47 Felons in the US Senate

Benedict Arnold

Stop the presses! We have 47 names to add.

When 47 United States Senators sent a letter to the government of Iran, presuming to explain our Constitution (which, the Iranian Foreign Minister immediately observed, they do not seem to understand) and demonstrating profound ignorance of international law, they did not merely embarrass themselves and our country, they broke the law. Their purpose was to prevent the Obama administration from reaching an agreement with Iran to prevent that country from manufacturing nuclear weapons (something the country has always professed it does not want to do anyway).

These Senators presumed to tell the leaders of Iran that should they reach agreement with the United States negotiators, who for years have been trying to find a way to limit Iran’s nuclear energy program to prevent weaponization, any such agreement would probably not be honored by the Congress or the next administration. Since no such agreement exists yet, they made this threat without knowing what would be in it. Doesn’t matter; if Obama did it, it’s evil.

The interventionist senators clearly and blatantly violated the Logan Act, passed by the Fifth United States Congress in 1799, expressly to prevent exactly what they did. The Logan Act says:

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.

In the unlikely case that that language is not sufficiently clear and explicit, then consider what Justice George Sutherland wrote in the Supreme Court’s 1936 majority opinion affirming the conviction of Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation under the Logan Act:

The President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it.

While the signers of the letter preen about their conservative values, and their opponents pine about the unseemliness of it all, FBI agents should book every one of the signers on the felony charge of violating the Logan Act. Although it is in every sense an open-and-shut case, most of the perps would probably get reduced sentences on claims of diminished mental capacity. That, too, is an open-and-shut case.

On March 9, someone opened a petition on the White House website asking that the 47 signers of the letter to Iran be prosecuted under the Logan Act. The White House guarantees a response to any petition gaining 100,000 signatures in a month. Today, four days later, the petition has nearly a quarter of a million signatures. Click on this link to sign it.

If a law as clearly written and as firmly established in precedent as the Logan Act, can now be broken, deliberately and brazenly and without consequences, by people willing to endanger their own government’s integrity, their own nation’s security and international stability for momentary political gain, then it is time to say goodnight, America.

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11 Responses to 47 Felons in the US Senate

  1. John says:

    While I don’t expect anything to happen, I did sign the petition. These scoundrels in Washington feel they can do anything.

  2. Tom says:

    I signed it too – these people think just because they got elected that they’re immune from prosecution. Bullshit! Jail the bastids!

  3. Michael kastre says:

    I am neither a lawyer or a constitutional expert, but doesn’t the Constitution give the President the power to commit the United States to treaties – but only with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the US Senate, and only if the agreement does not contravene the Constitution? Isn’t that all part of the checks and balances built into our three branch government?


    • Tom Lewis says:

      Absolutely. The Senate must give advice on and consent to any treaty, once a treaty has been arrived at. No agreement with Iran has been reached. And only the executive branch has the responsibility and the right to speak for the nation to other nations while negotiating such an agreement. The Constitution, the Logan Act, and Justice Sutherland are quite clear: anyone other than the President or his designated representatives who interferes in negotiations with foreign powers is breaking the law.

  4. The 47 aren’t the first to try an end run around the White House. This from 2007:


    I am not qualified to debate the applicability of the Logan Act or any other in these cases, but to me both instances make the US appear weak to its non-allies. Maybe we shouldn’t argue in front of the children.

    • Michael says:

      I am not sure of the legal/diplomatic/protocol details of either that trip or the recent letter. They are somewhat related but different . One thing, though, they seem to share in common is that in both cases there is/was a level frustration with the ‘advice’ part of ‘advice and consent.’

  5. Mike Kay says:

    Mr. Lewis,
    I wonder at this post, since the reason for existence is mired in loyalties. Loyalties of a significant portion of our federal government going to a foreign entity first and foremost.
    Certainly sir, as a nation-supposedly-of laws, the law should be followed, but what of that essential reality that the agents of a Nation must first serve that Nation?
    Was it not the great Roman poet Cicero who so clearly described the dangers to any state that its traitors inside its walls pose?
    Of course, modern America has little use for the lessons of history, and even less for the truth, but if we don’t hear the hull of the ship of state giving way here, we must be hard of hearing indeed.

  6. Fred Tourette says:

    “Maybe we shouldn’t argue in front of the children.”

    Good point. We really do not need to give the rest of the world any more examples to prove that we’re fast becoming a divided, dysfunctional mess with a crumbling infrastrucure and an economy held together by smoke, mirrors and fairy dust.

  7. colinc says:

    Why the fuck not? Do you really believe everyone else on the planet is as deluded and ignorant as MOST of the citizens of the USA? (Well, OK, “you” MAY have a point there.) Personally, I think those of “us” who truly care about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” (for ALL) should add fodder to those who understand that the USA now represents the antithesis of that sentiment, regardless of the consequences to “our” country or “way of life.” Neither of which is even remotely “sustainable,” eternal or defensible! Furthermore, what do you mean “fast becoming a divided, dysfunctional mess?” We ARE that NOW and have been for a decade and probably more!! McPherson is absolutely correct when he has recently paraphrased Dr. Albert Bartlett’s “famous” quote, “The greatest failing of the human species is to understand!” Period, end of fucking story. Consequences and ramifications ensue regardless of one’s cognizance of their possibilities or probabilities. Alas, therein lies the crux of “the conundrum,” an inability to distinguish between “possible” and “probable.” I really do NOT mean any real disrespect to you, personally, since I don’t know you from Adam, any Adam. Nonetheless, to quote the “Mr. Jefferson” character from a certain “South Park” episode (imagine a truly effeminate voice), “No… that’s ignorant, they’re ignorant.” Alas and alack, such is the “perspective” of the preponderance of the population in all OECD, and probably most excluded, nations that exist on this planet today. Not even Obi-wan Kenobi, even in conjunction with the entire Jedi order, can “save” us now.

  8. Keith Hayes says:

    There is no excuse for anyone in the Senate to have done this. This issue is clear and I signed.