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‘We are not in Jim Crow’: Burgess Owens blasts comparison to Georgia election law

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At a Tuesday hearing on voting rights titled “Senate Judiciary Hearing – Jim Crow 2021: The Latest Assault on the Right to Vote,” Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) slammed the notion that Georgia’s new controversial election law was similar to Jim Crow.

“As someone who’s actually experienced Jim Crow laws,” Owens said, testifying before the committee, “I’d like to set the record straight on the myth regarding the recently passed Georgia state law and why any comparison between this law and Jim Crow is absolutely outrageous.”

Talking about his experiences with Jim Crow, Owens explained that when he was only 12 years old, his father let him participate in protests with college students against segregation at the Florida State Theatre.

“I was the youngest participant there,” Owens said. “Only 50 years later did I learn that my father parked across the street to watch and make sure I was safe.”

The Utah Republican also brought up the segregation in schools, bathrooms, and gas stations, adding: “Jim Crow laws like poll tax, property tests, literacy tests, and bias and intimidation at the polls made it nearly impossible for Black Americans to vote.”

“The section of the Georgia law that has brought so much outrage from the left, it simply requires any person applying for an absentee ballot to include evidence of a government-issued ID on the application,” he said next.

“If a voter does not have a driver’s license or ID card, that voter can use a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or any other government document that shows a name and address of this voter,” Owens continued. “If a voter somehow cannot produce one of these forms of ID, that voter can still vote and cast a vote, a provisional ballot. By the way, 97% of Georgia voters already have a government-issued ID.”

“What I find extremely offensive is the narrative from the left that Black people are not smart enough, not educated enough, not desirous enough of education to do what every other culture and race does in this country: Get an ID,” the congressman said. “True racism is this, it’s the projection of the Democratic Party on my proud race. It’s called the soft bigotry of low expectation.”

He also criticized President Joe Biden for calling Georgia’s new election law “Jim Crow on steroids.”

RELATED: Biden: Georgia needs to ‘smarten up’ to avoid losing business

“With all due respect, Mr. President, you know better. It’s disgusting and offensive to compare the actual voter suppression and violence of that era that we grew up in with a state law that only asks that people show their ID,” Owens said. “This is the type of fearmongering I expect in the 1960s, not today.”

“To call this Jim Crow 2021 is an insult, my friends,” he later said. “For those who never lived Jim Crow, we are not in Jim Crow.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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Military was prepared to deploy to Gaza to rescue U.S. hostages

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The Washington Post released an in-depth report on the intelligence support the United States has provided Israel during its war with Hamas. The assistance has not only helped to find and rescue hostages, but the Post writes it has “also raised concerns about the use of sensitive information.”

The United States provided some of the intelligence used to locate and eventually rescue four Israeli hostages last week, The Post has reported. The information, which included overhead imagery, appears to have been secondary to what Israel collected on its own ahead of the operation, which resulted in the deaths of more than 270 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, making it one of the deadliest single events in the eight-month-old war.

Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, stressed that U.S. forces did not participate in the mission to rescue the four hostages. “There were no U.S. forces, no U.S. boots on the ground involved in this operation. We did not participate militarily in this operation,” Sullivan told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. He noted that “we have generally provided support to the [Israel Defense Forces] so that we can try to get all of the hostages home, including the American hostages who are still being held.”

One critical piece of information from The Post involves a “canceled” U.S. mission to rescue eight Americans:

In October, JSOC forces in the region were prepared to deploy in Gaza to rescue U.S. citizens that Hamas was holding, said current and former U.S. officials familiar with planning for what would have been an exceptionally dangerous mission.

“If we managed to unilaterally get information that we could act on, and we thought we could actually get U.S. people out alive, we could act, but there was genuinely very little information specifically about U.S. hostages,” one official said.

However, the intelligence-sharing relationship between the United States and Israel is not without scrutiny and concern. The Post reports:

In interviews, Israeli officials said they were grateful for the U.S. assistance, which in some cases has given the Israelis unique capabilities they lacked before Hamas’s surprise cross-border attacks. But they also were defensive about their own spying prowess, insisting that the United States was, for the most part, not giving them anything they couldn’t obtain themselves. That position can be hard to square with the obvious failures of the Israeli intelligence apparatus to detect and respond to the warning signs of Hamas’s planning.

The U.S.-Israel partnership is, at times, tense. Some U.S. officials have been frustrated by Israel’s demand for more intelligence, which they said is insatiable and occasionally relies on flawed assumptions that the United States might be holding back some information.

In a briefing with reporters at the White House last month, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington “has provided an intense range of assets and capabilities and expertise.” Responding to a May 11 Washington Post report, Sullivan said that the intelligence is “not tied or conditioned on anything else. It is not limited. We are not holding anything back. We are providing every asset, every tool, every capability,” Sullivan said.

Other officials, including lawmakers on Capitol Hill, worry that intelligence the United States provides could be making its way into the repositories of data that Israeli military forces use to conduct airstrikes or other military operations, and that Washington has no effective means of monitoring how Israel uses the U.S. information.

The Biden administration has forbidden Israel from using any U.S.-supplied intelligence to target regular Hamas fighters in military operations. The intelligence is only to be used for locating the hostages, eight of whom have U.S. citizenship, as well as the top leadership of Hamas — including Yehiya Sinwar, the alleged architect of the Oct. 7 attacks, and Mohammed Deif, the commander of Hamas’s military wing. The State Department in 2015 designated both men as terrorists. Three of the eight U.S. hostages have been confirmed dead, and their bodies are still being held in Gaza, according to Israeli officials.

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