Saturday, March 14, 2015

Iran Hardliners "Cotton to Cotton" and GOP Gang of 46 Senate Nitwits

No One Can Dispute This, at Least No Rational Person Who Deals in Logic

GOP Senators Send Warning Letter to Iran: Deal with Us, Not Obama
(in essence that is the GOP message - see more below)

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) Letter Drafter
(now he and the 47 GOPers are on serious public notice - see below)

4th MAJOR UPDATE (original post follows this update): This fine article (click here) compares the 47 GOP hardline senators and Iran's hardliners, vis-à-vis the nuclear letter that the GOP hardliners sent them. In this case, or as Rick Perry might say, “oops.”

3rd MAJOR UPDATE (from two sources):

FIRST SOURCE: Are the 47 GOP senators who signed the letter to Iran legally wrong or in trouble? Possibly. Cite the “Logan Act” explained a bit in part here:

When the law is laid side by side with the GOP’s “open letter to Iran” (March 9, 2015) it would seem that the Logan Act fits. That letter warned the “leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” that a deal on the future of nuclear arms development might not be a lasting one unless Congress signed off on it

A short break down what the law says and why it might fit the senators’ letter and why the Justice Department might choose, even if the law fits, not to prosecute it and them, and what defense the 47 GOP Senators might try to use, if and indeed, they were charged with violating the Logan Act.

1.  The letter is clearly from U.S. citizens. One has to be a citizen to get elected to the Senate. It was clearly, in form, a piece of correspondence, called an “open letter.”
2.  It hardly had the approval of “the United States,” if that is taken to mean the entire national government, or at least the Executive Branch, including the President and the nation’s chief diplomat, the Secretary of State.   The President and his aides in the White House and at the State Department repudiated the lawmakers’ overture.
3.  The letter clearly was aimed at a foreign government audience, although it is not clear that it was actually delivered by diplomatic pouch or by the Post Office to Tehran.
4.  No one can have any doubt, realizing how much opposition there is among Republican members of both the Senate and the House to a nuclear arms deal with Iran, that this letter was intended to influence the ongoing talks about such a deal.

Now it gets sticky:

1.  The DOJ prosecutors have to take into account whether or not there is a real chance that, if a grand jury does issue an indictment, prosecutors could get a jury to convict. That might be a challenge here, because a criminal charge might well look like escalating a political conflict into a serious constitutional dispute over prosecutorial discretion.
2.  Many in GOP ranks already believe President Obama and his administration over-use the powers of the Executive Branch.
3.  An indictment might also rally support to the GOP senators.
4.  Imagine going ahead with a grand jury probe, leading to an indictment accusing the senators of violating the Logan Act. What would happen then?
5.  The senators would obviously get good lawyers, who would put on one of more of the following forms of legal defense – either before a case went to trial, or during a trial:

a.  First, argue that the Logan Act was meant to apply only to private citizens, not to senators carrying on public duties.
b.  Second, argue that the senators were engaging in legislative activity – oversight of State Department diplomatic dealings – and that Congress never intended the law to reach that kind of situation.
c.  Third, argue that, since this was legislative activity, the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause prevents members of Congress from being “questioned in any other place” for what they have done as lawmakers.
d.  Then the government, perhaps, could counter that the plain language of the law applies to “any citizen,” and to “any correspondence” with a foreign government or its leaders, and to any attempt at influencing dealings with the United States.

Etc. etc. and so forth – see the point? And, in the middle the GOP who always says they support law and order, tap dance better than Fred Astaire.

Folks this getting to be more ugly, nasty, and potentially very dangerous to the country as a whole.

On top of this a petition to hold the 47 GOP senators accountable is ready for the White House to act - see here: Now over 300,000 have signed.

Stay tuned:

SECOND SOURCE  Response from Iran's leader: Calls U.S. letter "backstabbing."

And, from here, in part: (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hit the letter by 47 Republican senators threatening to undo any nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran. He said he was worried because the United States was known for “backstabbing.”

Khamenei, who is the ultimate authority on all Iranian matters of state, also said to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and senior clerics, that whenever negotiators made progress, the Americans became “harsher, tougher, and coarser.”

Lest we forget that the letter signed by 47 Republican senators warned Iran that any nuclear deal made with U.S. President Obama could last only as long as he remained in office – an unusual intervention into U.S. foreign policy-making by any member of congress let alone 47 from the same party – unprecedented move by any congress.
The White House has described the letter as “reckless and irresponsible,” saying it interfered with efforts by six major powers to negotiate with Iran on a deal to prevent it from building a nuclear bomb, and Secretary of State John Kerry, also the chief nuclear negotiator, voiced his “utter disbelief at the senators' action, saying the notion that they could alter any executive accord between government leaders was flat wrong.”

