Archive for April, 2009

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Cartoons: You’ll want to see

April 30, 2009

Rose Is Rose

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Ax UAW ‘Jobs Bank,’ Save GM

April 30, 2009

Ax UAW ‘Jobs Bank,’ Save GM

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | 28 April 09

Detroit: While General Motors was losing billions, it was pumping billions into a union welfare system set up to pay workers not to work. In addition to axing Pontiac, it should kill the notorious “Jobs Bank.”

Missing from Washington’s post-mortems on GM is this two-decade-old program. It’s also missing from the automaker’s new turnaround plan to satisfy the Obama administration, which is squarely in the UAW’s corner.

The latest restructuring includes shedding GM’s Pontiac unit and offering the government a controlling stake in GM’s stock. It would also give the UAW shares in exchange for pension relief.

The restructuring of General Motors means that the Pontiacs sitting alongside Chevy Malibus outside this assembly plant in Michigan may be among the last of that brand to be made by GM. Union contracts have helped cripple the automaker.

The nation’s biggest automaker is living on $15 billion in government loans, and hopes to get another $12 billion in bailout money to avoid bankruptcy.

UAW contracts helped put GM on this road to ruin. The UAW Jobs Bank has cost the company billions, acting as a major drag on earnings.

Still, the union is fighting to keep the program, though it recently agreed to allow management to suspend payments into the massive fund until the company can regain its footing.

“To give up the jobs bank is to give up everything the union fought decades to win,” said a UAW boss in Flint, Mich.

The Jobs Bank was created as GM made its plants more flexible and automated to compete with the Japanese. As GM became more efficient, it no longer needed as many workers to run a plant. The union demanded that it keep paying workers displaced by the new technology.

The UAW argued that if workers knew they had job security in spite of the advances in automation, they might embrace the new methods.

Of course, the UAW got its concessions and then some, while still fighting the plant closings. The Jobs Bank became little more than a welfare system for laid-off workers, who are still paid most of their wages and benefits.

Many of the Flint job-bankers, for example, worked in a plant that no longer exists: the huge Buick City factory that closed 10 years ago. Yet GM has paid them up to $85,000 a year. They also still enjoy health care coverage, while continuing to collect years of service toward their pensions.

Rewriting labor contracts is not what the Obama administration is looking for in a restructuring plan. It wrongly assumes that GM’s foray into the gas-guzzling SUV market sealed its fate.

And it wants the nation’s largest automaker to roll out more eco-friendly hybrids, even though SUVs were for years a cash cow — and could be again, now that gas prices have settled back down. Hybrids are once again viewed as the expensive joke that they were.

The unreported, unspoken reason that GM is careening toward bankruptcy is the crushing labor mandates it’s had to fund each year.

In addition to the billions spent on the Jobs Bank, GM has spent $103 billion during the past 15 years funding its pension and retiree health care obligations, according to industry analysts. That’s nearly $7 billion a year — more than GM’s capital spending budget for new models this year.

Meanwhile, Honda and other nonunion companies didn’t have to bear such costs. Japanese automakers even built cars inside America with relatively young nonunion labor that, unlike their UAW counterparts, quickly learned to adapt and thrive in the leaner assembly systems that Japanese companies operated.

You won’t hear President Obama or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid mention this in their analysis of the auto industry’s woes from their driver’s seats in Washington.

If GM and Chrysler don’t survive this recession, blame the unions, not SUVs.

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Photo: Wilders | Free Speech Summit

April 30, 2009

The free world rests in the hands of these brave warriors – Gaffney, foreground, Solomon, Wilders.

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100 Days, 100 Mistakes

April 30, 2009

From: Gary L. Bauer
29 April 2009

100 Days,  100 Mistakes

Today the radical Left is celebrating Barack Obama’s 100th day in the White House.  To honor the occasion, I am asking all of our supporters to go to our website atwww.cwfpac.com and make a special gift of $100.  We need $100 to help us fight Obama’s 100 mistakes in his first 100 days. 

Go right now to our secured website and make your gift of $100 to support our work.  If you prefer, you can call our office at 703-671-8800 to make a contribution over the phone or mail a check to the address below.

