Osama bin Laden’s family in Iran: new strain on Saudi-Iran ties

CSMONITOR

Six children and one wife of Osama Bin Laden have reportedly been living in Iran since fleeing Afghanistan shortly before 9/11. His 17-year-old daughter recently escaped to the embassy of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s traditional rival.

bin-laden-family

By Scott Peterson

Istanbul, Turkey

Seven members of Osama bin Laden’s immediate family have been under house arrest in Iran and living in a high security compound outside Tehran since 2001, news outlets reported on Wednesday.

The group includes six children of the Al Qaeda leader and one of his wives, all of whom reportedly fled Afghanistan and walked to the Iran border just prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington, according to The Times in London.

One 17-year-old daughter, Iman, escaped from from the Tehran compound and has been holed up in the Saudi Arabia Embassy for 25 days, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

The asylum request – and public revelations about the continuing Bin Laden family presence in Iran – are sure to complicate relations between the two traditional rivals for power in the Middle East: Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

During his first term, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went on a charm offensive to woo Saudi and other Arab leaders. But Iran’s rising influence and that of its “Axis of Resistance” – with Hezbullah, Hamas, and Syria – raised concern in Riyadh and other Arab capitals.

The disputed June election was final proof for many in the Arab world that Iran’s regional power was on the wane again. For Saudi Arabia, evidence of that came just last week when it was able to precipitate an unlikely meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Iran ally, and Lebanon’s pro-West Prime Minister Saad Hariri – who for five years has accused Syria of killing his father.

US turned down Iranian offer for Al Qaeda operatives

One of Bin Laden’s oldest sons, Saad, was known for years to be among some 35 Al Qaeda operatives that fled to Iran after the US toppling of the Taliban government and expulsion of Al Qaeda from Afghanistan in late 2001.

The government of President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005) eventually offered to indirectly exchange those Al Qaeda figures with the US, if Washington would rein in, or hand over, leaders of the anti-Iran Mujahideen-e Khalq. Known as the MEK or MKO, the anti-Iran group considered a terrorist group by the US State Department was based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s wing. But the members there fell under the jurisdiction of American forces after a US-led coalition toppled the Hussein regime in 2003.

Iran’s offer was rejected, according to reports at the time, because the Pentagon wanted to keep hold of the MEK as a possible force to be used against Iran in any Washington-orchestrated bid for regime change.

Bin Ladens’ presence off the radar

Still, it was never made public that so many Bin Laden family members were in Iran. The Washington Post reported in October 2003 that Saad bin Laden had “emerged in recent months as part of the upper echelon of the Al Qaeda network … that is managing the terrorist organization from Iran,” quoting US, European and Arab officials.

The story held that Saad bin Laden was “protected by an elite, radical Iranian security force loyal to the nation’s clerics and beyond the control of the central government” – the Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guard.

Reports emerged earlier this year that Iran had quietly released Saad bin Laden in late 2008, and let him go to Afghanistan.Then it was reported in July that he had been killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan.

But the presence of so many Bin Laden relatives in Iran was a surprise. The Times of London has reported that 11 Bin Laden grandchildren also lived on the compound.

“Until a month ago, we did not know where the siblings were,” Omar bin Laden, the fourth son who lives in Qatar, told Asharq al-Awsat. “The Iranian government did not know what to do with this large group of people whom nobody else wanted, so they just kept them safe…. For that we owe them much gratitude.”

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The real Ted Kennedy legacy

WND

By Joseph Farah

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy

I know there’s an old adage that one shouldn’t speak ill of the dead.

But I don’t subscribe to the idea that when evil and foolish people die we should pretend they were something other than evil and foolish.

And Ted Kennedy was evil and foolish.

He wasn’t just a politician with whom I disagreed.

He was a rotten man – a wicked man.

I know you’re not hearing this from the rest of the press. I know you’re not even hearing this from his worst critics. But if we can’t call Ted Kennedy wicked and immoral, those terms have lost all meaning.

It’s no secret I didn’t like Ted Kennedy.

I believe his political epitaph should have been written July 18, 1969, the day his behavior led directly to the untimely death of Mary Jo Kopechne at the Chappaquiddick Bridge.

