Are the Wingnuts onto something, or are they just working themselves into a new paranoid frenzy?

A new wingnut frenzy is rolling across the internets - Amir Taheri is accusing Barack Obama of having attempted, for political purposes, to meddle in American foreign policy during his recent trip to Iraq: chiming in with the same refrain are "Betsy Newmark", who styles herself "an AP history and government teacher in Raleigh, NC", and Cassandra over at Villainous Company, who describes herself as "a dyspeptic Marine wife/tech wench". Betsy links to Amir Taheri to support her accusation; Cass links to Betsy to support hers.

Amir Taheri does not have the greatest track record for truthfulness, however, so it remains to be seen whether this is legit, or just more so-called conservative foaming at the mouth. We'll leave our fuzzy-headed knee-jerk liberal inclinations to the side for the moment, and let this story develop over the next few days.

Oy gevalt! There is no rest for the weary blogger! Even John McCain is being accused of violating the Logan Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 953 [1948]). The Logan Act is a 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.

Click here for other info on Amir Taheri, and here and here.

Well, dear reader, it looks as though (if my sources check out) Obama did not violate the Logan Act. Here, in a discussion of the similar claim made against Nancy "She Needs To Grow a Pair" Pelosi:

The Logan Act, originally enacted in 1799 and amended in 1994, prohibits unauthorized U.S. citizens from interfering in relations between the United States and foreign governments. Despite numerous judicial references to the Act, the Congressional Research Service has discovered no prosecutions under the Logan Act in its more than 200 years of existence. It has, however, served as the basis for several political challenges, not unlike those now being launched against Speaker Pelosi.

In 1975, Senators John Sparkman and George McGovern were accused of violating the Logan Act when they traveled to Cuba and met with Cuban officials. In considering that case, the U.S. Department of State declared:

"The clear intent of this provision [Logan Act] is to prohibit unauthorized persons from intervening in disputes between the United States and foreign governments. Nothing in section 953 [Logan Act], 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. In the case of Senators McGovern and Sparkman the executive branch, although it did not in any way encourage the Senators to go to Cuba , was fully informed of the nature and purpose of their visit, and had validated their passports for travel to that country."

The circumstances of Speaker Pelosi's trip to Syria were similar. The Bush administration was well aware of the "nature and purpose" of the proposed trip, and while President Bush discouraged it and is now harshly criticizing it, the executive branch took no action to prevent Pelosi from leaving the country. Indeed, the White House has not mentioned the Logan Act in relationship to Pelosi's trip.

Some other Americans accused of, but never prosecuted for violating the Logan Act include Ross Perot for his efforts to locate U.S. POWs in Southeast Asia and former Speaker of the House Jim Wright for his relations with the Sandinista government. In 1984, Reverend Jessie Jackson's trips to Syria, Cuba and Nicaragua drew accusations of Logan Act violations from President Reagan. And who can forget Jane Fonda's many controversial trips to Southeast Asia in protest of the Vietnam War? Yet, as far as the Congressional Research Service has been able to determine, no American has ever been prosecuted under the Logan Act.

It will be interesting to see what those accusing Obama of violating the Logan Act come up with to prove their accusations. I'm guessing that BHO received permission from the US Government to make his visit, and was probably briefed on the situation before he went. Having temporarily tranquilized my fuzzy-headed jerking knee, however, I welcome any information on this point.

Update: Wingnuts all over have just got their panties in such a bunch over this. If it weren't so infuriating watching them vent their mostly ignorant spleens, it would be enormously entertaining watching them work themselves into a state of unbridled hysteria. I suspect that their motive in this, apart from ODS, is to distract themselves and their readers from the fact that their candidates are doing so poorly overall.

1 comment:

  1. There's no way I'd vote for Obama, but I don't think he violated the Logan Act. I also don't think he's a closet Muslim.

    This stuff only detracts from the real issues and indeed make the claimants look like wingnuts.

    If nothing else, wingnuts on both sides give their opponents something to point and laugh at.

    I've found the Piddle their Pants Palin Panic (P4) the Dems and their Press agents are suffering through quite amusing...

    It's all about whose ox gets gored, or whose pig gets stuck...