Media Mostly Ignore Whether Pelosiâ€™s Syria Trip Violated The Logan Act
Posted by Noel Sheppard on April 6, 2007 - 10:16.
Imagine if you will that in September 1996, just days after America launched a missile strike on Baghdad to expand the â€śno fly zone,â€ť Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met with Saddam Hussein to discuss foreign policy matters without the permission of President Clinton.
Would the media have vociferously discussed the possibility that Gingrich had violated federal law in doing so?
If the answer is a resounding â€śYes,â€ť then why have extremely few press outlets broached this issue as it pertains to current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosiâ€™s (D-California) recent potentially law-breaking trip to Syria?
To best understand the issue, a little history is necessary. The Logan Act
was created in 1799, and reads as follows:
Â§ 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.
The Act was named after George Logan, who in 1798, went to France without President John Adamsâ€™ permission to try and settle the Quasi-War.
With that in mind, there seems little doubt that Pelosi might have made the same mistake Logan did, and could be, at the very least, investigated for doing so.
Yet, Google and LexisNexis searches reveal few media outlets considering this possibility.
For instance, on April 3, the New York Post published an editorial
entitled â€śNancyâ€™s Nonsenseâ€ť:
More than two centuries ago, Congress passed the Logan Act, which forbids private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. As an elected official, Pelosi isn't restrained by the law - but its meaning is clear.
Negotiating with world leaders - particularly those at odds with the United States - should be left to the president, or those authorized by him to do so.
On April 6, the Wall Street Journalâ€™s Robert F. Turner wrote a piece
entitled â€śIllegal Diplomacyâ€ť (subscription required):
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," ...
And, as NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reported Friday
, NBCâ€™s Matt Lauer and Tim Russert actually discussed Pelosiâ€™s possible violation on the â€śTodayâ€ť show.
Yet, though USA Today editorialized
Friday that Pelosi â€śviolated a long-held understanding that the United States should speak with one official voice abroad - even if the country is deeply divided on foreign policy back home,â€ť nowhere was the actual law in question, and its seriousness, addressed.
Furthermore, though the Washington Post published its own editorial
Thursday harshly critical of Pelosiâ€™s trip, it too ignored the actual illegality potentially involved.
As far as I can tell, this is about all the coverage this matter has been given by mainstream news outlets in the United States.
Do you think the media would have been as forgiving of Speaker Gingrich if he had so behaved when Clinton was president?
Media Mostly Ignore Whether PelosiĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Syria Trip Violated The Logan Act | NewsBusters.org
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