Category: U.S. Constitution

A Tale of Two Kerrys: The Fractured Logic of America’s Left on Libya

“We came, we saw, he died.” This was the gleeful announcement of our previous Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, after hearing that Libya’s longtime strongman Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had been killed in the NATO-supported rebellion then surging throughout that country. This was a rather novel statement. Chief diplomats of leading powers seldom publicly celebrate the killing of foreign heads of state, no matter how repugnant, especially when the U.S. had been maintaining regular diplomatic relations with their government. But we need not have been too surprised by her remark. After all, altering the domestic political composition of the various Arab states had been a core feature of the Obama Administration’s orchestration of Middle East policy.

If the reader will indulge me, let us step back in time to 1986. Two American servicemen and a Turkish woman were killed in a West Berlin nightclub bombing traced to Libyan agents. Acting on intelligence intercepts, President Reagan ordered airstrikes against Gaddafi regime targets in Benghazi and Tripoli. Disappointingly, America’s allies in NATO acknowledged no obligation to respond to attacks that killed citizens of two member states on the soil of a third. France famously denied permission for U.S. warplanes to transit its airspace en route to Libyan targets. And Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, apparently believing there was ample time to reach an understanding with Colonel Gaddafi, criticized the Administration’s actions as disproportionate.

Ironically, the Bush II Administration reached such an understanding with the Libyan regime in the Post-9/11 Era. Gaddafi obviously sensed the direction of the wind when he agreed to dismantle his nuclear weapon development program and share intelligence on Al Qaeda-linked groups with the U.S. Government. The deal made sense for both sides. The flamboyant Gaddafi was never among the Arab world’s more pious leaders and was not particularly respected by the leading figures of Al Qaeda (which had maintained links to anti-Gaddafi elements in Libya). And by partnering with the Libyan intelligence apparatus, composed though it may have been of rather unsavory characters, the Administration excluded them from the business of state-sanctioned terror operations against U.S. targets.

I will be frank in saying that I did not wholeheartedly embrace this deal when it became known. Like many veterans, I regarded the death of my brother servicemen in 1986 as sufficient cause to have Gaddafi killed at a time and place of our choosing. But the deal was made and Gaddafi played his part. Thus, I felt we should stick to the bargain lest future attempts to bribe, coerce or cajole degenerate heads of state be hindered by the failure of the U.S. to live up to its promises. I reconciled myself to Gaddafi’s continued existence, satisfied that with the sword of Damocles hanging over him, we could use the Colonel as a source of leverage in the region. As long as we allowed Gaddafi to exist, as put by the Diplomad, “[h]e was like an old repentant Mafia chieftain who sought to make points with the FBI.” (http://thediplomad.blogspot.com/2013/01/consequences-of-obama-foreign-policy.html) Taking steps I admittedly never would have imagined a few years before, the U.S. established full diplomatic relations with the Gaddafi regime.

Though in perhaps a more subtle and nuanced fashion than his predecessor Secretary Clinton, John Kerry has expressed emphatic approval for our latest campaign in Libya. In the Senate hearing prior to his confirmation as Secretary of State, Kerry was asked by Senator Rand Paul why President Obama was justified in using U.S. force in Libya without Congressional authorization. Kerry replied, “The problem is, it just doesn’t work in some instances when 10,000 people are about to be wiped out by a brutal dictator and need to make a quick judgment about engagement, you can’t rely on a Congress that has proven itself unwilling to move after weeks and months.”

What a fascinating formula for action John Kerry has promulgated! If we accept this as precedent, in the future the Chief Executive can give Congress a chance to act appropriately, then simply overrule that body once it has “proven itself unwilling” to do what he desires. And notice that Kerry makes clear that he is now comfortable with the idea of striking on behalf of “people about to be wiped out,” thereby embracing the concept of preemptive action which so many liberals openly decried in the days leading to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, in accordance with the Kerry Doctrine, the President can strike who we wants, where he wants and when he wants, without need of Congressional authorization, so long as he thinks something is about to happen to somebody.

By his words and deeds John Kerry has become a visible symbol of the most harmful ideas of the American left. On the domestic front, he has advocated a Presidential war power for any Whitehouse occupant who believes he is better informed than the Congress. I would assume that this would include every single man to have held—and who will ever hold—the office. Kerry’s contradictory stance on our two Libyan interventions shows badly misplaced priorities. With his criticism of Reagan’s retaliatory action and rubber stamp endorsement of Obama’s multilateral adventure, Kerry shows he prioritizes support to projects of the U.N. and “international community” over action taken in direct response to attacks on U.S. personnel.

During intense debates on security matters, I am always amused to find liberals shocked that we dare label their deferential approach to international affairs as “anti-American.”

Throughout his career, John Kerry has done more to cement that label in place than our side ever could.

Advertisements

IMMIGRATION UPDATE: U.S. Government Now Giving Green Cards for Gay Marriage

During the course of the ongoing Comprehensive Immigration Reform debate, media outlets have called attention to the plight of Americans in same sex relationships who, it is claimed, have no means of petitioning for the legal immigration of their partners.  See for example one recent Seattle Times article at: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020501363_lgbtimmigrationxml.html.  Recently, the Obama Administration has made the inclusion of provisions for same sex immigrants part of their proposal for the complete overhaul of America’s immigration system.  However, it would seem that both the official line of the Administration and the popular line of the media are substantially outdated.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has permitted the issuance of green cards to same sex spouses since 2012.

