Cross Posted from Musings of a Mad Conservative.
First, here’s the text of the act itself:
Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.
Before we tackle the above law in the context of today, (and please note the refreshing brevity of laws written in 1799, before we got really smart and decided to complicate things to the point where only 7 years of post secondary education could help us to decode our national registry,) let’s look at several recent violations of this law which went unprosecuted.
First a little note here. The Logan Act itself has never been the reason for anybody’s prosecution, in its entire 216 year history. So, there’s that. The reason of course is that it’s a political nightmare. Even when there is a clear violation, any prosecution will be immediately decried as partisan hackery, no matter how egregious the violation.
In 1977, Billy Carter, the brother of President Jimmy Carter danced with members of the Libyan Government for a nice publicity release on the evening news and stated that he was great friends with Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s terror sponsoring dictator. He announced that the Libyan Government had given him a large amount of cash so that he would be able to influence his brother’s foreign policy decisions and lobby on behalf of the Libyan interests.
In 1984, Senator Ted Kennedy, the drunken liberal lion of the Senate himself, went to the Soviet Union and met with Mikhail Gorbachev. In that meeting, he apologized for Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, promised a tangible change should Walter Mondale win election as our President, gave specifics of those changes, and requested campaign donations from the Soviets for Mondale’s efforts to defeat Reagan, complete with a promise to pay back those donations via future increases in foreign aid.
Also in 1984, Democrat Jesse Jackson traveled to both Cuba and Nicaragua in order to negotiate with the Communist Leaders of those respective nations, promising that he could affect foreign policy with his self styled and by the way not asked for peace mission to those nations.
In 1987 and 1988, Democrat House Speaker Jim Wright traveled to Nicaragua and also conducted negotiations with the Communist regime in power, based upon a Democrat winning the White House in 1988’s Presidential Election. His promise was that if they would simply talk nice for the remaining couple of years of a Reagan Presidency, then the Democrat successor would not pursue the same policy of aiding the Contras in their efforts to rid themselves of an oppressive Sandinista rule.
In 1985, John Kerry, the current Secretary of State, traveled to Nicaragua and conducted negotiations with the Sandinista Government, after expressly being warned off of doing so by the Reagan Administration.
In 2007, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Syria in order to conduct foreign policy negotiations with that great friend to the United State, Bashar Al Assad, again promising a change in foreign policy with a Democrat in the White House, and won’t he please write them an illegal campaign contribution check.
In 1974, Senator George McGovern was accused publicly by members of the Nixon Administration, but as Nixon’s own legal eagles pointed out, Nixon’s Administration approved the travel visas for McGovern and his entourage, making any claim that those talks were taking place without his O.K. a hard point to prove in court.
In 1941, Sumner Welles, then an Under Secretary of State for Franklin Roosevelt, publicly accused former President Herbert Hoover of violating the act for telling European Leaders that he would convey a request for food relief in war torn nations. America’s involvement in World War Two, plus Roosevelt’s own desires to get America involved in that war made his accusations moot rather quickly.
The only indictment under the act came in 1803, when an ambitious man named Francis Flournoy attempted to convince the Germans and French that a separate nation called Louisiana that would ally itself with France and Germany would be advantageous to both of those nations. He was never prosecuted, as France had made the decision to sell the Louisiana Territory in its entirety to the United States, and end her colonial ties to the Western Hemisphere.
There is something similar in each of the above examples of Logan Act violations. In each case, with the exception of Herbert Hoover’s, (and it should be noted that Roosevelt refused to back his Under Secretary in that accusation,) the offending party was a Democrat. That’s some track record.
Today I learned that there’s an actual petition up at the official White-House-file-a-silly-petition website which demands that the 47 Senators who sent an open letter, (meaning they published it in local news papers but addressed it to someone else,) to Iran’s ruling Mullahs. That letter basically served as an informational text, for those unfamiliar with the U.S. Constitution. I states quite correctly that while Presidents have the authority to negotiate treaties, said treaties are not official unless they are approved by the Senate. Now the petition in question conflates the Logan Act with Treason and Sedition, but we’ll put that aside for the moment, and circle back to the issue of Treason later.
