47 Traitors?

Open Letter to Iran signed by 47 U.S. Senators (some say 47 traitors)

Open Letter to Iran signed by 47 U.S. Senators

The Republican party has lost its moral compass.

Yesterday, 47 U.S. Republican senators sent an open letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The letter, which was the “brainchild” of freshman senator, Tom Cotton, was designed to undermine the current nuclear arms negotiations between President Obama, working with five other world powers, and the Iranian leadership.

The Republican party is coming off the rails, yielding control to a largely hyper-religious, scientifically illiterate right wing. Even the once honorable John McCain stooped to adding his signature to a letter specifically intended to undermine both the authority and credibility of the President of the United States.

The internet is abuzz with folks speculating on whether or not these 47 senators are really 47 traitors. There seems to be an argument that these senators could be fined and/or imprisoned for up to three years for violation of the Logan Act, which states:

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.

But most people, including the Iranian leadership, see this letter for what it really is–an act of desperation by a political party that’s coming off the rails. As reported by the New York Times:

Whether the Republican letter might undercut Iran’s willingness to strike a deal was not clear. Iran reacted with scorn. “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, said in a statement. “It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”

Meet the “47 Traitors”

While this story of the letter has garnered plenty of coverage, most only highlight the most prominent signatories, e.g., Mitch McConnell, Macro Rubio, Rand Paul, or Ted Cruz. Very few provide the compete list of the 47 senators who actually signed the letter. So, here is the complete list of the 47 United States Senators–every one a Republican–that have inspire the top-trending #47Traitors hashtag:

  • Tom Cotton
  • David Perdue
  • Joni Ernst
  • James Inhofe
  • John Cornyn
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Marco Rubio
  • Roger Wicker
  • John Hoeven
  • Richard Shelby
  • Thom Tillis
  • Richard Burr
  • Steve Daines
  • Jeff Sessions
  • John Boozman
  • Cory Gardner
  • Shelley Moore Capito
  • Ron Johnson
  • Mark Kirk
  • James Lankford
  • Chuck Grassley
  • Roy Blunt
  • John Thune
  • Mike Enzi
  • Pat Toomey
  • Bill Cassidy
  • John Barrasso
  • Ted Cruz
  • Jim Risch
  • Mike Crapo
  • Deb Fischer
  • Ben Sasse
  • Orrin Hatch
  • Dean Heller
  • Pat Roberts
  • John McCain
  • Rand Paul
  • Rob Portman
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Rounds

Broken Trust

I’ve never been involved in a diplomatic negotiation between nations. But I have been involved in numerous business negotiations between companies. The idea that an employee of one of the companies involved might reasonably and legitimately, on his or her own volition, actively seek to undermine the negotiations is ludicrous. Such an employee would almost certainly be fired and quite possibly sued.

By what argument does a United States senator justify actively working to undermine the diplomatic negotiations of the country he or she supposedly serves? By what argument does such a senator deserve our continued respect. Our continued trust?

4 comments for “47 Traitors?

  1. Don Kinzer
    March 10, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    It would have been elucidating to most of your readers if you had compared this action to earlier instances of congressional meddling in foreign affairs. For example, Nancy Pelosi’s visit with Assad, Edward Kennedy communicating with Andropov, John Kerry’s visit with Ortega, etc. The only difference that I can see between these cases and the one you describe is the political party of the interloper(s) and their number.

  2. Don Kinzer
    March 10, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    One other observation is that the analogy between the executive and employees of a business on the one hand and the executive of the U.S. and members of Congress on the other doesn’t quite fit. Members of Congress aren’t employees of the president. Rather, they are members of a co-equal branches of government, which branches were designed to be mutually counterbalancing.

    That said, I find it distasteful for members of Congress (irrespective of party) to directly involve themselves in foreign affairs. I believe that the Republican group could have conveyed the same basic message (which is undeniably valid) in an open letter published in the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

  3. March 11, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Don, I don’t deny that congressional meddling has occurred in the past, nor would I wish to condone or defend such meddling. But what strikes me as particularly disturbing in this case is the scale–not only in terms of number, but also in terms of the level of open, vehement hostility. All pretense of being part of the same team seems to have been abandoned.

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