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Who's Afraid of a Pelosi Visit?

It’s spring-break time and American legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, are traveling all over the world. Some go to Europe, some to Africa or Asia, and some - like John McCain - visit Iraq in the middle of a war. And a few - perish the thought - visit Syria. Which is OK, if you are a Republican, but is definitely not OK, according to the deafening Republican noise machine, if you are a Democrat. Especially not if your name happens to be Nancy Pelosi.

Three Republican legislators visited Assad in Syria - and absolutely nothing was said by anyone. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, together with a group of representatives that included a Republican, visited Syria and Republicans erupted. Pick up a newspaper, listen to talk radio, turn on a news channel, visit a conservative blog, and you will see Pelosi scolded as though she were the Al Qaeda enemy. Here is merely a tiny sample of Republican fury:

DICK CHENEY: It was a non-statement, a nonsensical statement, and didn't make any sense at all that she would suggest that those talks could go forward as long as the Syrians conducted themselves as a prime state sponsor of terror.
DICK CHENEY: And my statement was that if we adopt the Pelosi policy, that then we will validate the strategy of al-Qaeda. I said it, and I meant it. [in a so-called clarification]
THOMAS SOWELL (Baltimore Sun): Today, Ms. Pelosi and the congressional Democrats are stepping in to carry out their own foreign policy and even their own military policy on troop deployment - all the while denying that they are intruding on the president's authority.
SEAN HANNITY: Syria has drawn jeers from many Americans, but the San Francisco speaker's controversial trip is receiving cheers abroad. There are now reports that some Palestinian terror groups are praising the Democratic leader's questionable Mideast jaunt.
ROBERT TURNER (WSJ): 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.

On and on it goes. The conservatives are on fire, aghast, apoplectic. I wonder why? Before leaving for her visit to the Middle East, she was briefed by the State Department. And she brought along to the Middle East a Republican. Also staff people from the State Department. In other words, she asked and received permission to go with a bipartisan group.

As soon as she hit Syria, the Republicans exploded, as if on cue. They are screaming their heads off. Why? Joe Conason has the answer:

The neoconservatives, both within and outside the White House, resent Pelosi for publicly dissenting from their ideology of war and their rejection of diplomacy. Their own vision has collapsed in ruins; they have gravely harmed the American military and discredited the ideals of democracy, and they have run out of ideas. That sucking sound is the vacuum of their minds... Now in their bankruptcy, they can only smear those who, like Speaker Pelosi, are attempting to promote a bipartisan alternative. Let us hope she possesses the courage to continue that crucial mission.

Who's afraid of a Pelosi vist to Syria? Nobody but the neoconservatives who have failed us in our fight with Al Qaeda.

Posted by Paul Siegel at April 6, 2007 5:23 PM
Comment #215366

It has not been “only neoconservatives” and Republicans criticizing Pelosi’s behavior. Far from.

The Washington Post editorial page attacked her.

As has the editorial board of USA Today

Are these Republican neoconservatives? Hardly. The fact that Pelosi is wrapping her head in Islamic garb and running around the middle east conducting freelance diplomacy looks bad to a lot of people, and sends a terrible message to both our allies and enemies alike.

You can’t get away with just saying that only Republicans think so because that is blatantly false.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 6, 2007 5:42 PM
Comment #215368

Also, as Turner points out in that WSJ article, it is a felony under the Logan Act “to communicate with a foreign government without authority of the United States,” about “disputes or controversies with the United States.”

Had she just gone and acted consistently with the administration’s foreign policy, she could always claim innocent intentions. But Pelosi’s office explicitly justified her trip to Syria by saying “the “administration’s cold-shoulder approach has yielded nothing but more Syrian intransigence.”

This quote proves beyond any doubt that Pelosi’s intention was to contridict the administration’s foreign policy and do what she, not they, thinks is best.

Of course, because she’s a Democrat, she’ll never be held to account in Washington the way that a Republican would be for breaking the law. But the rest of us should still be aware that her actions are felonies under the laws of the United States.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 6, 2007 6:01 PM
Comment #215371

The MSM is really buying the GOP spin on this one.

In 1998, Newt Gingrich went to Israel and criticized US foreign policy in the region, even claiming that Madeleine Albright was an “agent for the Palestinians”. He also went to China and 1997, and met with China’s leaders.

Referring to his meetings with China’s leaders, Mr. Gingrich said: ”I said firmly, ‘We want you to understand, we will defend Taiwan. Period.’”

So did he commit a felony, too? Maybe it’s not too late to indict him! That would be fun: the trial of Newt Gingrich. I’ll bring the popcorn.

Also, apparently some Republican members of Congress went to Syria, too. If they met with Syria’s leaders, maybe we can indict them along with Nancy and Newt.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 6, 2007 6:51 PM
Comment #215372

And don’t forget Don Rumsfeld and his buddy Saddam Hussein:

How that’s for a thug?

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 6, 2007 7:00 PM
Comment #215373

Here is the text of the Logan Act, from Wikipedia:

“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 only indictment under this act came in 1803, and no one has ever been prosecuted.

Do we really want to restrict politicians from the minority political party from meeting with members of a foreign government, or restrict such meetings to members of the same party as the president?

I would urge Republicans to think long and hard about their criticism of Pelosi. A Democratic president & congress could confine Republican politicians to the US under this act.

Posted by: phx8 at April 6, 2007 7:06 PM
Comment #215374

From AP, 4/4

Three Republican congressmen who parted with President Bush by meeting with Syrian leaders said Wednesday it is important to maintain a dialogue with a country the White House says sponsors terrorism. “I don’t care what the administration says on this. You’ve got to do what you think is in the best interest of your country,” said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. “I want us to be successful in Iraq. I want us to clamp down on Hezbollah.”… Bush sharply criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for leading a delegation to meet with Syria’s president, Bashar Assad. The White House, however, stayed relatively quiet about a similar trip just a few days earlier by Wolf and GOP Reps. Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania.

As phx8 said, Republicans should really think about whether they want this rather dubious law enforced. At least three current GOP congressmen who could be prosecuted, and maybe Newt Gingrich too.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 6, 2007 7:25 PM
Comment #215375

I don’t know if Gingrich’s actions consituted felonies or not. It really doesn’t look like it. But is that how Democrats want to be judged? By the ethical standards of Newt Gingrich?

We did not nor do we have a policy of refusing to hold discussions with Israel or China on any level of government or about any issues. That is not the case with Syria. Nor did the Clinton administration have a policy of refusing military aid to Taiwan or promising not to come to their aid in the event of war. In fact, Clinton maintained a reasonably aggressive pro-Taiwan posture throughout his administration.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 6, 2007 7:29 PM
Comment #215376


The Logan Act says “any foreign government”. It doesn’t say anything about countries being on a list of enemies.

Is there something wrong with Newt Gingrich’s ethics?

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 6, 2007 8:06 PM
Comment #215377

Woody, it also says that the outlawed contacts must be without the authority of the United States and be “in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”

Pelosi’s contacts, by her own admission, were to counter what she calls the “administration’s cold-shoulder approach” to Syria. It looks like a pretty clear cut violation of the Logan Act.

Now, I really don’t know what Gingrich did, but if it was the same thing as Pelosi, then sure. Why not? Let’s put them both on trial. It doesn’t sound to me that it was the same thing, however, because I haven’t seen it established that:

1). That meeting with Chinese or Israeli officials was ITSELF—just because it was happening—in contradiction of Clinton’s foreign policy.

2). That Gingrich said or did anything in his contacts with these foreign officials that went against Clinton’s foreign policy on a matter related to a dispute those countries were having with the United States.

If it’s established that Gingrich did both of those things, then by all means, let’s make him Pelosi’s cell mate.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 6, 2007 8:39 PM
Comment #215378

I think there are a few reasons this law has almost never been used.

If you really think about it, it’s a pointless law, because nobody dealing with a foreign government without the authority of the United States can really represent America in any bargain on an alternate basis, and if they decided to hand the actual diplomats the agreement they made, they could just say no, and tear it up.

If it were applied as you wanted it, any private businessmen asking for a change of policy from another country could be made a convicted felon. There’d be a lot of businessmen in jail.

Additionally, I’m not sure what this law means by authority. Is it standing as an ambassador or head of state, or merely being a member of the government?

I think what Bush and his supporters don’t like is somebody else than their camp getting a shot at defining foreign policy. My sentiment? Tough s***. That’s the nature of this government. Power isn’t supposed to be invested in one person with pretensions to monarchy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 6, 2007 9:36 PM
Comment #215380

Yes it’s a seldom used law—sort of like the Intelligence Identities Protection Act that started the entire Plame outing witch-hunt.

I don’t remember Democrats talking about little used THAT law was, or about whether or not it was pointless to “out” somebody whose name appeared in the Who’s Who entry of a highly public husband. Isn’t it hypocritical to make that point now?

