Senate passes bill opposing entry to Iran envoy by acclamation

posted at 10:01 am on April 8, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Should one of the Iranians who kidnapped American diplomats in Tehran and kept them prisoner for 444 days receive a diplomatic visa from the US to represent Iran at the United Nations? Senator Ted Cruz won a floor vote by acclamation earlier this morning opposing any move by the State Department to accredit Hamid Aboutalebi, providing a unified voice in opposition:

The U.S. Senate passed legislation to bar Iran’s newly selected delegate to the United Nations from entering the U.S. because he belonged to the group that took over the American embassy in 1979.

The Senate passed the measure, sponsored by Texas Republican Ted Cruz, by voice vote late yesterday after it earlier won the backing in private talks of Charles Schumer of New York, according to a Senate Democratic aide, who asked for anonymity.

Cruz said in a speech yesterday on the Senate floor that his proposal would send a message to Iran “that the United States Senate is not just going to ignore this latest insult.”

Cruz got the vote by partnering with Chuck Schumer, who made sure that Democrats lined up behind the bill. Schumer wants to “close the door” on the kidnaper, who along with his government defied the diplomatic immunity afforded to the dozens of Americans held hostage by the Iranian mullahs:

Schumer, speaking on the Senate floor, said it was “totally inappropriate” that Iran chose Hamid Aboutalebi as its UN envoy and that it would rightly inflame the outrage of the former hostages and their families if he had been allowed to enter the U.S.

“We ought to close the door on him, and others like him, before he even comes to the United States, and that’s exactly what this bill will do,” Schumer said.

Er … not really, or at least not directly. Politically, a unanimous vote makes it clear that the Obama administration will stand alone if it issues the visa. The bill, however, does not prevent the State Department from doing so. The legislative branch has no practical power to deny a visa; the power of foreign relations lies within the executive branch, including diplomatic credentialing.

The question remains this: why would the Obama administration want to accredit Aboutalebi? Both Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz — hardly allies on ideology or foreign policy normally — call the appointment a deliberate “slap in the face” to the US. Cruz spoke with Jake Tapper yesterday about his bill:

“He is a known terrorist. He participated in holding Americans hostage for 444 days, the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Ted. Cruz, said in an interview on Monday with CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

“Their naming him was a deliberate slap in the face. It was intended to be contemptuous to America,” the Texas Republican added. …

According to Cruz, the legislation makes minor changes to existing law that would allow the administration to block visas for an ambassadorial pick if that person poses a national security risk.

“Under the existing statute, if the Taliban in Afghanistan had nominated Osama bin Laden to be its ambassador to the U.N.,” Cruz said, “we’d have to let him in, give him a visa and let him move to Manhattan. Now that’s obviously absurd.”

The State Department should tell Iran that it refuses to credential anyone who participated in the violation of diplomatic immunity in the past — and that they can send Aboutalebi, but he should bring his lawyer and prepare to face criminal charges over what happened in Tehran 35 years ago.


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Well done Ted Cruz – led this effort very nicely.

jake-the-goose on April 8, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Keep Aboutalebi out of the USA.

31giddyup on April 8, 2014 at 10:07 AM

That is leadership. Thanks Senator Cruz.

Obama of course wee-weed up his little girl panties over this.

ConstantineXI on April 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM

I’d be surprised to see the Justice Dept. arrest him.

crankyoldlady on April 8, 2014 at 10:12 AM

…if the Taliban in Afghanistan had nominated Osama bin Laden to be its ambassador to the U.N.,” Cruz said, “we’d have to let him in, give him a visa and let him move to Manhattan.

Why didn’t we do that? It would have saved us so much time and effort tracking him down. I seem to recall something about the team that killed him shooting his corpse repeatedly- can you imagine the line to get a shot in if we’d caught him in New York?

Komsomoletz on April 8, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Jeb Bush: It was an act of love….

Oil Can on April 8, 2014 at 10:14 AM

I’d be surprised to see the Justice Dept. arrest him.

crankyoldlady on April 8, 2014 at 10:12 AM

I won’t be surprised if NASA gave him a award.

Oil Can on April 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

This administration will, happily, approve the visa for the simple reasons that it is just an added way by this destructive administration to bring the US down another peg and showcase O’s ongoing abilities to prove his commitment to seeking the World’s ‘forgiveness’ for America’s past ‘evils’.

vnvet on April 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Iran hostage crisis was a long time ago. At this point, what difference does it make?

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Mark my words….

