The Reverse Iran Deal Ratification Process

obamawinkingap_600.jpg.cms_Commentary Magazine, by Jonathan S. Tobin, April 15, 2015:

The day after the White House waved the white flag on the Corker-Menendez bill that would force President Obama to submit a nuclear deal with Iran for congressional approval some of his press cheering section is still lamenting this defeat.The New York Times editorial page continued to rage about the spectacle of Democrats uniting with Republicans to force some accountability on the president. Meantime, congressional critics of the president were likewise still celebrating and denouncing the administration’s claims that the amendments Corker allowed to be added to the bill substantially modified it as nothing more than cheap spin. But in a classic example of how our political class—both on the left and the right—can be equally mistaken despite holding opposite views, both the Times and conservative Obama critics are wrong. By embracing the Corker bill, the White House has more or less assured that a terrible Iran deal will be ratified.

Let’s pause a moment to note that the Times’s argument against congressional review of the Iran deal is yet one more example of the shameless and utterly unprincipled partisanship of the Democrats’ paper of record. Had this been a Democratic-controlled Congress seeking to force a Republican president like George W. Bush from concluding a foreign agreement without observing the constitutional niceties in which the Senate must approve such documents, the Times would be invoking the need to defend the rule of law and inveighing against a GOP imperial presidency. But since this is a Democratic president facing off against a Republican Congress, they take the opposite point of view and say Congress is meddling in the president’s business. Need we remind the editors of the Times about what The Federalist Paperssay about the dangers of a president acting as if he is an “hereditary monarch” rather than an “elective magistrate” again?

But instead of wasting time pointing out the obvious, it might be just as important to tell the president’s critics to stop patting themselves on the back for forcing him to back down on Corker-Menendez. The more you look at what this bill accomplishes, the more likely it seems that Obama will get his way no matter how bad the final version of the Iran deal turns out to be.

Even if we dismiss the concessions Corker made to the president’s Democratic Senate allies as not significant, the basic facts of the situation are these. Instead of the Iran deal being presented to the Senate as a treaty where it would require, as the Constitution states, a two-thirds majority to pass, Corker-Menendez allows the deal to be voted upon as a normal bill. That means that opponents need only a simple majority to defeat it. That’s good for those who understand that this act of appeasement gives Iran two paths to a bomb (one by cheating on it via huge loopholes and one by abiding by it and patiently waiting for it to expire) and needs to be defeated, right? Wrong.

By treating it as a normal act of legislation, the president will be able to veto the measure. That sets up a veto override effort that will force Iran deal critics to get to 67 votes, a veto-proof majority. If that sounds reasonable to you, remember that in doing so the bill creates what is, in effect, a reverse treaty ratification mechanism. Instead of the president needing a two-thirds majority to enact the most significant foreign treaty the United States has signed in more than a generation, he will need only one-third of the Senate plus one to get his way.

By allowing pro-Israel Democrats a free pass to vote for Corker-Menendez the president is giving them a way to say they voted to restrain the president before also granting them a path to back him by either voting for the deal or failing to vote to override the president’s veto. That gives plenty of room for inveterate schemers such as Democratic Senate leader-in-waiting Chuck Schumer to make sure the president gets his 34 votes while giving some Democrats, including perhaps himself, impunity to vote against him.

What has happened here is that despite furious effort and hard legislative work all critics of Obama’s pursuit of détente with Iran have accomplished is to allow him the opportunity to legally make a historic and disgraceful act of betrayal of Western security with the least possible support. They may have had no better options and I’ll concede an ineffectual vote on an Iran deal might be better than no deal at all, but please spare me the praise for Corker’s bipartisanship or the chortles about how the White House was beaten. What happened yesterday actually advanced the chances for Iran appeasement. And that’s nothing to celebrate.

Senators focusing on bill to limit nuclear deal with Iran



Kansas City Star, BY DEB RIECHMANN, April 1, 2015:

A bill calling for Congress to have a say on an emerging nuclear agreement with Iran has turned into a tug of war on Capitol Hill, with Republicans trying to raise the bar so high that a final deal might be impossible and Democrats aiming to give the White House more room to negotiate with Tehran.

Senators of both parties are considering more than 50 amendments to a bill introduced by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J. The bill would restrict Obama’s ability to ease sanctions against Iran without congressional approval.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday is to debate the amendments and vote on the bill, which has pitted the White House against the GOP-led Congress on a critical foreign policy issue that President Barack Obama wants etched in his legacy. Obama administration officials, who are expected to continue lobbying lawmakers next week, don’t want Congress to take any action before a final deal could be reached by the end of June.

There is strong support, however, from lawmakers of both parties who think they should be able to weigh in on any agreement aimed at preventing Iran from being able to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is for civilian purposes, but the U.S. and its partners negotiating with Tehran suspect Iran is keen to become a nuclear-armed powerhouse in the Middle East, where it already holds much sway.

There have been intense negotiations on Capitol Hill for the past several days about ways to amend the bill. Advocacy groups and congressional staffers provided details about amendments, which still might be withdrawn or rewritten.

Under the bill as it is currently written, Obama could unilaterally lift or ease any sanctions that were imposed on Iran through presidential action. But the bill would prohibit him for 60 days from suspending, waiving or otherwise easing any sanctions Congress levied on Iran. During that 60-day period, Congress could hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on any final nuclear agreement with Iran.

If Congress passed a joint resolution approving a final deal — or took no action — Obama could move ahead to ease sanctions levied by Congress. But if Congress passed a joint resolution disapproving it, Obama would be blocked from providing Iran with any relief from congressional sanctions.

In an effort to give the president more negotiating room, Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the new ranking Democrat on the foreign relations committee, and a few of his Democratic colleagues have proposed letting Obama waive congressionally imposed sanctions if not doing so would cause the U.S. to be in violation of a final agreement.

Several Democratic senators also have proposed shortening the congressional review period to 30 days or even 10 days that Congress is in session. Democrats also want to strike a part of the bill that requires the Obama administration to certify that Iran has not directly supported or carried out an act of terrorism against the United States or an American anywhere in the world.

On the Republican side, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a likely presidential candidate, has proposed an amendment that would require the Obama administration to certify that Iran’s leaders have publicly accepted Israel’s right to exist. That’s a tall order. Iran has threatened to destroy Israel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned the U.S. about making a deal with Iranian leaders, whom he distrusts.

Dylan Williams, a lobbyist for the liberal Jewish group J Street, argues that Rubio’s proposed amendment puts Republicans in a “lose-lose” position. Adopting the amendment would kill the Corker bill, Williams said, because many senators would vote against a provision they know the Iranians would never accept. Defeating the amendment, he said, would be seen as a slap at Netanyahu, whom GOP leaders have strongly supported on the Iran nuclear matter.

Republican senators also are contemplating amendments that would require that any final agreement be a treaty. That’s also a high hurdle because treaties must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate.

Before any sanctions are eased, one of four amendments drafted by Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming would require the president to certify that any funds Iran received as a result of sanction relief would not facilitate Iran’s ability to support terrorists or build nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. He says he will formally introduce the amendments only if Democrats try to weaken the bill, which he supports.

And Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., has filed amendments to the bill to require Congress to address the issue of compensation for 52 Americans held hostage in Iran from November 1979 to January 1981 before any deal is finalized, any sanctions are eased or diplomatic relations with Iran are normalized.


Netanyahu told cabinet: Our biggest fear is that Iran will honor nuclear deal (

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a recent meeting of the inner cabinet that if a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the six world powers is indeed signed by the June 30 deadline, the greatest concern is that Tehran will fully implement it without violations, two senior Israeli officials said.

The meeting of the inner cabinet was called on short notice on April 3, a few hours before the Passover seder. The evening before, Iran and the six powers had announced at Lausanne, Switzerland that they had reached a framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and that negotiations over a comprehensive agreement would continue until June 30.

The inner cabinet meeting was called after a harsh phone call between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama over the agreement with Tehran.

The two senior Israeli officials, who are familiar with the details of the meeting but asked to remain anonymous, said a good deal of the three-hour meeting was spent on ministers “letting off steam” over the nuclear deal and the way that the U.S. conducted itself in the negotiations with Iran.

According to the two senior officials, Netanyahu said during the meeting that he feared that the “Iranians will keep to every letter in the agreement if indeed one is signed at the end of June.”

One official said: “Netanyahu said at the meeting that it would be impossible to catch the Iranians cheating simply because they will not break the agreement.”

Netanyahu also told the ministers that in 10 to 15 years, when the main clauses of the agreement expire, most of the sanctions will be lifted and the Iranians will show that they met all their obligations. They will then receive a “kashrut certificate” from the international community, which will see Iran as a “normal” country from which there is nothing to fear.

Under such circumstances, the prime minister said, it will be very difficult if not impossible to persuade the world powers to keep up their monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, not to mention imposing new sanctions if concerns arise that Iran has gone back to developing a secret nuclear program for military purposes.

It was decided during the inner cabinet meeting to try to persuade the Obama administration to improve the agreement. However, Netanyahu and most of the ministers agreed that the only way to stop the agreement, even if it was unlikely to succeed, was through Congress. Thus, a good deal of Israeli efforts will focus on convincing members of Congress to vote for the Iran Nuclear Review Act, proposed by the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker, that could delay implementation of a deal if one is reached.

