Opinion Journal hits another one
right out of the park:
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 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."
The article goes on quite a while from there, engaging in a tedious discussion about the background to the Logan Act. Not that this is unusual, of course, OpinionJournal
always counts on the fact that their articles are long and boring to obscure how illogical, contradictory and deceitful they are.
Here's some things that Mr. Turner fails to mention:
- Several Congressional Republicans have also been in Syria to speak to Assad recently, including Darrel Issa, who criticized Bush for, among other things, failing "to promote the necessary dialogue to resolve disagreements between the U.S. and Syria."
- Nancy Pelosi was briefed and accompanied by State Department officials during the entire trip. Not one word from anyone in the State Department that contradicts what Pelosi's spokespersons have said about the trip.
- Most importantly, Mr. Turner seems to not understand that the United States of America is not at war with Syria. The whole point of invoking the Logan Act is to try and accuse Pelosi of committing a felony - treason, really. But all she did was visit Assad, say that she hopes for peace and delivered a message from the Israeli government. None of that has anything to do with any conflict that may or may not exist between the USA and Syria. This is in fact an entirely different situation than the one that existed between the USA and France in the late 1700's, where armed conflict was taking place between the nations' ships.
This article was yet another attempt by Republicans to increase the strength of the presidency. The Logan Act refers to an official acting "without authority of the United States," which for Turner means the President and only the President. Pelosi
didn't have Bush's prior authorization for this trip, apparently, and so acted outside the law. Hogwash, as is Turner's quote from Isaac Parker - not legislation but statements made in debate - that claims all foreign correspondence is to be either directly from the president or authorized by that office.
If this were actually the case, numerous Governors, Mayors, Representatives and Senators have been breaking this law for a very long time. States enter into trade agreements with foreign governments all the time, as do cities. Congressional members of both parties travel all over the world, all the time. I doubt that presidents are always happy with what members of the opposition party say on those trips, and conclude from them.
The plain fact is that Mr. Turner is lying. He's deliberately trying to deceive people in order to not only the power of the current president, but also to politically damage someone who is turning into a very effective Speaker of the House - the leader of a branch of our government entirely equal to the Executive.
When we wonder why so many people in this country believe things that are easily demonstrated to be false, let us always remember the entire industry that is devoted to spreading lies in order to have ordinary American citizens participate in their own ruin.