Obama’s state department is going to accredit this terrorist. They will claim it necessary for the “progress” Kerry has made in the unilateral talks that have been going on for months (much of it in secret by Obama’s un-elected insiders like Jarrett).

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

The legislative branch has no practical power to deny a visa; the power of foreign relations lies within the executive branch, including diplomatic credentialing.

Can they de-fund the State Department?

WhatSlushfund on April 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

I’d be surprised to see the Justice Dept. arrest him.

crankyoldlady on April 8, 2014 at 10:12 AM

I wouldn’t! Oh, you didn’t mean Ted Cruz, did you. Heh!

rhombus on April 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

The question remains this: why would the Obama administration want to accredit Aboutalebi?

Because they still want to pretend that they are negotiating a nuke deal with them, of course.

As for Cruz, a no consequence symbolic gesture. A speciality of his.

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Obama is waiting to welcome Aboutalebi with a State dinner and a flowing speech about his heroism in fighting for “Democracy.”

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Iran hostage crisis was a long time ago. At this point, what difference does it make?

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

The American embassy in Tehran has made into a sort of war memorial. I’d say that the Iranians think it still makes a difference.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM

As for Cruz, a no consequence symbolic gesture. A speciality of his.

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

According to Cruz, the legislation makes minor changes to existing law that would allow the administration to block visas for an ambassadorial pick if that person poses a national security risk.

Did you read the whole article?

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Because they still want to pretend that they are negotiating a nuke deal with them, of course.

As for Cruz, a no consequence symbolic gesture. A speciality of his.

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:17

There isn’t anything else Cruz can do and the Dems went along because it didn’t require them to actually make a law.

crankyoldlady on April 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:18 AM

I was just expressing Obama’s views of history as spoken through his former chief diplomat.

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

The State Department should tell Iran that it refuses to credential anyone who participated in the violation of diplomatic immunity in the past — and that they can send Aboutalebi, but he should bring his lawyer and prepare to face criminal charges over what happened in Tehran 35 years ago.

This

ladyingray on April 8, 2014 at 10:23 AM

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:19 AM

So the State Dept could grant or refuse a visa before. Now the State Dept can grant or refuse a visa.

Yeah, I see the difference.
/s

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Iran hostage crisis was a long time ago. At this point, what difference does it make?

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:16 AM

And… and… and they were all a bunch of white slave owners… something.
/s

bofh on April 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Obama always doubles down. They will roll out the red carpet for this guy because the Senate dared to question O’s brilliant diplomacy.

You know they wanted to do it anyway, they were just trying to come up with a plausible excuse.

Mord on April 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

crankyoldlady on April 8, 2014 at 10:21 AM

That’s true and I am not ragging on Cruz. I am just saying that isn’t as though he accomplished anything.

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Except before this legislation the State Dept could hide behinds the excuse that they HAVE to grant a visa to a UN diplomat. They have all the say in the world for a diplomat sent to the US, but the UN is special, and State is just a rubber stamp. No more. Now, if a visa is issued, it is because Obama WANTS it issued.

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Well done, and good for Schumer I guess that contribution from Koch brothers helped…

right2bright on April 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

The question remains this: why would the Obama administration want to accredit Aboutalebi? Both Chuck Schumer and Ted Cruz — hardly allies on ideology or foreign policy normally — call the appointment a deliberate “slap in the face” to the US.

Lemme guess…Contempt for America?

workingclass artist on April 8, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Time to get the UN off American Soil.

Let Brussels have them.

workingclass artist on April 8, 2014 at 10:32 AM

That’s true and I am not ragging on Cruz. I am just saying that isn’t as though he accomplished anything.

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:29 AM

When you have Cruz and Schumer on the same side of an issue, you’ve sent the rat-eared wonder and his “team” a message.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

MJBrutus on April 8, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Not thinking too clearly this morning…well maybe that night shift mopping the floors is taking it’s toll.

right2bright on April 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Kudos to whomever said “Aboutoblahblah? Wait a minute…wasn’t he involved in the hostage taking in 1979?”

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:34 AM

When you have Cruz and Schumer on the same side of an issue, you’ve sent the rat-eared wonder and his “team” a message.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Which would be significant I suppose, if the rat-eared wonder cared.

oscarwilde on April 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

OK, he worked with a Democrat – if he were a Kennedy the NYT would start calling him the Young Lion of The Senate. Young Simba.

ramesees on April 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

you’ve sent the rat-eared wonder and his “team” a message.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:33 AM

And that message is….Schumer wanted something from rat-ear and didn’t get it.

