The medical doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden--only to be left hung out to dry in Pakistan--is getting an assist from an unlikely source: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. The Costa Mesa Republican--who blames most societal ills on illegal immigration and vomits a little in his own mouth when folks talk amnesty--introduced a bill in Congress this week that would allow Dr. Shakeel Afridi to cut to the front of the line and be granted U.S. citizenship. Rohrabacher also wants the Congressional Gold Honor bestowed on Jamrud hospital's chief surgeon.
Afridi helped U.S. officials find bin Laden, reportedly using a neighborhood hepatitis inoculation program as a ruse to get a DNA sample from children inside the Abbottabad compound where the 9/11 mastermind was hiding from the world, under the assumption the samples would match bin Laden's DNA.
Three weeks after the May 2011 raid that resulted in bin Laden's death was announced, Afridi was arrested by Pakistani officials and his family disappeared. A special Pakistan government commission recommended Afridi be charged with high treason for aiding in a foreign intelligence operation. Conviction could bring a death sentence.
"I'm very concerned about what the Pakistanis did with this individual," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta later told CBS News. "This was an individual who, in fact, helped provide intelligence on--that was very helpful with regards to this operation. And he was not in any way treasonous toward Pakistan. He was not in any way doing anything that would have undermined Pakistan."
Rohrabacher, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, issued a statement earlier this month calling for U.S. citizenship for Afridi, who has not been seen publicly for months.
"It is shameful and unforgivable that our supposed allies in Pakistan have charged Dr. Afridi, who contributed to the operation that killed Bin Laden, with treason," Rohrabacher says in the press release. "The United States needs to stand with those who help us. We have not forgotten about Dr. Afridi.
"By granting him American citizenship we will send a direct and powerful message to those in the Pakistani government and military who protected the mastermind of 9/11 for all those years and who are now seeking retribution on those who helped to bring Bin Laden to justice."
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Yesterday, Rohrabacher issued a separate press release announcing he would nominate Afridi for the congressional honor later this week.
"Dr. Afridi's acts to help the United States were extremely valiant and daring," the congressman says in that statement. "All Americans owe him our most sincere gratitude for helping to execute the terrorist who murdered thousands of innocent Americans.
"Awarding Dr. Afridi the Congressional Gold Medal is a great honor befitting a hero who took such great risks to help the United States achieve a major victory."