Monday, March 09, 2015


It goes without saying that what Bloomberg reports here is an outrageous usurpation of the traditional foreign-policy powers of the president:
A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran's leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama's administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

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.

“It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “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.”
Ahh, but Republicans told Bloomberg's Josh Rogin that Both Sides Do it!, and Rogin retransmitted that claim exactly as it was dictated to him:
Republicans ... have a new argument to make in asserting their role in the diplomatic process: Vice President Joe Biden similarly insisted -- in a letter to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell -- on congressional approval for the Moscow Treaty on strategic nuclear weapons with Russia in 2002, when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
You know what? Joe Biden didn't say that -- at least not on his own, or speaking for the members of his own party only. The letter in question -- as you can see from the link provided in the story, though you'd never know it from the text of the story itself -- was signed by Biden and the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, who just so happened to be Jesse Helms. As The New York Times reported at the time:
The ranking Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have written to the Bush administration demanding that any nuclear arms reductions with Russia be submitted to the Senate as a formal treaty, according to copy of their letter obtained today.

Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, and Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, said an agreement on "significant obligations by the United states regarding deployed U.S. strategic nuclear warheads" would "constitute a treaty subject to the advice and consent of the Senate."
And please note that the letter was addressed to our own secretary of state -- not to Vladimir Putin.

The treaty took a while to win Senate approval, but it was ultimately ratified by a maximally non-partisan vote of 95 to 0. Needless to say, this will not happen with the current treaty.

So, no, these situations aren't comparable, and it's journalistic malpractice to suggest that they are.


ed waldo said...

Treason. Straight up treason.

Spelled out here, if needs be:

retiredeng said...

What these Senators have done is violate the Logan Act: ...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.

Aunt Snow said...

Fucking traitors.

Victor said...

I guess that when studying Journalism, the students are taught stenography, so that they can properly quote the conservatives, and thus save the tough questioning that they learn, for the liberals.


Philo Vaihinger said...

An unbelievable affront.

Is this how GOP senators prove to the base that they aren't wusses compared to the radicals in the House?

Remember Rep Wilson yelling "You lie!" at O in 2009 at, I think, the SOTU?

This is as brutally contemptuous as that shout.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Remember Nixon and Kissinger wrecking the Paris peace talks in 1968 because they thought LBJ was pushing the South Vietnamese into giving up too much to the North?

anthrosciguy said...

No I don't remember "Nixon and Kissinger wrecking the Paris peace talks in 1968 because they thought LBJ was pushing the South Vietnamese into giving up too much to the North"; I remember them doing it because they thought if a peace treaty went through Nixon would have no chance at becoming president.

John Taylor said...

American idiots on full display for the world's amusement.

Roger said...

Well, it's certainly not treason, because it isn't waging war on the United States. Jeff Davis committed treason. Robert E. Lee committed treason. These jamokes only violated the Logan act, a mere felony, so they're safe. If this Justice Department won't prosecute people for torture, these guys don't have anything to worry about. It's not as though they revealed embarrassing secrets to the public, or anything else important.