Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith

NEW JERSEY's 4th DISTRICT

<span class="kicker">Asbury Park Press Op-Ed</span>SMITH: Defiant killer still free 52 years later

2014/11/25

The week of Thanksgiving is often a difficult time for the daughters of Walter Patterson, who was attacked on Nov. 23, 1962, at his Wall gas station and died two days later, Nov. 25. Those sad anniversaries are made worse because they know that their father’s killer, George Wright, lives freely and defiantly today in Portugal.

In recent years I have been pushing the Obama administration to ramp up efforts to seek extradition of American fugitives who have taken refuge in other countries, with Wright and JoAnne Chesimard, who killed New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, at the top of the list. Both committed grisly murders in New Jersey, were convicted and sentenced, escaped prison and now live openly abroad, out of reach of our justice system.

Walter, a World War II hero and Bronze Star recipient, was brutally beaten and shot in the 1962 robbery. Wright was captured, tried, convicted and sent to prison. Justice seemed to be served. Unfortunately, he escaped from Bayside State Prison in Leesburg, Cumberland County, in 1970 and fled the U.S. in 1972 by hijacking a commercial jet. The FBI painstakingly tracked him down in 2011, but Portugal refused to extradite him, declaring it had granted Wright citizenship. Wright gave a gloating media interview, claiming “I really should be a role model of rehabilitation.”

Foerster was shot and killed on a routine traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. Chesimard was convicted and sent to prison. She broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in 1979 and made her way to Cuba, and has lived there ever since as an honored “guest” of the Castro government.

Wright and Chesimard are emblematic of why we need to bring fugitives back to the United States.

In 2011, Patterson’s daughter, Ann, testified at a Capitol Hill hearing I chaired on Wright’s unjust freedom and the efficacy of the U.S. extradition process. Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Winer also testified and said that the Portuguese judge’s refusal to extradite Wright to the U.S. was “legally indefensible” under international principles of extradition law.

Current Justice Department officials admitted to me that its “data management system cannot readily specify the number of (extradition) requests presented to a foreign country in a given time period.” Even more troubling, they claim that their system does not maintain a central repository for information on rendition requests — or their status. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice seems extremely reluctant to discuss not only the Wright and Chesimard cases, but even to provide basic information on the extradition system and whether it is working.

In other words, American family members are basically left on their own to pursue information and justice for a relative whose killer has outrun U.S. law enforcement.

To address this unfairness and garner more support for surviving family members, I have introduced the Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act. This bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by Rep. Albio Sires, D-N.J., would for the first time require the president to report annually to Congress on the number of American fugitives residing in other countries; a list of the countries harboring U.S. criminals; efforts made by the U.S. government to secure a return; the number of resolved cases; and factors that have been barriers to resolving cases.

Armed with this information, Congress would be able to exercise its oversight responsibility to ensure that federal agencies work more effectively with and on behalf of surviving family members like the Pattersons.

Both Patterson and Foerster were violently murdered and torn away from their families. In the name of justice, we owe it to the victims — and their surviving family members — to aggressively pursue extradition of convicted murderers and return them to U.S. prisons for the completion of their sentences.

Chris Smith is a Republican congressman who represents New Jersey’s 4th Congressional District.

Click here to view Smith's 2012 hearing on George Wright.
 
Click here to read Smith's Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act ,bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.),

Click on image below or here to view a 2012 CBS 48 Hours on the case:
 

 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/after-40-year-manhunt-can-fugitive-george-wright-be-brought-to-justice/2/

 
 

Read More

<span class="kicker">Trentonian Op-Ed</span>Put Fugitives Back in American Prisons

2014/11/25

BY U.S. REP. CHRIS SMITH (NJ-04)
for the Trentonian  

The week of Thanksgiving is often a difficult time for the daughters of Walter Patterson, who was attacked on Nov. 23, 1962 at his Wall, N.J. gas station and died two days later Nov. 25. Those sad anniversaries are made worse because they know that their father’s killer, George Wright, lives freely and defiantly today in Portugal.

    In recent years I have been pushing the Obama Administration to ramp up efforts to seek extradition American fugitives who’ve taken refuge in other countries–with George Wright and cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard, who killed New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, at the top of the list. Both committed grisly murders in New Jersey, were convicted and sentenced, escaped prison and now live openly abroad–out of reach of our justice system.

    Walter, a World War II hero and Bronze Star recipient, was brutally beaten and shot in the 1962 robbery. Wright was captured, tried, convicted and sent to prison. Justice seemed to be served. Unfortunately, he escaped from Bayside State Prison in Leesburg in 1970 and fled the U.S. in 1972 by hijacking a commercial jet. The FBI painstakingly tracked him down in 2011, but Portugal refused to extradite him, declaring it had granted Wright citizenship. Wright gave a gloating media interview, claiming “I really should be a role model of rehabilitation.”

