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By Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Friday, November 16, 2012

As news reports confirm linkages between al Qaeda affiliates and the extremist attack of Sept. 11, 2012, on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the Obama administration continues to dodge the truth. The tragic deaths of four brave Americans should not derail the work of diplomacy, and we must resist the instinct to retreat. The administration, however, owes a duty of care to our brave men and women who serve overseas. Sadly, the administration has been derelict in this respect. What happened in Benghazi should not have come as a surprise. Numerous militias and other armed groups have remained active since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, and for years, radical Islamist and extremist organizations, some linked to al Qaeda, have aggressively expanded their operations in Africa.

In fact, since 2001, the Maghreb and Sahel regions have witnessed a precipitous increase in attacks by al Qaeda and its affiliates. To confront the growing regional and global threat posed by these groups in Africa, we need a comprehensive strategy that disrupts the operations of extremist networks, denies safe haven to extremist groups and prevents an escalation of emerging threats by also targeting precursor conditions fomenting instability.

Somalia-based al-Shabab, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, is considered to be one of the deadliest extremist groups in the world. Recruitment and fundraising activities by al-Shabab here in the United States are of extreme concern, as are reported links between al-Shabab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The al-Shabab attacks on civilian targets in Uganda in July 2010 left more than 70 dead, including one American.

The 2009 arrest of three West African al Qaeda associates on drug-smuggling charges demonstrated links between South American narco-groups and Islamist extremists in western Africa. Groups like the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and Hezbollah are finding new ways to sell drugs to Europeans via al Qaeda groups in Africa, and al Qaeda is more than willing to use the drug business to help fund its extremist agenda. The coup in Mali earlier this year has further exacerbated these concerns, and the resulting disorder may have allowed organized drug networks to expand their operations in West Africa.

Under the George W. Bush administration, two key counterterrorism initiatives were launched to eliminate extremist safe havens in Africa: the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and its counterpart, the East Africa Counterterrorism Initiative (now known as PREACT). Given that the State Department has noted the successes of these types of programs, it comes as a surprise that combined funding for TSCTP administered through accounts at the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development has decreased every year since 2009 and would continue to decrease under the current budget request.

Cutting funding for critical counterterrorism and counterextremism programs is simply irresponsible, and it raises a fundamental question for U.S. policy on the continent: What are we doing to combat the growing threat to our nation's allies and interests from violent Islamist extremism in Africa?

Recently, peacekeepers from the African Union Mission in Somalia, together with allied Somali forces, expelled al-Shabab from one of its last Somali strongholds, the city of Kismayo. I applaud our partners on the African continent for their vigilance and efforts to militarily counter armed extremism in the region. We are seeing some positive signs, but the Sept. 11 anniversary attack on our consulate in Benghazi reminds us that our work is far from done. Former CIA Director Porter Goss agrees that al Qaeda is stronger in North Africa today and stated that the White House is "avoiding reality" and that when we show signs of weakness, al Qaeda will attack.

As we anxiously await the results of the State Department Accountability Review Board's (ARB) investigation into Benghazi, we must remember that this probe is just the beginning. We must incorporate the findings of other investigations to ensure that this type of tragic event does not occur again. We must reassess and realign our priorities and engagement in Africa toward a comprehensive strategy that disrupts the operations of terrorist networks, denies safe haven to extremist groups and prevents an escalation of emerging threats by also targeting precursor conditions fomenting instability. The United States should work with our African partners to counter growing terrorism threats through greater mutual cooperation and constant vigilance. We must support bilateral and multilateral efforts to enact antiterrorism legislation targeting terrorist networks, build joint counterterrorism intelligence-sharing and operational capacities among allied countries, and foster greater cooperation in tracking terrorist financing. Further, the U.S. Africa Command should play a constructive role in coordinating U.S. security objectives in the region in close cooperation with our African partners.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing Thursday, November 15 titled “Benghazi and Beyond: What Went Wrong on September 11, 2012 and How to Prevent it from Happening at other Frontline Posts, Part I.”  In the aftermath of the attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, the Foreign Affairs Committee will examine the status, and deficiencies in, the security of U.S. diplomatic missions overseas. The Committee plans to hold the second segment of this hearing the week of November 26, 2012 and will request Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testify before the Committee at that time. 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

10:00 a.m.