Until that moment, as the surviving brother of an assassinated president and an assassinated senator-presidential candidate, he had been an object of love and pity for an entire nation.

Over four decades he has served as a kind of “enemy within” the American political system – attempting to elicit the support of the Soviet Union against President Reagan’s policies in the 1980s, ignoring the tax-cutting prescription of his elder brother, failing to learn the real lessons of Vietnam, failing even to learn the lessons of his own brother’s errors of appeasement in the Bay of Pigs, practicing his own unique brand of plantation racism and blaming America for all the problems of the world. That’s Ted Kennedy.

That even one of the 50 states would deem him worthy of serving in the U.S. Senate for most of his life is something of a national disgrace.

Nevertheless, maybe because of his alcohol-addled brain or his unfulfilled ego, occasionally Ted Kennedy has demonstrated a kind of candor that is in short supply in Washington.

It may have been intellectual frustration that caused Kennedy to admit what he was 14 years ago – and what he remained until his death.

Ted Kennedy always was a socialist – and he actually admitted it on the floor of the Senate Jan. 20, 1995.

I’ve never seen this revelation before, though it has been a matter of public record all these years – published, as it were, in the Congressional Record. I was amazed to find it in a book by Republican political consultant Marc Nuttle called “Moment of Truth.”

Here is how the Kennedy admission came about.

Economist Milton Friedman was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of a national constitutional amendment for a balanced budget. Kennedy argued that a requirement for a balanced budget would restrict the federal government‘s power and its ability to spend – thus, he said, Washington’s role in more fairly and equitably distributing wealth, goods and services.

“Senator, socialism hasn’t worked in 6,000 years of recorded history,” explained Friedman. “Why won’t you give up on it?”

Kennedy rose to his feet, according to Nuttle, who attended the hearing, and replied: “It hasn’t worked in 6,000 years of recorded history because it didn’t have me to run it.”

Surely Kennedy was not as skillful and sophisticated in articulating his position as some other politicians. Surely Kennedy, with his comfortable, unchallenged position as the senior senator from Massachusetts, didn’t need to be so tactful. Surely even Kennedy avoided, for the most part, such heated admissions that he believes socialism can work under the right kind of skillful leadership – namely his.

But I’m not going to forget that admission today – the day after his death.

I’m not going to forget the way he unashamedly promoted abortion on demand.

I’m not going to forget the way he attempted to aid and abet our enemies to further his own political ambitions.

I’m not going to forget the way he betrayed his own older brother’s political legacy of anti-communism and free-market economics to lead his party, and very possibly his country, off the cliff.

I’m not going to forget the idiotic way he characterized Ronald Reagan‘s brilliant initiative for strategic missile defense as “Star Wars.”

I’m not going to forget how he always blamed America and Americans first for every problem in the world.

I’m not going to forget the way he left Mary Jo Kopechne alive in a car underwater where she survived, according to the coroner’s report, for up to three hours, while he showered, shaved and sobered up before alerting police to his reckless, homicidal driving.

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Experts Find Soviet Parts in North Korean Missile

WASHINGTON

With concerns rising about a possible North Korean long-range missile test this weekend, two independent scientists say the regime may be using an old Soviet ballistic missile to boost a rocket capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States.

North Korea is not known to have nuclear warheads and faces years of research and testing before building such a reliable weapon.

But the scientists say that if North Korea does have such a Russian-made ballistic missile in its arsenal, it could modify the rocket into a two-stage missile that could reach Seattle, Wash., carrying a 900-kilogram warhead, or San Francisco carrying a 700-kilogram charge.

The design of a long-range missile tested by North Korea last April “represents a very significant advance in rocket technology,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ted Postol and Union of Concerned Scientists’ David Wright in a June 29 assessment published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

Using data and imagery from North Korea’s April 4 launch, Postol and Wright calculated that the second stage of the North Korean rocket had the external dimensions, engine power and key features of an SS-N 6, a Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile first deployed in 1968.

Their theory is at odds with U.S. officials’ skepticism of the recent North Korean long-range missile launch, dismissed as a failure.

