- In a move designed to pass a wicked law without consideration
by either the Congress or the public, Congressman Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
has buried two nefarious schemes in a single piece of legislative sleight
of hand. His vehicle is the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill.
That emergency funding bill itself is a less than honest one. It is a White
House move to keep the public eye off the costs of the Iraq war; it includes
Asian tsunami relief, but keeps both costs out of the Bush Federal budget
request, thus making the budget look at least $100-150 billion smaller
than it actually is in the real world. As such the bill is likely to receive
the most cursory attention from the Republican controlled Congress before
- Sensenbrenner's ploy is to put the House passed version
of the Real ID Act (HR 418) into the House version of the supplemental
appropriation legislation sent to the Senate. This act is basically a back-handed
way to implement Federal standards for the preparation and issue of state
identification documents such as a driver's license, and it is a potential
invasion of personal liberty. Under the protective cover of the money
bill, the Real ID Act would pass into law virtually without Congressional
discussion, and certainly without public comment.
- Second, within the Real ID Act, Sensenbrenner wants to
prevent any member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from
ever entering the United States. Historically there was language in the
Immigration and Naturalization Act that provided PLO members could enter
the United States with a waiver that could be used by the White House or
the State Department whenever deemed appropriate to the country's business.
The prohibition is in the Real ID Act, but the waiver authority is missing.
Thus, all PLO members could be refused admission to the US regardless
of reason for an entry request, and regardless of the legitimacy of the
- In proposing this law, Sensenbrenner is, no doubt advisedly,
applying a Zionist view of the PLO as a terrorist organization, while ignoring
or trying to denigrate the fact that now the PLO is the principal membership
strength of the Palestinian movement behind Palestinian statehood. The
PLO grew out of the Fatah organization founded by Yassir Arafat. It became
the visible face of the Palestinian movement once the Camp David talks,
promoted by President Jimmy Carter, initiated a serious peace process.
Like Sinn Fein for the IRA, the PLO became the political arm of the Palestinian
movement and was increasingly dedicated to securing a Palestinian state.
- If the law is enacted as now proposed, no PLO member,
including Mahmoud Abbas, the elected Prime Minister, would be allowed to
enter the United States, nor could any other of a dozen or more important
potential participants involved in arranging a peace agreement with the
Israelis. That law could also make trouble for countless Palestinians
who are already in the United States, and whose family members may wish
or need to visit.
- Aside from the insult of such a law at this time, the
real blow of the law would be its effect on Palestinian expectations.
Abbas, who already has enough trouble convincing the militants, Hamas,
Islamic Jihad, or the Al Aksa Brigades, to refrain from violent attacks,
would find them even harder to persuade that there is any truth in the
US sponsored Road Map or in Bush or Sharon promises at Aqaba.
- Moreover, the peace process already has been jeopardized
by Israeli moves to secure areas of East Jerusalem as part of Israel, lands
the Palestinians consider the grounds of their future capital. In addition,
Israeli leadership recently announced that it would proceed with construction
of 3500 new homes in the West Bank, again areas that have been Palestinian
for centuries. At the same time, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice,
who earlier said the new housing was inconsistent with US policy, has reversed
her stand and moved essentially to a "facts on the ground" position,
meaning the Israelis are free to continue settlement activity.
- The net effect of the vibrations coming out of both Tel
Aviv and Washington is that there is no serious Israeli intent to find
a peaceful solution in Palestine and no serious Washington support for
peace. Rather, an obvious purpose of the Israeli announcements on new
housing, partly designed, to be sure, to placate the settlers and their
supporters, is to keep the Palestinians uneasy. Real skeptics of any serious
Israeli intent to reach a settlement with the Palestinians would assert
that the whole purpose of the new housing announcement is to provoke Palestinian
violence and to elicit added US cover for Israeli expansion in the West
- That overtone resonates completely with the Rice reversal
of position, and it would be strongly reinforced by passage of HR 418 with
its prohibition on PLO entry into the United States. The message to Palestinians
is that there is no give in the US position on support for Israel. As
a final slap, no Palestinian representatives--unless of course they can
prove they are not, nor have they ever been members of the PLO--can come
to the United States to talk about their increasingly unjust situation.
- Mahmoud Abbas has his work truly cut out for him. He
has virtually nothing to offer Palestinian militants in exchange for an
enduring truce, except the guaranteed further reduction in an already lacerated
West Bank area that could become a Palestinian state. Even worse, those
remaining and shrinking areas are miniature Bantustans (tiny enclaves in
Israeli territory) among which the Palestinians can move only under the
unending scrutiny of the Israelis. They will be reminded every day that
they are a captive population as they watch ancient homes, olive and orange
groves, and faltering dreams disappear in the dust of super American Caterpillar
- If the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill passes
the Senate with HR 418 included, Sensenbrenner and his Zionist and neocons
friends will have triumphed through passage of an evil piece of legislation
without any American public debate or input. The proposed law is simply
unnecessary to protect the United States, and that the US Congress goes
on responding to this kind of Israeli whip-cracking is in itself despicable.
But that it passes such destructive laws in the name of the American people
is even worse.
- If you want to stop this bill before it drives the Middle
East peace process into the ground, call your Congressman and Senator and
ask them to vote against the Real ID Act and to strike the anti-PLO provision
from any further consideration by Congress.
- The writer is a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer
of the US Department of State and a regular columnist on rense.com. Among
his diplomatic assignments, he served as Chairman of the Department of
International Studies of the National War College, and as Deputy Director
of the State Department Office of Counterterrorism. He will welcome comments