2172 Rayburn House Office Building



Panel I

Mr. Michael Courts

Acting Director

International Affairs and Trade

Government Accountability Office


Panel II

Mr. William Young

Senior Policy Analyst

RAND Corporation 


James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.


Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies

The Heritage Foundation


The Honorable Ronald E. Neumann


American Academy of Diplomacy 




ROS-LEHTINEN: Obama still trying to sweet-talk Iran out of building the bomb

Weak foreign policy poses serious threat

Just a few days ago, Mansour J. Arbabsiar pleaded guilty to working with Iran's Quds force to carry out an attack on U.S. soil and assassinate a foreign diplomat stationed in Washington. Earlier this month, Hezbollah, a terrorist proxy of the Iranian regime, reportedly launched an Iranian-supplied drone that penetrated Israel's airspace before being shot down. Late last month, the Iranian navy launched four missiles as a show of force and its capacity to shut down access to the Persian Gulf. These are just a few examples of how the Iranian threat has become more dangerous since the Obama administration took office.

Unfortunately, despite its rhetoric to the contrary, the administration has not done what is necessary to effectively address the threat from Tehran. Iran's nuclear program, particularly its ability to produce enriched uranium, has expanded exponentially since President Obama took office in 2009. Yet the president continues to embrace engagement and meaningless negotiations with Tehran while refusing to set clear red lines with respect to Iran's nuclear program. The administration's behavior has sent a clear message to our allies and the Iranian regime: The United States is not willing to do what it takes to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.

Nonetheless, sanctions spearheaded by Congress -- even with the administration fighting us every step of the way -- have made an impact. Iran's oil revenues are falling and could drop much lower as the embargo on Iranian oil expands and investment in Iran's oil sector dries up. Economic sanctions also are inflicting increasing damage on Iran's long-term oil-production potential. Concurrently, Iran is experiencing a currency crisis that could threaten the stability of the regime. The Iranian regime also reports that consumer prices rose more than 40 percent from spring 2010 to spring 2012. Updated data have not been published in recent months, presumably because the data show further hyperinflation. We must exploit this vulnerability. To do so, the president must make full and immediate use of the tools Congress has provided him. Sanctions on Iran's oil industry and banking system are curtailing the foreign partnerships on which Iran's oil industry has relied. Given these trends, it is not unreasonable to contemplate the end of oil exports from Iran, with resulting damage to government finances, foreign exchange earnings and the larger Iranian economy.

However, incremental, a la carte implementation of sanctions limits the potential impact on the Iranian regime's ability to pursue its dangerous activities. The effectiveness of these foreign-policy tools has been further undermined by the Obama administration's naive view that if we keep "talking" to the Iranians and convince them to return to the negotiating table, Iran will stop its drive for nuclear capability.

The Iranians in the past have agreed repeatedly to discussions over their nuclear program, in some cases even giving the impression that a deal was in place before reneging. Thus, Tehran's tactics have another, more fundamental purpose: Iran benefits from dragging out the negotiations as long as possible in order to provide its nuclear program extra time to keep refining uranium, getting Iran its goal of a bomb. Again, if the Iranians can convince the P5+1 countries that negotiations are leading toward an agreement, it is possible the European Union and the administration will quietly ease sanctions, as part of the "flexibility" Mr. Obama thinks he will have in his second term.

There is a growing disconnect between the president's public rhetoric and the process by which U.S. diplomatic efforts have allowed Tehran to do the stalling that he claims he opposes.