Missile expert and former U.N. arms inspector Mike Elleman cautioned against assuming that the similarities between the external dimensions of the North Korean second stage and the SS-N 6 mean that the two are the same technology.

But Elleman added that the coincidence is hard to explain.

Geoffrey Forden, another missile expert with MIT, sees merit in the Russian missile theory and believes North Korea may have its own production line for SS-N 6 missile components.

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Bill Clinton joins drumbeat for ‘Fairness Doctrine’

FROM WND

‘What I think we need to do is have more balance in the programs’

Former president and senior Democratic statesman Bill Clinton has joined a growing drumbeat for government regulation of radio talk shows, claiming the U.S. “ought to have the Fairness Doctrine or we ought to have more balance on the other side.”

WND reported earlier this week when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, became the second U.S. senator in a week to endorse a return to the ideas behind the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” a policy abandoned under President Reagan in 1987 as unnecessary and unconstitutional.

The policy, originally introduced in 1949, required that radio and television stations with a broadcast license air contrasting views on matters of public importance. The policy made it practically impossible for talk radio to make a profit, because the market would not bear a lineup with an equal number of programs from the left and right. Since the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned, more than 2,000 radio stations – the vast majority identifed as politically conservative – have adopted a talk radio format.

WND also reported when Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told WND columnist Bill Press, “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves.”

Clinton’s comments arrived via an interview on the Mario Solis Marich show, which has posted an audio recording of the former president’s statements.

Michael Calderone at Politico.com also posted the audio.

“Essentially, because there’s always been a lot of big money to support the right wing talk shows and, let’s face it, Rush Limbaugh is fairly entertaining even when he’s saying things I think are ridiculous,” Clinton said. “I think the American people know now that we’re in a very serious time. We all need to be questioned. The president, I’m sure, would be the first to admit none of us are right all the time and everything should be debated.”

Tell your government no to the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sign WND’s Petition to Block Congressional Attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press now!

“With the future of the country hanging in the balance, we shouldn’t be playing petty politics or just going for entertainment,” he said. “What I think we need to do is have more balance in the programs, or have some opportunity for people to offer countervailing opinions,” he said.

“When the Fairness Doctrine was done away with I was not in favor of doing away with it,” Clinton said. “I never minded having somebody be heard who disagreed with me.”

A member of the U.S. House also has weighed in on the issue. At RealClearPolitics.com, a recording has been posted with Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., endorsing the idea.

“I think the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated. The idea of fairness in the media is very important,” he said. “We should have a fair and open system.”

Hinchey said his main focus “as far as the media is concerned” is to “open the process up, and make it more open, more reasonable, more fair, and providing a larger diversity of information so that people can make decisions for themselves.”

Participants on Calderone’s forum warned of the consequences of government regulation of talk shows.

“For all the tirades about Bush as a ‘dictator,’ he never did anything [t]o abridge free speech. Anyone who supports this type of legislation restricting speech is following the true path to tyranny,” said one.

“Conservative Talk Radio is Balance,” added another.

Said a third, “I have no problem with more balance. Just do not legislative it. Get your checkbook out Bill and get it going just the same as Rush did. What could be more fair?”

“There are some liberals in the media that insist the fear of a return of the Censorship Doctrine is an imaginary one that exists only in the heads of paranoid conservative,” commented L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, when Harkin made his statements. “Meanwhile, one liberal leader after another publicly states his or her intent to bring it back.”

WND has previously reported other Democratic legislators have tried to claim talk about a reintroduction of the “Fairness Doctrine” is merely conspiracy-mongering by right-wing talk radio and its partisan cheerleaders.

But other Democrats in the Senate and House – and even a few Republicans – have made no secret of their support for such legislation.

“For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told Albuquerque radio station KKOB last year. “I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.”

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told WYNC’s Bryan Lehrer Show in 2007, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back.”

Last June, John Gizzi reported in Human Events a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which he asked her if she personally supported revival of the policy.

“Yes,” Pelosi answered.

And as recently as December, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. – who serves on the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – told the Palo Alto Daily Post she still believes in the “Fairness Doctrine” and will work on bringing it back.

“It should and will affect everyone,” Eshoo pledged.

Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, has said, “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible.”

