Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY13) represents Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York City. He is, to say the least, perturbed that Columbia University has eagerly embraced the chance to let Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speak on campus. And Fossella is not pleased by the freedom Ahmadinejad will have while in New York City. Vito Fossella intends to do something about it.
Last week, Fossella mailed Secretary of State Condi Rice a letter asking her to deny the Iranian President a visa into the United States. He wrote, “Mr. Ahmadinejad is the president of a country that is considered one of the world’s most egregious state sponsors of terrorism. He is also a Holocaust denier who is committed to the destruction of Israel and fomenting terror and instability in the Middle East and beyond. He as American blood on his hands dating back decades from his alleged participation in the 1983 bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon, which killed 241 soldiers, and his alleged role in the 1979 embassy hostage crisis. Evidence also links the Iranian regime to the delivery of improvised explosive devices (IED) to Iraq, which have killed countless American soldiers.” To no one’s surprise, Ahmadinejad is still coming.
That led Fossella to his next step. This week, the congressman is offering legislation that would prevent the leader of any country considered a state sponsor of terror, a classification made by our State Department, from free movement within the United States while here on United Nations business. Currently, the law allows foreign leaders free movement within 25 miles of the United Nations when the leaders are here on U.N. business.
Fossella’s legislation would only allow free movement between the airport, the United Nations, the mission of the leader’s country, and the leader’s hotel. Given the State Department’s designations, this legislation would only apply to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Venezuela, whose president called George Bush “the Devil” to the United Nations, would not be effected. It is the only country certified by the Secretary of State as not cooperating with our counter-terrorism efforts, but not itself considered a state sponsor of terrorism.
"Shame on Columbia for giving this madman a forum," Fossella said. "The University should have the good sense to deny Ahmadinejad a soapbox to threaten the destruction of Israel, deny the existence of the Holocaust and spew his venom about the United States. If the Board of Trustees of Columbia want to hear Ahmadinejad, let them go to Tehran. This legislation would put these propaganda tours out of business. If a rogue leader like Ahmadinejad has a reason to visit the UN, then his trip should be limited to the UN — with no stops on the terrorist lecture circuit or anywhere else. This bill would keep Ahmadinejad and others like him confined to the UN, their mission, their hotel and the airport — and hopefully back onto the first plane out of the United States."
I pointed out to Congressman Fossella that the Reagan Administration never hesitated to deny visas to terror leaders like Yasser Arafat and asked him if this might mean it’s finally time for the United Nations to take up permanent residence in Geneva, instead of New York. “I don’t take that position, said Fossella. “I do think, as much as I abhor some of the policies of the U.N. . . . I do think that, for all its warts, the country is better off to have it here in our own backyard.”
Vito Fossella will begin seeking sponsors for his legislation this week, as he files the legislation. “I would err on the side of not letting them in at all. . . . I would have done everything possible to prevent this leader from coming in.” This week, Congressman Fossella will take the next steps to make sure Ahmadinejad, if he must be let into the country, will not be given a bully pulpit at our universities and sacred sites.
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