Corker’s bill calls for a 60-day delay in implementing any signed nuclear deal, during which time Congress would scrutinize all the agreement’s details. The bill requires senior administration officials to provide Congress with detailed reports on the deal as well as attend Congressional hearings on the subject. Corker’s bill also states that American sanctions that were imposed by law would only be lifted if within the 60 days allotted for scrutiny of the agreement, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs declared their support for the pact.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is to meet Tuesday for its first vote on the Corker bill, after which it will be voted on by the entire Senate. The White House is opposed to the bill and is threatening to veto it. At this point, in addition to all 54 Republican senators, nine Democratic senators have also expressed their support for the bill, leaving it four Democratic senators short, so far, of the 67-vote majority that would make the bill veto-proof.

The pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, which coordinates the activities of the Israeli Embassy in Washington with the prime minister’s bureau in Jerusalem, has begun over the past few days to exert pressure on Democratic senators – both publicly and privately – to get them to vote for the Corker bill.

AIPAC also claimed over the weekend on its official Twitter account that the framework of the current agreement would make it possible for Iran to become a threshold nuclear state within 15 years and therefore pressure should be brought to bear on Congress to vote for the Corker bill.

Netanyahu and Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, want to see changes inserted in the bill that will make it more binding, and even turn it into one that prevents an agreement with Tehran rather than delaying it.

One change Netanyahu is seeking is a new clause that the deal with Iran be considered a treaty; an international treaty signed by the United States must be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

The Republican senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, reportedly intends to demand at Tuesday’s meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that this clause be added to the bill.

Meanwhile, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, considered one of the Republican Party’s potential candidates for the 2016 presidential campaign, wants to see an amendment to the bill adopting Netanyahu’s demand that Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist be part of any comprehensive agreement signed at the end of June.

However, if the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes in favor of one or both of these amendments in its meeting Tuesday, it could lead Democratic senators, who had already agreed to support the original deal with Iran, to change their minds.


***Tell your Senators: I Support the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act!***

Also see:

Obama waives ban on arming terrorists to allow aid to Syrian opposition

606x404-a8feaaa3e9b3a000524c8466ad705950The Washington Examiner, BY JOEL GEHRKE:

President Obama waived a provision of federal law designed to prevent the supply of arms to terrorist groups to clear the way for the U.S. to provide military assistance to “vetted” opposition groups fighting Syrian dictatorBashar Assad.

Some elements of the Syrian opposition are associated with radical Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, which was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., in 2001. Assad’s regime is backed by Iran and Hezbollah.

The president, citing his authority under the Arms Export Control Act, announced today that he would “waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A of the AECA related to such a transaction.”

Those two sections prohibit sending weaponry to countries described in section 40(d): “The prohibitions contained in this section apply with respect to a country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” Congress stated in the Arms Control Export Act.

“For purposes of this subsection, such acts shall include all activities that the Secretary determines willfully aid or abet the international proliferation of nuclear explosive devices to individuals or groups or willfully aid or abet an individual or groups in acquiring unsafeguarded special nuclear material,” the law continues.

The law allows the president to waive those prohibitions if he “determines that the transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States.”

Under section 40(g) of the AECA, the Obama team must also provide Congress — at least 15 days before turning over the weapons — “the name of any country involved in the proposed transaction, the identity of any recipient of the items to be provided pursuant to the proposed transaction, and the anticipated use of those items,” along with a list of the weaponry to be provided, when they will be delivered, and why the transfer is key to American security interests.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., endorsed providing military assistance to the Syrian opposition during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

“Our intelligence agencies, I think, have a very good handle on who to support and who not to support,” Corker said. “And there’s going to be mistakes. We understand some people are going to get arms that should not be getting arms. But we still should be doing everything we can to support the free Syrian opposition.”

The Senate’s serial contempt

600x300x1403649799.jpg.pagespeed.ic.3n5w0HA2iDBy Frank Gaffney:

Contempt of Congress used to be a serious offense.  Those who were accused of it faced prosecution, fines and perhaps worse.

These days, we are being subjected to contempt by Congress – more specifically, by the U.S. Senate.  As it prepares to ram down our throats a seriously defective “comprehensive immigration reform” bill thrown together by the so-called “Gang of Eight” led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, and several fellow travelers (notably, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota), that contempt is palpable.  Let us count the ways:

O         Contempt for the national security: To be sure, what amounts to a Schumer-Corker-Hoevel amendment is ostensibly meant to fix our present border insecurity. A clue about its true purpose and character is that it has been put forward with the blessing of the Gang of Eight (rightly dubbed “the Gangsters) in the wake of their assiduous, and to date successful, efforts to prevent real fixes when they were offered in previous amendments.