But the debate heated up again recently when Obama singled out Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, for criticism: “You can’t just listen to c and get things done.”

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Saudi minister: Arabs should stand up to Iran

APTRANS.gif
Prince Saud al-Faisal says non-Arab countries should not interfere in area
CAIRO – Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat urged Arabs on Tuesday to stand up to Iran’s ambitions in the region, including its nuclear program.
Prince Saud al-Faisal told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo that non-Arab countries should not interfere in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories – all places where the predominantly Persian Iran has been accused of supporting militants.

Arabs fear that the Obama administration’s expected efforts to engage Tehran might lead to a deal that would bring U.S. and Iran closer at the expense of Arab interests.

Saud stressed that resolution of disputes among Arabs depended on “a unified and a joint vision” in dealing with the “Iranian challenge in regard to the Arabian Gulf security and the nuclear issue.”

The Arabian Gulf is also known as the Persian Gulf.

Growing influence of Shiite Iran

The predominantly Sunni Arab Middle East has been wary of the growing influence of Shiite Iran, and Saud’s comments were a clear call for Arab unity.

His remarks came a day after he and his Arab counterparts expressed their concerns about Iran to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The ministers and Clinton met on the sidelines of an international conference in Egypt that raised $5.2 billion in pledges to rebuild the devastated Gaza Strip after Israel’s recent offensive.

Last week, Clinton announced the appointment of veteran diplomat Dennis Ross as her special adviser on matters related to the Gulf, including overtures to the Iranians.

Clinton assured the Arab ministers that Washington is carefully considering its moves and will consult fully with Gulf allies on Iran issues.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa said after the ministers’ meeting in Cairo that Arabs must be kept informed about Iran.

“I demand that no foreign (power) talks to Iran without Arabs being aware of it and having a role in the process,” Moussa said.

Wants Iran on the agenda


Bahrain had asked the ministers to put Iran on the agenda of the Arab League meeting, amid growing concerns in the tiny Gulf kingdom that Iran still holds longtime claims to the island. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite, but its Shiite majority has close ties to Iran.

Also Tuesday in Cairo, Saud and his Egyptian counterpart met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem in efforts to bridge the rift between the two U.S.-allied Arab powerhouses and the Iran-backed Syria.

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New ‘Fairness Doctrine’ threatens Christian radio

FROM WND

Would Gospel need to be ‘balanced’ with Islamic, atheist programming?

Frank Wright

WASHINGTON – As the National Religious Broadcasters convened today in Nashville, an ominous shroud cast by political chatter about the reimposition of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” in the nation’s capital hung over the gathering.

NRB President Frank Wright said he sees the move as a credible threat under a Democrat-dominated Congress and with President Obama in the White House.

“And we have a personal concern,” Wright told Broadcasting & Cable. “The only radio station that ever lost its license under the fairness doctrine regime was a Christian radio station in Red Lion, Pa. We are only responding now to the statements the Democrats themselves are making.”

Representing 1,400 organizations, including large ministries and TV and radio stations, NRB said it is “girding itself for a major battle over broadcasting freedoms,” and was prepared to go to court, lobby Congress, or take its message to the public.

“We have talked before about many of these issues, but now, with the shift in the political landscape, I think these same things have a much higher probability of being enacted or at least having legislation and hearings and debates, and on the regulation side at the FCC,” said Wright.

Fight back against the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sign WND’s Petition to Block Congressional Attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press now!

He said the new political climate doesn’t just threaten broadcasters, but even churches that have no broadcast outlet.

“The fairness doctrine has a tremendous potential for constraining free speech, but hate crimes (legislation) has the potential of criminalizing it,” he said. “In the short run, the fairness doctrine has the immediate threat of being applied to Christian broadcasters and to the church in a very deleterious way. Hate crimes legislation, if that is enacted, will evolve over time and bleed over into speech and have a negative effect, but not right away. The fairness doctrine will have a negative impact the day it is implemented.”

He said he expects religious broadcasters, largely Christian, to be particularly hard hit because of the doctrine’s requirement for so-called “balance.” If an opposing view must be found for every matter of controversy, Christian broadcasters could find themselves in the unenviable and untenable position of seeking out other religious viewpoints – Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist – to counter what ministers of the Gospel say on the air.

