Enforce the Logan Act or Repeal It

posted at 1:30 pm on November 14, 2010 by Laura

Liberals are outraged by Eric Cantor’s assurances to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the GOP will “serve as a check” to the Obama administration.  Adam Sewer wrote regarding Cantor’s and many other Republicans’ response to Nancy Pelosi’s unauthorized 2006 visit to Syria, “Based on Cantor’s own standard, he’s just committed a felony.”  He quoted Cantor himself:

Presenting Assad with “a new Democratic alternative” — code for making President Bush look feckless — Mrs. Pelosi usurped the executive branch’s time-honored foreign-policy authority. Her message to Assad was that congressional Democrats will forbid the president from increasing pressure on Damascus to stop its murderous way. Several leading legal authorities have made the case that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American “without authority of the United States” to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.

Glenn Greenwald griped, “Imagine if a leading Democratic Congressman told a leader of a foreign country he’d side with them against the GOP US President” and “Imagine John Kerry, 2006, to French President Jacques Chirac: ‘I’ll safeguard French interests against President Bush’.”  We don’t have to imagine situations where top-level Democrats have worked to undermine U.S. policy abroad.  There are plenty of examples.  David Freddoso referenced one when he tweeted in reply, “No need to imagine.  It happened in 02.”  Greenwald complained,

Had Cantor done this with any foreign nation other than Israel, this would easily be the leading political controversy of the week.

Liberals have whined for years about the “Israel exception” where Republicans are accused of violating the Logan Act with regard to Israel.  But if Democrats don’t violate the Logan Act in Israel, they certainly feel empowered to do so in the rest of the world.

1970: John Kerry, as an inactive Navy reserve officer, met during wartime with enemy officials while his government was trying to conduct negotiations with them.

1983: Ted Kennedy secretly offered to help the Russians “counter the militaristic politics of Reagan” during the Cold War.

1984: Top Congressional Democrats including Jim Wright, Edward Boland, Lee Hamilton, and Stephen Solarz wrote the “Dear Commandante” letter to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, which stated, “As members of the U.S. House of Representatives… We have been, and remain, opposed to U.S. support for military action directed against the people or government of Nicaraugua.”¹

1987: House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) took it upon himself to conduct negotiations with Ortega.  Nor was he the only Democrat involved – several were caught during CIA surveillance of the Sandinistas.

1992: Judiciary Committee Republicans sought a special prosecutor to investigate recent newspaper reports that a consultant who may have said he had links to the Clinton campaign sought to stall a final accord on reduced trade barriers after six years of negotiations among 108 nations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.  (They were denied, reducing the story to he said, she said.)

2002: Democrats David Bonior, Jim McDermott, and Mike Thompson took what turned out to be a junket sponsored by Saddam Hussein to Baghdad to oppose the embargo and the upcoming war in Iraq.

2006: Senator Ben Nelson met with Syrian President Bashar Assad, “without the authority and contrary to the wishes of the Bush administration, including the State Department.”

2007: Howard Dean admitted, “I am trying to build relationships with other governments in preparation for a Democratic takeover.  I want to make clear that there is an opposition in America and that we are ready to take power and that when we do, we are going to have much better relationships with them.”

Nancy Pelosi also met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2007, along with Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MN), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), and David Hobson (R-OH).

2008: Then-Senator Obama tried to talk the Iraqi government into delaying the draw-down agreement in 2008.

Are all these examples actual violations of the Logan Act?  That’s for a court to decide, but the problem is that one never will.  Government officials, especially Democrats, violate it with impunity because they’re confident they’ll never be prosecuted.  It’s rare they even get bad press for doing so.  If these were social visits, perhaps Democrats should reconsider who they’re hanging out with.

Isn’t the real lesson here that the Logan Act is meaningless except for its value as a political cudgel?  If the Logan Act is not going to be enforced, it should be repealed.  I don’t know whether Cantor violated the Logan Act by making those comments to Netanyahu but if the DOJ thinks he did, by all means, prosecute him for it.  Democrats are going to be hit a lot harder by Logan Act enforcement than Republicans will.  And if the DOJ continues to enforce the law unequally (sanctuary cities get a pass, yet Arizona is prosecuted; some voter intimidation is more equal than others) then the 2010 teanami is going to seem like a pleasant day at the beach for Democrats in comparison to the 2012 wipeout.