In fact, as one of the most effective opponents of this legislation, rising Republican rock-star Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, noted at Red State on June 24th (, the “national security” amendment the Gangsters now profess to favor actually weakens existing border and interior security laws in a number of ways.   It also will, as a practical matter, end arrests and deportations necessary to enforce statutes relevant to illegal immigration.

At a minimum, the amendment persists in the fatal flaw inherent in the Gangsters’ initiative from the get-go:  It provides amnesty first, in the form of legal status as Registered Provisional Immigrants (RPIs), and national security second.  And there is no reason to believe that promises broken again and again in the past on the latter score will be honored this time.

O         Contempt for the Senate itself:  The order of the day is to jam through this legislation with limited opportunity to read the Gangsters’ bill, let alone seriously debate its contents.  The Schumer-Corker-Hoeven version is nearly 1200-pages long. And it amends the underlying Gang of Eight bill in myriad ways besides purportedly bracing up its now-acknowledged shortcomings on securing the border.

Two things seem to be operating behind these changes: 1) creating a false impression of that shortfalls in the underlying bill’s border and interior security provisions are being meaningfully addressed; and 2) buying swing senators’ votes by including a number of their favorite hobby-horses.

O         Contempt for the rule of law:  This legislation will reward with amnesty people who have, as their first act in the United States, broken the law to get here.  The Gang of Eight bill not only responds to such felonious conduct by giving individuals who may include terrorists, drug-dealers, human-traffickers, etc. the right to become U.S. citizens.  It also relieves them of any responsibility for having done what many did once they got here, namely broken a host of other laws, as well.

The end result will be not only to make citizens out of people we definitely do not want here.  The effect will also be to destroy the cardinal principle of equal justice under the law and, with it, our existing citizens’ confidence in their government.

O         Contempt for Republicans:  A number of GOP senators are evidently prepared to vote for this monstrosity on the grounds that, if they don’t, alienated Hispanic voters will condemn them permanently to the minority.  Actually, that will certainly be their fate if they do vote for it.

There is no persuasive evidence that Hispanic immigrants from cultures where government-dependency is the norm will align with a party that professes to revere individual responsibility and seeks to shrink the welfare state. Republicans simply can’t out-pander the Democrats in appealing to such a constituency.  What is evident, though, is that large numbers of conservatives and Republicans won’t vote for those who inflict this travesty upon our country.

O         Contempt for the American people:  The sponsors of the latest amendment clearly believe the public, their constituents included, are no wiser to the ways of Washington than when Obamacare was foisted upon us.  They contemptuously think we are too stupid to notice that once again we are being force-fed an obscenely voluminous bill, conjured up behind closed doors, with limited opportunities to read its contents before critical votes are taken and the promise that we’ll know what’s in it once it’s passed.

In his first Senate race in 1994, then-Rep. Jim Inhofe was running against a Democratic colleague, Rep. Dave McCurdy.  The latter made the strategic error of showing contempt for his constituents at some hoity-toity public event “back east,” declaring that folks in Oklahoma’s idea of quality entertainment is “sitting in a backyard with a six-pack of beer and a bug-zapper.”  In the hands of the brilliant political strategist Fred Davis, a devastating ad’s tag line ran:  “If that’s what Dave McCurdy thinks of Oklahoma, let’s show Dave what we think of him.”  In short order, the Democrat’s contemptuousness became the end of his political career.

Every Senator who votes for the Schumer-Corker-Hoeven amendment and, thereby, helps to enact what can only be correctly described as immigration deform, is on notice:  Later if not sooner, the American people will show them what we think of their serial contempt for all of us.





Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) National Council president Chris Crane, an ICE agent and former marine, urged U.S. Senators on Monday morning to vote “no” on the repackaged version of the Senate “Gang of Eight” immigration bill.

In a statement provided to Breitbart News, Crane said the bill in its current form would allow criminal aliens and gang members to get amnesty and put the safety the United States at risk.

“Senator Corker–a lead sponsor of the 1,200 page amendment being voted on today–has admitted that needed interior enforcement provisions are absent,” Crane said, specifically referring to how Corker admitted–as Breitbart News detailed–that this amendment he is cosponsoring does not help fix the problems. “Senator Rubio, who promised ICE officers and Sheriffs that he would take steps to repair the bill’s provisions that gut interior enforcement, has abandoned that commitment. He directly misled law enforcement officers.”