“I have had a number of conversations with NRB members who operated under the old ‘Fairness Doctrine’ regime,” he said. “What happens is there is a chilling of free speech because the license-holder tends to take off the air the programmer whose content is deemed to be controversial.”

This weekend’s meeting will offer up ideas about fighting back the prospects of government-controlled speech on the airwaves.

“I don’t want to tip our hands on strategy except to say that if the approach taken by the administration is an FCC approach, we believe we can bring enough pressure to bear on the commission at the point of enactment to bring enough heat to get them to see the light, so to speak,” he said. “I don’t think we can stop it in the House or Senate.”

Just last week another Democratic U.S. senator went on record as supporting the reinstatement of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” adding, “I feel like that’s gonna happen.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told radio host and WND columnist Bill Press \ when asked about whether it was time to bring back the so-called “Fairness Doctrine”: “I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else – I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.”

Stabenow’s husband, Tom Athans, was executive vice president of the left-leaning talk radio network Air America. He left the network in 2006, when it filed for bankruptcy, and co-founded the TalkUSA Radio Network.

Asked by Press if she could be counted on to push for hearings in the Senate this year “to bring these (radio station) owners in and hold them accountable,” Stabenow replied: “I have already had some discussions with colleagues and, you know, I feel like that’s gonna happen. Yep.”

Meanwhile, as WND has previously reported, other Democratic legislators have tried to claim talk about a reintroduction of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” is merely conspiracy-mongering by right-wing talk radio and its partisan cheerleaders.

But other Democrats in the Senate and House – and even a few Republicans – have made no secret of their support for such legislation.

“For many, many years, we operated under a Fairness Doctrine in this country,” Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told Albuquerque radio station KKOB last year. “I think the country was well-served. I think the public discussion was at a higher level and more intelligent in those days than it has become since.”

Tell your government no to the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Sign WND’s Petition to Block Congressional Attacks on Freedom of Speech and Press now!

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told WYNC’s Bryan Lehrer Show in 2007, “I think the Fairness Doctrine ought to be there and I also think equal time doctrine ought to come back.”

In June of last year, John Gizzi reported in Human Events a conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in which he asked her if she personally supported revival of the “Fairness Doctrine.”

“Yes,” Pelosi answered.

And as recently as December, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif. – who serves on the Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – told the Palo Alto Daily Post she still believes in the “Fairness Doctrine” and will work on bringing it back.

“It should and will affect everyone,” Eshoo pledged.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, told Broadcasting & Cable during the presidential election campaign, “Sen. Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. He considers this debate to be a distraction from the conversation we should be having about opening up the airwaves and modern communications to as many diverse viewpoints as possible.”

But the debate heated up again recently when Obama singled out Rush Limbaugh, the king of talk radio, for criticism: “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.”

As WND reported, the Democratic National Congressional Committee also launched a petition to reprimand Limbaugh directly for his criticism of Obama.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Bush appointee whose term runs through June, however, warned that Democrats may be adopting a stealthier approach to shutting down conservatives on talk radio.

In a speech to the Media Institute in Washington, Multichannel News reports, McDowell suggested there are efforts to implement the controversial policy without using the red-flagged “Fairness Doctrine” label.

“That’s just Marketing 101,” McDowell explained. “If your brand is controversial, make it a new brand.”

Instead, McDowell alleged, Democrats will try to disguise their efforts in the name of localism, diversity or network neutrality.

McDowell further suggested that the FCC may already be gearing up to enforce the “Fairness Doctrine” through community advisory boards that help determine local programming. While radio stations use the boards on a voluntary basis now, McDowell warned if the advisory panels become mandatory, “Would not such a policy be akin to a re-imposition of the Doctrine, albeit under a different name and sales pitch?”

And while Republicans’ prediction of “Fairness Doctrine” legislation remains unfulfilled and highly speculative, a WND investigation has revealed that McDowell and Walden aren’t just fear-mongering, as some have suggested. A think tank headed by John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama’s transition team, mapped out a strategy in 2007 for clamping down on talk radio using language that has since been parroted by both the Obama campaign and the new administration’s White House website.

