The Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 would require the State Department to compile a detailed report for Congress on the activities and motivations of the Iranian Republican Guard, its elite Qods Force, Lebanon’s Hezbollah organization and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Latin America.
The legislation has picked up 63 co-sponsors, all but two of them Republicans. But it gained notable bipartisan traction last week when the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade approved it by verbal vote. It now goes to the full committee.
“The support of the subcommittee shows that Congress recognizes the seriousness of the threat that Iran poses to Americans here at home and to our allies in the Western Hemisphere,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina Republican.
The bill’s lead Democratic co-sponsor, Rep. Brian Higgins of New York, said that “issues brought to light during recent hearings raise serious concerns about potential threats to America including new evidence of activity dangerously close to home.”
Questions about covert Iranian activities in Latin America burst onto the political landscape in October, when the Justice Department filed charges revealing a failed plot by Iranian officials to use a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington.
While many policy analysts and Democrats have expressed skepticism about the plot, the issue of Iran’s covert desire’s in the region has made its way back into the headlines during recent weeks.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper recently told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that, if Iran feels threatened, it could seek to launch terror attacks against targets inside the United States.
His remarks were underscored by Michael Braun, former chief of operations and intelligence for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who told lawmakers that Iranian collaboration with Latin American drug cartels is growing “faster than most policymakers in Washington, D.C., choose to admit.”
Mr. Braun, who retired from the DEA in 2008, revealed details about a DEA campaign that year in which agents broke up a cocaine-smuggling and money-laundering ring believed to have been channeling funds to the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told lawmakers last week that while her department is “concerned about allegations” of drug cartel links to Hezbollah and Iran, “we’ve not found information to verify a lot of the allegations.”
“But the recent incident concerning the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador is a very large question mark and wake-up call,” she told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Guy Taylor rejoined The Washington Times in 2011 as the State Department correspondent.
As a freelance journalist, Taylor’s work was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Fund For Investigative Journalism, and his stories appeared in a variety publications, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to Salon, Reason, Prospect Magazine of London, the Daily Star of Beirut, the ...
By Andrew P. Napolitano
The president's men trash the Constitution to pursue antagonists
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
One man’s perspective. Exploration and commentary designed to challenge the conventional thinking of day on the political issues affecting our nation.
A conservative commentator and satirist takes on the worlds of politics and entertainment in pursuit of truth, justice and all things America.
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention