Jewish World Review April 2, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763
Keep Iraqi POWs off American dole
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Will President George W. Bush allow Iraqi troops to come to America, enjoy better welfare and health care benefits than our own soldiers, and endanger national security?
It has happened before.
After Gulf War I, the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration recklessly opened our borders to former Iraqi prisoners of war-from conscripts to elite Republican Guardsmen. The resettlement program was launched in response to pressure from the United Nations, the Saudi government (which balked at taking in the captured soldiers), and our own feckless State Department (which has, and always will, act like a hostile foreign entity).
As a result, an estimated 6,000 enemy Iraqi soldiers have resettled in the U.S. at public expense since 1993. Their welcome gifts included air travel, Medicaid, job and language-training assistance, health care, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), food stamps, Refugee Cash Assistance, and other welfare and housing benefits worth about $7,000 per person. (These, of course, are just the start-up costs.)
In total, the resettlement of Gulf War I-era Iraqi POWs and their family members in America soaked up some $70 million in taxpayer funds. No such aid was offered to American troops and their families who sacrificed during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
"We find it disturbing that American taxpayers must fund the travel of former Iraqi soldiers (who took up arms against our own soldiers) to the U.S.," noted Rep. Donald A. Manzullo (R-Ill.) in a 1993 letter to then-President Clinton. "Ironically, we provide the [POWs] with welfare services while asking our own veterans and service personnel to bear the burdens of deficit reduction."
Even more outrageous: the laxity of screening procedures for these enemy prisoners of war before they were allowed to settle across our home front, from Florida to Michigan, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, and California.
Advocates for the Iraqi POWs claimed that most were Shiite deserters who had participated in the U.S.-encouraged uprising against President Saddam Hussein; other combatants allegedly claimed they would face religious and ethnic persecution or would be executed for helping allied forces.
But one former State Department official and former Army counterintelligence officer who oversaw interviews for Iraqi POWs seeking asylum, Rob Frazier, recently told Los Angeles Weekly that "[most] of the people he saw had no documents to verify their stories." Saddam's sleeper agents could have easily blended into the refugee population because "we really couldn't background a lot of these guys, and I was getting all those reports [of sleeper agents] from inside the [POW] camp."
Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey added: "They should have vetted everyone in a reasonable manner before they gave them asylum. Instead, as the saying goes, we may have left our most important work undone."
Although a bipartisan group of 75 congressional representatives opposed the Iraqi POW resettlement in the 1990s on economic, equity, and national security grounds, the program continued unabated. All Washington could muster up were a pair of measly, non-binding House and Senate resolutions objecting to this dangerous reward plan for potential Iraqi infiltrators.
Fast forward to 2003.
The FBI is desperately seeking thousands of high-risk Iraqis who've disappeared into the American mainstream. A recently declassified report from the U.S. judge advocate general's office heightens concern about Saddam's sleeper agents lurking among the Iraqi POW/refugee population. "Few Iraqi prisoners of war [from Gulf War I] provided their real names, ranks, or other vital information," the JAG report stated, according to Newsweek. "Now, according to Iraqi opposition sources, Saddam has been issuing new identity documents under different names to thousands of his people..."
So far, we've captured more than 4,500 of Saddam's soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some may face U.S. military tribunals or special courts in Iraq. Irregular paramilitaries, captured in combat wearing civilian clothes, could be sent to Guantanamo Bay. And like thousands before them, countless other Iraqi POWs are hoping to win asylum in America.
We need a preemptive strike against another taxpayer-subsidized Iraqi POW invasion: Keep them off our dole. Keep them off our soil. Send the wretched refuse of the Iraqi military to a friendly welfare state where they'll be assimilated by appeasers with open arms:
Ship them to France.
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JWR contributor Michelle Malkin is the author of, most recently, "Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists Criminals & Other Foreign Menaces to Our Shores". To comment, please click here.