Archive for January 13th, 2010

“State Department Sides With “Suspected” Terrorists Seeking Visas to U.S.” by Joel Mowbray

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Tucked away in a single paragraph near the end of the declassified preliminary report on the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack is the key fact glossed over by most in media and the government: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had a valid visa when he boarded his Detroit-bound flight.

The reason is simple: the State Department insists that “possible” and even “suspected” terrorists deserve visas. Denials and revocations are reserved only for known terrorists.

Whether or not “dots” had been “connected,” Abdulmutallab never could have come as close as he did to successful mass murder had the State Department immediately revoked his visa when his father warned U.S. officials about his son’s terrorist ties. Without a valid visa, the young Nigerian would not have been en route to the U.S. in the first place.

All the more maddening is that this is precisely the lesson we learned from the 9/11 terrorists, none of whom actually qualified for the visas that were nonetheless issued to them. Yet eight years later, the State Department has barely budged its default position that visas are to be issued unless they have a clear reason to deny applications.

Even though Abdulmutallab’s father told U.S. Embassy officials on November 18 that he feared that his son might have terrorist intentions, the al Qaeda operative retained his privilege to enter the U.S.

While the initial visa issuance to Abdulmutallab might well have been legitimate—he is, after all, well-educated and from a successful family—the fact that his visa was not immediately revoked is beyond baffling.

Although a misspelling of the young Nigerian’s name prevented State from identifying his still-valid visa, the report further notes that the father’s warnings would not have been sufficient cause to rescind it. According to the report, “A determination to revoke his visa, however, would have only occurred if there had been a successful integration of intelligence by the CT community, resulting in his being watchlisted.”

This suicidally legalistic approach does not owe to Obama or previous political leadership, but rather to the long-held institutional mindset of the State Department. Using a deeply flawed legal interpretation, State’s position has been that a visa must be issued to qualified applicants, with denials only possible with specific, credible proof that someone can be deemed a security threat.

But unlike in a court of law, foreigners wishing to enter the U.S. should not be presumed innocent. Moreover, denial of the privilege to come to the U.S. is not reviewable, and it can be made unilaterally by State. Yet it is State who pushes to issue visas to those who raise red flags, but don’t quite belong on the terrorist watchlist.

The Department of Homeland Security, which holds partial regulatory authority over visa policy, has had running battles with State over visa issuance. Law enforcement-minded DHS officials believe in erring on the side of security, while State again and again has sided with foreigners seeking access to the U.S.

Read the rest of the article here.

GOP Fears Democrats Will Stall Swearing-In if Brown Wins Mass. Senate Race

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I would expect no less from the Democrats. They lack of integrity and morals becomes more evident with each passing day.

Massachusetts Republicans say they fear that if their candidate for U.S. Senate scores an upset victory in the special election next week, Democrats in the state and in Washington will drag out the certification process just long enough that he won’t be able to block health care reform.

State Sen. Scott Brown, who is challenging Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley for the seat once held by Ted Kennedy, is sounding the loudest alarm over that possibility.

Recent polling suggests Brown is closing in on front-runner Coakley. And if he does what once seemed impossible — beat a Democrat for the bluest of blue Senate seats — he is vowing to be the critical 41st vote against health care reform.

That means Brown could prevent Democrats from breaking a Republican filibuster against the overhaul and, in his words, “send it back to the drawing board.”

Brown told Fox News on Tuesday that he’s concerned Democrats will stall the certification process if he wins, so that the U.S. Senate can approve the health care reform bill before he gets there.

“When I heard … the machine, not only locally but nationally, is trying to manipulate the process and make sure that if I’m elected, a duly elected senator, I can’t be seated in an effort to vote on this important piece of national legislation, it made me almost sick to my stomach,” Brown said.

The Boston Herald reported over the weekend that, according to a source, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office plans to wait until Feb. 20 to certify the race.

“Everything I’ve heard right now I don’t like very much,” said Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, noting the secretary is signaling he will “drag his feet” if Brown wins.

But while a number of opportunities to delay the certification and swearing-in process are available, a spokesman for Galvin said Feb. 20 sounds too far off.

“They don’t wait around,” spokesman Brian McNiff said.

McNiff said local election districts have to wait at least 10 days before they submit their returns so as to allow time for military and overseas ballots to come in. They have a maximum of 15 days to submit them to the secretary’s office, before the returns move to the governor’s office.

McNiff said the governor’s office has to wait a minimum of 15 days after the election to certify the results, but he said the governor’s office typically certifies returns as soon as it legally can. That would mean the winner could head to Washington early next month.

But McNiff said the law does not give a set timeframe for when final certification has to occur. Republicans say Democratic state leaders may try to exploit any leeway they have.

And even after the results are certified, the Senate has to swear in the winner — and until that person is sworn in, interim Sen. Paul Kirk, who has vowed to vote for health care reform even if Brown wins, remains senator.

Original Link.

Haiti Devastated by Quake; Scores Believed Dead

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

We need to pray urgently for those affected by this horrible disaster and urge our governments to send immediate aid.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Dazed and injured Haitians sat on darkened streets pleading for help Wednesday and untold numbers were trapped in tons of rubble brought down by the strongest earthquake to hit this poor Caribbean nation in more than 200 years.

Destroyed communications made it impossible to tell the extent of destruction from Tuesday afternoon’s 7.0-magnitude tremor — or to estimate the number of dead lying among thousands of collapsed buildings in Haiti’s capital of about 2 million people.

The ornate National Palace crumbled into itself, the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission collapsed and swaths of rickety shacks lay in shambles. Clouds of dust thrown up by falling buildings choked Port-au-Prince for hours.

International Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said an estimated 3 million people may have been affected by the quake and that it would take a day or two for a clear picture of the damage to emerge.

The United States and other nations began organizing aid efforts, alerting search teams and gathering supplies that will be badly needed in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. The international Red Cross and other aid groups announced plans for major relief operations.

Associated Press journalists found the damage staggering even for a country long accustomed to tragedy and disaster.

Aftershocks rattled the city as women covered in dust clawed out of debris, wailing. Stunned people wandered the streets holding hands. Thousands gathered in public squares long after nightfall, singing hymns.

It was clear tens of thousands lost their homes and many perished in collapsed buildings flimsy and dangerous even under normal conditions.

“The hospitals cannot handle all these victims,” Dr. Louis-Gerard Gilles, a former senator, said as he helped survivors. “Haiti needs to pray. We all need to pray together.”

Original Link.

Aaronic Blessing Pendant – from the Jerusalem Gift Shop

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Weekly I highlight items being offered by the Jerusalem Gift Shop. Today it’s the Aaronic Blessing Pendant.

This Aaronic blessing is written in the original Aramaic

The LORD make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

* Sterling Silver
* Size: 3.5 x 1 cm

Made in Jerusalem

Take a moment to see all of the other interesting items they stock.

The Jerusalem Gift Shop 234x60

Christian Gifts from Israel – The Jerusalem Gift Shop

“The Marriage Penalty in Health Care” by Phyllis Schlafly

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Hidden in Obama’s health care bill is a huge marriage penalty. Both the Senate and House bills would set up yet another federal program to provide financial incentives to subsidize marriage avoidance and illegitimate offspring.

Even though all evidence shows that marriage is the best remedy for poverty, lack of health care, domestic violence, child abuse and school dropouts, federal welfare programs continue to discriminate against marriage and instead give taxpayer handouts to those who reject marriage. This isn’t any accident — it is a central part of the Democrats’ political strategy that produced 70 percent of unmarried women voting for Obama for president in 2008.

Conservatives have been exchanging email for weeks about the shocking fact that Obama’s health care bill discriminates against marriage while financially favoring unmarried couples living together. This fact is finally getting national attention, at least in The Wall Street Journal and on Fox News.

Here is the cost in the House bill for an unmarried couple who each earn $25,000 a year (total: $50,000). When they both buy health insurance (which will be mandatory), the combined premiums they pay will be capped at $3,076 a year.

But if the couple gets married and has the same combined income of $50,000, they will pay annual premiums up to a cap of $5,160 a year. That means they have to fork over a marriage penalty of $2,084.

The marriage penalty is the result of the fact that government subsidies for buying health insurance are pegged to the federal poverty guidelines. Couples that remain unmarried are rewarded with a separate health care subsidy for each income.

When the Wall Street Journal reporter quizzed the Democratic authors of the health-care bill, they made it clear that this differential was deliberate. The staffer justified the discriminatory treatment because “you have to decide what your goals are.”

Indeed, the Democrats have decided what their goals are. They know that 70 percent of unmarried women voted for Obama in 2008, and the Democrats plan to reward this group with health insurance subsidies.

The House staffer told the Wall Street Journal reporter that the Democratics can’t make the subsidies neutral toward marriage because that would give a traditional one-breadwinner married couple a more generous subsidy than a single parent at the same income level. Horrors! The Democrats certainly are not going to allow traditional marriage to be preferred over couples who just shack up!

Read the rest of the article here.

“‘Notional’ Security” by Thomas Sowell

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

The latest “screw-up” that let a man with explosives get on a plane on Christmas day is only part of a larger laxness and irresponsibility when it comes to national security. This administration pays lip service to national security and gives out with a lot of rhetorical notions that makes it notional security instead of national security.

The Muslim major who was arrested for the murders of American soldiers at Fort Hood had left so many clues to his hatred of this country that all you had to do was count the dots, without even connecting them, to see where he was coming from. But for a fellow officer to alert higher authorities to the danger would have meant risking damage to his own career moreso than to that of Major Nidal Hasan.

That is because we have become so obsessed with political correctness that both common sense and self-preservation have to take a back seat. We don’t dare “profile” anybody going through security checks because that’s not politically correct. Far better to be blown to smithereens than to be politically incorrect.

Probably the country with the strongest security checks for airline passengers– and the strongest reason for such checks– is Israel. Israel profiles. I have been to Israel more than once and it is clear that they profile.

Fortunately, my wife and I obviously don’t fit their profile, whatever that may be. Others who have been to Israel are amazed when I tell them that we have gone through Israeli security four times and they have never opened our luggage.

That is all the more surprising, since we take a lot of luggage. We have stopped in Israel while on trips completely around the world, including countries both above and below the equator, so we had to have clothing for hot weather and cold weather, since the seasons are the opposite in the northern and southern hemispheres. Moreover, I carry a lot of photographic equipment in a large, separate piece of luggage.

In short, our luggage could carry enough explosives to blow up any building in the country. But, whatever their security system and whatever their profile, they didn’t seem to want to waste any time on us.

The last time we flew into Israel was from Cairo, where the Israeli security officials at the Cairo airport detained the lady in line in front of us for 45 minutes, opened her luggage, spread the contents across the counter, and asked her all sorts of questions. When they had finally finished with her and my wife and I stepped up to the counter, the official in charge waved us on impatiently, saying, “Hurry up, you’ll miss the plane.”

This was no special treatment for us. They had no idea who we were. We were just not the kind of people they spent time on, for whatever reason.

Read the rest of the article here.