Added: Gabriel Malor notes that libs are misstating what Cantor’s office actually said, Legal Insurrection provides roundup of liberal freakouts on this topic, and a reminder of who we’re dealing with – remember when Greenwald was reduced to sockpuppeting in order to receive a kind word?  Bottom line – let’s assume that everything the left is claiming about Cantor’s statements to Netanyahu are true.  Still doesn’t come close to what Democrats have gotten away with.  Either enforce the law or repeal it.

.

¹Edwin Meese, With Reagan: The Inside Story (Regnery Publishing) 238.

Crossposted.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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1983: Ted Kennedy secretly offered to help the Russians “counter the militaristic politics of Reagan” during the Cold War.

Teddy the Traitor.

amerpundit on November 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Before we get our shorts in a wad over this one, think for a minute about the issue UNDERNEATH this one; If our elected leaders have the power to enforce only those laws they agree with, do we really have a government of laws or a government of men?
Re: immigration and a whole laundry list of others????

Lew on November 14, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Hey, don’t forget all of Jesse Jackson’s trips around the world.

Iblis on November 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM

what is sad is that i can think of several others off the top of my head that you forgot. and that is just jimmy carter alone.

chasdal on November 14, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Teddy the Traitor Bear.

amerpundit on November 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Shy Guy on November 14, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Laura, the difference is that the Democrats do it with “nuance”.

GarandFan on November 14, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Actually the list on the Syrian visit was pretty long… and the gripe on that is more than just meeting with a foreign leader: it was meeting with a leader that the President had said they should not meet.

The President is the sole authority on that, and that was ruled on in 1936 in US vs Curtiss-Wright. In particular the SCOTUS held the following:

(8) In the international field, the sovereignty of the United States is complete. Id.

(9) In international relations, the President is the sole organ of the Federal Government. P. 319.

(10) In view of the delicacy of foreign relations and of the power peculiar to the President in this regard, Congressional legislation which is to be made effective in the international field must [p306] often accord to him a degree of discretion and freedom which would not be admissible were domestic affairs alone involved. P. 319.

(11) The marked difference between foreign and domestic affairs in this respect is recognized in the dealings of the houses of Congress with executive departments. P. 321.

(12) Unbroken legislative practice from the inception almost of the national government supports the conclusion that the Joint Resolution, supra, is not an unconstitutional delegation of power. P. 322.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the President, he is of a different party or if you think he is just plain wrong. The Executive holds the power and it is vested in the President which is a sole holder of it, and when he makes a foreign policy decision it has the same force as a law made by Congress and the Congress cannot over-rule nor countermand it as they are not granted the power to do so.

The foreign policy power of Congress is via treaty the treaty ratification process (yea/nay) via the Senate and then procedural affairs via legislation if a treaty allows it. Anything outside of the treaty process is held by the President.

I don’t like it when Congresscritters of either party ignore the directions of the President on foreign policy, and it doesn’t matter which party the President is from. To have a coherent foreign policy we vest that power in the President as a people… the President can be Impeached, or not win election in the first place, but that power is there for a reason.

Do I have some heartburn with Cantor? What was Obama’s directive on that? Did he offer any? The Logan Act comes further down the food chain after that.

Pelosi, et. al. and Syria? Bush said ‘No you shouldn’t meet him’ and they went ANYWAY. Who has the power to actually say if you should or shouldn’t meet with a foreign leader in the first instance? The President. If he is silent then normal legal procdures can take place… I’ve got a ton of heart-burn with that meeting, way more than Cantor, and perhaps just a bit less than Kennedy, who has finally had his last round of scotch.

ajacksonian on November 14, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Media Ignores Pro-Obama Merchandise in Hamas-controlled Gaza

While President Obama’s Middle East policy has alienated many Israel supporters, he seems to be generating quite a fan base in the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip. Posters, mugs and other products plastered with doctored photos of Obama in Palestinian garb have recently been filling the shelves of gift shops in the Palestinian territory, according to New York Post columnist Amir Taheri.

(…)

“Abu Hussain, Palestine Loves You” – Abu Hussain being a poorly-spelled reference to Obama’s middle name. The store also sells Obama dolls festooned with vests, swords, grenades and guns.

mudskipper on November 14, 2010 at 2:05 PM

OT Just lstening to Axlerod on Wallace show. Are any of these people capable of speaking clearly? Um, stutter,er,um.

katy the mean old lady on November 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

Difference is Cantor is speaking to an ally.

