Meddling in Foreign Policy?

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George Logan of Germantown, Pa., a private citizen at the time, took it upon himself to negotiate an end to an undeclared war with France, which peeved President John Adams and his Federalist Party. So in January 1799, Congress passed the Logan Act, which forbids a citizen “without the authority of the United States” to “engage in correspondence or intercourse” with a foreign government “in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

There’s been one indictment under the Logan Act — in 1803 — but no prosecutions. Unhinged Democrats rescued it from the musty pages of history after Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., wrote an “open” letter to the mullahs in Tehran to remind them that Congress or the next president could scrap any nuclear deal they make with President Barack Obama.

“That’s sedition!” howled MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews. Mr. Cotton and the 46 GOP senators who cosigned it should be prosecuted for violating the Logan Act, leftists demanded in an online petition.

“Anyone seeking evidence that our schools no longer effectively teach the Constitution need look no further than the hair-on-fire response” to the Cotton letter, wrote the Tampa Tribune’s Tom Jackson.

The Logan Act doesn’t apply to members of Congress, the State Department said in 1975. For which Democrats — who often have colluded with anti-American dictators to frustrate the foreign policy of a Republican president — should be thankful. After all …

• The State Department issued its 1975 opinion after two Democratic senators visited Fidel Castro in Cuba.

• Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, flew to Nicaragua in 1985 to negotiate with the Sandanista regime. Democrats essentially opposed President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to oust the Sandinistas, Democratic House Majority Leader Jim Wright informed dictator Daniel Ortega in a letter the year before.

• On the eve of the Iraq war, three House Democrats flew to Baghdad to schmooze with Saddam Hussein.

• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew to Damascus in 2007 to meet with Syrian dictator Bashir Assad.

• Michael Ledeen of PJMedia has reported that Sen. Barack Obama undermined Bush administration negotiations with Iran in 2008 by sending back-channel messages to the mullahs assuring them they would get a better deal from him than from President George W. Bush.

The Cotton letter “is a simple, beautifully written exposition about the American Constitution and its effects,” wrote the anonymous blogger Bookworm. “In addition, it’s a wonderful honey pot for calling stupid progressives out of their dark caves and exposing their ignorance to bright sunlight.”

Mr. Cotton wrote it to shine a light on the likelihood that the president’s deal would permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. An Iranian nuke would be a “critical” threat, said 77 percent in a Gallup poll in February.

Mission Critical Threat accomplished — in large part because of the hysterical, hypocritical overreaction.

Democrats hoped no one would notice they might end up allowing Iran to build nukes. But after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and Sen. Cotton’s letter, “they were left scurrying about like roaches with the light turned on,” wrote columnist Erick Erickson.

Administration officials were still trying to vilify Mr. Cotton on talk shows last Sunday — tacit acknowledgement he hasn’t been defeated, said William Bigelow of Breitbart News.

Republicans have a new star.

Overnight, Tom Cotton has become the GOP’s leading spokesman on national security, said campaign analyst Stu Rothenberg. His maiden speech in the Senate Monday excoriating Mr. Obama’s foreign policy got much more attention than it would have before the flap.

“Cotton is a hero … ” said Dr. John at Flopping Aces. “I love this guy. I could see him as president one day.”

So could others. A McClatchy News Service story was headlined: “Fallout from the Senators’ Iran Letter: Tom Cotton for President?” 

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.

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