We need an administration that will implement a coherent policy to compel the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear program and other dangerous activities. America and our ally Israel cannot afford another four years of failed Obama administration policies on Iran, policies that will not produce a deal but only buy Tehran more time to cross the nuclear finish line.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Read more: ROS-LEHTINEN: Obama still trying to sweet-talk Iran out of building the bomb - Washington Times 
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Venezuelans have chance at democracy, human rights

By Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Since 1998, Hugo Chavez has ruled over Venezuela with an authoritarian style similar to that of his Cuban counterparts. He has implemented radical political and legislative changes that have been accompanied by an increase in the deterioration of democratic institutions and of basic human rights for the Venezuelan people.

Therefore, the upcoming presidential election on Sunday is arguably the most pivotal in recent memory for Venezuela, as opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, is rising in the polls against the corrupt Chavez political machine. The lead-up to this election will be closely monitored and examined to determine if they are fair and transparent and the voices of the Venezuelan people is heard.

In 2010, the Venezuelan people came out to vote in record breaking numbers and I anticipate the same will occur again as the people are no longer frightened by Chavez or his cronies. The opposition has been able to build from the momentum of the 2010 parliamentary elections and remain unified behind one candidate.

Chavez might be able to control the media outlets, influence the National Electoral Council, and corrupt the electoral system for political gain, but he cannot control the overwhelming power of the Venezuelan people who seek fundamental human rights and a true democracy.

Over the last decade, we have seen a steady tightening on freedom and basic human rights by the Chavez regime and a harsh crackdown on political opposition. Freedom of speech does not exist, as radio and television stations are harassed, threatened, and even temporarily shut down because of their criticism of the Chavez establishment.

This year's U.S. State Department's Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2011 stated, with respect to Venezuela, that "the principal human rights abuses reported during the year included government actions to impede freedom of expression and criminalize dissent."

Non-governmental organizations and the independent media have reported cases of unlawful killings, torture, and the unjust incarceration of political dissidents by the Chavez regime. In July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reached a decision that the Chavez regime had violated the human rights of Mr. Raul Diaz Peña, during Mr. Diaz Peña's incarceration in a Venezuelan gulag.

As we get closer to Election Day, Chavez continues to encourage these unlawful actions by calling for civil unrest if he loses the elections and urging escalating violence in the streets.

Chavez-backed groups continue wreaking havoc and bloodshed at opposition rallies to instill fear and intimidate Venezuelans against voting in the upcoming election. Chavez's Defense Minister General Henry Rangel, who was added to the U.S. Treasury Department drug trafficking sanctions list in 2008, stated that the military was "wedded to socialist political project," inferring that the military and Chavez sympathizers would not support a democratic change in Venezuela.

Furthermore, a recently released report detailed plans by Chavez to surround the presidential palace with military personnel should he lose the election, and the concern of voter fraud continues to hover over Election Day. These aggressive actions by Chavez and his proxies are intended to keep control over the country no matter what the results of the elections are.

Over the last 14 years, the Chavez regime has not acted in the best interest of the Venezuelan people and has undermined U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad. This election will play a crucial role in the future of the distressed country and I urge all Venezuelans to vote on Election Day.

The United States and democratic nations must continue to stand with the Venezuelan people in their struggle to elect their next leader in a democratic and transparent manner. Any acts of violence, political unrest, or intimidation must not be tolerated and any promotion of these illicit activities should be condemned by the U.S. State Department, OAS, and other international institutions. Responsible nations are closely following the developments in Venezuela to ensure that the democratic process is respected and protected.




Stop helping the UN help Iran

No more bankrolling UN corruption, abuses and other outrages that aid Iran and other rogue regimes. Instead of the UN allowing Iran and its cronies to wield power in numerous UN bodies, which they use to protect themselves and advance their dangerous agendas, the U.S. and other responsible nations should use our strongest leverage —our funding — to stop the madness.

By Ileana Ros-Lehtinen | Sep.26, 2012 | 10:53 PM


The Iranian regime told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last week that Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used for a nuclear weapons capability. Another Iranian official admitted that Tehran has repeatedly lied about its nuclear activities to the IAEA.  And a recent IAEA report shows that Iran continues to obstruct investigations into its nuclear program, while doubling the number of centrifuges enriching uranium that can be used for nuclear weapons.

