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Congress Votes To Bar Entry To Iran’s U.N. Ambassador

Congress has unanimously approved a bill that would deny entry to Iran's U.N. ambassador, who in 1979 was a member of a student group that seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The legislation is a blanket prohibition to "deny admission to the United States to any representative to the United Nations who has engaged in espionage activities against the United States, poses a threat to United States national security interests or has engaged in a terrorist activity against the United States."

It passed in the House late Thursday after a voice vote in the Senate and now goes to President Obama, who must decide whether to sign it into law and upset diplomatic convention or veto it and face a likely political backlash.

At immediate issue is Iran's choice of Hamid Aboutalebi as its U.N. ambassador. Aboutabeli says he only served as a interpreter for the student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days during the takeover.

But the White House has opposed Aboutabeli and "made clear and have communicated to the Iranians that the selection they've put forward is not viable," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday.

Iran has called the rejection of Aboutabeli "not acceptable," insisting that he is among its most able diplomats and that international protocols would be thwarted if the U.S. denied him entry to take up his post at United Nations headquarters in New York.

As The Associated Press reports:

"In past, problematic cases - such as with a previous Iranian nominee in the early 1990s and more recently with Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir - the U.S. has either signaled opposition to the applicant and the request has been withdrawn, or the State Department has simply declined to process the application. Those options, as well as approving or denying the application, are available in the current case."

The Senate bill was sponsored by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. As the National Journal writes:

"Cruz doesn't often find friends on the opposite side of the aisle, but his bill had the backing of the third-ranking Senate Democrat, New York's Chuck Schumer. 'It may be a case of strange bedfellows, but I'm glad Senator Cruz and I were able to work out a bill that would prevent this terrorist from stepping foot on American soil,' Schumer said in a statement."

NPR's Michele Kelemen examined the controversy surrounding Aboutalebi in this report last week.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 11, 2014 at 10:36 a.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

The United States needs to be above the pettiness of dictatorships.

Unless this man was convicted of something or has a warrant for arrest here based on something we have hard evidence he actually did, then he should be allowed to enter.

We shouldn't be banning someone because they were part of a student movement decades ago that was opposed to U.S. Policy unless there is proof he specifically engaged in criminal activity beyond protesting and/or translation.

I mean we let Ahmadinejad and Gaddafi both come into this country and deliver their psycho tirades at the U.N. (as we should have, free speech), so why not let this guy in?

Ted Cruz is, as usual, just trying to bolster his own image by wasting time on petty garbage like this and it's disappointing that the rest of Congress is going along with it.

Cruz is the epitome of a political hack.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | April 11, 2014 at 10:40 a.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

By the way, Obama should absolutely veto this.

We are in delicate diplomacy with Iran currently, we are making good progress to finding a NON-MILITARY diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program.

It would be quite the shame if it gets derailed by something as petty as this.

I'm sure that's exactly what Cruz and his ilk want, they want us to go to war with Iran and they want the U.S. Government's work at a diplomatic solution with Iran to go down in flames.

Shame on Cruz for playing such vile political games, he is an idiot.

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Avatar for user 'StuartHurlbert'

StuartHurlbert | April 11, 2014 at 3:58 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

Very well-stated, Duckie!

Obama should ignore this pettiness, even if pettiness and policy are among his own fortes.

Republicans engage in this as a distraction from the fact that most of them, including all current Republican presidential candidates, are afraid to confront Obama on his monarchical implementation of massive de facto amnesties for illegal aliens, and his attempts to increase legal immigration and double the rate of U.S. population growth

Romney had the cojones to advocate attrition by enforcement as the most highly principled and effective way to deal with illegal immigration. But most members of his party suffer badly from el fenomeno microcojonico and have abandoned principle in this area.

Microcojones are sufficient to go after someone who as a kid 30+ years ago put on a bandanna and went out and raised hell with his buddies, egged on by a bunch of old guys in turbans. But do anything useful in Congress? Never.

What a coward Cruz is!

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Avatar for user 'StuartHurlbert'

StuartHurlbert | April 11, 2014 at 4:02 p.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

Oops. Reference in first sentence was to BAD policy.

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