Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Iran in the Foreign Ops Bill

On June 18, the House Committee on Appropriations released its Committee Report for “State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill, 2008,” also known simply as the Foreign Ops. bill. Here are some highlights on Iran:

Intelligence and research, Page 8

“The Committee recommendation includes the full request of $58,175,000 for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which is $6,300,000 and 8 positions above the fiscal year 2007 level. The increase is provided to augment the Bureau’s analytic staff in key areas such as terrorism, China, and Iran…”
Translation: increased money for Intelligence and Research staff positions within Department of State.

Anti-jamming efforts, page 40
“Further, the Committee supports efforts to counter internet censorship imposed by China and Iran.”
Economic Support Fund
, page 75-76
“The Committee recommendation includes $25,000,000 for programs in Iran, which is $50,000,000 below the request. The Committee is concerned that of the $25,000,000 appropriated for democracy programs in Iran in fiscal year 2006,
less than $2,000,000 had been expended as of the end of May 2007. The Committee is further concerned at the lack of adequate justification for the funds that have been requested in fiscal year 2008. The Committee urges that within the
amount provided, $5,000,000 be provided for women’s rights and support programs with a particular focus on minority communities. The Committee is aware of the work of the National Endowment for Democracy on these issues and encourages support for such programs.

“The Committee encourages the Department of State to assess and report back within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the feasibility, the cost and impact of implementing efforts to restrict the supply of refined gasoline to Iran to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran under cover of its nuclear program and provide a plan to implement such actions if deemed necessary by the Executive branch with approval from Congress.”
Economic Support Fund
, page 89
“The Committee has carried for several years language restricting assistance for the government of Russia due to its support for the Iranian nuclear program. Russian cooperation with Iran has, at the minimum, contributed to Iran’s uranium enrichment capability. In addition, Russia’s continued support for Iran’s ballistic missile capacity has directly contributed to increasing regional instability.

“The Committee continues its restrictions on funding for the Russian government again this year.”
The Committee also recommended the following new General Provision on Iran on page 142:
“Sec. 699C. ‘Programs to Improve Democracy, the Rule of Law, and Governance in Iran’ is a new section which provides that $50,000,000 should be available for democracy, rule of law and governance programs in Iran.”

Of related interest on Iran is report language calling for a GAO report on the effectiveness of democracy programs. Colleagues have suggested that this GAO report give particular scrutiny to Iran funds. Also, since it is going to be difficult to get the State Department to disclose who and what it is funding under Iran democracy promotion funds, perhaps the GAO could recommend that organizations that receive this funding self-identify.

Democracy programs, page78
“The Committee is concerned about the effectiveness of the democracy programs funded in this Act and the continued fragmentation of the administration of such programs across United States Government entities. The Committee therefore directs the Government Accountability Office to initiate a comprehensive assessment of the capacity of the United States Government to effectively administer democracy programs worldwide. This shall include a review of the respective capacities of the following entities with respect to their ability to effectively administer grants and/or contracts and provide effective strategic direction and support to such programs: the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID; the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the Department of State; the Middle East Partnership Initiative at the Department of State; and the National Endowment for Democracy. The report should be delivered to the Committees on Appropriations no later than 180 days following enactment of this Act.”

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