Congress takes a stand on a nuclear Iran? Not really, but…..
to look on the bright side, this might be a hopeful first step.
Just as during WW II we started with a hard slog through the swamps and jungle of Guadalcanal on the long road to Tokyo and the end of a horrific World War, this might someday be seen as a signal event that eventually leads to Congress and “We the People” standing up to a President who seeks to be King.
We now know that there will (most likely) be some sort of a written-down Obama nuclear deal relating to Iran and nuclear weapons on the public record the year. An agreement that Obama sees as part of his legacy. The one Congress gets to see and approve is, at present, not even the same as the Farsi version that Iran may (or may not) sign.
Whatever happens between now and 2016, with this knowledge and something (however weak and non-binding) about Iranian nukes on the public record, I can craft a plausible backstory and proceed with my novel Raven’s Redemption. This feels like the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
We now face the sort of threats that Americans used to only see in novels. This has not been the case since the Cold War. We have NEVER seen an American President actively committed to giving Nuclear Weapons and delivery systems to terrorists who swear “Death to America.” He is actively working to suppress criticism of radical Islam.
Can Congress stop him? Will it act aggressively to do so? Apparently not.
Republicans who support Obama’s illegal Iran deal:
Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
Dan Coats of Indiana
Bob Corker of Tennessee
Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Orrin Hatch of Utah
David Perdue of Georgia
all voted with the Democrats on the Iran deal.
Iraq is essentially gone, well on the way to being overrun by ISIS and/or IRAN. In May 2015, facing bipartisan criticism for his failed policy to destroy ISIS, Obama made it crystal clear that he has NO plans to destroy jihad. He is leaving that to the next President.
Obama understands that an element of his legacy will be the hand-off to the next president of the U.S.- and Iraqi-led operation to defeat ISIS, also known as ISIL, his spokesman said, noting how firmly Obama believes Iraqis must fight for their own country.
“The president has indicated that … essentially, this is a 36-month military operation that will be in the degrade phase,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “He has been candid about the fact that this will be a challenge that the next president will have to confront.”
Obama’s One-Man Nuclear Deal
Congress will get a vote but the President still has a free hand.
Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2015 7:29 p.m. ET
President Obama says he wants Congress to play a role in approving a nuclear deal with Iran, but his every action suggests the opposite. After months of resistance, the White House said Tuesday the President would finally sign a bill requiring a Senate vote on any deal—and why not since it still gives him nearly a free hand.
Modern Presidents have typically sought a Congressional majority vote, and usually a two-thirds majority, to ratify a major nuclear agreement. Mr. Obama has maneuvered to make Congress irrelevant, though bipartisan majorities passed the economic sanctions that even he now concedes drove Iran to the negotiating table.
The Republican Congress has been trying to reclaim a modest role in foreign affairs over Mr. Obama’s furious resistance. And on Tuesday afternoon the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed a measure that authorizes Congress to vote on an Iran deal within 30 days of Mr. Obama submitting it for review.
Opinion Journal Video. Link.
As late as Tuesday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry was still railing in private against the bill. But the White House finally conceded when passage with a veto-proof majority seemed inevitable. The bill will now pass easily on the floor, and if Mr. Obama’s follows his form, he will soon talk about the bill as if it was his idea.
Mr. Obama can still do whatever he wants on Iran as long as he maintains Democratic support. A majority could offer a resolution of disapproval, but that could be filibustered by Democrats and vetoed by the President. As few as 41 Senate Democrats could thus vote to prevent it from ever getting to President Obama’s desk—and 34 could sustain a veto. Mr. Obama could then declare that Congress had its say and “approved” the Iran deal even if a majority in the House and Senate voted to oppose it.
Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker deserves credit for trying, but in the end he had to agree to Democratic changes watering down the measure if he wanted 67 votes to override an Obama veto. Twice the Tennessee Republican delayed a vote in deference to Democrats, though his bill merely requires a vote after the negotiations are over.
His latest concessions shorten the review period to 30 days, which Mr. Obama wanted, perhaps to mollify the mullahs in Tehran who want sanctions lifted immediately. After 52 days Mr. Obama could unilaterally ease sanctions without Congressional approval. Mr. Obama has said that under the “framework” accord sanctions relief is intended to be gradual. But don’t be surprised if his final concession to Ayatollah Khamenei is to lift sanctions after 52 days.
Mr. Corker also removed a requirement that the Administration certify to Congress that Iran is no longer supporting terrorism. This sends an especially bad signal to Iran that Congress agrees with Mr. Obama that the nuclear deal is divorced from its behavior as a rogue state. One of Mr. Obama’s least plausible justifications for the nuclear deal is that it would help to make Iran a “normal” nation. But if Tehran is still sponsoring terrorism around the world, how can it be trusted as a nuclear partner?
