co-defendants. He did not wish to be severed.

There is also said to be a conflict-of-interest issue to sort out, but that claim, too, does not fare well under scrutiny.

Earlier this year the FBI began probing a defense leak of a manifesto written by Binalshibh’s more notorious co-defendant, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The manifesto was among the many documents covered by a court non-disclosure order. As I detailed in a National Review column, the Bureau ended up interviewing a contract “security officer” responsible for giving Binalshibh’s defense team access to sensitive discovery materials. The security officer’s employer alerted the defendant’s lawyers about the investigation, causing them to complain to the court.

Theoretically, if a defense attorney is alerted to the fact (or at least, the likelihood) that the government is investigating him for possible wrongdoing, that could create a conflict of interest with his client. The lawyer could have a motive to curry favor with prosecutors in order to persuade them not to charge him; that, the thinking goes, could induce him to represent his client less zealously. It is difficult, however, to see that happening here. Not only is the potential conflict highly speculative; the Post reports that the FBI closed its investigation more than two months ago without filing charges.

At this point, the commission judge is considering a variety of pretrial motions filed by all five defendants. That process is expected to last until at least the end of the year. Based on what we know at the moment (and admittedly, there are always things we don’t know – things known only to the litigants in a trial), there seems to be no reason why any potential conflict-of-interest question could not easily be resolved in the next five months – in time for Binalshibh to be tried jointly with his co-defendants. Indeed, I’m betting that the judge has at least a few issues more difficult than that one to deal with.

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I argued in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy that the illusion’s signature feature is a fantasy: By holding free elections, a people is choosing freedom: joining modernity, adopting pluralism and tolerance, rejecting revolutionary violence and totalitarianism.

Today, we are yet again being inundated with tales of Palestinian woe after Hamas’s familiar barbarism has provoked an Israeli military response. It thus bears remembering that the Palestinian people chose Hamas. What ever happened to all those Democracy Project paeans to self-determination? Hamas is Palestinian self-determination. Hamas was not forced on Palestinians. Hamas did not militarily conquer Gaza. No, Hamas swept parliamentary elections freely held in the Palestinian territories in 2006 – thrashing its rival, Fatah, which is only marginally less committed to the destruction of Israel.

Hamas did not suddenly become a terrorist organization after it was elected. Hamas was elected because it was a jihadist organization. It was elected because, by its own declaration, Hamas connects Palestinians to something they find attractive: the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Palestinians widely reject Israel’s right to exist. They regard not just Gaza, Judea and Samaria but all of Israel as “occupied Palestine.” Even those Palestinians who purport to accept the “two-state solution” see it as a way-station on the march to a one-state solution in which the Jewish state eventually ceases to be. Palestinians chose Hamas precisely because Hamas was seen as more dedicated than Fatah to the achievement of that goal—not to mention, more brutally competent.

At the time of its election, Hamas was well known to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist wing. It has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the United States since the mid-nineties. Indeed, shortly before Palestinians endorsed Hamas at the ballot box, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted several Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case, a multi-million dollar terrorism financing conspiracy orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood in which several of the Brotherhood’s American affiliates—CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, the North American Islamic Trust, among others—were proved to be complicit in the promotion of Hamas and thus designated as unindicted co-conspirators.

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The Beltway fixture that Republicans have placed in charge of the House Judiciary Committee—i.e., the committee that, by its own description, functions as “the lawyer for the House of Representatives,” and claims an “infrequent but important role in impeachment proceedings”—is ignorant when it comes to the Constitution’s impeachment standard.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) took to one of the Sunday shows to demonstrate his cluelessness. After explaining that “the Constitution is very clear as to what constitutes grounds for impeachment of the president of the United States,” he proceeded to mangle that very clear standard, opining that President Obama “has not committed the kind of criminal acts that call for that.”

In point of fact, no “criminal acts” are necessary before a president may be impeached. The very clear standard the Constitution prescribes calls for impeachment upon the commission of treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors. Treason and bribery are, of course, well known criminal acts. As I illustrate in Faithless Execution, “high crimes and misdemeanors” is a term of art borrowed from British law. It does not refer—at least, not necessarily—to criminal acts that violate the penal code. Instead, it captures what Hamilton, in Federalist No. 65, described as:

the misconduct of public men, or in other words from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated political, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.

The concept conveyed by “high crimes and misdemeanors” is executive maladministration, whether out of imperiousness, corruption or incompetence. In that sense, it is more redolent of military justice offenses than criminal acts that violate the penal code. Like a soldier, one who owes fiduciary responsibility is liable for acts that would not be considered criminal wrongs if committed by an ordinary civilian. Dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, profound deceitfulness, and the failure to honor an oath, to take a few obvious examples, would qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors even if they might not be indictable offenses if committed by one in whom high public trust was not reposed.

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Boehner’s Feckless Plan to Sue Obama

June 25th, 2014 - 7:41 am

So we finally have the Beltway GOP plan to confront Obama administration lawlessness. Make that, to have someone else confront Obama administration lawlessness. Is there a contest to name the Republican strategy? I’d call it: “Please Don’t Make Me Use My Powers … The Obamedia Might Say Mean Things About Me.”

Mr. Obama’s sweeping lawlessness, a comprehensive assault on the separation of powers, is the subject of my new book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment. The administration’s goal is to centralize governmental power in the executive branch. That is exactly what the separation of powers is designed to avoid, the Framers having grasped that the accumulation of all power in one set of hands had always been, and will always be, the road to tyranny.

Roll Call reports that House Speaker John Boehner (R., OH) will respond to this challenge to our constitutional framework by … wait for it … filing a lawsuit. The apparent aim of this theater is to persuade a judge to pronounce what is already patent: the president is flouting congressional statutes.

Speaker Boehner’s proposed suit is nearly as wayward as President Obama’s violation of his solemn oath to execute the laws faithfully. Under our system, in order to avoid having major public policy questions decided by the governmental branch that is not politically accountable to voters, the judiciary is limited to resolving concrete controversies — cases in which the party bringing the suit has actually been injured by a violation of law. Courts are thus prohibited from issuing advisory opinions: pronouncements that some course of conduct is or would be illegal.

Yet, that appears to be exactly what the speaker will ask them to do. Indeed Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, reminded Roll Call that the House has already passed a bill that would expedite court consideration of House resolutions enabling lawsuits that challenge executive overreach. “The House has passed legislation to address this, but it has gone nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate,” Mr. Steel explained, “so we are examining other options.”

Obviously, Republican leadership does not see its “other options” as including the exercise of powers the Constitution gives Congress to stop executive lawlessness in its tracks, namely, cutting off the executive branch’s funding and impeaching executive branch officials who violate the law, carry out lawless policy, mislead lawmakers, stonewall investigations, and frustrate Congress’s constitutional oversight function. In essence, Boehner & Co. are fecklessly asking the courts to do their heavy lifting for them — a classic case of assuming the pose of meaningful action while in reality doing nothing. And tune in next week when Republicans get back to complaining about how activist judges are making the law rather than interpreting it.

Republican lawmakers will plead with the courts to do something about Obama’s imperiousness because there is political risk in using their own authority. If they employ these game-ending powers, the president will use the bully pulpit to bully them and his media loyalists will echo the demagoguery from here to Election Day.

Clearly, Republicans doubt their competence to win this debate, to make presidential lawlessness the defining issue of our political discourse. They prefer to cruise quietly into November, and hope — as they did in 2012 — that the unpopularity of Obama’s agenda will be enough to carry them through the election. But they also know their agitated base is demanding that they do something to stop or slow the dizzying pace of Obama’s “Change,” which in just the last couple of weeks has given us: the VA scandal, ruinous EPA regulations, the release of top Taliban terrorists to return to the jihad, an invited invasion of thousands of illegal aliens across the Southern border, and revelations that executive officials destroyed key evidence in the IRS scandal.

So the GOP will substitute futile litigation for purposeful legislation. This, of course, is the same strategy that has saddled us with Obamacare: Take no real legislative action — in fact, continue funding the problem — and pray that the Supreme Court will be the grown-ups willing to strike down the law and bear the Obamedia wrath. That worked out well, no?

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I’m proud to be chairing a volunteer organization called the Benghazi Accountability Commission. We are going to be holding a conference at the Heritage Foundation in Washington this afternoon, titled “Benghazi: The Difference It Makes Is Accountability.” It’s going to feature some speakers with tremendous insights into the relevant issues about the Benghazi Massacre on September 11, 2012, the security failures that led to it, the events of that night, the Obama administration’s “Blame the Video” fraud in the aftermath, the difficulties Congress and the public have faced in getting answers regarding what happened, and the challenges that will face Chairman Trey Gowdy’s House Select Committee that is commencing a full investigation.

The conference will take place at Heritage’s Allison Auditorium, and it can also be watched online. Details here.