If you can’t afford to give $100 today, please make a commitment to support CWF with a monthly contribution of $10 or $25, which you can also do online by selecting the “monthly” option in the payment section. 

If you can afford to give more, please do so, because while the Obama Administration is celebrating its first 100 days in power, there are still 1,361 days left in his first term!  And when you see everything that he has done in these first 100 days, you will be shocked and outraged. 

Men and women of faith, national security conservatives and those who cherish free enterprise must stand up and fight back.  That task has been made more difficult and more urgent in the past 24 hours with the defection of Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.  But don’t despair.  We must unapologetically defend our values of lower taxes, smaller government, peace through strength and respect for time-honored traditional values.

While polls show that Barack Obama is personally popular, the nation is still divided right down the middle or leans our way on key issues. Where our side has been lacking most is in leadership, funding and grassroots volunteers. That’s why I’m asking for your urgent support today: so we can help conservative candidates defeat pro-abortion, pro-homosexual rights, pro-Big Government candidates. Please support CWF today with a special gift of $100 or a commitment of $100. 

Obama’s 100 Mistakes, Misstatements and Missteps in his First 100 Days

Undermining Our Values

1. Calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act on the White House website.
2. Calling on the White House website for the expansion of federal hate crimes to include homosexual behavior.
3. Calling on the White House website for policies like the “Fairness Doctrine” that could silence conservative and Christian talk radio.
4. Repealing limitations on taxpayer-funding of human embryonic stem cell research.
5. Repealing limitations on taxpayer-funding of abortions overseas.
6. Pledging $50 million to the United Nation’s Population Fund, which supports China’s draconian one-child policy.
7. Proposing new rules to gut conscience clause protections for pro-life doctors and other medical personnel who don’t want to be forced to perform abortions or other procedures that violate their values.
8. Proposing increased funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.
9. Calling on the White House website for “a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year,” (mandatory volunteerism).
10. Inviting homosexual families to the White House Easter Egg Roll.
11. Allowing his attorney general to call for the reinstatement of Clinton-era restrictions on the Second Amendment.
12. Breaking his promise not to appoint lobbyists to his administration. He hired 17 in his first two weeks.
13. Breaking his promise to sign legislation only after a five-day period of public comments.
14. Asking that the monogram for Jesus Christ be covered up during a televised speech at a Catholic university in which Obama quotes the Sermon on the Mount.

Undermining Our National Security

15. Apologizing for America in Europe and Latin America.
16. Bowing before the Muslim king of Saudi Arabia.
17. Pledging to base America’s foreign policy toward Iran on “mutual respect” in a video to the Iranian people and Iran’s Holocaust-denying dictator.
18. Returning the bust of Winston Churchill given to George Bush after 9/11 by our British allies.
19. Giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the leader of America’s most loyal ally, a box of DVDs that don’t work in British DVD players.
20. Ordering Guantanamo Bay closed without any idea of where to send the terrorist suspects held there.
21. Suggesting that some of those terrorists now at GITMO may kill again, but may also be released onto U.S. soil and set up with welfare benefits.
22. Caving to communist Cuba by relaxing travel restrictions and remittances for Cuban Americans before any Cuban political prisoners have been released.
23. Shaking hands with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
24. Sitting silently though a 50-minute anti-American diatribe by Nicaragua’s communist president, Daniel Ortega.
25. Releasing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the suspected of masterminding the 2000 suicide bombing of the U.S.S. Cole.
26. Releasing classified CIA memos outlining our interrogation techniques.
27. Telling our CIA agents not to be discouraged when he acknowledges their “mistakes.”
28. Declaring a new openness to “truth commissions” and prosecuting intelligence officials involved in enhanced interrogations of terrorists.
29. Proposing to send a $900 million foreign aid package to Palestinians in Gaza.
30. Asking Congress to relax the law so that some of that money could go to the terrorist organization Hamas.
31. Calling for the U.S. to eliminate its nuclear weapons.
32. Telling Russian President Demitri Medvedev that America’s commitment to missile defense is negotiable.
33. Dropping the term “enemy combatants” for GITMO detainees.
34. Dropping the term “terrorism” for “man-made disaster.”
35. Dropping the term “Global War on Terror” for “overseas contingency operations.”
36. Giving his first interview as president to the Arab language network Al-Arabiya.
37. Telling the Muslim world that his “job” was to communicate “that the Americans are not your enemy,” when it’s Muslim extremists who have declared war on us.
38. Proposing that military veterans use private insurance for the cost of a service-related injury before they would be eligible for coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Undermining Free Enterprise