Our own view of all this is closer to that of Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who spoke for (but didn’t offer) an amendment in committee Tuesday to require that Mr. Obama submit the Iran nuclear deal as a treaty. Under the Constitution, ratification would require an affirmative vote by two-thirds of the Senate.
Committing the U.S. to a deal of this magnitude—concerning proliferation of the world’s most destructive weapons—should require treaty ratification. Previous Presidents from JFK to Nixon to Reagan and George H.W. Bush submitted nuclear pacts as treaties. Even Mr. Obama submitted the U.S.-Russian New Start accord as a treaty.
The Founders required two-thirds approval on treaties because they wanted major national commitments overseas to have a national political consensus. Mr. Obama should want the same kind of consensus on Iran.
But instead he is giving more authority over American commitments to the United Nations than to the U.S. Congress. By making the accord an executive agreement as opposed to a treaty, and perhaps relying on a filibuster or veto to overcome Congressional opposition, he’s turning the deal into a one-man presidential compact with Iran. This will make it vulnerable to being rejected by the next President, as some of the GOP candidates are already promising.
The case for the Corker bill is that at least it guarantees some debate and a vote in Congress on an Iran deal. Mr. Obama can probably do what he wants anyway, but the Iranians are on notice that the United States isn’t run by a single Supreme Leader.
The CIA Needs an Iran ‘Team B’
John Brennan [reportedly a Muslim himself] has put the spy agency in an impossible position regarding analysis of Iran’s nuclear program.
Wall Street Journal, by Michael B. Mukasey and Kevin Carroll, April 14, 2015
Many of CIA Director John Brennan’s gaffes over the years have raised eyebrows, but none has suggested the need for a legislative remedy—until the one he launched at Harvard last week.
His past indiscretions have included, in 2010 when he was a counterterrorism adviser at the White House, referring to Jerusalem by its Arabic name, “al Quds”; referring to the “moderate” elements in Hezbollah, the Iran surrogate in Lebanon and a group the U.S. designates a terrorist organization; and insisting that our enemies should not be called “jihadists” because jihad is “a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam.”
There was also the time in 2010 when he derided the notion of a war on terrorism or terror because “terrorism is but a tactic” and “terror is a state of mind.” Given that evidence, one might have had a general concern about his competence to lead a U.S. intelligence organization, but not a focused concern about the damage any one statement could cause.
But then, in an interview last week at Harvard’s Institute for Politics, Mr. Brennan said that anyone who both knew the facts surrounding the Obama administration’s “framework” agreement regarding the Iranian nuclear program, and said that it “provides a pathway for Iran to a bomb,” was being “wholly disingenuous.” That was foolish, insofar as it applied to many serious-minded people in and out of government, but it was also dangerous.
Picture CIA analysts and other officers charged with weighing and interpreting Iran’s nuclear program in relation to the recently concluded negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland; that is, CIA analysts who have families and mortgages. Their solemn charge is to report and analyze facts straight-on—the good, the bad and the ugly.
Evidence of cheating by Iran necessarily would be fragmentary—dual-use technology paid for through opaque transactions; unexplained flight patterns and port calls by aircraft and vessels of dubious registration; intercepted conversations using possibly coded terms; a smattering of human intelligence from sources with questionable access and their own mixed motivations and vulnerabilities.
But the boss has already said that purported concerns about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon are dishonest. Human nature being what it is at Langley as elsewhere, how likely is it that an evaluation suggesting that Iran is up to something would make it beyond operational channels, through reports officers, analysts and CIA managers, up to policy makers?
Not very, unless Congress acts promptly to put in place an alternative team of analysts, much as George H.W. Bush did when he was CIA director in 1976 under President Ford. That was an election year, and détente with the Soviet Union was the overriding administration policy.
During the campaign, the question of whether our military power was falling behind Moscow’s was a charged issue. Mr. Bush commissioned a team of independent experts known as “Team B” to provide analysis of the Soviets’ capabilities and intentions that competed with the CIA’s own internal evaluation. Team B highlighted dangers posed by the U.S.S.R.’s growing strategic nuclear forces, informing President Reagan’s later determination to counteract those capabilities.
Why is a Team B needed today? Even standing alone, the taint of Mr. Brennan’s statement at Harvard would infect all future CIA evaluations of the Iranian nuclear program. But it doesn’t stand alone. It stands alongside the remainder of the Obama administration’s record in intelligence matters, including false statements about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; misleading the public about the military record of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; concealment of documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that reportedly portray al Qaeda’s durable relationships with Iran and Pakistan; minimizing terrorist threats that were inconsistent with the 2012 presidential-campaign theme of terrorism defeated; and mistaken portrayals of the rise of Islamic State and al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Africa.
Mr. Brennan’s statement also stands alongside President Obama’s and Secretary of State John Kerry’s eagerness for a deal with Iran that Ben Rhodes, one of the president’s closest foreign-policy advisers, lauded as “the Obamacare of our second term.”