    Trooper Foerster, a Vietnam War veteran from Old Bridge, was shot and killed on a routine traffic stop on the N.J. Turnpike. JoAnne Chesimard was convicted and sent to prison. She broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in 1979 and made her way to Cuba, and has lived there ever since as an honored ‘guest’ of the Castro government.

    Wright and Chesimard–both convicted murderers and prison escapees who are living openly abroad–are emblematic of why we need to bring fugitives back to the United States.

    In 2011, Walter Patterson’s daughter, Ann, testified at a Capitol Hillhearing I chaired on Wright’s unjust freedom and the efficacy of the U.S. extradition process. Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Winer also testified and said that the Portuguese judge’s refusal to extradite Wright to the U.S. was “legally indefensible” under international principles of extradition law.

    Current Justice Department officials admitted to me that its “data management system cannot readily specify the number of [extradition] requests presented to a foreign country in a given time period.” Even more troubling, they claim that their system does not maintain a central repository for information on rendition requests—or their status. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice seems extremely reluctant to discuss not only the Wright and Chesimard cases, but even to provide basic information on the extradition system and whether it is working.

    In other words, American family members are basically left on their own to pursue information and justice for a relative whose killer has outrun U.S. law enforcement.

    To address this unfairness and garner more support for surviving family members, I have introduced theWalter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act.This bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.), would for the first time require the President to report annually to Congress on: the number of American fugitives residing in other countries; a list of the countries harboring U.S. criminals; efforts made by the U.S. government to secure a return; the number of resolved cases; and factors that have been barriers to resolving cases. Knowledge is power and armed with this information, Congress would be able to exercise its oversight responsibility to ensure that federal agencies work more effectively with and on behalf of surviving family members like the Pattersons.

    Both Walter Patterson and Trooper Foerster were violently murdered and torn away from their families. In the name of justice, we owe it to the victims—and their surviving family members—to aggressively pursue extradition of convicted murderers and return them to U.S. prisons for the completion of their sentences.

Click here to view Smith's 2012 hearing on George Wright.
 
Click here to read Smith's Walter Patterson and Werner Foerster Justice and Extradition Act ,bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.),

Click on image below or here to view a 2012 CBS 48 Hours on the case:

 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/after-40-year-manhunt-can-fugitive-george-wright-be-brought-to-justice/2/

Read More

<span class="kicker">Two Smith Humanitarian Bills Advance…</span>Ebola Virus & Anti-Hunger Bills Passed by Key House Committee

2014/11/21

The  House Foreign Affairs Committee Thursday approved two key humanitarian aid bills authored by Rep. Chris Smith – one to help contain and better treat Ebola at points of origination overseas and a second bill to combat world hunger by enhancing agricultural and nutrition activities in poor countries. The adoption of both bills at the full committee level improves the chances that each bill will be considered by the full congress before the end of this year.
 
    “I am proud to have introduced H.R. 5656, the Global Food Security Act, and to have the support of co-sponsors across the aisle,” Smith said. “This important legislation will help provide a long-term solution to global hunger by authorizing a national food security program coordinated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) known as Feed the Future.  This program strengthens nutrition, especially for children during that critical first 1000 day-window, from conception to the child’s second birthday, and also teaches small-scale farmers techniques to increase agricultural productivity, thereby helping nations achieve food security – something that is in the national security interest of the United States as well.”

     
Smith also noted that the legislation is “fiscally-responsible, as helping countries become agriculturally self-sufficient should lead to a reduction in the amount of money we spend on emergency food aid.”

    Over 800 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger. The Smith bill, co-sponsored by Democrat Betty McCollum, coordinates the efforts of 11 government agencies in improving basic nutrition and reducing hunger within the poorest of 19 priority countries. It promotes women’s economic empowerment and building the capacity of local small scale farmers.

    Begun by President Bush and continued by President Obama, the current U.S. food security program has been funded by Congress in annual appropriations legislation, but without official statutory authorization. The Smith bill would permanently codify and authorize such efforts and help marshal a worldwide commitment to tackling hunger and malnutrition. USAID will be the lead U.S. agency, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture, the Department of State, the U.S. African Development Foundation and the other agencies.

    The Foreign Affairs Committee also passed another key Smith legislative initiative on the Ebola crisis.
 
    Smith, who chairs the Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Global Health, has held three hearings on the West African Ebola epidemic since August – the most recent one on Tuesday, November 18 – on the extent of this epidemic and the U.S. government response. The unprecedented epidemic has killed more than 5,000 people, with another 14,000 people known to be infected.