Crane added that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Gang of Eight, admitted to ICE officers in private meetings that certain provisions in the bill would be bad for the country, but Rubio left those provisions in the version of the bill being voted on in the Senate on Monday.

“Senator Rubio left unchanged legislative provisions that he himself admitted to us in private were detrimental, flawed and must be changed,” Crane said. “Legislation written behind closed doors by handpicked special interest groups which put their political agendas and financial gains before sound and effective law and the welfare and safety of the American public. As a result, the 1,200 page substitute bill before the Senate will provide instant legalization and a path to citizenship to gang members and other dangerous criminal aliens, and handcuff ICE officers from enforcing immigration laws in the future. It provides no means of effectively enforcing visa overstays which account for almost half of the nation’s illegal immigration crisis.”

Crane said this legislation hurts law enforcement officers’ ability to enforce the laws of the country, and “empowers political appointees to further violate the law and unilaterally stop enforcement.”

“This at a time like no other in our nation’s history, in which political appointees throughout the federal government have proven to Congress their propensity for the lawless abuse of authority,” Crane said. “There is no doubt that, if passed, public safety will be endangered and massive amounts of future illegal immigration–especially visa overstays–is ensured.”

Read more at Breitbart

Beyond Benghazi: questions for Clinton

Clinton: Responsible for broad policy failures in the entire region.

Clinton: Responsible for broad policy failures in the entire region.

By John Bolton at the New York Post:

The State Department’s Accountability Review Board last week issued a devastating report on the events leading up to the Sept. 11 assassination of four Americans at our Benghazi consulate. Unfortunately, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has still not faced questioning by Congress or the media more than three months after the tragedy.

A series of excuses has conveniently allowed her to escape cross examination until after the ARB report was released. Clinton sails right along, now preparing the first steps for what is widely expected to be her 2016 presidential campaign.

Last week, however, Sen. Bob Corker asserted that no new secretary of state be confirmed until Clinton testifies. Corker, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee starting in January, was joined by Sen. Lindsey Graham. Their idea provides a strong incentive to committee Chairman John Kerry, now tapped as Clinton’s successor, to schedule her testimony.

The starting point for questioning Clinton is realizing that the Benghazi debacle embodies both policy and management failures. The administration’s utterly wrong-headed view of the Middle East created an atmosphere that fostered tragically erroneous management decisions. Clinton’s blithe disregard of the actual political reality in Libya and four years of not attending to seemingly mundane management issues represented a palpable failure of leadership directly contributing to the Benghazi tragedy.

The ARB did not blame specific individuals, citing instead “systemic” failures. Clinton’s deputies, testifying in her absence on Dec. 20, conceded that State had not “connected the dots” as security deteriorated in Libya and the Middle East generally.

But in any organization, there is only one “first chair,” and Clinton must answer why she (and President Obama) was so convinced that the war on terror was over and al Qaeda defeated; that “leading from behind” in overthrowing Khadafy had succeeded, and that the Arab Spring was bringing stability and democracy to Libya and the region more broadly.

The Benghazi tragedy disproved all these assertions, and Clinton is accountable for the broad policy failures, not just the deadly specifics. Congressional hearings should go well beyond the ARB report. The basic questions Clinton now must answer are straightforward: What did she know; when did she know it — and what did she do about it, before, during and after the Sept. 11 attacks? Here are some elaborations:

* Before the attack, was Clinton aware of the security threats to our consulate and other international presences in Benghazi? Did she know about repeated Tripoli embassy requests for enhanced security? If not, why not?

Libya was a centerpiece of supposed success in Obama’s foreign policy, not some country of small significance and low threat levels. It is important to establish not only the actual paper trail in this case, but even more importantly why, on such a critical foreign-policy issue, it did not automatically come to Clinton’s seventh-floor office.

* On Sept. 11, what were Clinton and Obama doing? We need a minute-by-minute chronology. When was she first told of the attack, and what was said? When and how many times did she speak with the president? What help did she ask for? Was it denied, and by whom? When did she retire for the evening?

* And in the tragedy’s aftermath, Clinton must explain how the administration came up with its story that the Benghazi attack grew out of a demonstration against the now-famous Mohammed video trailer. Clinton herself referred to the video at the Sept. 14 ceremony when the remains of the four murdered Americans returned home. On this point, the ARB was crystal clear that “no protest took place” before the attacks.

Obama will hold office for four more years, and Clinton apparently aspires to succeed him. Their worldview and its policy consequences must not be allowed to escape scrutiny as they did in the just-concluded presidential campaign. Most of the media have certainly shown little interest in exposing administration failures. Clinton’s testimony may be the last chance to do so for a long time.