All this is in addition to the president’s own apparent inability to admit the motivation of Islamist terrorists. Recall his memorable description of the murder in Paris of Jews shopping for kosher food earlier this year as the “random” shooting of “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
Given these facts, House and Senate leaders of both parties should ask former senior national-security officials to study raw intelligence-reporting on Iran, and direct the administration legislatively if necessary to give them the data needed to make an informed judgment.
This “Team B” should then report its findings periodically not only to the administration, but also to congressional leaders and the presidential nominees of both parties once they are chosen. That way, Americans can be assured that all agencies of government are fully informed—and that the vital issues facing the country are being weighed in the forthright way essential to the nation’s security.
Mr. Mukasey served as U.S. attorney general (2007-09) and as a judge for the Southern District of New York (1988-2006). Mr. Carroll served as senior counsel to the House Homeland Security Committee (2011-13) and before that as a CIA case officer.
Republicans’ descent from principle on Iran, treaties, and budget control
By Rick Manning Wall Street Journal, 4/15/2015
The continued descent of the Congressional Republicans away from the party’s fiscal responsibility and strong national security principles were on full display this week in two legislative “wins.”Republicans were riding high after Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) led forty-six of his colleagues to sign a letter to the government of Iran explaining the role the Senate plays in ratifying treaties. Momentum was building toward a veto-proof majority in favor of strengthening sanctions against the Iranian regime that seeks to develop a nuclear weapon, promises to use it against Israel, and is fomenting successful rebellions in places like Yemen that have thrown the entire Middle East into turmoil.
President Obama’s weak treaty that fundamentally provided Iran a pathway to get a nuke was being pilloried, and hopes ran high that Senate Republicans had finally seized the high ground from the President. However, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) came to the Democrats’ rescue just in time, as he negotiated a deal on sanctions legislation that reportedly allows 41 Democrats to block any attempt to stop implementation of Obama’s deal. Given the hammer turned to apparent rubber stamp by the desperate-for-consensus Corker, it’s a good thing that he wasn’t negotiating with the Iranians.
Further proof that Senate prerogatives were annihilated under the “sanctions” bill came when President Obama promised to sign it.
While national security advocates have seen their wings clipped by Corker, the Senate also put a tombstone over the notion that Republicans represent fiscal sanity and balanced budgets as the Senate rejected an amendment by Sen. Jeff Sessions that would have upheld federal spending limits on the Medicare doc fix — a common action that Republicans took when in the minority. However, 71 Senators voted to opt out of the budget law and eliminate the hard-fought spending limits that were established in the 2011 Budget Control Act. The result is that Medicare spending will be increased an additional $200 billion in one decade alone and an estimated $500 billion in the next twenty years.
At a time when Republicans could rightfully have reclaimed their leadership on smaller government, lower taxes, deficits, and national security issues, the Senate chose to punt on these fundamental differentiators between the two political parties, with only 29 Republican Senators voting to protect the budget law.
By rejecting the tough choices this week, Senate Republicans have guaranteed a future President will face much more difficult budget choices, as they try to explain how their actions support smaller, more responsive government, a claim that those who pay attention will find harder and harder to believe. They have also effectively neutered their treaty ratification powers by affirming that President Obama does not have to submit his Iranian agreement to Congress for ratification.
Consensus has been reached; Republicans surrendered; and the nation is worse off and less safe, both fiscally and militarily, than it was the day before.
The author is president of Americans for Limited Government.
|Obama: Witting or Witless? By Mona Charen
A question has hung in the air since Barack Obama first moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and began his “fundamental transformation” of this country: Did he intend harm, or was he merely so blinded by ideology that he could not see the damage his policies were creating? The Iran deal provides an answer. Read more now.
Obama is desperate to have a deal, apparently willing to offer anything. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/01/21/us-to-award-iran-11-billion-through-end-nuke-talks/
Read more at NetRightDaily.com: http://netrightdaily.com/2015/04/republicans-descent-from-principle-on-iran-treaties-and-budget-control/#ixzz3XP0C139X
200 Retired Generals and Admirals say, “Terrible Deal.” Link.
LATE BREAKING NEWS — Congress sells out: Not just the Clintons, Kerry, and Obama.
Frontpage Magazine has published a bombshell report that has been met with total silence by the media.
“Our politicians bought by Iran include not just a list of senators and congressmen about to vote on the Iran deal. Recipients of Iran’s largess for their campaigns include President Obama, Joe Biden, John Kerry, and Hillary Clinton.
Both of Obama’s secretaries of state were involved in Iran Lobby cash controversies, as was his vice president and his former secretary of defense. Obama was also the beneficiary of sizable donations from the Iran Lobby….”
For more information on the lead up and background of this dirty deal, and how the topic of terrorism, jihad and a nuclear Iran has overlaps my novel Raven’s Run (and its 2016 sequel Raven’s Redemption) see: