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U.S. Senate

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Do you believe 'Jihad Darrell'

By Debbie Schlussel

Every six months, a snake crawls out of its old skin, but it is still a snake. Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., "Jihad Darrell" should know this.

But while he tries to wriggle out of his recent pro-terrorist comments and actions abroad, he thinks he can fool us into believing he's a new creature.

Jihad Darrell made laudatory comments about Arab terrorist group, Hezbollah, while he was in Lebanon, his third trip in only a few months. It was reported by a number of Arab sources and newspapers, including the Tehran Times. He claimed that the activities of Hezbollah were "legitimate resistance," that the group does a lot of "humanitarian" things, that he has "tremendous sympathy" for its "work," and a number of other accolades usually not bestowed by U.S. congressmen on a group that killed over 261 American Marines and officials, is part of bin Laden's al-Qaida network, and helped bin Laden blow up the Khobar Towers (full of U.S. servicemen) by supplying the explosives.

I wrote a column about Jihad Darrell's outrageous remarks, and he apparently got a lot of hate-mail from his constituents. So, to writhe out of it, he claimed it was a lie that The Tehran Times made it all up to destroy Issa's self-alleged efforts at "the peace process" (in which he met with Yasser Arafat, but not Sharon, because of "U.S. tensions with Israel." Huh?)

Apparently everyone's lying, but Issa. Or are they? Issa's comments were featured in a number of Arabic news sources, not just the Tehran Times. On Oct. 31, London-based Al-Hayat reported that Issa made a proposal to Hezbollah to get the U.S. to recognize it and remove it from the State Department terrorist list. Issa claims that's a lie, too. Pro-Hezbollah utterances by Issa, similar to those in The Tehran Times, were reported by Lebanon's Beirut Daily Star, Syria's National News Agency and even in his own past comments before the committee on which he sits, the House International Relations Committee. Does the Congressional Record lie?

Jihad Darrell's chief of staff claims I'm an "unwitting dupe." But it appears the only "unwitting dupes" are those who voted for him in the last election. Their congressman is a super-duper "duper." A multi-millionaire car-alarm magnate who bought his election, Jihad Darrell built a long, solid record of dishonesty, which makes it very credible that he's lying now. His "rise to wealth had been accompanied by questionable events," the Washington Post reported. In his youth, he stole cars for a living, culminating in a 1972 grand jury indictment for car theft. A damning 1998 Los Angeles Times article reported that Issa allegedly threatened a former business partner at gunpoint and that arson was suspected in a mysterious 1982 fire at Issa's well-insured Ohio plant. Issa practically admitted holding his associate at gunpoint. "Shots were never fired," he said as justification in the San Francisco Examiner. Did John Dillinger use this excuse? Just like Bill Clinton, with whom Issa has way too much in common, Jihad Darrell managed to escape charges for an obvious crime.

Issa claims that as an "American veteran," it's preposterous that he'd try to legitimize Hezbollah. What's truly preposterous is that he'd use his military record to support his lies because, in the past, he's lied about that, too again, just like Clinton. If that's not enough, there's Issa's repeated ideological flip-flops. According to several political activists and officeholders I spoke with in his district, Issa changes political philosophies from liberal to conservative and back almost as often as some people change underwear. He told columnist Debra Saunders he opposed anti-profiling lawsuits by Arabs, then told other press sources he was introducing legislation to make the lawsuits easier.

With a record like this, it's hard to believe anything Jihad Darrell says. So who's really lying, here?

Syria's National News Agency is controlled by the iron fist of Syrian President Bashir Assad, and it is highly unlikely, since Issa also gushed over Assad in meeting with him, that Assad would have allowed his SANA to defame pandering crony Issa with false quotes. Ditto for the rest of the Arab press including the Tehran Times which has a record of being very friendly to Arab American leaders and officials who try to help their causes, a la Issa, who is trying to legitimize Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is run by the Iranian government in Tehran, and the Tehran Times accurately quotes both the leaders of Hezbollah and its supporters, like Congressman Darrell Issa. In fact, The Tehran Times is often quoted by highly respected Western sources to show what the terrorists actually say.

The Tehran Times' pro-Hezbollah quotes by Issa are even more believable because he's very tight with Salam Al-Marayati, chief of the radical Islamic group Muslim Public Affairs Council, who constantly praises Hezbollah as "freedom fighters," abusing quotes by Patrick Henry. Issa's never disagreed with him publicly.

Issa was aware of the Tehran Times piece at the time it came out at least two weeks before I wrote my column. But he said nothing. Many of his constituents contacted his office then and also two weeks later, when my column ran. In response, Issa's staff member, Andy Gharakani, e-mailed constituents that he was aware of the Tehran Times story for at least a week before my column. If the Tehran Times story was, indeed, false as Issa claims why did he not immediately respond to deny it, instead waiting until my column spurred bad PR due to his outrageous statements?

The answer is that Darrell Issa is styling himself on the Arafatian Model. Like his new best buddy, Terrorist-In-Chief Arafat, Darrell Issa tells the Arab press in the Middle East one thing (support and legitimization of Arab terrorism) and the Western press another. When he gets caught just like Arafat he hems and haws and denies and guffaws. That's why Issa waited until my column brought him a headache. Until then like Arafat he'd gotten away with it and gotten the best of both worlds: the radical Muslim world and the world of his district full of constituents, on whom he thought he'd "put one over."

Since, Issa thinks Hezbollah's done laudatory "humanitarian" things, in addition to blowing up U.S. citizens, why stop at Hezbollah? Bin Laden's done "humanitarian" things for Muslims, too spent millions on them. Why not compliment him, also? Does Issa think Hitler whose government provided the largest social welfare system of the time (if only to "desirables" and Arians) did "humanitarian" things, too?

With congressmen like Darrell Issa, who needs enemies?

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