Notwithstanding that there are still thousands of American troops in harm’s way in Afghanistan and that it is a ripe dead certainty the five jihadist commanders with which President Obama has just replenished the Taliban will go back to the anti-American jihad—indeed, at least one of them is already bragging that he will do so—former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told NBC news Wednesday that the Taliban Five were not really a threat to the United States.

Mrs. Clinton, who also did not see much of a threat from the anti-American jihadists in Benghazi, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the al Qaeda-affiliated Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria during her tenure at the State Department, complained that it was critics of the administration who “were kind of missing the bigger picture here.” You see, “these five guys are not a threat to the United States. They are a threat to the safety and security of Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

It was during the Bill Clinton administration that the Taliban was established, took over Afghanistan, and gave safe haven to al Qaeda. That was the arrangement that enabled bin Laden’s network to have a secure headquarters, expansive training camps, and the capacity to carry out attacks on American targets—including the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, and ultimately the 9/11 atrocities. As Tom Joscelyn has demonstrated, the five jihadist commanders Mrs. Clinton does not see as a threat to American national security were key players in cementing the alliance between the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Adopting Mrs. Clinton’s own reasoning, I don’t see the, shall we say, remarkable judgment she exhibited at the State Department as a threat to her presidential ambitions, not at all.

***

Related at The Grid: Hillary: I Might Not Run for President, and Here’s Why

The first few days of rolling out my new book, Faithless Execution, have been exhilarating, with few things more gratifying and humbling than the wonderful review by one of my very favorites, PJ Media’s own Roger Simon.

It has been uplifting to see how many people really are alarmed—rather than indifferent, as I worried—to the problem of rampant presidential lawlessness. People really do grasp that the separation of powers, which is so threatened by President Obama’s usurpation of the powers of the states and other federal departments, really is the key to protecting our liberties. Too much accumulation of power in one government official’s hand—particularly, the Framers observed, the joining of the legislative and executive power in a single department or person—is the road to tyranny.

When people grasp that, they similarly grasp that presidential lawlessness is not a conservative versus liberal issue, nor Republican versus Democrat. It is a question of whether we still aspire to be a republic under the rule of law instead of subjects under presidential whim. If they are not knocked down, the precedents that President Obama is setting for imperial executive power will be available for exploitation by every future president, regardless or party or ideological orientation. That ought to frighten all Americans, not just opponents of the current president’s policies.

I make a sustained attempt in the book to explain that impeachment—the ultimate constitutional response to presidential lawlessness—is a political remedy, not a legal one. You can have a thousand impeachable offenses, but if there is not a strong public will that the president be removed, impeachment is a nonstarter. The political case for removal is the one that is uphill. Establishing the legal case for impeachment—i.e., demonstrating that high crimes and misdemeanors have been committed—is the easy part.

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My new book, Faithless Execution, is principally about presidential lawlessness. In addressing that topic, I make the point that it is not lawless for a president to refuse to execute a law as to which he has a good faith constitutional objection.

The Framers, after all, were not just worried about executive overreach; they were at least equally concerned about what Hamilton referred to as “The propensity of the legislative department to intrude upon the rights, and to absorb the powers, of the other departments.” This is relevant to the ongoing controversy about whether, in carrying out his unconscionable swap of five senior Taliban and Haqqani network terrorists, the president acted lawlessly.

A congressional statute—the National Defense Authorization Act—presumes to impose a requirement of 30-days’ notice to lawmakers before the president may transfer enemy combatant detainees out of Guantanamo Bay. There is no question that President Obama willfully ignored this statute—the administration admits as much. But was he obliged to comply with it?

As I’ve been contending, there is a very colorable argument—I would say, a convincing argument—that the statute is unconstitutional. The commander-in-chief in wartime has near-plenary power over the disposition of enemy combatants, and supremacy in the conduct of foreign affairs. Congress may properly use its power of the purse to deny the president funds to transfer prisoners—particularly to transfer them into the United States. But it may not act as super-executive by micromanaging how the president carries out his prerogatives. We may find the president’s decisions in this regard to be reprehensible—I certainly do. But that does not make them unconstitutional … what is unconstitutional is a statute that purports to trim the president’s constitutional powers.

Is that the end of the matter? Not by a long shot. As I’ve also contended, the president’s failure to comply with a dubious statute is a mere footnote to his truly egregious offense: replenishing enemy forces at a time when the enemy is still conducting offensive terrorist operations against our armed forces. It would be difficult to fathom a more outrageous dereliction of duty by the commander-in-chief.

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