Despite these dangerous Iranian activities, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was welcomed at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to spew out another anti-America, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic tirade.  Already, during a UN High Level meeting on Rule of Law that Tehran was invited to, Ahmadinejad called for Israel’s elimination.

But that’s only one way the UN benefits Iran. Iran’s allies, China and Russia, use their perches on the UN Security Council to delay, water down, and prevent pressure on the Iranian regime.  The UN also allows Iran and its cronies to wield power in numerous UN bodies, which they use to protect themselves and advance their dangerous agendas.  

The list of Iran’s roles in the UN is long. Despite the fact that it stones women to death for “adultery,” Iran is on the board of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Iran was most recently named to serve on a committee to negotiate a UN arms trade treaty, and has served as Vice Chair of the UN’s Disarmament Commission, despite its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

But it gets worse: Iran actually benefits materially from its involvement in UN bodies. A 2009 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the IAEA has provided tens of millions of dollars in technical assistance to Iran and other rogue regimes. The IAEA, which on the one hand is supposed to document Iran’s illicit nuclear activities, is using the other hand to provide aid that can advance Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

The GAO found that the IAEA “does not attempt to exclude countries on the basis of their status as U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism or other political considerations” and that “there are no good countries and there are no bad countries” when it comes to the IAEA’s provision of technical cooperation. In short, as the IAEA noted, “given the limited information available on [technical cooperation] projects and the dual-use nature of some nuclear technologies and expertise, we do not believe [the State Department] can assert with complete confidence that [such] assistance has not advanced [weapons of mass destruction] programs in U.S.-designated state sponsors of terrorism.”

Contributions to the IAEA should not be used to support assistance to countries that support extremists and are in breach of non-proliferation treaties and resolutions. Legislation I have introduced seeks to stop this absurdity.

But UN complicity in aiding and abetting pariah states such as Iran doesn’t stop there.  Most recently, it was revealed that the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization provided computers and other sensitive technology to Iran and North Korea. This UN entity - entrusted with protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) - shared U.S. equipment and technology without authorization to regimes where respect for IPR is non-existent.

The fundamental problem with the UN is that those who are calling the shots don’t have to pay the bills. Most UN member nations pay next to nothing yet are empowered by the UN bureaucracy to further their nefarious agendas. So long as the U.S. and other responsible nations keep sending their assessed contributions to the UN, no questions asked, there is zero incentive for reform.   

By contrast, switching to an all-voluntary funding structure would prevent contributions to the UN from supporting initiatives that undermine peace and security and run counter to core democratic values.  
UN entities funded primarily by voluntary contributions usually conduct more responsible and effective operations.

As Catherine Bertini, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Management, and director of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), said, “Voluntary funding creates an entirely different atmosphere at WFP than at the UN.  At WFP, every staff member knows that we have to be as efficient, accountable, transparent, and results-oriented as possible.  If we are not, donor governments can take their funding elsewhere.”

No more bankrolling UN corruption, abuses, and other outrages that aid Iran and other rogue regimes.  It is long-past time for the U.S. and other responsible nations to use our strongest leverage—our funding—to stop the madness.  

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is the U.S. Representative for Florida's 18th congressional district and has been Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee since 2011. 



Washington, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs will hold a hearing Wednesday, September 12 titled “Beijing as an Emerging Power in the South China Sea.”  China’s aggressive policies, increased naval activity, and ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea are not only affecting the region but having foreign policy implications worldwide.  The Committee will examine current U.S. policy concerning the South China Sea as well as China’s actions to expand and project its influence throughout the Pacific. 

The Committee will also markup H.R. 6313, to promote peaceful and collaborative resolution of maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea and its environs and other maritime areas adjacent to the East Asian mainland.


2172 Rayburn House Office Building



Ms. Bonnie Glaser

Senior Fellow

Freeman Chair in China Studies

Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Mr. Peter Brookes

Senior Fellow

National Security Affairs

The Heritage Foundation

(Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs) 


Richard Cronin, Ph.D.