In June of 2007, Podesta’s Center for American Progress released a report titled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” detailing the conservative viewpoint’s dominance on the airwaves and proposing steps for leveling the playing field.

“Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system,” the report reads, “particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management.”

The report then demonstrates how radio stations owned locally, or operated by female and minority owners, are statistically more likely to carry liberal political talk shows.

Therefore, the report concludes, the answer to getting equal time for “progressives” lies in mandating “localism” and “diversity” without ever needing to mention the “Fairness Doctrine.”

To accomplish the strategy, the report recommends legislating local and national caps on ownership of commercial radio stations and demanding radio stations regularly prove to the FCC that they are “operating on behalf of the public interest” to maintain their broadcasting license.

And if stations are unwilling to abide by the FCC’s new regulatory standards, the report recommends, they should pay spectrum-use fees directly to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting “with clear mandates to support local news and public affairs programming and to cover controversial and political issues in a fair and balanced manner.”

In this way, the report concludes, between $100 million and $250 million could be raised for public radio, which will be compelled to broadcast via the old standards established by the “Fairness Doctrine.”

Since the report’s release in 2007, the Obama camp has twice gone on record advocating positions identical to Podesta’s think tank.

Last summer, in denying the presidential candidate’s support of the “Fairness Doctrine,” Obama’s press secretary said, “Sen. Obama supports media-ownership caps, network neutrality, public broadcasting, as well as increasing minority ownership of broadcasting and print outlets.”

Further, the White House website lists on its technology agenda page that the president plans to “encourage diversity in the ownership of broadcast media, promote the development of new media outlets for expression of diverse viewpoints, and clarify the public interest obligations of broadcasters who occupy the nation’s spectrum.”

The president’s position and proposals match the language of his transition co-chair’s think tank report almost word-for-word.

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‘God’ gets boot again in Washington, D.C.

FROM WND

Flying under the radar, and literally under the ground of congressional bailout meetings, were closet Capitol Hill discussions about God and Washington, D.C. It seems another revision of America’s religious history has been underway – this time at the new $621 million, 580,000 square feet Capitol Visitor Center about to open in a couple months.

Eliminating or revising our Christian heritage seems to be in vogue these days at America’s historic sites. In 2006, tour guides at the Jamestown Settlement, the replica of the first (1607) English colony in America, were caught intentionally leaving out its Christian heritage when discussing the purpose for the colony. In early 2007, the government explained that the inscription “In God We Trust” was “accidentally left off” of the initial minting of the new presidential dollar coins, only to correct the mistake by placing the words on the very edge of the coins – and not until major public pressure was placed upon them did our Congress require the Treasury to place the words back upon the face. In mid 2007, the Architect of the Capitol removed any mention of God from the flag-folding ceremonies at veterans’ funerals and earlier attempted to remove “God” from congressional flag certificates. And in late 2007 the chaplain of my organization discovered someone in the hierarchy of the Washington Monument had deliberately altered its display of the capstone replica, so that the visiting public would have no idea the Latin words “Laus Deo” (meaning “Praise be to God”) were actually inscribed on the very top of the monument as a celebratory finish and dedication.

And now religious revisionism is popping up again in the new Capitol Visitor Center.

While most recent news media covered Tina Fey and Congress’ foolish financial bailouts, reporter Bob Unruh and WorldNetDaily were virtually alone in exposing this latest divine omission at the U.S. Capitol. This massive, largely underground museum of sorts (about three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself) will have exhibition galleries, theaters, a 550-seat cafeteria, gift shops, etc. But absent is anything that discusses our Christian or religious heritage. That is why Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and the 108 congressional members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently petitioned the Architect of the Capitol by letter, which details and documents the incomplete and inaccurate religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center – also found in Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., YouTube video “War on God”:

1. No mention of our national motto, “In God We Trust”;

2. In displaying images of the current speaker’s rostrum in the House chamber, the phrase “In God We Trust” is omitted from its location engraved in marble above the speaker’s head;

3. The opening words in Article 3 in the Northwest Ordinance (1787) are excluded from an exhibit. The actual article reads, “Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The exhibit article reads: “Art. 3. … schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

4. There are factual inaccuracies regarding church services held at the Capitol in early decades of our republic, saying they were held when Congress wasn’t in session, when in fact they were held year around – and even the so-labeled strict-separatist Thomas Jefferson attended them throughout his eight years of presidency.

