Senator Cruz blows up Biden’s Middle East nomination: “The American people have a right to know if the Biden administration is trying to pressure our allies to release extremists from the Muslim Brotherhood”
WASHINGTON, DC – US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered remarks on Senate floor this week, detonating President Biden’s candidate for Secretary of State Assistant for Near East Affairs, Barbara Leaf. In his remarks, Senator Cruz criticized Biden’s State Department and Ms. Leaf for hiding dangerous policy decisions from Congress and the American people. Read excerpts from his ground remarks below.
âI rise today to discuss the growing threats to US national security for the safety of our friends and allies in the Middle East. Under President Obama and Vice President Biden, the policies put in place have been a disaster for our allies in the Middle East and a boon for our enemies. “
âOnce again, the Biden-Harris administration is stimulating the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious extremist groups in the Middle East. They are uplifting the Palestinians at the expense of our Israeli and Arab allies. And they are dismantling the pressure on Iran. And again, they’re withholding these details from Congress. They don’t want Congress to know it, and they don’t want the American people to know it. And in some cases, unfortunately, they outright lie.
âMadam President, I know that President Biden and his administration refuse to answer, even lie about their policy in the Middle East, because I asked them. I asked them the question in the course of questioning Barbara Leaf, the president’s candidate for Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Over the next few minutes, I will discuss the responses I received. Ms. Leaf has been and will continue to be at the center of the Biden-Harris administration’s Middle East policy. She was responsible for Middle East policy from the start of that administration as senior director of Middle East and North Africa affairs at the National Security Council. In her new post to which she has been appointed, she would be America’s top diplomat for the Middle East. I asked Ms. Leaf written questions about the policies of the Biden administration in several areas of Middle East policy as part of her testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. His answers ranged from deliberately unresponsive to simply false. And all along, deeply, deeply distressing. For example, right now, the Biden-Harris administration is withholding $ 130 million in security and counterterrorism assistance from our Egyptian allies, allegedly for human rights reasons. What we don’t know is exactly why they are doing it and exactly what the Biden-Harris administration is asking for. Under the Obama administration, the United States inexplicably repeatedly encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood, which openly advocated terrorism against the United States. These extremists have been reinforced at the expense of moderate Arab allies. And they constantly misled the public about their goals. Here, the only reason the American public found out about that $ 130 million was because the Washington Post revealed it.
âThe Biden Harris administration didn’t explain to the American people what they were doing, it was only reporters’ reports that revealed it, and we still don’t know enough. We don’t know the details. The Post reported that “the administration is suspending aid until Egypt addresses certain human rights concerns.” We don’t know what they are. They apparently include the release of 16 anonymous prisoners. We don’t know who they are. So I asked Ms. Leaf for those details. I asked about the 16 people. I asked their names, their institutional affiliations, what they were accused of. I also asked if they were American citizens, and if they were not, I asked if they were involved in organizations that promote Islamic extremism or anti-Semitism. Ms. Leaf is obviously very familiar with the matter. She answered over 1,000 words of very, very technical responses. “
âMs. Leaf’s response to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is not to put too much emphasis on ‘go jump in a lake.’ How many of them are affiliated with terrorist organizations? Ms. Leaf’s response, âGo jump into a lake. How many of them are US citizens? Ms. Leaf’s response, âGo jump into a lake. Why is that? Why is the Biden-Harris administration extorting Egypt to release 16 prisoners, yet embarrassed to say who these prisoners are? “
“Who are they? Well let’s start with Salah Soltan. Who is Salah Soltan? He’s a Muslim Brotherhood propagandist. He’s a hate preacher. He’s someone who is on TV over and over again. and preaches the most vicious slanders against Jews. Why are the Democrats in the Senate trying to free vicious anti-Semites? Why are they suggesting – if you go back to the language of appropriation – why do they suggest in the language of appropriation that Should the United States fight to free this anti-Semitic and hateful preacher? We don’t know, because Senate Democrats are not defending this position and the administration refuses to respond.
“Who are the other people on this list?” Well you have Muhammad El-Baqer. He was a young Salafi activist. He was part of the revolutionary youth who started the revolution. And he was involved in security breaches. What about Ola Al-Qaradawi, she is the daughter of Yosef Al-Qaradawi, who was one of the main voices of Jihad within the Muslim Brotherhood. The print on it is deliberately opaque on both sides.