39. Signing the trillion-dollar plus so-called “stimulus” bill, which the Congressional Budget Office said would actually hurt long-term economic growth.
40. Saying Caterpillar wouldn’t lay off workers if his trillion-dollar stimulus bill passed Congress. Obama signed the bill on Feb. 17th. On March 17th, Caterpillar laid off nearly 2,500 workers.
41. Hosting a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” one week after signing the trillion-dollar “stimulus” bill.
42. Railing against “outrageous recklessness and greed” of AIG bonuses that were legally protected in the so-called “stimulus” bill he signed four days after it passed, not five as he promised.
43. Breaking his promise on earmark reform by signing the $410 billion “omnibus” spending bill with billions in earmarks.
44. Proposing a $3.6 trillion budget that doubles the national debt in five years and triples it in ten years.
45. Proposing a “carbon cap and trade” scheme that will raise energy taxes by hundreds of billions, even trillions, of dollars.
46. Burning more than 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to fly to Iowa for Earth Day to promote “wind power.”
47. Proposing $634 billion in higher taxes for socialized health care.
48. Proposing to raise taxes on small business owners.
49. Saying the White House is open to the idea of taxing employer-sponsored health care benefits as income.
50. Signing a massive expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, calling it “a down payment on my commitment to cover every single American.”
51. Establishing the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research to give bureaucrats the power to ration health care and tell your doctors what care you can and cannot have.
52. Signing the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which the Sierra Club praised specifically because it “will safeguard millions of acres … from oil and gas leasing.”
53. Suggesting he has found $1.5 trillion in bogus “savings” by not spending money in Iraq that we were not planning to spend years from now.
54. Ordering his Cabinet to “cut” $100 million in spending in 90 days, after proposing nearly $5 trillion in spending in his first 90 days.
55. Proposing to limit tax deductions for home mortgage interest.
56. Proposing to limit tax deductions for charitable donations.
57. Refusing to allow banks to repay TARP money.
58. Bailing out AMTRAK with a 10% increase in its taxpayer subsidies.
59. Bailing out the United Auto Workers Union with billions of taxpayer dollars to GM and Chrysler.
60. Bailing out the United Auto Workers by giving it a majority ownership stake in Chrysler. Yes, the union will own the company.
61. Bailing out Big Labor by issuing an executive order mandating that infrastructure projects paid for with “stimulus” funds must use union labor, guaranteeing higher costs for the taxpayer.
62. Bailing out Big Labor again by repealing regulations requiring the disclosure of how union dues are spent. So much for “transparency.”
63. Saying, “The United States government has no interest in running GM,” then vowing that the government will back auto warranties.
64. Saying, “The United States government has no interest in running GM,” then firing the CEO of General Motors.
65. Allowing states to set their own fuel efficiency and emissions standards, making it harder for struggling auto makers to compete.

