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Friday, April 06, 2007

Are Members of Congress Above the Law?

I have enjoyed showing Nancy Pelosi's fumbling and bumbling, her total incompetence and overstepping her boundaries, and last but not least her humiliation of being publicly corrected by Israel and snubbed by Syrian President al-Assad. (All this in ONE trip)

All that aside though, did she commit a felony and if she did, will she be held accountable for it?

Now, as if she needed any help burying herself, let us keep in mind this statement from Rep. Tom Lantos, a San Mateo Democrat and chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee who is accompanying Pelosi and several other Democrats and one Republican lawmaker: (Via

"We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy. I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States."

There goes any possibility of pleading the case of a simple "fact finding" mission and she has a member of her own party to thank for do we.

So a huge, hearty THANK YOU to Tom Lantos.

Wall Street Journal has an op-ed piece suggesting that Damascus Nancy be held accountable for violating the Logan Act.

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,"

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

No one has been proscuted under the logan Act for 200 years, but attempts to repeal it over the years have failed.

Perhaps it failed because at a time like this, it is very appropriate.

Lets take a look at the text of the Logan Act and see if Nancy Pelosi, did indeed, commit a felony by violating this Act.

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.

(Bolded emphasis mine)

That is from Cornell Law School website.

First let us deal with the portions I bolded for emphasis.

Without Authority- Does the Speaker of the House have the authority to negotiate foreign policy or does it end with "fact finding" which by her own party's admission, they were negotiating foreign policy?

Nope, they do not.

Press Conference with President Bush (Text via Olberlin Times)

Q: You‘ve agreed to talk to Syria in the context of the international conferences on Iraq.

What‘s so different or wrong about Speaker Pelosi having her own meetings there? And are you worried that she might be pre-empting your own efforts?

BUSH: We have made it clear to high-ranking officials, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, that going to Syria sends mixed signals, signals in the region and, of course, mixed signals to President Assad.

And by that I mean, you know, photo opportunities and/or meetings with President Assad lead the Assad government to believe they‘re part of the mainstream of the international community, when, in fact, they‘re a state sponsor of terror; when, in fact, they‘re helping expedite, or at least not stopping, the movement of foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq; when, in fact, they have done little to nothing to rein in militant Hamas and Hezbollah; and when, in fact, they destabilize the Lebanese democracy.

There have been a lot of people who have gone to see President Assad: some Americans, but a lot of European leaders, high- ranking officials. And yet we haven‘t seen action. In other words, he hasn‘t responded.

It‘s one thing to send a message. It‘s another thing to have the person receiving the message actually do something.

So the position of this administration is that the best way to meet with a leader like Assad or people from Syria is in the larger context of trying to get the global community to help change his behavior.

But sending delegations hasn‘t worked. It‘s just simply been counterproductive.

We also have this report:

Pelosi ignored requests from both the White House and State Department officials to scrap the trip as she set off on a junket to the Middle East, including Syria - designated by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism.

That answers that huh? She was not given authority to "
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".

Her "authority" ends with fact finding and she overstepped that authority by Tom Lantos' own admission.

She did it publicy, it is documented and she even managed to cause more tension between Israel and Syria with her interference into Foreign Affairs.

The Speaker of the House does not normally personally preside over debates, instead delegating the duty to other members of Congress. Aside from duties relating to heading the House and the majority political party, the Speaker also performs administrative and procedural functions, and remains the Representative of his or her congressional district.

Nowhere in the description of the powers of the speaker of the house does it state, anywhere, that she has the right to conduct or negotiate matters of Foreign Policy.

That is the Presidents power and I simply do not remember holding a presidential election where Nancy Pelosi was voted in as president.... please feel free to correct me if I somehow missed that election.

An excerpt from another WSJ piece:

Meanwhile, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made her now famous sojourn to Syria, donning a head scarf and advertising that she was conducting shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem and Damascus. If there was any doubt that her trip was intended as far more than a routine Congressional "fact-finding" trip, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos put it to rest by declaring that, "We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy. I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the United States."

Nancy Pelosi did violate the Logan Act and commited a felony and the only question now, is...

Will anyone prosecute her for it, or are members of Congress above the law?

Others asking this very question, via technorati:

Perri Nelson, Bob McCarty, FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog, The Dread Pundit Bluto, Right Voices, Wizbang, NewsBusters, Willisms.

The left, of course, wouldn't know a crime if it bit them in the ass, except when commited by a Republican of course.

[Update] You know Pelosi really screwed up when Matt Lauer and USA Today comes down on her like a ton of bricks.

Excerpt from USA Today:

Democrats in Congress have been busy flexing their foreign policy muscles almost from the moment they took power in January, for the most part responsibly. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi crossed a line this week by visiting Syria, where she met with President Bashar Assad. She violated 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.

Like it or not (and we do not), President Bush's policy has been to refuse to negotiate with Syria until it changes its behavior. That behavior is malignant. Syria has long meddled destructively in neighboring Lebanon and is widely seen as the bloody hand behind the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has aligned itself with Iran and supports the violently anti-Israel groups Hezbollah and Hamas. It foments violence in Iraq by allowing suicide bombers and jihadists to cross the Syria-Iraq border.

Pelosi surely knew that as speaker — third in the succession line to the presidency — her high-profile presence in Damascus would be read as a contradiction of Bush's no-talkpolicy. No matter that she claimed to have stuck closely to administration positions in her conversations with Assad, smiling photos of Pelosi and the Syrian president convey the unspoken message that while the U.S. president is unwilling to talk with Syria, another wing of the government is. Assad made good use of the moment.


Read the rest....

Good going Nancy. [End Update]

Tom Lantos tries to backtrack from his earlier statement. [End Update]

Tracked back by:
Nancy Pelosi is a Felon from Perri Nelson's Website...