FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Obama to McCain: Hey, we violated the Logan Act *completely differently* than the way you said!
Come, I will hide nothing from you: I raised an eyebrow at Amir Taheri’s allegation that Obama violated the Logan Act.
It’s certainly a juicy allegation – that the then-presumptive Democratic candidate for President went behind the backs of both the current legal government of the USA, and his own partisan supporters, to try to influence foreign affairs for his own benefit – but like Ed Morrissey I know that Taheri’s got “credibility problems,” which is a nice way of saying “sometimes makes stuff up.” The fact that he named names was interesting, but not conclusive as it would have been in a domestic setting. Let’s face it: the revelation that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari had, say, lied would have probably zero effect either here, or in Iraq. Indeed, for many of you, this is the first time that you’ve read the name “Hoshyar Zebari” – and stop snickering, Democrats: at least our side knows that there is an Iraqi Foreign Ministry. Your side apparently still thinks that Saddam Hussein’s running things, given the way that you all typically reacted to Palin’s 9/11 speech.
But I digress.
Anyway, I wasn’t really buying it. Logan Act violations are the Great White Whale of GOP foreign policy: I sometimes suspect that certain Democrats routinely violate that law solely to tick us off, secure in the knowledge that we can’t make a charge stick. Truth be told, with the he-said-he-said nature of this one, I didn’t think that we had enough for an investigation, and never mind an indictment (conviction not even remotely on the board). The best we could do was what the McCain campaign did: mention that we had noticed, and that we still pay attention to this, futile as it may be in practical terms.
And darned if the Obama campaign didn’t take the bait.
Some unintentional irony, here:
PUEBLO, Colorado (AFP) — Barack Obama’s White House campaign angrily denied Monday a report that he had secretly urged the Iraqis to postpone a deal to withdraw US troops until after November’s election.
But Obama’s national security spokeswoman Wendy Morigi said Taheri’s article bore “as much resemblance to the truth as a McCain campaign commercial.”
In fact, Obama had told the Iraqis that they should not rush through a “Strategic Framework Agreement” governing the future of US forces until after President George W. Bush leaves office, she said.
In the face of resistance from Bush, the Democrat has long said that any such agreement must be reviewed by the US Congress as it would tie a future administration’s hands on Iraq.
As Glenn, Ed Morrissey, and now myself are noting – there’s not much difference to what Taheri said happened, and what Obama’s people said happened. Both agree that Obama attempted to convince the Iraqi government to change its policies to be
more in line with Obama’s stated campaign rhetoric. In other words, Obama’s campaign just admitted that their candidate tried to influence a sovereign government policies towards the United States for personal political gain. Let me quote the Logan Act to you folks, in full:
§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments
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.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.
Can Obama skate on this? Most assuredly. The major problem with the Logan Act is that it’s far too vague; the sentiment is nice, but the implementation’s a bear. It’s far too easy to get out of; anybody with half a brain can claim that they’re being set up. Unfortunately for the Obama campaign, the half-brained people were apparently getting bagels for the office that day, because they assigned the pushback to somebody who didn’t notice that she was claiming that her boss was actually in at least a technical violation of the Act. There still isn’t enough for an indictment – but now there’s enough for an investigation.
Not that there probably will be… but if you’re wondering why the GOP (and an increasing number of independents) snickers every time the phrase “national security expertise” appears too close to the name “Barack Obama” – well, it’s because of events like these.