Personnel Is Policy

66. Nominating Timothy “The Turbo Tax Evader” Geithner as Treasury Secretary to oversee the IRS.
67. Nominating as attorney general Eric Holder, who urged Bill Clinton to pardon tax evader Marc Rich and 8 FALN terrorists.
68. Nominating David Ogden, a prominent attorney for the pornography industry, to be Deputy Attorney General.
69. Nominating Tom Daschle, who owed more than $140,000 in back taxes, as Health and Human Services Secretary.
70. Nominating Kathleen Sebelius, who is ardently pro-abortion and owed $8,000 in back taxes, to be HHS Secretary.
71. Nominating Janet Napolitano, who said, “crossing the border is not a crime per se,” as Homeland Security Secretary.
72. Nominating Steven Chu as Energy Secretary. Last September, Chu said, “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe,” which at that time were roughly $8.00 a gallon.
73. Nominating Ron Kirk, who owed more than $6,000 in back taxes, as Trade Representative.
74. Nominating Bill Richardson, who was embroiled in an ethics scandal, as Secretary of Commerce.
75. Nominating Nancy Killefer, who also owed back taxes, to be the government’s “Efficiency Czar.”
76. Nominating Rosa Brooks, a leftwing acolyte of George Soros, as an advisor to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.
77. Nominating Harold Koh, an ardent supporter of using international law in the interpretation of our Constitution, to be the top legal advisor to the State Department.
78. Nominating Carol Browner, who was a member of the Socialist International, to be “Climate and Energy Czar.”
79. Nominating John Holdren, an environmental extremist and advocate of population control, as the White House Science Advisor.
80. Nominating Dawn Johnsen, who is so pro-abortion she once compared pregnancy to slavery, to to direct the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department.
81. Nominating Charles Freeman, an anti-Israel, pro-Arab apologist, to be head of the National Intelligence Council.
82. Nominating Tony West, who represented American Taliban John Walker Lindh and exposed the Bush Administration’s terrorist surveillance program, to the Justice Department’s Civil Division.
83. Nominating Annette Nazareth to be Deputy Treasury Secretary, who withdrew after a month-long probe into her taxes.
84. Trying to nominate pro-abortion Catholics to be ambassador to the Vatican, a move even John Kerry opposed.
85. Appointing Ellen Moran of the pro-abortion group Emily’s List as his White House communications director.
86. Appointing Melody Barnes, a board member of Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood, as his director of the Domestic Policy Council.
87. Appointing Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign (the largest homosexual rights lobbying group) to the White House’s Faith Based Advisory Council.
88. Appointing Adolfo Carrion as Director of White House Office of Urban Affairs, even though he is under investigation for kickbacks in a scandal nearly identical to one that cost GOP Senator Ted Stevens his election.
89. Nominating David Hamilton as his first appointment to a federal appeals court. Judge Hamilton has issued a number of controversial rulings, including prohibiting the Indiana House of Representatives from opening sessions with prayers in the name of Jesus.

Other Obama Outrages

90. Telling congressional Republicans to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh.
91. Coordinating attacks on Rush Limbaugh, Rick Santelli and Jim Cramer out of the White House.
92. Hosting weekly parties at the White House, serving up $100-a-pound Waygu beef during what Obama called, “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”
93. Laughing it up on 60 Minutes as the country is mired in a recession.
94. Allowing Air Force One to buzz the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan, creating panic in New York City.
95. Disparaging Special Olympians on the Tonight Show.
96. Allowing his Department of Homeland Security to issue a report accusing pro-life, smaller government conservatives and returning Iraq/Afghanistan veterans of being “rightwing extremists.”
97. Promising to push for comprehensive immigration reform, i.e., amnesty.
98. Killing the school voucher program in the District of Columbia, while sending his two daughters to an elite private school, rather than D.C.’s public schools.
99. Moving the Census out of the Department of Commerce and into the White House.
100. Relying too much on his teleprompter.

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Geert Wilders: Why I Am In America…

April 30, 2009

Why I Am In America Fighting for Free Speech

By Geert Wilders | 04/29/09 | 06:41 PM

Freedom of expression is under attack. This is a theme I am addressing here in America this week as part of the Free Speech Summit being held in Florida under the sponsorship of the Florida Security Council. And it is clear that a serious discussion of the threats to our freedoms in the West cannot come too soon.

For example, my friend Rep. Adam Hasner, the majority leader of the Florida House of Representatives was attacked in a press release issued by the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Monday for daring to appear at a private event with me this past weekend. Because of that appearance, CAIR is demanding that Rep. Hasner step down or be removed from his position.

