Monday, September 15, 2008

Can Obama Be Imprisoned for Meddling in Iraq?

Yesterday, the New York Post reported:

While campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence.

If true, Obama's behavior constitutes a clear violation of U.S. law. In particular, the Logan Act, 18 U.S.C. § 953, provides in relevant 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.
Thus, as a technical matter, Obama may be prosecuted -- and potentially imprisoned -- for his violation of U.S. law. As a practical matter, however, any such prosecution by the Bush administration would be seen as politically motivated and would almost certainly backfire. So while I'll be interested to learn more about these allegations, the possibility of Obama being "frogmarched" is essentially zero.

You may be thinking: but if Obama's actions are truly in violation of U.S. law, why shouldn't he be prosecuted? It's a fair question, but given that there have been no prosecutions in the history of this country for violation of the Logan Act, it's hard to imagine that such aggressive action by the Bush administration would fly legally, or more importantly, in the court of public opinion. So while the Republicans would do well to press this issue further, the attack should focus on Obama's judgment and leadership, rather than legal niceties.

What do you think?


Karridine said...

I think you have both an accurate understanding of the law on the books AND a good grasp of the practical context surrounding Obama (and Sandy Burglar, and others who use that context to stay out of prison even after their foul attacks)!

Me? If I had so much as left a file cabinet unlocked in my work as a Top Secret (worker) on the Korean DMZ, I WOULD HAVE GONE TO Leavenworth for 20 years, do not pass GO, but FORFEIT $20,000!

The injustice STINKS, Latina!

/good post, Kiddo!

Gecko said...

Maybe Carter can be prosecuted too.