Accuracy in Media

The Logan Act (est. 1799): a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with
foreign governments against the interests of the United States.
Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations
on behalf of the United States without authorization.

This week, New York Post columnist Amir Taheri made the claim that while in Iraq this summer, Barack Obama privately tried to
convince Iraqi leaders to wait until a new administration is in place
before beginning a draw-down of American troops.

According to
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay
a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

“He
asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US
elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington,”
Zebari said in an interview.

Obama insisted that Congress
should be involved in negotiations on the status of US troops – and
that it was in the interests of both sides not to have an agreement
negotiated by the Bush administration in its “state of weakness and
political confusion.”

The Obama campaign issued a denial:

…Obama’s
national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore
“as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”

In
fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a
“Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until
after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

Let’s compare two key sentences from the articles linked above:

  • “He
    asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US
    elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington.”
  • In
    fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a
    “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until
    after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.

It seems to me that the Obama campaign essentially confirmed what Taheri’s public source said. Let’s look at the Constitution.

Article Two, Section Two:

The
President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the
United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called
into the actual service of the United States; he may require the
opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive
departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their
respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and
pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of
impeachment.

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 officers,
as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or
in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to
fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate,
by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next
session.

Article Two, Section Three:

Section
3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the
state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures
as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary
occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of
disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he
may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Nothing in Article One,
which covers the duties of Congress (both House and Senate), says
anything about senators engaging foreign policy unbidden by the
president – even those running for president. And somehow I doubt
President Bush called him up and asked him to take over Condoleezza
Rice’s job for a day.

But my plebian education may be impeding my
interpretation of both Obama’s denial and the Constitution. See, I
didn’t go to Columbia or Harvard – like Sarah Palin, I graduated from a
state university, so I may not be educated enough to figure it out. I
do still have all my teeth, however, so that’s one thing going for me.

Last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Israel and then to Syria, where she told Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel was ready for peace talks
with that nation. It came as a huge surprise to Israel’s prime
minister, whose office said that “what was discussed with the House
speaker did not include any change in Israel’s policy, as it has been
presented to international parties involved in the matter.”

At the time, critics suggested that Pelosi had violated the tenets of the Logan Act, which is a felony. But the mainstream media avoided the topic like a hot potato and nothing was ever done about it – President Bush being too nice a guy as usual?

The
cynic in me can’t help but believe that Obama wanted the Iraqis to hold
off on sending American troops home until – presumably – he is in the
Oval Office next January and can take credit for “bringing the troops
home” as per his campaign platform. It’s nice to know he’s thinking of
keeping one of his many campaign promises, but a little disconcerting
to think that he’d try to undermine the current president in the
process.

Charlie Gibson asked Sarah Palin if she’d ever met any
foreign heads of state, to which she answered no. Will he ask Barack
Obama what he talked about with the foreign heads of state he’s met? Or
is he satisfied with questions like whether Obama will debate with McCain at a town hall?

Not
only should the media be making more of a fuss about this, but so
should the Bush administration. Seals and fancy planes aside, Barack
Obama is not yet President of the United States. And if this is how he
thinks foreign policy should be conducted – on the sly – is he really
the man we want officially directing such policy for the next four to
eight years?

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff.




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