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

And if he steps on our sacred ground, stone him to death or at a minimum, cut off his legs.

racquetballer on April 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM

Good for Cruz. Unfortunately for the US it’s not hard to stand out when Zero is president.

Tater Salad on April 8, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Which would be significant I suppose, if the rat-eared wonder cared.

oscarwilde on April 8, 2014 at 10:35 AM

And that message is….Schumer wanted something from rat-ear and didn’t get it.

tdarrington on April 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I think the message here is to a wider audience. The rat-eared wonder goes ahead with accrediting this terrorist with wider acknowledgement of who Iran wants to send to the United States. He defies Congress and public sentiment if he allows it to happen (my guess is that he will). Let’s just see how powerful that pen of his really is.

Happy Nomad on April 8, 2014 at 10:47 AM

VDH nails the pathetic Obysmal foreign policy, where friends are abandoned and foes are free to act with abandcon,given green lights.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/375215/americas-new-anti-strategy-victor-davis-hanson

onlineanalyst on April 8, 2014 at 10:47 AM

Sen. Cruz….we have a serious problemo…

“BRIDGEPORT — A Moroccan national who allegedly plotted to turn a radio-controlled model airplane into a drone-like flying bomb and crash it into a school and a Connecticut federal building was arrested Monday by FBI agents.

Wires and tools were found in the High Ridge Drive apartment where El Mehdi Semlali Fahti, 27, had been living since January with an individual he met while incarcerated in Virginia, according to the FBI. It was not known if any explosives were found.

Fahti told an undercover agent in five recorded conversations that he studied the bomb attack operation for months, and had made a chemical bomb while in high school in Morocco, court documents charge. The recordings additionally claim he could obtain whatever else he needed for his plans in “Southern California on the border.”

He said funding would come from “secret accounts” comprised of money-laundered cash and drug dealing profits, the FBI said.

An affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Anabela Sharp does not specifically identify either building that Fahti allegedly targeted, except to say one was an out-of-state school and the other a federal building in Connecticut.

Fahti does not face federal terrorism charges at this time; those could come later when Assistant U.S. Attorney Krishna Patel takes the evidence to a federal grand jury while seeking an indictment.

Fahti is accused of making a false statement, falsely swearing under oath and falsifying declarations to a federal Immigration judge. Those actions allowed him to stay in the U.S. for seven years after his student visa expired and he flunked out of Virginia International University.

Since then, Fahti has traveled across the U.S. He was briefly arrested on a trespassing charge in Virginia, which was later dropped and he was incarcerated in California on a theft charge. He only moved to Bridgeport recently.

On Monday, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel, who granted Patel’s request to detain Fahti without bond as a danger to the community and a risk to flee. He was taken to the Wyatt Detention Center in Rhode Island.

Fahti, who is represented by Assistant U.S. Public Defender Paul Thomas, made the false statements seeking political asylum while facing deportation to his native Morocco.

He told the undercover agent he went to the library, researched issues in Morocco and learned about abuses allegedly committed by the Moroccan government on individuals involved with the Jamaat Ansar El-Mehdi and the Western Sahara freedom movement.

He falsely claimed in Immigration Court that he was the victim of arrests, imprisonment and beatings by Moroccan police.

“Everything he wrote in his refugee application coincided with the actual events,” Sharp wrote in her affidavit.

In one recording, Fahti says “the more he thinks about the case, he laughs because he cannot believe the judge believed him” in allowing him to seek refuge in the U.S. for political reasons….”

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/FBI-Drone-like-toy-planes-in-bomb-plot-5383658.php

workingclass artist on April 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Schumer wants to “close the door” on the kidnaper

Amongst other things I learned kidnapper can be spelled with one “p”.

Buttercup on April 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Tec Ruz has done a masterful job of exposing the corruption on Capitol Hill, but he’s just one man. The question now is, what are “we the people” going to do about it?

gryphon202 on April 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Meanwhile, the Obysmal administration via the Treasury Department’s okaying export licences to GE and Boeing for shipments to Iran is arming the mullahs.
http://pjmedia.com/michaelledeen/2014/04/07/arming-the-mullahs/

Peace in our time? Feh!

onlineanalyst on April 8, 2014 at 10:56 AM

How would he get to the US, since he damn sure better be on every no-fly list there is?

slickwillie2001 on April 8, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Interesting that Cruz and Schumer did this, but only Cruz gets dinged for doing something “meaningless”.

