Yup, you read it right and you’re gonna love this. Thanks to M.J. Rosenberg for this wild hat tip. The ‘august’ Wall Street Journal runs an OpEd column by Robert Turner, a former “acting assistant secretary of state (1984-85),” calling for Pelosi to be prosecuted for pursuing an independent U.S. foreign policy; something that is allegedly prohibited under the provisions of the Logan Act, an obscure 1799 law that prohibits individuals from negotiating with foreign powers against the express wishes of the executive:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may well have committed a felony in traveling to Damascus this week, against the wishes of the president, to communicate on foreign-policy issues with Syrian President Bashar Assad. The administration isn’t going to want to touch this political hot potato, nor should it become a partisan issue. Maybe special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, whose aggressive prosecution of Lewis Libby establishes his independence from White House influence, should be called back.
The comment that this “shouldn’t become a partisan issue”–that’s a joke, right? And as for calling for a special counsel, that’s a pretty feeble joke as well. But truly, I’d love to see the Justice Department “touch” this “hot potato.” In fact, please, please indict Pelosi. I can’t wait to see Bush provoke a Constitutional crisis over this. What little credibility he has in the rest of the country goes down the tubes in a heartbeat.
Let’s hear from the editorialist his take on how the Logan Act supposedly applies:
The Logan Act makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, “without authority of the United States,” to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government’s behavior on any “disputes or controversies with the United States.”
…Ms. Pelosi and her Congressional entourage spoke to President Assad on various issues, among other things saying, “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace.” She is certainly not the first member of Congress–of either party–to engage in this sort of behavior, but her position as a national leader, the wartime circumstances, the opposition to the trip from the White House, and the character of the regime she has chosen to approach make her behavior particularly inappropriate.
So let’s see, the fact that Pelosi briefed the White House before she left, carried along with her State Department staff and flew on Air Force One to Damascus constitutes communicating “without the authority of the U.S.?” Further, how did she “influence Syria’s behavior regarding its “disputes with the U.S.?” She brought a message of “friendship and hope” and the faith that “the road to Damascus is the road to peace.” Golly, sounds like promoting a political agenda in contravention of every law and value of American foreign policy.
I do also like the comment about “wartime circumstances.” News to me: we’re at war with Syria. Bet you didn’t know that. Last I checked we hadn’t declared war against anyone and Iraq was a different country than Syria. Maybe Mr. Turner knows something I don’t.
He closes his disputation with this passage:
The U.S. is in the midst of two wars authorized by Congress. For Ms. Pelosi to flout the Constitution in these circumstances is not only shortsighted; it may well be a felony, as the Logan Act has been part of our criminal law for more than two centuries. Perhaps it is time to enforce the law.
Isn’t that interesting. Because we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan Nancy Pelosi can’t talk to the president of Syria. Makes perfect sense to me. I think he’s got an air tight case. What Turner neglects to mention but which Wikipedia reveals is that since the Logan Act was passed in 1799 precisely one person has been indicted under its provisions (in 1803) and no one, repeat NO ONE, has ever been prosecuted, let alone convicted. Please, oh please indict Nancy Pelosi.
I don’t know what it is about neocons. They seem to have a death wish. Every policy they’ve pushed over the past six years has proven disastrous. Yet they continue to push the envelope probing for ever new disasters they can promote. Seems like they have a political death wish.
WSJ conveniently omits from Turner’s bio that he’s a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, a haven for Norman Podhoretz and other anti-terror nutjobs, which should tell you oodles about his political perspective.
Walter Ballin says
Here’s a letter that I wrote to Turner;
April 7, 2007
Dear Mr. Turner:
What a stupid column that you wrote “Illegal Diplomacy,” in the April 6th edition of the Wall Street Journal, where you called for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be jailed for treason for her meeting with Syrian leader Bashar Assad!
Let’s see the facts here. You said that Speaker Pelosi violated the Logan Act, an obscure law which nobody has ever been convicted of violating. Although President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney expressed their opposition to Pelosi’s trip to Syria, she received a White House briefing before she left. You said that “The U.S. is in the midst of two wars authorized by Congress.” The last time that I checked, Congress never declared war on Syria.
From what you wrote, all I can say is that the janitor who cleans your office and the toilet that you use at work, probably is a much more knowledgeable person than you.
samuel burke says
these clowns ( all neocons, and newspapers who support the middle east policy of the present American administration) dont care about publishing truth, they only care about drumming up American support for an extension of the war in the middle east. The british episode with the navy prisoners taken by iran failed, and i am only waiting for the next agitation to occur which will force the u.s to extend this war…i feel that by chastising speaker pelosi, they are trying to frighten other politicians with being charged as anti american or with an anti patriotic law. When the next event happens the politicians will be in dread of speaking up for fear of being labeled or charged with some treason-like law breaker charge. If the nancy pelosi case takes wing and she is found guilty, then precedent will have been set.
Napoleon Bonaparte is alleged to have said…”Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”
The latest example of how ideologically extreme, openly partisan and when you get down to it plain wacko WSJ is compared to other mainstream papers.