Nelson Mandela turns 90 on July 18. This morning, President Bush gave the former South African president and anti-apartheid leader an early birthday present by signing into law a bill removing Mandela and other members of the African National Congress from a three-decade-old terrorist watch list.
The bill had been sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Bob Corker:
It's high time we honored his message of human dignity and valor by removing unjustified travel restrictions placed on him and other members of the ANC," said Kerry. Whitehouse added, "This problem has caused injustice to South African leaders and embarrassment to the United States, and I'm glad it will be repaired."
Prior to the bill's passage, Mandela had been subject to travel restrictions and required special certification to visit the United States. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called on Congress in April to remove the restrictions, deeming them "rather embarrassing."