This attack on a friend and fellow legislator is of grave concern to me. CAIR’s assault on Rep. Hasner strikes at the very heart of our most basic freedoms. In fact, it is but the latest episode in that organization’s long-running and determined effort to silence its critics. Indeed, CAIR seeks to suppress all those who dare to challenge the theo-political-legal program that authoritative Islam calls “Shariah.” In so doing, they are seeking to impose what amount to Shariah blasphemy codes.

It is especially important to note that Adam Hasner is not only being attacked for comments he made that are deemed offensive by those who seek to impose Shariah in America. His career is now being threatened for comments made by others in his presence – in this case, by me. Thus the Islamists are infringing not only on this country’s constitutionally protected freedom of expression but also freedom of association.

If a high-ranking public official – elected by the people and appointed to his leadership position by his peers – cannot speak honestly and openly about his concerns, and do so in places and the company of his choosing, without fear of suppression or other retribution, who among us is safe?

I know these threats firsthand. Even before the international release last year of my short documentary film, Fitna, I have faced constant death threats and protests. My name has appeared on assassination lists. I have been subject of an Al-Qaeda death fatwa. I will be charged with blasphemy and contempt of Muslims by Jordanian prosecutors. I face prosecutions in my own country and elsewhere. I was recently banned from the United Kingdom because the Home Secretary believed my mere presence in the country constituted a national security threat.

In this trying time let us recall that in the darkest hours of World War II, when the world faced a global threat from German Nazism, Italian Fascism and Japanese Imperialism, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill challenged his people to rise to the occasion and fight. He told them, “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

This is why I am in America this week talking about the fight we now must wage in the West to defend our liberties. Freedom of association is one of the basic liberties guaranteed not only by the US Constitution but by the European Convention of Human Rights. And yet CAIR wants to silence and punish Rep. Hasner for associating with me. If America needs a poster child for the threat to our freedoms from Islamic extremism, no better example than CAIR could be found.

This episode underscores that the threat to freedom posed by creeping Shariah imposed by CAIR’s type of stealthy jihad is not just a problem in the Middle East, or Europe. It is also a problem in America.

I will not be bullied by Islamic thugs who want to use our freedoms to destroy those very same freedoms. And I will not stand by as they seek to do it to others.

Founded and directed by members of the international network of the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR has an explicit agenda to subvert our freedoms and impose Islamic Shariah law on non-Muslims. This is not speculation on my part. This is the testimony of one of CAIR’s founders and chairman emeritus, Omar Ahmed, who told a California audience in 1998 that this was their agenda. “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant,” he said. “The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” When CAIR officials say that this is their ultimate objective, we should believe them.

In just the past few weeks, the Council on American Islamic Relations has sought to silence another courageous lawmaker, Rep. Peter King, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee in the US House of Representatives. His “offense”? Rep. King correctly observed that CAIR and other Muslims were not providing enough assistance to the law enforcement authorities in combating terrorism-related activities in American mosques.

CAIR has attempted to silence other critics, as well. They have sued bloggers; they have defamed journalists who have asked too many questions about their terrorist ties; and they have tried to intimidate publications that have published articles challenging their putative “civil rights mission.” If they get away with it, CAIR will seek to threaten the careers of more politicians with the courage to say things and associate with those of challenge Shariah and the effort to impose it in this country.

It is utterly hypocritical that, on the one hand, CAIR claims to be defending freedom of religion in attacking Rep. Hasner when, on the other, they actively seek support from Islamic regimes that are among the worst of the worst human rights abusers on the planet – and notorious for suppressing religious freedoms.

I have been told that in an Arabic News article that CAIR officials have solicited and received financial support from Saudi Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal, whose country outlaws any religious expression except its own Wahhabi strain of Islam. You can’t even own a Bible or wear a cross in the country run by their patrons, and yet CAIR wants to lecture us about religious freedom?

The land for CAIR’s Capitol Hill office in Washington D.C. was purchased with a $250,000 donation from the Saudi-backed Islamic Development Bank and the deed to their headquarters is held by the foundation of United Arab Emirates Defense Minister Gen. Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Sheik al-Maktoum’s country prohibits any non-Islamic religious proselytizing and threatens anyone caught with distribution of non-Muslim religious literature with imprisonment.