The law is the law, and breaking it is still a crime. In this case a felony. But it’s funny how the tune changes completely when it comes to alleged Democratic wrongdoing instead of Republican.

Stephen, you even admit that Pelosi was trying to get “a shot at defining foreign policy.” Well, that is in complete violation of not only the Logan Act but the US Constitution, which clearly describes which branch of government has which responsibilites. The authority which Pelosi is attempting to seize for herself IS invested in one person, the elected President of the United States. Who she is not, even if you might wish it so.

Pelosi has no more authority to set foreign policy and usurp the authority of the executive than Bush has the authority to dissolve Congress and create laws with the wave of a scepter.

Democrats and their supporters seem very willing all of a sudden to see the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution shredded—so long as they’re the ones doing it.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 6, 2007 10:10 PM
Comment #215384

So, LO wants to prosecute the three Republicans, Wolf, Aderholt and Pitts, who visited Syria a couple days before Pelosi, and Darrell Issa, who spoke with Abbas the day after?

A four for one deal? I’ll take those odds. I bet half the Republicans get replaced by Democrats.

Get real, LO. Pelosi was fully briefed by the State Department and State Department officials were with her during the meeting. She didn’t tell Assad anything the Republicans haven’t told him. This is all just an attampt to swiftboat Pelosi because you guys hate her guts.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 6, 2007 11:08 PM
Comment #215391


Look at the text of the Logan Act again. I don’t have to prove that Gingrich was explicitly going against US foreign policy, just that he carrying out freelance diplomacy in regard to a dispute or controversy between China and the United States. If you don’t think Taiwan is a matter of controversy, you haven’t been paying much attention to the issue. And he didn’t he just meet with Chinese officials and chat, he made a pretty clear threat.

In the case of Pelosi, it looks like she may have been trying to represent the executive branch… of Israel. She said that Israel wanted to talk to Syria. That was probably silly of her, but I don’t see how that violates the US constitution.

The Plame affair is different in many ways and I don’t think we really need to go there. At any rate, no one was prosecuted under that law you mentioned.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 6, 2007 11:32 PM
Comment #215393

We should not try to criminalize political behavior. Pelosi probably undercut her country by going to Syria. But that is my political opinion. Hers may differ. That is why we have politics. The same goes for Newt Gingrich visiting Israel.

Posted by: Jack at April 6, 2007 11:38 PM
Comment #215402

Woody, what did Gingrich do in Israel? Nobody has bothered to even say. I haven’t heard that he even MET with any officials, much less that he tried to influence them. Do you actually have such info or no where it can be found?

All that’s been said (here at least) is that he went to Israel and said something nasty about Madeline Albright. How that compares with Nancy Pelosi announcing that Bush’s foreign policy of refusing to talk to Syria is wrong and blatantly violating it, nobody has bothered to say.

As far as Tawian goes, when China was threatening them in the late nineties, Clinton sent aircraft carrier groups into the area, so it’s not clear at all that Gingrich wasn’t speaking in direct support of Clinton’s own policy.

In the end though, it doesn’t matter. If a guy robs a bank, it’s not suddenly okay for a lady to do it too.

And American Pundit, what do you mean by “swifboating?” Isn’t that when you tell the truth about somebody who is lying?

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 7, 2007 12:10 AM
Comment #215408
And American Pundit, what do you mean by “swifboating?” Isn’t that when you tell the truth about somebody who is lying?

So, you’re telling me it’s no use having a dialogue with you because you refuse to accept facts. Message received.

Posted by: American Pundit at April 7, 2007 12:42 AM
Comment #215411


But Pelosi’s office explicitly justified her trip to Syria by saying “the “administration’s cold-shoulder approach has yielded nothing but more Syrian intransigence.”

This quote proves beyond any doubt that Pelosi’s intention was to contridict the administration’s foreign policy and do what she, not they, thinks is best.

It does???? Because to me it sounds like she’s saying the administration has no approach at all. You think she’s saying the administrations cold shoulder approach is purposeful? What else is purposeful? Bush screwing the pooch in Iraq? Should the Red cross have waited to act in Katrina until Bush’s strategy of sitting around and not helping anyone panned out?

Are you freaking serious?! She’s over there trying to keep Syria as an ally… You claim that makes her a traitor? And I’m suppossed to believe Republicans really want to win in Iraq? Because it really seems like its just politics and always was.

Posted by: Max at April 7, 2007 12:51 AM
Comment #215413

Max, the administration does have reasons for its policy toward Syria.