If the perp doesn’t get accredited, is it still “meaningless”?

If the perp gets accredited, Obama will look like he coddles terrorists again.

No, it doesn’t change the world but I’ll take it.

Meremortal on April 8, 2014 at 11:22 AM

The simplest answer, of course, would be to let him in the country — and throw him in Gitmo for 444 days.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 8, 2014 at 11:26 AM

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/FBI-Drone-like-toy-planes-in-bomb-plot-5383658.php

workingclass artist on April 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

If he’s been in jail why wasn’t he deported? Silly question.

crankyoldlady on April 8, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Can someone tell me where Obama stands on this issue. I bet he wants this terrorist to be the ambassador or whatever position he is going for. Holder probably wants to give him a huge welcome as well. These people are ruining this nation faster than I ever could have thought.

garydt on April 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Let the SOB in, then arrest him.

Ward Cleaver on April 8, 2014 at 11:41 AM

The simplest answer, of course, would be to let him in the country — and throw him in Gitmo for 444 days.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 8, 2014 at 11:26 AM

I like the way you think. I just wish we had a president who would do such a thing.

jwolf on April 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Not to worry….the guy will be hosted at White House dinner before you know it.
Valerie has thing for Iranians.

albill on April 8, 2014 at 12:44 PM

The State Department should tell Iran that it refuses to credential anyone who participated in the violation of diplomatic immunity in the past — and that they can send Aboutalebi, but he should bring his lawyer and prepare to face criminal charges over what happened in Tehran 35 years ago.

…he’ll soon be dining in New York restaurants and running up thousands of dollars in unpaid parking tickets!

KOOLAID2 on April 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM

He should be allowed in on the condition that he agree to go on a hunting trip in Texas.

Occams Stubble on April 8, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Got nothing. Private citizens are going to have to do what our government no longer does.

TerryW on April 8, 2014 at 1:05 PM

The State Department should tell Iran that it refuses to credential anyone who participated in the violation of diplomatic immunity in the past — and that they can send Aboutalebi, but he should bring his lawyer and prepare to face criminal charges over what happened in Tehran 35 years ago.

…he’ll soon be dining in New York restaurants and running up thousands of dollars in unpaid parking tickets!

KOOLAID2 on April 8, 2014 at 12:47 PM

The NYPost should print a picture of this douche every single day, and New Yorkers should make the decision to not serve him at any business.

slickwillie2001 on April 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM

The simplest answer, of course, would be to let him in the country — and throw him in Gitmo for 444 days.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 8, 2014 at 11:26 AM

No, not Gitmo. If we put him there, then he too quickly becomes out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Put him in a Federal prison so that he is visible to the press and trial lawyers and everyone. That way we can have an inflamed public argument about this, and let it meander through the courts for a couple of couple of years. Meanwhile, he rots in prison. Visibly.

Even Holder had to back off when he made those noises about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Federal court. We’ll get a lot more noise if he were in Federal prison than in military prison.

ss396 on April 8, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Regardless of this symbolic Senate vote, I think the odds are at least 60-40 that Obama/Kerry let the dude in to serve the interests of “peace in our time”, then they send Jen Psaki, Susan Rice and Samantha Powers out on the TV talk show circuit to blast Sen. Cruz and all the “neocons” (but not Schumer) for upsetting the Delicate Dance of Diplomacy.

Sacramento on April 8, 2014 at 1:48 PM

In one recording, Fahti says “the more he thinks about the case, he laughs because he cannot believe the judge believed him” in allowing him to seek refuge in the U.S. for political reasons….”

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/FBI-Drone-like-toy-planes-in-bomb-plot-5383658.php

workingclass artist on April 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Wow, that is a mile-long freight train of Not Good.

Ward Cleaver on April 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

The NYPost should print a picture of this douche every single day, and New Yorkers should make the decision to not serve him at any business.

slickwillie2001 on April 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM

But what if he’s teh ghey? The mind reels.

Ward Cleaver on April 8, 2014 at 1:56 PM

I am not sure that the hosting agreement with the UN allows the US to deny the visa.

That said, there is no reason why they cannot restrict the visa. For many years (perhaps still) North Korean diplomats were under tight restrictions where they could go within the US.

Why not allow the visa but effectively exclude him from the US per se? He can travel between his apartment, the Iranian mission and the UN. But he could be excluded from anywhere else…movies, theatres, restaurants etc. Make it awful for him.

Blaise on April 8, 2014 at 3:07 PM