Southeast Asia Program

Stimson Center




  • H.R. 1410 Vietnam Human Rights Act of 2011
  • H.R. 1464 North Korean Refugee Adoption Act of 2011
  • H.Res. 177 – Expressing support for internal rebuilding, resettlement, and reconciliation within Sri Lanka that are necessary to ensure a lasting peace
  • H.Res. 484 Calling on the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to respect basic human rights and cease abusing vague national security provisions such as articles 79 and 88 of the Vietnamese penal code which are often the pretext to arrest and detain citizens who peacefully advocate for religious and political freedom
  • S. Con. Res. 17 - Expressing the sense of Congress that Taiwan should be accorded observer status in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

FULL Committee Hearing & Markup: “Beijing as an Emerging Power in the South China Sea”

10:00 a.m. in Room 2172 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman  


  • Ms. Bonnie Glaser, Senior Fellow, Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Mr. Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs, The Heritage Foundation (Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs)
  • Richard Cronin, Ph.D., Director, Southeast Asia Program, Stimson Center

Mark-up of:

  • H.R. 6313 - To promote peaceful and collaborative resolution of maritime territorial disputes in the South China Sea and its environs and other maritime areas adjacent to the East Asian mainland.


Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations & Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Joint Hearing: “Organ Harvesting of Religious and Political Dissidents by the Chinese Communist Party”

2:00 p.m. in Room 2172 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman, U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman


Panel I

  • The Honorable Michael Posner (Invited), Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

  • Damon Noto, M.D., Spokesman, Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting
  • Gabriel Danovitch, M.D., Professor of Medicine, UCLA Medical School
  • Charles Lee, M.D., Spokesman and Public Relations Director, Global Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party


Thursday, September 13, 2012

 Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Hearing: “Combating the Haqqani Terrorist Network”

2:00 p.m. in Room 2172 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Edward R. Royce, Chairman

Panel I

  • The Honorable Daniel Benjamin (Invited), Ambassador-at-Large, Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

  • Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center, The Heritage Foundation
  • Mr. Jeffrey Dressler, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for the Study of War


Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing: “Conditions at Camp Liberty: U.S. and Iraqi Failures”

3:00 p.m. in Room 2255 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman


Panel I

  •  The Honorable Daniel Fried (Invited), Special Advisor on Ashraf, U.S. Department of State

Panel II

  • The Honorable Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., Chairman, The Stimson Center

Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights Hearing: “Assessing U.S. Policy on Peacekeeping Operations in Africa”

3:00 p.m. in Room 2200 RHOB, U.S. Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman


  • The Honorable Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • The Honorable Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, U.S. Department of State  


Hearings held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn H.O.B. are available via live video through the Committee’s website at:




WASHINGTON- Today Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, introduced bipartisan legislation with Ranking Member Eliot Engel (NY-17) condemning the conditions of democracy and human rights in Ecuador and expressing concern over Ecuador’s business and security practices. The Mack/Engel legislation, H.Res. 745, represents Congress’ resistance to renew the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA).

“For years, and without consequences, Rafael Correa has used his elected position to trample on human rights and trample on democracy in Ecuador," Mack said. "Today, we set the record straight and remind tyrants like Rafael Correa that actions have consequences. We cannot afford to sit idly by while power-hungry thugocrats dismantle their country’s democratic institutions, attack the press, and violate basic human rights.”

“Preferences from the United States, including trade benefits, should not be utilized to bolster anti-democratic leaders. I hope that Congress recognizes the truth about Rafael Correa and declines the renewal of the U.S. trade preference program until democratic standards of freedom and security are restored in Ecuador.”

Initial participants of the Andean Trade Promotion Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) included Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.  In 2008, Bolivia was suspended from the program due to its failure to meet eligibility criteria, and since that time, Peru and Colombia have been dropped from the list of beneficiaries following approval of FreeTrade Agreements with the United States. Congress must make a decision to renew trade benefits for Ecuador before the program expires on July 31st, 2013.
Original cosponsors include: Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL), Dan Burton (R-IN), Gregg Harper (R-MS), Jean Schmidt (R-OH)

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