âWhen I asked Ms. Leaf about this, she provided 1,000 words and not a single name. And I’ll tell you that in fact the names on this list are not secrets of Congress. They were provided to Congress in a classified form. So Madam President, you and I can ride in a secure skiff, and we can read it in a SCIF. We can read the names. Do you know what we are not allowed to do? Tell anyone what the names are. Why are these names classified? They’re filed because President Biden and Vice President Harris don’t want the American people to know who they are trying to free. There is no reasonable justification for these names to be classified. They extort our friend and ally Egypt to free 16 people from prison, and they refuse to tell us who. The American people have a right to know whether the Biden administration is trying to pressure our allies to release extremists from the Muslim Brotherhood, whether the Biden-Harris administration is trying to get our allies to release anti-Semites, and if they do, to hear a justification for why. But Ms Leaf simply defies the Senate and refuses to respond.
âLet us now turn to Israel. During the Trump administration, there was a decision to stand side by side with Israel, which led to a historic flowering of peace in the region. The name and framework of these peace accords were the Abrahamic Accords. It was something the Obama administration said would never happen, and something sadly, tragically, that they were actively hostile to. The Obama administration has insisted that Israel should make massive concessions to the Palestinians over their sovereignty over Israel’s security.
âAt the start of the Biden administration, the State Department even issued internal guidelines prohibiting the use of the phrase ‘Abraham’s Accords’. These words were verboten; you cannot say these words. Instead, the instructions were to call them âthe standardization agreementsâ. George Orwell undoubtedly looks down from the sky and smiles at the power of language to be redefined. There are no “Abraham’s agreements”, now they are “normalization agreements”. Again, the only reason the public knows about it is because reporters have revealed it.
âIt’s conscious. It is deliberate. This is a model. This is a classic example of where congressional oversight is required. Democrats in the Senate, many Democrats in the Senate, claim to support the Abrahamic Accords. Now I would like to note, I was at the White House for the signing of the Abrahamic Accords. Not a single Senate Democrat came forward for this historic peace deal, none, presumably, because of President Trump’s partisan hatred. But nonetheless, Democrats in Congress say they support the deals today. If that’s true, we need to see congressional oversight. And so I asked Mrs. Leaf for the specific directives that were issued to the State Department – give Congress, give the Senate written directives prohibiting reference to the Abrahamic Accords. We know this from public reports in the media. She and the State Department refused. They refused to provide this guidance to Congress. They refused to show it to the public. It is not accidental. She refuses to answer this question because they want to hide it from the American people along with the names of the 16 prisoners they are asking Egypt to release.
âA third example, looking to Iran. Perhaps more than anything else, first and foremost, this administration wants to revert to the catastrophic Obama-Biden Iran nuclear deal, and dismantle meaningful sanctions against the theocratic regime in Iran. From the first hours of administration, the effort began to do just that. As part of this push, the administration has quietly, and sometimes covertly, reduced pressure on Iran and released frozen Iranian funds. But Ayatollah wants to see how much you can get. And he might not think President Biden will ever do anything meaningful. If the United States does not put pressure on Iran, there is no reason for Ayatollah to revert to the deal. He doesn’t have to take yes for an answer for a deal because he gets it all anyway. And so from very early in the administration, Biden-Harris officials considered what was called a “less for less” deal, in which they would reduce some pressure on Iran for something less than full compliance. “
âCongress and the public deserve to know what is being planned to reduce the pressure on the Iranian regime, the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. And a regime that seeks this, I believe it will be prepared to use nuclear weapons to assassinate millions of Americans and millions of our allies. I believe that if Ayatollah had the capacity to assassinate millions of Americans or millions of Israelis in the blink of an eye, the odds are far too high that this theocratic fanatic, who prides himself on death and suicide, would be willing to do it. So I asked Ms. Leaf for the details of these agreements. Here is what she said in response: “There have been no such arrangements, deals or agreements considered to reduce the pressure on Iran.” Madam President, this assertion is false. This is categorically, directly, unequivocally wrong. This is false testimony written to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Leaf knows this to be false, and State Department officials who forwarded her written response to the Senate know it to be false. What is the Biden administration trying to hide? What details don’t they want us to know? “