I'm a proud conservative Republican from Michigan, but I'm appealing to Californians of all political stripes not to support the recall of Gov. Gray Davis.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) -- funder of the recall effort and the only announced candidate to replace Davis -- might be the contemporary, real-life version of Frank Sinatra's "Manchurian Candidate." Instead of communists, Issa's allies are radical Islamists and supporters of terrorism against Americans, Israelis, Christians and Jews.
In a short political career, Issa's statements and actions consistently defend terrorists, terrorist groups and terrorist sponsor states.
Saudi Arabia's longtime lobbyist, James Gallagher, contributed to Issa's campaign in November 2002, and Issa tried to overturn key classified evidence portions of President Bill Clinton's 1995 counterterrorism bill. Issa is also credited with "declawing" the Patriot Act.
Then, there's Issa's dance with Hezbollah, an organization that is on the State Department's terrorist list and one of the largest components of Al Qaeda. In the 1980s, Hezbollah -- which means "Party of Allah" -- murdered more than 260 U.S. Marines while they slept in Beirut and tortured to death Col. Richard Higgins (in 1990) and CIA attache William Buckley.
Hezbollah endorses "the use of hostages," "suicide in jihad operations" and "the duty of all Muslims to engage in Islamic jihad if it ensures the ultimate goal [of] inflicting losses on the enemy."
Less than a month after Sept. 11, Issa visited Syrian President Bashar Assad, praising Hezbollah and lauding Assad's policies (Syria is on the State Department's terrorist list).
The Tehran Times and IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, the official Iranian news agency) quoted Issa's statements to Assad in Damascus: "Hezbollah acts legitimately and has never been involved in terrorist activities.... Hezbollah and any other Lebanese group has the right to resist the occupation of its territory.... Hezbollah's humanitarian and governmental actions were legal.... Such behavior would be customary in any country."
Issa denies the statements, but as a recent Los Angeles Times cover story demonstrates he has a record of stretching the truth -- about his military record, his criminal history, his business affairs and his political positions.
In November 2001, for instance, Issa told syndicated columnist Debra Saunders he was vehemently against Arabs suing the airlines and government over profiling. At the same time, he told the rest of the press of his plans to introduce legislation to make it easier for Arabs to collect monetary damages for airline and government profiling.
And Issa's other statements and actions corroborate their veracity:
Less than a month after Sept. 11, in an Oct. 9, 2001, interview with the Beirut Daily Star's Ibrahim, during a trip to Lebanon, Issa said, "It is Lebanon which will determine whether the party's [Hezbollah's] activities constitute terrorism or resistance ... If [Hezbollah] wants the world to understand that its activities are legitimate, they should say it.... Resistance is a legitimate right recognized [by the U.N.].... I have a great deal of sympathy for the work that Hezbollah tries to do." He expressed hope that Hezbollah would "reform" and become a "government" like the P.L.O.
Assad's state-run SANA (official Syrian news agency) covered Issa's November 2001 meeting with Assad, quoting Issa as saying: "Hezbollah or any other party has the right to resist occupation."
Occupation? Israel withdrew from Southern Lebanon at least a year before, and the U.S. withdrew over a decade earlier.
Issa's January 2003 actions regarding Israelis captured by Hezbollah asserted the terrorist group's moral equivalence with Israel. According to The Guardian of London, per Hezbollah's demand, Issa asked Israel to allow the Red Cross to see captured Hezbollah terrorists in exchange for interceding with Hezbollah to allow the Red Cross to see four Israeli prisoners held by the group.
On Oct. 31, 2001, the London Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat, reported, "U.S. Congressman of Lebanese origin Darrell Issa, during his recent visit to Beirut in the mid of October," conveyed a proposal to Hezbollah leadership to remove Hezbollah from the State Department's terrorist list and "normalize U.S. relations with" the group. Hezbollah refused the offer.
On May 31, 2003, Issa publicly made a similar proposal to legitimize Hezbollah by giving Lebanon $500 million of taxpayer money to disarm the group and turn it into a political party.
On May 9, 2001, during a House subcommittee discussion of the Iran-Libya Sanctions Extension Act of 2001, Issa praised Hezbollah, "in all candor, for the good things they do, too, the humanitarian, the hospitals, the schools they pay."
On April 14, 2002, Issa told Fox News Channel's Rita Cosby that Hezbollah has done "some good things" (and he also praised Yasser Arafat).
In November 2001, Issa told the Financial Times of London, "Hezbollah does in fact have a limited scope. You must differentiate ... from other organizations that might have a global reach."
Global? Hezbollah murdered 86 Jews and wounded hundreds of people in Buenos Aires in July 1994, in addition to murdering Israelis and U.S. Marines and civilians in Lebanon and Iran.
In a Sacramento radio interview, Issa said, "They do supply little old ladies with heating oil in the winter and all kinds of other activities," characterizing terrorist Hezbollah as a mere "political party" and "farmers," and adding, "I'd like to see a lot of them just go back to their farms, go back to some honest living."
Then there's Issa's strange respect for Arafat and Palestinian terrorists.
Days after Sept. 11, Issa, during his House International Relations Committee's discussion of fighting terrorism, tried to draw a distinction between "Palestinian groups that are resisting Israeli occupation" and Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
During his November 2001 trip to the Middle East, Issa told his hometown newspaper, the North County Times, that he was "particularly impressed with Arafat."
"He is quite a charismatic individual, despite being a very small man and very old," the congressman said. "He has a wry sense of humor. He gives you food off his plate if you sit next to him."
Arafat's personal food taster as your next governor?
In April 2003, Issa spoke of Arafat's "charm" (also in the North County Times).
Issa's softness on Syrian-sponsored terrorism is legendary, too. Syria is home to several fugitives, including Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, Hamas political director Moussa Abu Marzook, Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Jamil Al-Gashey, the only surviving perpetrator of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre -- all wanted and/or indicted in the United States. However, Assad refuses their extradition.
Issa vehemently opposes the Syrian Accountability Act, which imposes sanctions on Syria until it stops sponsoring Hezbollah and other terrorists. Issa said Syria is "cooperative."
The Reform Party of Syria said Issa "helps Syria with [its] propaganda campaign" and "objects to Mr. Issa's presence in Syria. The Baath Party of Syria is duping Rep. Issa and using him as a propaganda tool."
In June 2003, Issa attended the Beirut signing of a major oil deal between Syria and two U.S. firms. The contract states the companies will spend $29 million in Syria and train the state-run Syrian oil company.
Issa hosted a pro-Syrian Capitol Hill event with a pro-Syrian Arab business group. The event was organized by former staffers to Reps. David Bonior and John Dingell, who now lobby for a "change" to U.S. Middle East policy.
After the Iraq War, during one of several frequent Syrian trips, Issa praised Assad, saying, "His word seems to be good."
Darrell Issa wants to be governor of California and ultimately president. With a record like this, do you want to help him?
Debbie Schlussel, a Detroit-based attorney, radio talk-show host and conservative political commentator, was the 1987 Outstanding Teen Age Republican in the Nation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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