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.
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?