In September 2006, CAIR hosted an exclusive dinner with former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami. Under Khatami’s regime religious minorities were severely persecuted, non-Muslims were regularly harassed, and hundreds of student protestors murdered. The fact that CAIR chose to honor this dictator who is still a senior member of the Islamic theocracy in Iran tells us much.

Whether it is in America or back home in my own country, we are under attack by groups like CAIR who aim to silence their critics. This is why I am here in America. I aim to continue to fight regardless of the threats and intimidation and I am asking Americans to join with us. And when they attack good men like Rep. Adam Hasner, we must realize that they are attacking each and every one of us and the freedoms that we hold dear.

Geert Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and Chairman of the People’s Freedom Party.

http://www.redcounty.com/why-i-am-america-fighting-free-speech-0

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Torture and the ‘Truth Commission’

April 29, 2009

Torture and the ‘Truth Commission’

Why has Congress failed to outlaw waterboarding?

Columnist's name

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) wants a commission that will get to the “truth” about torture. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) says she wants a truth commission too. And so does Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.).

On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Mr. Leahy said a truth commission would help get to the heart of how the recently released memos on CIA interrogation techniques were drafted. “I want to know why they did that,” he said. “What kind of pressures brought them to write things that are so off the wall and to make sure it never happens again. That’s why I want [a Truth Commission].”

Mr. Leahy overlooks a small point here: Under our Constitution, the truth commission is supposed to be Congress.

Our Founders didn’t look to outsource our most controversial public issues to appointees. They established institutions and arrangements that would hold those who have power accountable to the American people. And when the people’s lawmakers believed the people’s president was misinterpreting the law, the Founders expected the former to stand up and do something about it.

Over the past few years, the Democrats have moved to ban waterboarding only when it was clear that such a bill would not pass– or would be vetoed by George W. Bush. In September 2006, Sen. Edward Kennedy introduced an amendment to the Military Commissions Act that would have effectively defined waterboarding as a war crime, and it was defeated largely along partisan lines. In February 2008, when Democrats were in control of Congress, they made a big fuss about sending a bill that would have limited interrogation to techniques found in the Army field manual. They did so knowing President Bush would veto it, and that he had the votes to sustain that veto.

Today the Democrats have an even larger majority — plus a president who would sign such legislation. So why the call for a truth commission instead? The answer is a nasty one: If Congress made waterboarding illegal now, they would be making clear that it was not illegal before.

Andrew McCarthy is the former assistant U.S. attorney who put Omar Abdel-Rahman (the blind sheik) behind bars for the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. Mr. McCarthy explained it this way to me: “When Senate Democrats didn’t have the votes, they voted to make waterboarding illegal. Now they have the votes, but there’s no effort to ban waterboarding. And the reason is that they are more interested in setting off a partisan witch hunt than passing a principled ban on something they say is torture.”

In other words, what the Beltway has planned is a circus — where the decks are stacked, people are smeared, and conclusions are foregone. In such an environment, the only way to restore some sense of fairness is with fuller and more honest disclosure. Here are a few places to start.

First, former vice president Dick Cheney has called for the release of classified memos that he says show the CIA’s interrogation program produced valuable intelligence that helped us break up terrorist plots and save innocent lives. Though CIA Director Dennis Blair fudged his own answer to Mr. Cheney’s claim by issuing two separate statements — one for public consumption, one for internal use — he did concede that the program yielded “high value” intelligence. Since then, we’ve had nothing but claims and counterclaims. How about releasing the info and allowing the American people to judge?

Second, Mrs. Pelosi has categorically declared the CIA never told her waterboarding was being used. “My experience was they did not tell us they were using that, flat out,” she recently told reporters. “And any, any contention to the contrary is simply not true.”

Her claim puts her at odds with Porter Goss, a former CIA director who had at the time of the briefings served on the same House Intelligence Committee with Mrs. Pelosi. In an op-ed for the Washington Post on Saturday, Mr. Goss said he was “slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed.”

