From NBC's Ken Strickland
Who knew Nelson Mandela was on the US terror watch list? Well as of today, he's not anymore.
This morning, President Bush signed into law a bill granting Secretary Rice the authority to waive travel restrictions on President Mandela and other members of the African National Congress (ANC). The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Sheldon Whitehouse, along with Republican Sen. Bob Corker.
The senators say Mandela and ANC members remained on the list "for activities they conducted against South Africa's apartheid regime decades ago." They also said in their written statement that the removal "end[s] an embarrassing impediment to improving U.S.-South Africa relations."
In announcing the president had signed of the bill, the White House did not mention Mandela by name. Instead the statement states rules under current law that "render aliens inadmissible due to terrorist or criminal activities would not apply with respect to activities undertaken in association with the [ANC] in opposition to apartheid rule in South Africa."
"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."