- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

ODD GAMBIT

“With Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi caught in the web of her own deceit over what the CIA told her about ‘torture,’ and the Obama administration in the middle of its latest 180-degree reversal over CIA interrogators Attorney General [Eric H. Holder Jr.] is now considering prosecutions despite Obama’s promise of no prosecutions), Democrats have trumped up a charge that the CIA, on the orders of Vice President Dick Cheney, failed to notify Congress that it was contemplating - not implementing, but essentially brainstorming about - plans to kill or capture top al Qaeda figures,” Andrew C. McCarthy writes at www.nationalreview.com.

“This is their most ludicrous gambit in a long time - and that’s saying something. Given their eight years of complaints about President Bush’s failure to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, and given President Clinton’s indignant insistence (against the weight of the evidence) that he absolutely wanted the CIA to kill bin Laden, one is moved to ask: What did Democrats think the CIA was doing for the last eight years?

“And if Democrats did not believe the CIA was considering plans to kill or capture bin Laden, why weren’t they screaming from the rafters about such a lapse?” Mr. McCarthy asked.

“Of course, the CIA has been trying to figure out how to take out top al Qaeda leaders. One assumes - one hopes - they are also brainstorming about wiping out the Taliban, overthrowing the Iranian regime, undermining Kim Jong Il’s nuclear program, disrupting Syrian support of Hezbollah, and tackling all manner of threats to the United States. But there is no law that requires, or could practically require, the CIA to brief Congress every time some agency component considers the feasibility of some security initiative.”

LOW-KEY REFORM

“One of America’s toughest problems is being solved right before our unseeing eyes. As Mark Sanford strayed, Michael Jackson departed andSarah Palin quit, the Obama administration was quietly putting law, order and the national interest back into our immigration system,” Froma Harrop writes in the Providence (R.I.) Journal.

“New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer says he will offer a comprehensive immigration bill by Labor Day. But don’t look there. Look at the administration’s ongoing program to confront employers of illegal immigrants in a low-key way,” the writer said.

“So far this year, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has audited the hiring records of over 650 companies suspected of using illegal labor and moved against the offenders. Example: ICE told American Apparel in Los Angeles that 1,800 of its 5,600 factory workers appeared to be unauthorized. The company was fined $150,000 and told to fire employees who, on further inspection, were not supposed to be there.

“Last week, the administration announced that any company wanting a sizable federal contract must use the E-Verify system to ensure that its workers are legal. E-Verify is an electronic database that contains Social Security and other records. Many businesses already use the system. The federal contract requirement moves us a step toward making an E-Verify check mandatory for all new hires.”

SWISS CHEESE

President Obama has been traveling the world to ‘reset’ diplomatic relations with the likes of Russia and Iran. But his administration continues to do what it can to blow up America’s long and amicable relationship with Switzerland,” the Wall Street Journal says in an editorial.

“In a federal court in Florida, the IRS and Justice Department are seeking to compel the Swiss bank UBS to hand over the names of 52,000 U.S. taxpayers with private-banking accounts in Switzerland. According to an affidavit filed with the court by the Swiss tax authorities, the summons ‘does not identify any facts that could be construed as constituting tax fraud or the like, but rather makes a broad demand for the identity of all U.S. taxpayers for which certain forms have not been filed.’

“This sort of fishing expedition expressly violates the U.S.-Swiss treaty on sharing tax information. The original treaty dates back 30 years, and under the pact the Swiss regularly provide the IRS with information on specific cases. But what the IRS is attempting here is a mass search of U.S. taxpayers merely for banking in Switzerland,” the newspaper said.

“This is not to say that everyone caught up in the IRS’s dragnet is pure. But the American system of justice contains probable-cause and reasonable-search requirements precisely to prevent law enforcement from rounding up everyone who might conceivably be guilty of some crime. And while Justice argues that UBS systematically marketed its private banking services in order to avoid U.S. taxation, the charges against UBS itself were settled in February, so this is not about the bank. It is about its customers, and an effort to grab perhaps a couple of billion dollars in allegedly unpaid taxes.

“Those customers are protected by Swiss bank-secrecy laws that make it a felony to improperly disclose client identities. Those laws are very much in force, and the Swiss authorities have threatened to seize the client data demanded by the U.S. rather than permit UBS to comply.”

LEAHY AND ESTRADA

“It’s striking to see both sides continue to fight over Miguel Estrada - but we just got a new argument from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy,” Jan Crawford Greenburg writes in a blog at www.abcnews.com.

“South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham was making the point that Estrada should have been confirmed to the D.C. Circuit (and would then have been the first Hispanic justice, nominated by George W. Bush),” the writer said.

“After Graham complained about the Democratic filibuster, Leahy tried to blame Republicans for failing to get him confirmed when they had a majority - and then tried to blame Estrada himself, for not answering questions because he may have been ‘distracted’ by a high-paying job offer.

“… Did I hear that right?

“Estrada had (and has) a high-paying job, at [law firm] Gibson Dunn, which he was willing to leave to go on the federal bench. And, regardless, Estrada answered questions every bit as thoroughly as John Roberts, who was confirmed to the D.C. Circuit - despite his not turning over the same DOJ documents the Judiciary Committee wanted from Estrada.

“Estrada was blocked by Democrats for one reason - the same reason they blocked Bush’s other minority and women nominees: They knew he would be on the short list for the Supreme Court if confirmed. And they knew it’s a lot easier to block a nominee at the appeals court level, when no one is paying as much attention as they do to the Supreme Court. [Republicans are seeing that now with Sonia Sotomayor. It was a deliberate, thought-through strategy.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]


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