Did you miss the news?  If so, this was likely because the change was neither widely publicized in popular outlets nor fully understood by commentators.  This change was made by means of a policy memorandum containing updates to the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), the desk reference used by the USCIS officers who adjudicate immigration petitions.  See Policy Memorandum (PM) 602-0061 here: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Outreach/Feedback%20Opportunities/Interim%20Guidance%20for%20Comment/Transgender_FINAL.pdf.  As noted in the memorandum, USCIS had previously conferred immigration benefits based on marriages including a transgendered spouse after receiving a medical certification verifying that the person in question had undergone sex reassignment surgery (a “sex change operation”).  This would seemingly have created a significant emotional and financial barrier for anybody who might assume a new sexual identity simply to marry a U.S. citizen and immigrate — undergoing irreversible reconstructive genital surgery is a rather high price to pay.

However, the procedural guidance in PM 602-0061 eliminates the requirement for any evidence of sexual reassignment surgery, requiring only a certification from any licensed physician affirming that the subject has completed “appropriate clinical treatment” in order for immigration officers to treat the person as having assumed their desired gender.  Like the Department of State’s guidance allowing U.S. passports to be issued with self-selected gender markers (see my previous article here: https://johnqpatriot.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/applying-for-a-u-s-passport-choose-your-own-gender/), this USCIS procedural change incorporates the suggestions of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).  This advocacy group, little known to the U.S. public, advocates such measures as providing hormone therapy to prepubescent children who are experiencing “gender dysphoria” in order to “delay the physical changes of puberty” and give them time to think about which gender they want to choose.  You may reasonably assume I have exaggerated their position, but I have not.  See their Standards of Care at: http://www.wpath.org/documents/SOC%20V7%2003-17-12.pdf.

Per WPATH guidelines adopted by USCIS, the physician need not have any special competency in sexual or mental health matters.  According to the black letter rules of PM 602-0061, a dermatologist would technically suffice.  While many U.S. physicians might shy away from providing such a memorandum to a casual walk-in client, this is not the case in many source countries for U.S. immigration.  Reportedly, in many developing world affidavits of almost any type may be procured from low-paid local physicians for less than $100.  Amazingly, most of these foreign physicians are not authorized to conduct the mandatory physical exams performed to assess the health of potential immigrants, yet their statements are considered credible enough to bind the U.S. Government to an applicant’s latest choice of gender identity.  Local attorneys specializing in U.S. immigration law can assist less sophisticated applicants in locating a physician willing to sign the required statement.  Once such a note is obtained, USCIS officers are explicitly forbidden from asking an applicant any further questions about the legitimacy of their newly chosen gender identity.  The doctor’s word is to be taken as final.

Put simply, once you have decided to immigrate to the United States, your gender is whatever you want it to be.

As with all USCIS petitions for spouses and fiances, a few constraints exist.  If a couple is already married, their marriage must be a “valid heterosexual marriage under the laws of the jurisdiction in which it was contracted.”  In the case of fiances, the couple must identify the state in which they intend to be married so that USCIS can verify their union would be recognized as a heterosexual marriage there.  However, this simply means that the self-asserted genders of the two partners must differ — they can both be members of the same anatomical sex, if state law does not explicitly forbid it.  Of course, you can choose to live in a different state than the one in which you are married in the event that your home state prohibits such marriages.  Thus, any person in the world can marry any U.S. citizen, regardless of gender, and settle legally in any state of the union they choose, regardless of that state’s marriage laws.

As a practical matter, a hypothetical gay American man who wishes to bring in his partner from overseas can file a immigration petition using the same basic procedures as any heterosexual.  The minor difference is that he will need his foreign partner to find a local doctor who is willing to sign an affidavit verifying that he (now “she,” for immigration purposes) has assumed a female gender identity.  It is not required that he then procure a birth certificate or passport in the new gender — even if his foreign birth certificate and passport indicate that he is male, he will be treated as female by USCIS based on the physician’s affidavit and the applicant’s own assertions.

The more militant among the gay activist community will likely object that this is degrading and that they should not have to pretend to be another gender in order to immigrate.  I will not address the merits of that position, but USCIS apparently anticipated this objection and addressed it indirectly with this legalese footnote: “For an individual who transitioned gender subsequent to a grant of conditional permanent residence, adjudication of a Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence does not require the validity of the marriage at the time of filing or adjudication….”  In plain terms, your immigration status is not affected if you transition to a new gender after arriving in the U.S.  Thus, if you were the hypothetical foreign gay man described above who assumed a new female identity in your home country, you can immigrate to the U.S., marry your partner and then experience a new transition back to a gay male identity.  In the end, you would be gay, male and married to your partner and would not lose your Green Card even if the state in which you were married would have forbidden the union under the latest factual circumstances.  Convoluted, perhaps, but a little ideological compromise now pays great dividends in the long run.

I hope this article has helped some of my readers understand degree to which agencies have effectively granted themselves legislative powers under the guise of routine regulatory revisions.  The Obama Administration has essentially won the gay marriage immigration battle before it was fought, simply by redefining unions that would previously have been regarded as homosexual in nature as heterosexual, regardless of the birth sexes of the parties.  When you can create your own facts, it matters little how the laws are written.

Please note that since PM 602-0061 only changed an agency’s regulatory operating guidance, it is not part of U.S. statutory law and the procedural guidelines discussed above would be nullified in the event that any contrary law is passed by Congress.