I don’t get it. What is wrong with it if I talk to the Russian ambassador? I’m a private citizen now and should be able to associate with anyone I want. And if I were confirmed as an appointee, my conversations would be called “diplomacy.”
And yet, we managed to drum Gen. Michael Flynn out of a job.
Anybody smell some jealous politicians running scared again?
Turns out there is a law. The Logan Act states, in part:
“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.”
So no private person can try to conduct foreign policy without the permission of the gummint. Specifically, I’m forbidden to talk with a foreign government or its representative and try to influence foreign policy.
“Is true!” Liz Arden said.
It came about after the French Revolution when the new United States didn’t help France because of a treaty with England. The French were upset and began robbing American ships and jailing our sailors.
“They should have been upset because they helped us.” Ms. Arden reminds us.
Official envoys tried unsuccessfully to patch things up and it looked as if we’d end up at war with France. I reckon we’re lucky they didn’t gang up on us with England.
That’s when Dr. George Logan, a Quaker Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania, set off for France. He succeeded, but when he got back to the U.S., then-President John Adams, George Washington, and the rest of the gang were furious over his interference. Congress pushed the law through to stop lone wolves like Dr. Logan from doing it again.
80% of our laws are.
And here I wanted to talk with Kim Jong un!
Anyway, the Logan Act feels like a violation of the first amendment. Freedom of association is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems, including the Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international law. Be interesting to test that.
“Well, freedom to associate, sure. But with the intent to influence policy?” she asked.
It’s an interesting line.
Assuming I could even get in to talk with an opponent’s ambassador, how much influence would I have? Or would Gen. Flynn, before the election? And should we prosecute Rex Tillerson? Look how many times he’s talked to Mr. Putin directly, before the election.
After the election is a different story. I’m thinking we want a new Administration — any new Administration, left or right — to get its ducks in a row.
Gen. Flynn lied and deserved to be fired but so should the politicians who put him in that position.
And, for the record, we haven’t seen Dennis Rodman prosecuted yet.