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President Should Sign “Counter Iran in the Western Hemisphere” Act

Word came yesterday evening that the House of Representatives has agreed with a Senate amendment and so Rep. Jeff Duncan’s (R-South Carolina) “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act” will head to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

If the bill becomes a law—and presumably it will because the White House did not oppose it—then the secretary of state will have to report to Congress on a broad range of Iranian activity in the Western hemisphere. According to the Congressional Research Service’s summary, the report will include:

(1) Descriptions of the presence, activities, and operations of Iran, the IRGC, the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah;

(2) descriptions of the terrain, population, ports, foreign firms, airports, borders, media outlets, financial centers, foreign embassies, charities, religious and cultural centers, and income-generating activities utilized by Iran, the IRGC, the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah;

(3) descriptions of the relationship of Iran, the IRGC, the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah with transnational criminal organizations;

(4) descriptions of the relationship of Iran, the IRGC, the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah that may be present with governments in the Western Hemisphere;

(5) descriptions of federal law enforcement capabilities, military forces, state and local government institutions, and other critical elements, such as nongovernmental organizations that may organize to counter the Iranian threat in the Western Hemisphere; [and]

(6) descriptions of activity by Iran, the IRGC, the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Hezbollah that may be present at the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada and at other international borders within the Western Hemisphere

Under Secretary of State Clinton and her two Bush administration predecessors, the State Department’s attitude toward Iran in the Western hemisphere has been “hear no evil, see no evil, report no evil.” Yet, the Iranian government has pursued an active strategy in the region. My American Enterprise Institute colleague Roger Noreiga has written a great deal on the Iran-Venezuela nexus, including here at COMMENTARY. His analysis has been remarkably prescient; most critics counter not Roger’s evidence, but simply the fact that the State Department has yet to second his findings. The reason for that is, more often than not, because diplomats refuse to look. Let us hope that Obama signs the bill: Information should not an enemy for policymakers.



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