If you don’t agree with, understand, or even know about those reasons, that has no bearing on whether or not it’s against the law to attempt to violate and undermine the policy.

Nobody is above the law—not even your political heroes. After the left has said this so many times about Republicans in recent years, it’s truly sad that they’re willing to not only acknowledge their side is breaking the law but say that its perfectly okay to do as long as you’re a Democrat and think you have some “higher purpose” for doing so.

My hope is that American voters are watching, even if the legal system is not, and the slow-motion train wreck that has already characterized Pelosi’s tenure as Speaker will eventually be paid for.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at April 7, 2007 1:14 AM
Comment #215416


Pelosi said:
“On the issues that we set before the president (of Syria),there is no division among us or between our congressional delegation in Congress and the president of the United States.”

So you’re saying that just meeting and talking with Syria is counterproductive to Bush’s “strategy”. Really?? Who knew this was the strategy? Clearly not the Republicans going there. Strange the administration had no words for them. Could it be because they are hypocrites who put politics above the outcome of this war?

You’re saying just going was clearly against Bush’s “strategy”, but plenty of Republicans went. What happened? Why were all these Republicans unaware of this great strategy of non-communication? Clearly, what’s upsetting here is the White House playing politics with this war, again.

Posted by: Max at April 7, 2007 1:47 AM
Comment #215418


OK, let’s suppose his sole offense was calling Secretary of State an agent for the Palestinians. Isn’t it kind of obvious how that undermines US foreign policy? Do I really need to connect the dots here?!

I don’t need to anyway, because he connected the dots. You can see the details here:

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 7, 2007 8:10 AM
Comment #215425

More evidence that Pelosi is getting the shaft. Despite what you may have heard, she had permission from Israel to send a message:

“Pelosi is conveying that Israel is willing to talk if they (Syria) would openly take steps to stop supporting terrorism,” Olmert’s spokeswoman Miri Eisin said. “But at this point the Syrian government, by openly backing terror all around the Middle East, is not a partner for negotiations.”

That’s Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel. I know Olmert denounced her after the fact, but he can’t take back his (spokeperson’s) words.

So basically, we have a bunch of people screaming bloody murder because Pelosi carried a message from one head of state to another. A little unorthodox maybe, but not scandalous.

Posted by: Woody Mena at April 7, 2007 10:29 AM
Comment #215440

It’s the fact that she went over there and undermined the President; if she wants to do that, then she’ll have to be elected President first. It was like Pelosi (actually) trusts Assaad over Bush! Then, she makes that statement about Israel; which prompted Israeli to release a statement denying it. It’s ridiculous. And, the repubs on that trip, if they spoke out like she did; undermining the Pres, the same goes for them, as well. It’s wrong!

Posted by: rahdigly at April 7, 2007 11:34 AM
Comment #215459

Of wasting tax payers money?
Why start now?

Seriously, don’t we have better things to do?
All the hoopla about this ignores the fact that this yet one more thing Do-Nothing Congress is STILL ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems, STILL growing in number and severity, and walling in the circular, divisive, distracting partisan warfare helps to hasten the nation’s decline.

Posted by: d.a.n at April 7, 2007 1:56 PM
Comment #215535


How can one undermine a President that has no strategy, no policy, no plan???
One who, with each day and each inane statement digs his own hole deeper and deeper??

Has the fact that she had State Dept briefings, State department information,etc escaped you?
It would also point out that there was a certain amount of approval of her trip by the State Dept
and, even tho she is a member of congress, she would need State Dept approval to even travel to Syria!!
Add to that the utter silence regarding ALL the republicans who travelled to Syria (not just as part of this delegation) and you have a HUGE BS tempest in a Teapot
Undermine the President my hind end
George Bush is doing that all by himself!!
He needs NO help from anyone else.

Posted by: Russ at April 8, 2007 11:04 AM
Comment #215546

You’ll find no disagreement from “this side” Russ. There is total desperation from the neocons to find anything to take the heat off for a while, and they’re falling all over themselves to do it. And it’s easy to attack someone when they aren’t even around to speak in defense of their actions. Such bravado !

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at April 8, 2007 1:10 PM
Comment #215763

If we are going to put anyone in jail for violating the Logan Act, it should be the members of Reagan’s team that caused the hostages to be held until he was inaugurated. Making promises for arms the Carter administration would not, truly, constitutes a violation.

Posted by: Raymond J Murphy at April 9, 2007 7:12 PM
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