Surely the CIA kept notes about those briefings. How about releasing the record — how many briefings there were, when they occurred, who was at them, what was said, how our political representatives reacted — and let the people judge who’s telling the truth?

Finally, thus far all the focus has been on the techniques approved by the White House. The impression is that Mr. Bush allowed every technique to go forward. How about releasing any memos that speak to techniques that were rejected — and the reasons? If there’s information in any of these classified documents we don’t want our enemies to see, they can easily be redacted on a case-by-case basis.

And if after all this, members of Congress still insist that waterboarding is a war crime, maybe they could explain to the American people why they don’t just go ahead and outlaw it.

Write to mainstreet@wsj.com

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Iran’s New Target: Egypt

April 29, 2009

They’re all in bed together.  They wear different jackets for different work shifts.  Don

Iran’s New Target: Egypt

Cairo’s desire for Mideast peace threatens Tehran’s ambitions.

WSJ: 28 April 09

On April 8, Egypt announced it had uncovered a Hezbollah cell operating inside its borders. This startling pronouncement offers a rare insight into the way Iran and its proxies are manipulating Middle East politics.

According to Egyptian authorities, the cell was tasked with planning attacks against tourist sites in Sinai, conducting surveillance on strategic targets including the Suez Canal, and funneling arms and money to Hamas. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has admitted that the ringleader of the cell was indeed a member of his organization to provide “logistical support to help the Palestinian brothers in transporting ammunition and individuals.”

These latest actions by an emboldened Hezbollah have been spurred on by Iran, which is seeking to further its quest for power in the Arab Middle East. In the past six months, there have been irrefutable signs of Iran’s determined effort to sabotage Egypt’s attempts at regional stability. At Tehran’s instigation, Hamas rejected the renewal of the six-month, Egypt-brokered cease-fire last summer between it and Israel. This rejection led to the Gaza war in December. At the height of that war, Mr. Nasrallah called on the people of Egypt and its army to march on the city of Rafah to open the border to Gaza by force, a highly inflammatory appeal aimed at causing insurrection.

After the war ended, Egypt resumed its efforts to reach a long-term cease-fire. Iran pressured the Hamas leadership to resist. Cairo’s ongoing effort to build a Palestinian unity government, by bringing together Fatah and Hamas, has also been undermined by intense Iranian pressure on Hamas.

Tehran sees Egypt as its greatest rival in the region, and the most formidable Arab bulwark opposing its influence. It is in this context that Hezbollah actions in Egypt should be assessed. Acting as a front for Iranian objectives, Hezbollah is tasked with distracting Egypt from the diplomatic process that will hopefully lead one day to a two-state solution in the Palestine-Israel conflict.

Egypt’s persistent attempts to bring about peace in this arena and its encouragement of other Arab countries to follow its path with Israel threaten to deprive Iran of the single most potent regional issue that it can exploit to further its radical agenda. Thus Tehran seeks to undermine the prospects for this peace — and it, along with its clients, believe the way to do this is by undermining Egypt. Similarly, Egypt’s security interests in the Gulf, and its traditional role as a force for regional stability, present a clear obstacle to Iran’s wider regional ambitions.

For President Barack Obama and members of his administration watching from the sidelines, the implications should be clear. A final settlement of the Palestine-Israel conflict is indispensable if the U.S. wishes to check Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. administration will have to contend with a right-wing Israeli government that has yet to subscribe to the principle of a two-state solution in defiance of international consensus. It will also have to press Israel to halt its illegal settlement activity, which now more than ever endangers the fundamental basis for a solution.

The administration’s focus on the immediate issue of Iran’s nuclear program should not distract it from addressing Tehran’s overall posture towards the peace process or its support for terrorism. Iran’s challenge to the regional status quo is multifaceted, which is why Washington must adopt a comprehensive approach as it formulates its nascent engagement with Iran.

It is said that Mr. Obama is still weighing when and where to deliver a major speech to the Arab world. If he were to make such a speech in Cairo, it would give heart to millions in the region who want to see the peace process succeed. It would also send a firm message to Tehran that America stands with Egypt on the side of peace and stability.

Mr. Aly is director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.