“Every time we reach a stage where the end of the negotiations is in sight, the tone of the other side, specifically the Americans, becomes harsher, coarser and tougher. This is the nature of their tricks and deceptions,” the Iranian leader continued, adding, “The letter is a sign of the decay of political ethics in the American system.”

Khamenei, a harsh tough conservative hardliner has always been wary of any detente with the West but has backed the diplomacy pursued by Rouhani, who was elected by a landslide in 2013 promising steps to end Iran's economically crippling international isolation.

Now that clashes with at least 47 GOP senators just as harsh tough and conservative …. Something has to give and it may not be pretty.

Iran says they do not wants nukes or war and this GOP says they do at the same time the GOP seems to want one (war) without the other (nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran) – or at least that is the status projected right now … in short: it ain’t pretty.

A key question: How would our Supreme Court rule on this GOP over reach, um … ooops.

2nd MAJOR UPDATE (March 10, 2015):  Several media sources are picking up on the Iran statement and reaction to GOP Senators' letter:
  1. Iran: Leader says GOP senators' letter implies U.S. 'not ...
  2. Iran: GOP letter shows U.S. "not trustworthy" - CBS News
  3. Iran: On Nuclear Talks: U.S. 'Not Trustworthy,' Says Top Tehran ...
  4. Iran: GOP letter suggests US is 'not trustworthy' - World ...
  5. Iran:  GOP letter suggests US is 'not trustworthy' - Salon ... 
This moment may be right for a Rick Perry “oops” faux pas. Stay tuned … the worst may yet be on the way.  

1st MAJOR UPDATE (March 9, 2015): Original post follows this update.

I note: The GOP always screeches about “Obama is a lawless president..., etc. etc.” So, how about a huge Rick Perry "oops" at this point. This from Cornell law - vis-a-vis the Senate letter today to the leaders of Iran about ignoring any agreement with Mr. Obama without Congressional approval on re: Iran’s nuclear program.

Cite: 8 U.S. Code § 953 - Private Correspondence With Foreign Governments

The Current Law is Pub. L. 113-296, except 113-287113-291113-295.

"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."

Also cite: The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 30 January 1799, currently codified at 18 U.S.C. §953) is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.

The Act was intended to prohibit United States citizens without authority from interfering in relations between the United States and foreign governments.

Original Post Starts From Here: Wow - what a story (developing) reported on from many sources, including here from Bloomberg and below from the AP:

A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter (click to read the letter) to Iran's leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Obama's administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

Great debate here on this topic as this graph depicts (about 15 minutes) - worth your time:

GOP Sen. Cotton (AR) and Sen. Graham (SC): War Hawks Above All Else
(Inciting for more ME blood, as long as it's not theirs)

… [the letter] Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber's entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process. (Note, if it were a treaty then the Senate must be involved, if not, they should nose out and bug off). 

Cite: The constitution:

"The President... shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur ... (REF: ARTICLE II, SECTION 2, CLAUSE 2)
More at the above Bloomberg link. This from the AP, via my AOL email:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Forty-seven GOP Senators warned today (Monday, March 9, 2015) that any agreement the Obama administration strikes with Iran to limit Tehran's nuclear program may be short-lived unless Congress approves the deal.

In an open letter to Iranian leaders, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) got 46 other Republicans to say that without congressional approval, any deal between Iran and the U.S. would be merely an agreement between President Barack Obama and Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and “… the next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen, and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

Though the letter is addressed to leaders in Tehran, it seems as much aimed at delivering a message to President Obama.

Nearly all Republicans and some Democrats want Congress to vote on any agreement.

The pact the U.S. bargainers are currently working on does not require congressional approval because it is not a treaty (which would require a two-thirds majority Senate vote to ratify).

The U.S. and other nations are seeking a pact that would let Western powers verify that Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon, with the next negotiations scheduled for March 15, with wide gaps still between the two sides. The deadline for an outline of a U.S.-Iranian deal is at the end of March.

Iran has said its nuclear program is peaceful and is aimed at producing energy. There was no immediate Iranian government reaction to the letter or any discussion of it in Iranian media.

My Views: In all honesty, the GOP strikes fear and stokes the flames of hatred and discontent with this type behavior even before anything is resolved … that stinks to high heaven, but they don’t care about that or consequences at the end of the day. 

All the GOP wants is to keep their base in tow and win the whole damn seat of government in 2016 and rule with a iron fist, all the while claiming that Mr. Obama and DEMS have done the same – which is a blatant lie and they damn well know it.  

The public should take a strong exception to this GOP stunt, for it is a stunt, and a very nasty one at that. We should take them to task and cool their heels by telling them to butt out …

Finally, if this were to turn out shitty, guess who would duck and blame everyone in sight, except themselves? Yep ... the Goofy Old Poops.

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