Just for reference, here is the text from the U.S. Constitution, Article Two, Section Two, Paragraph Two:
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent
of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the
Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and
with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint
Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges
of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United
States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise
provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but
the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior
Offi cers, as they think proper, in the President alone,
in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
In terms of violating the Logan Act, there’s no way that anyone with two functioning grey cells could ever in a Million Sundays come to the conclusion that the aforementioned 47 Senators came anywhere close to that threshold. They have the authority of the United States to affect foreign policy. They may not have the right to negotiate treaties, but they do have Constitutional Authority to veto any Treaty negotiated and then proposed by our President. Publicly stating that fact, either through an open letter published world wide, or through personal correspondence does nothing other than to point out a very real and important fact for all concerned parties to know. In this particular instance, seeing as how our President seems hell bent on national suicide, I consider it to be an important fact for the world, most especially Americans, the Iranians, and even our President, to know ahead of time that he’s not likely to garner the consent of the Senate for a treaty likely to further that suicidal end.
All the 47 Senators have done here, far from acting to undermine the Chief Executive, is to remind him and everyone else for that matter, that they intend to exercise their Constitutionally mandated authority, by rejecting a pact that is clearly bad for the nation and the world as a whole. Accusing them of Treason is at best silly. Barack Obama campaigned on, twice by the way, a promise to do whatever was necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a Nuclear Weapon. Since his election in 2012, that promise made by Barack Obama, like every other promise made by Barack Obama, reached its expiration date. His new policy, never approved of by the American People, was that Iran should be allowed to obtain a Nuclear Weapon, but should be forced to wait until after Barack Obama leaves office, so that a Republican can be blamed for it. That’s closer to an act of Treason than anything that 47 Senators with Constitutional Authority to veto any proposed treaty have done.
Oh, there’s some treason being committed here, but it isn’t by anyone in the Senate. Our President, that guy who’s twice taken the oath to protect and defend our Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic, has sat down at a negotiating table with the single greatest purveyor of international terror, and coincidentally has openly declared war on our nation dating back to 1978, and basically agreed that we’ll let them have whatever they want, including the means to destroy a key ally and kill every Jew on the planet. Now that’s some treasonous activity right there, and something that must be dealt with. (Maybe a group of brave Senators who have finally had enough of watching a renegade President continue with his attempt to destroy our nation will act in an effort to stop the insanity, through an eloquent statement that they intend to perform their Constitutional duty and uphold the supreme law of the land.)
Of course, in a nation where suddenly facts themselves become malleable things, right is wrong and vice versa, those who would seek to protect our nation and allies are called out as treasonous, while those actively engaged in treasonous acts are busy claiming the mantle of patriotism. We have 19 more months of this, and in a morbidly sick sort of way, I can not wait to see what this group will come up with next.
Just to drive home the point of exactly how looney tunes the Left has turned over this, here’s a gem I read from one of those annoying Addicting Info links so thoughtfully supplied to my facebook timeline against my will:
The letter states that, “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.” But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification (my emphasis).” Or, as this outstanding 2001 CRS Report on the Senate’s role in treaty-making states (at 117): “It is the President who negotiates and ultimately ratifies treaties for the United States, but only if the Senate in the intervening period gives its advice and consent.” Ratification is the formal act of the nation’s consent to be bound by the treaty on the international plane. Senate consent is a necessary but not sufficient condition of treaty ratification for the United States. As the CRS Report notes: “When a treaty to which the Senate has advised and consented … is returned to the President,” he may, “simply decide not to ratify the treaty.”
So there you have it, don’t worry so much about what the Constitution actually says, but take this interpretation of it instead, and allow the gibberish to wash all over you. That’s the legal argument supplied to convince us that 47 Senators violated the Logan Act, where those previous cases of Democrats actually conducting face to face negotiations with bad actors against the express stated wishes of the Executive Branch, were not.