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[personal profile] benveniste
UAQ, of course, stands for Unasked Questions.  No one asked me, but I have read the now infamous letter and am prepared to answer them anyway.

Q:  Did the GOP senators who signed this thing commit treason?
A:  No.  Treason against the United States is defined in the constitution.  This doesn't even come close.

Q:  Did the GOP senators who signed this thing violate the Logan Act?
A:  By the exact wording of the Act, possibly.  Let's look at the operative clauses:

  • Directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof.  No question here.

  • With intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof.  I don't think they had any such intent.  Not because the senator's intentions were pure; this was purely a play in the ongoing domestic political game.  They didn't even bother to send it in Farsi.  But that's my opinion.

  • In relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States. It would take quite a stretch of interpretation to say that a reference to "nuclear negotiations" is a dispute or controversery.

So, yeah, with a lot of hand waving a case could be made for a prima facie violation.  But then there's that pesky thing called the 1st Amendment.  The Logan Acts dates to 1799 -- one year after the Alien and Sedition Acts made clear that the early Congress thought of the Bill of Rights as "sort of a guideline." This article from Slate gives a pretty good recap of the history of the Logan Act and concludes its a joke.  It's just not a particulary funny one.

Q:  Could the GOP senators be impeached for their actions?
A:  Almost certainly not.  While the language in the Constitution is vague, it's generally interpreted to mean that only Presidential appointees are subject to impeachement.

Q:  Did the GOP senators violate their oath of office?
A:  No.   The oath in the current form does not mention disloyalty to the President, nor does it require Congresscritters to act in the best interest of the Country.  That wasn't always the case, but the "Ironclad Test Oath" was repealed in 1884.

Q:  Was the Senators' letter factually correct?
A:  Mostly Correct:  I agree with Politifact's analysis.

Q:  Did the Senator's actions interfere with the last great hope for Whirled Peas or other such grandiose nonsense?
A:  No.  Do the people making this claim really think that if there was really a meeting of minds, this claptrap would have any effect? It is a 100% safe bet that the Iranian diplomats and advisers know more about our system of government than any of the 47 senators know about Iran's.  They know how the game is played far better than a 1st term Senator.

Q:  So you're saying that the GOP senators did nothing wrong?
A: Bzzzt.  Absolutely not. If one assumes that the letter was meant to be read by Iranian officials, it can only be read as incredibly arrogant and condescending. Reminding other countries how disfunctional and polarized our national politics have become is not illegal, but it is phenominally stupid.  The purpose of any treaty on nuclear technology is to convince Iran that having a nuclear weapons program is not in its best interest.  They will take a lot of convincing and a lot of work to keep them convinced.  If the Iranian government believes that the United States won't live up to their end of the agreement, they have no reason not to continue their development clandestinely.  In fact, even a moderate interpretation of the Quran gives them all the justification they need in verse 8:58.

Iran learned from their own and Israel's attack of the Iraqi Osirak reactor.  Stuxnet was also a fairly good object lesson; presumably they've taken that to heart as well. As a result, I doubt that either the U.S. or Israel could destroy the Iranian nuclear program with conventional forces.  If the GOP thinks that their constituency wants the USA or Israel to use a "big white one" against Iran, I pray that they realize their error in time.

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