HAExpert on November 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

katy the mean old lady@2:07,
They have to stutter because they are trying to recall when and which lie they told. If you tell the truth, you might be able to speak clearly.
L

letget on November 14, 2010 at 2:16 PM

The Peloci thing was kind of a different scale, though I would like all of our laws enforced equally.

Count to 10 on November 14, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Difference is Cantor is speaking to an ally.

HAExpert on November 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM

Good point, the dems always meet with our enemy nations in the hopes of appeasement. They ALWAYS prefer America’s enemies to her allies.

Tim Zank on November 14, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Lest we forget Jimmie Carter.

dalec on November 14, 2010 at 2:36 PM

When the president is supporting our enemies at the expense of our friends the flap seems trivial.

duff65 on November 14, 2010 at 2:37 PM

No one should have ever had to take a back seat to Teddy!

ericdijon on November 14, 2010 at 2:42 PM

I think that of all the examples given, the low point is Nancy’s trip to Syria. I lost a lot of respect for Bush when he did absolutely nothing about it. I think Michelle Malkin is correct when she warns us about jumping too quickly on the “saint” Bush bandwagon.

CCRWM on November 14, 2010 at 2:42 PM

1983: Ted Kennedy secretly offered to help the Russians “counter the militaristic politics of Reagan” during the Cold War.

Teddy the Traitor.

amerpundit on November 14, 2010 at 1:45 PM

Teddy took the Logan Act for a drive in his car.

Kafir on November 14, 2010 at 3:01 PM

But if Democrats don’t violate the Logan Act in Israel, they certainly feel empowered to do so in the rest of the world.

All of those previous unauthorized dances with opposition regimes is viewed more clearly through the prism of the marxist bent of the dhim party and it’s sponsorship by Soros, most blatantly in these last two years.

However few of them would have been so emboldened without operational approval and cover by the corupt and traitorous MSM.

ontherocks on November 14, 2010 at 3:15 PM

1990: “In November 1990, two months after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, [Jimmy] Carter wrote a letter to the heads of state of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. He urged the countries to drop their support for Bush’s proposed military solution. Instead, as Douglas Brinkley outlines in The Unfinished Presidency, his glowing but not uncritical assessment of Carter’s post-presidential years, Carter asked the countries to give ‘unequivocal support to an Arab League effort’ for peace.” – Chris Suellentrop, “Jimmy Carter: He would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling voters“, Slate, Friday, May 17, 2002.

ForNow on November 14, 2010 at 3:16 PM

And if the DOJ continues to enforce the law unequally…then the 2010 teanami is going to seem like a pleasant day at the beach for Democrats in comparison to the 2012 wipeout.

Not.
Unfortunately, except for US involvement in war, the public doesn’t care about foreign policy. We don’t even care if China invades Taiwan or Russia bullies Georgia. As long as there’s beer in the fridge & CSI on the big-screen.

itsnotaboutme on November 14, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Also,

1968 Nixon secret communications with the South Vietnamese behind the backs of the Johnson Administration.

I say enforce the law.

AshleyTKing on November 14, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Make sure to add Governor Moonbeam traveling illegally to Cuba to hang out with Castro.
Also a long list of Dim congress critters palling around with the Cuban Communist including a large portion of the Black Caucus.

MaaddMaaxx on November 14, 2010 at 4:55 PM

I don’t know whether Cantor violated the Logan Act by making those comments to Netanyahu but if the DOJ thinks he did, by all means, prosecute him for it.

Yeah, that. I’m not a big fan of resorting to “Well, they did it too!” when defending a position. We don’t like them – we do not want to emulate them.

angelat0763 on November 14, 2010 at 5:26 PM

They didn’t “forget,” they’re hypocrites.

Why not just say it? What, like we expect them to be polite to us, ever? Just speak the truth, they’re liars and hypocrites.

Merovign on November 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM

ADD HIS TO YOUR LIST OF LOGAN ACT VIOLATIONS BY A DEMOCRAT:

Maxine Waters sent a letter to Sec. of State Clinton stating the U.S. should not provide funding for upcoming elections in Haiti on November 28, 2010 that do not “include all eligible political parties and ready access to voting for all Haitians, including the displaced.” Ousted dictator Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still active in Haiti politics as head of the Laval movement that is excluded from the ballot. Waters sent a similar letter in 2009 to Haiti’s President Preval, a violation of the Logan Act which prevents unauthorized US citizen from conducting foreign relations without authority.

jstjoan on November 14, 2010 at 5:57 PM

OT Just lstening to Axlerod on Wallace show. Are any of these people capable of speaking clearly? Um, stutter,er,um.

katy the mean old lady on November 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

No, they are not. I didn’t see the show, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that he had his right hand out there like he was trying to push Wallace back or trying to touch him.