5. The exhibits include photos from Earth Day, an AIDS rally, various casino grounds and factories, but it does not include photos from monumental religious events such as the National Day of Prayer or the March for Life event, attended by thousands annually, etc.

6. There is an absence of any major display or description of the religious influence within or about the 200-plus year history of the Capitol.

“Historical buildings like the Capitol Visitor Center are there to tell the story of our nation,” said Rep. Forbes. “When religious history is removed from these displays, the American public is not able to observe an accurate depiction of our nation’s story. We owe it to those who have gone before us and to our future generations to provide a complete representation of our nation’s heritage. We will continue to fight until this is achieved in the Capitol Visitor Center.”

Well, thanks to their passion and diligence, Rep. Forbes, his aides and the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently informed the public of some good news that “the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to include references to our nation’s religious history. … [they] have acknowledged this important part of our nation’s history and have agreed to correct the omission of historical religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center.”

The release also notes that “The Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to the following changes to the Capitol Visitor Center:

  • That the phrase “Our Nation’s Motto” be removed from the plaque describing the engraving of E Pluribus Unum;
  • That “In God We Trust” be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center and that the panel describing the engraving include the proper recognition of this phrase as our national motto;
  • That the Pledge of Allegiance be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center.

“In addition, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration have agreed to the research and development of a permanent religious history display, and have agreed to make every effort to ensure that the display is erected in the Capitol Visitor Center as soon as possible.”

In addition, the following paragraph comes from an authentic e-mail sent from the office of Architect of the Capitol (acquired from my chaplain’s research on revisionisms) in response to a protest to the Capitol Visitor Center’s religious omissions. Unfortunately, the e-mail makes it appear to the public as if they have included these religious facts all along, when Rep. Forbes and the 108 members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus know likewise, and now you do, too.

References to religion and faith are, in fact, included in the context of several historic exhibits and several religious items appear in the displays. Some examples include Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance in its entirety; a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer said at the opening of the current Congress; a copy of the Bible used to administer the oath of office to Senators until 1882; portraits of the first House and Senate chaplains; information about religious services regularly held in the Capitol in the 1800s, and an unaltered display of the U.S. Constitution highlighting the First Amendment which established our country’s right to the freedom of religion.

That’s a good start, but I believe We the People need to help keep the pressure on these officials to assure these revisionist rectifications. With some 15,000 expected guests daily, included among them thousands of children and students from across America, it is our duty to assure the preservation of our Capitol’s religious history in the Capitol Visitor Center. That is why I am encouraging Americans to write or call the Architect of the Capitol communications officer (202-228-1793 or emalecki@aoc.gov) and also tell their representatives, “Thanks for pledging to correct the religious omissions at the Capitol Visitor Center. We look forward to seeing the changes and the ‘permanent religious history display.’ And if it isn’t worthy of our Capitol and country’s Christian heritage, we’ll be back to protest until you get it right!”

Is it merely coincidental that so many acts of revisionism have occurred over the last couple years at governmental historical sites? Is it merely coincidental that the more modern memorials in Washington (like the Roosevelt and World War II memorials) bear virtually no religious inscriptions at all, while all the former ones do? Is it merely coincidental that liberal erasers are right now busy elsewhere in the country deleting our Judeo-Christian heritage for the sake of fully secularizing our nation’s past for future generations? Of course not. Friends, we must stop these revisionist travesties from taking one more step. We must preserve the fact that our founders weren’t creating a secular state but a sectarian-free state – and there is a huge difference.

America’s fathers wholeheartedly believed in the premise stated in Psalm 33:12, which says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” But what would they have thought of a nation that removes God from its heritage, classroom instructions, civic ceremonies, buildings, monuments, historic sites, etc.? I believe the words of Thomas Jefferson are as fitting for religious apostasy as they were for slavery, words that were inscribed upon his memorial in Washington, D.C., around 1940: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. …”

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