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.