Mirimichi on November 14, 2010 at 6:30 PM

1983: Ted Kennedy secretly offered to help the Russians “counter the militaristic politics of Reagan” during the Cold War.

This is wrong. Bubbles Kennedy offered to help the communist Soviet Union to defeat the United States.

The fact that this traitor, and others like Hanoi Jane, were allowed to continue to threaten the defense of the United States is one of the primary reasons I can’t take the Republican party seriously. Bubbles and Hanoi Jane should have been tried as the traitors they were/are.

rmgraha on November 14, 2010 at 6:45 PM

Glad the facts about what Cantor really said was noted. I have seen what he said, and NOWHERE did he say anything like the moonbats claim. He DID NOT violate the Logan Act.

Hard Right on November 14, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Two words: Jimmah Carter. Period, end of story.

Chewy the Lab on November 14, 2010 at 7:19 PM

2007: Howard Dean admitted, “… I want to make clear that there is an opposition in America and that we are ready to take power and that when we do, we are going to have much better relationships with them.”

That’s worked out really well, hasn’t it?

JimC on November 14, 2010 at 8:47 PM

Don’t forget that while a senator, Obama openly campaigned for Raila Odinga, the radical Kenyan Muslim. What he did was almost certainly a violation of either the Logan Act or the Hatch Act.

flyfisher on November 14, 2010 at 8:49 PM

I’m sorry, but this is a silly post.

In 2006, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress published a pretty good survey of the legal and political history of the Logan Act, 18 U.S.C. § 953. It helps to understand that like the Alien & Sedition Acts, the Logan Act grew out of a fit of John Adams’ pique; and like them, the Logan Act almost certainly wouldn’t survive a serious constitutional challenge. But it hasn’t ever been challenged, even at the trial court level, because “[t]here appear to have been no prosecutions under the Act in its more than 200 year history.”

While the federal courts haven’t had a chance to test or limit the applicability of the Logan Act, in 1975 the U.S. State Department — considering contacts between two U.S. Senators and Fidel Castro’s dictatorship in Cuba — wrote this: “Nothing in section 953, however, would appear to restrict members of the Congress from engaging in discussions with foreign officials in pursuance of their legislative duties under the Constitution.” That amounts, of course, to one State Department lawyer’s opinion; it’s not binding precedent, but there is no binding precedent (or, to quote Al Gore from another context, “no controlling legal authority”).

So if there’s a toothless, possibly (perhaps probably) unconstitutional criminal statute on the books, shouldn’t Congress repeal it? I don’t think so; there are dozens, probably hundreds, of federal statutes that can be unconstitutional “as applied” in any given case, and there are probably others that are still on the books even though they’re unconstitutional “on their face.” If the Logan Act gives pause to some who might be on (or over) the verge of improper communications with a foreign government, that’s probably a good thing.

On the other hand, the continued existence of the Logan Act may only prompt possible violators to conceal their actions. It’s obvious that in his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry — after wrangling his third Purple Heart to get out of combat in Vietnam, but before attending Boston College Law School — was consciously editing himself to avoid possible self-incrimination under the Logan Act when he was discussing his meetings with Vietcong and North Vietnamese representatives in Paris: “I realize that we cannot negotiate treaties and I realize that even my visits in Paris, precedents had been set by Senator McCarthy and others, in a sense are on the borderline of private individuals negotiating, et cetera.” (Kerry’s bigger potential criminal problem wasn’t from the Logan Act, but from other statutes and the Uniform Code of Military Justice that still applied to him as a reserve officer in the Navy when he met with our enemies to plot an end to the Vietnam War.)

Beldar on November 15, 2010 at 12:17 AM

(And yes, the lefties screaming about Cantor are even sillier.)

Beldar on November 15, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Hmmm, my attempt to link the .pdf file from the Congressional Records Service didn’t work. I shall try again.

Beldar on November 15, 2010 at 1:12 AM

Israelis are more patriotic Americans than Obama.

TexasJew on November 15, 2010 at 12:01 PM