    “In previous hearings, we were told that if the rate of infection continued at the level it was at the end of summer, we could have 1.4 million Ebola cases in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone by the end of January,” Smith said. “Due to the robust programming of our government in Liberia, the rate of new infections there is slowing measurably, and we may avoid this dire prediction.”

    H.R 5710 – the Ebola Emergency Response Act – lays out the steps needed for the U.S. government to continue to effectively help fight the West African Ebola epidemic, especially in Liberia, the worst-hit of the three affected countries. The bill supports staffing and training health care personnel, establishing fully functional treatment centers, conducting education campaigns among populations in affected countries and developing diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. It confirms U.S. policy in the anti-Ebola fight and provides necessary authorities for the Administration to continue or expand anticipated actions in this regard.

    “Unless we can prevent the further increase in Ebola cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, there will be increasing pressure on the United States and the rest of the international community to combat this threat once it reaches our shores,” Smith said.

    At today’s committee mark-up, Smith also offered a substitute amendment to H.R. 2901, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act, enhancing local capacity for critical water projects, including safe drinking water.

    Smith has spearheaded similar U.S. international, health and nutritional initiatives throughout his career dating back to legislation he successfully offered in 1985 to restore and double the commitment to the then Child Survival Fund program to protect children who would otherwise die from preventable, curable diseases. 

###

Read More

Smith Urges Resolution of Nigerian Government Crisis

2014/11/21

The National Assembly of Nigeria was closed down Thursday in the wake of an effort to block opposition lawmakers from entering the Nigerian House of Representatives.

    The apparent main target was Speaker of the House Aminu Tambuwal, who left the ruling People’s Democratic Party recently to join the opposition All Progressives Congress. Congressman Chris Smith, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, urges the Nigerian executive branch to respect the democratic process and cease and desist efforts to interfere with the legislative branch.

     “Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa, and as such has been watched closely by other democratic governments in Africa,” Smith said.  “If the executive branch of Nigeria successfully thwarts the ability of its legislature to operate, other governments could follow, and democracy in Africa will be placed in grave danger.”

     
Speaker Tambuwal was able to enter the House chambers only after his colleagues overpowered State Security Service and police officers blocking his entry.  At least 15 other House members from his party had to scale a fence erected to block them from entering the building.  Several members reportedly were overcome by tear gas used by Nigerian security and police personnel.  In the wake of the conflict, Senate President David Mark closed the entire National Assembly.

    The National Assembly had been reconvened at the request of President Goodluck Jonathan to consider his request for an extension of the state of emergency in three states in northeastern Nigeria beset by attacks from the terrorist group Boko Haram: Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

###

Read More

Obama Continues to Violate Hyde

2014/11/20

A new website was unveiled today to address the appalling lack of transparency of abortion coverage in Obamacare by the Administration.

    “Obamacareabortion.com is an extraordinarily useful new tool for healthcare consumers,” said Smith. “The Obama Administration’s cover-up of abortion insurance plans on the exchange is unnecessary, unacceptable and absolutely unconscionable. Consumers have a right to know. Abortion is not healthcare – it dismembers and chemically poisons defenseless unborn children and hurts women.”

    With “open season” beginning Nov. 15, the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) and Family Research Council (FRC) have been examining healthcare.gov and state-based exchanges for general information on abortion coverage and the accessibility of that information. Researchers from CLI and FRC and Smith, sponsor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act (HR 7), shared their findings to date and announce a new website, www.obamacareabortion.com.

     An extensive audit this summer by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released in September found that 1,036 Obamacare exchange plans covered elective abortion. GAO also found that separate billing of the abortion surcharge–required by the Affordable Care Act–is not being enforced and the abortion-funding premium is again in 2015 being illegally rolled into the total plan cost. Healthcare consumers are therefore buying health insurance with little or no knowledge that they are purchasing abortion-subsidizing plans.

    “On September 9, 2009 President Obama told lawmakers and the American public in a specially called joint session of Congress on healthcare reform that ‘under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion,’” said Smith. “In an 11th hour ploy to garner a remnant of pro-life congressional Democrats absolutely needed for passage of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), the President issued an executive order on March 24, 2010 that said: ‘the Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to newly created health insurance exchanges.’ Turns out that those ironclad promises made by the President himself are absolutely untrue, and ranks right up there with President Obama’s oft stated deception that if you like your health insurance plan you can keep it, dubbed Politifact’s 2013 ‘lie of the year.’” Click here to read Smith’s remarks.

    Smith was joined at the press conference with Arina Grossu from FRC; Genevieve Plaster from Charlotte Lozier Institute, and; Kerri Kupec, Alliance Defending Freedom.

###

Read More

<span class ="kicker">Washington Times article:</span> Groups push for openness on subsidized abortions

2014/11/20