According to Webster's Dictionary, a traitor is: a person who is not loyal to his or her own country, friends, etc. : a person who betrays a country or group of people by helping or supporting an enemy. Pretty serious accusation, wouldn't you say? And treason, what is it's definition? Again, according to Webster's, it is "the crime of trying to overthrow your country's government or of helping your country's enemies during war".
What is it about Tom Cotton's letter that has the political world in such an uproar? First of all, I don't think it is actually his letter that is the problem. After all, in essence, all he did was paraphrase Article II of the Constitution, by informing the Iranian regime that any deal cut with the President without Congressional approval would be subject to alterations by Congress and revocable by future presidents. And for that, his actions are labeled "bordering on treason" by a former Democratic politician. But does that simple letter meet the qualifications for the definition of treason? It hardly appears to be an attempt to "overthrow the government", or of "helping our country's enemies during war".
Like I said, the letter and its contents aren't the problem. I believe the real problem is Tom Cotton, himself. You see, Mr. Cotton is representative of a new breed of elected Congressmen who actually have the credentials, and the experience, to back their positions. Mr. Cotton is the youngest member of the Senate and a graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School. But it is his military demeanor and record that I think offends the political establishment the most. He served as an infantry officer in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq in 2006, arguably one of the bloodiest periods of the war.
Like many of his military counterparts, he has returned home from serving his country on the battlefield, and has answered the call to serve in the Halls of Congress. From my perspective, who better to lend their voice to the ongoing debate over our interventionist policies in foreign wars? For me, whether he is a hawk or dove isn't the issue -- I would rather have someone involved in developing our country's policies , who has "walked the walk", than all the career politicians who are there because they can "talk the talk" better than the next guy, or have a bigger campaign chest.
No, I believe the Establishment in D.C. is none too fond of the likes of Tom Cotton, who after facing our enemies on the front lines of war-torn Iraq, is none too intimidated by our domestic enemies, who would defeat us through diplomatic channels. In fact, I don't think the Establishment knows how to deal with Tom Cotton, who is known for his discipline, and his fearless defense of his principles. While at Harvard, he wrote a 92-page thesis on the Federalist Papers, showing his keen interest in how government works. After the attacks on 9-11, he joined the Army and spent almost five years on active duty, including as a platoon leader on combat patrols in Baghdad. He is also known for his unwillingness to compromise, even if it means going against party lines. (You've got to admire him for that!) And because of his bold and defiant schooling of the Iranian leadership, there is now an attempt to invoke the obscure Logan Act to censure him.
What is the Logan Act? Enacted in 1799, the Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was intended to prohibit such negotiations after Pennsylvania state legislator Dr. George Logan traveled to Paris to enter into discussions with the French during a period of severe tensions between our two governments. His actions were labeled "semi-negotiations", and although his efforts appeared to result in a positive avoidance of all-out war, it angered his political rivals who sought "to curb the temerity and impudence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States." Sounds like the Logan Act was the result of political jealousy and was meant as a slap on the wrist of a political upstart. Nothing has changed in American politics.
The use of the Logan Act for political punishment is nothing new. In 1803 the Act was procured against a private citizen who wrote a letter to a newspaper, advocating a separate U.S. nation in the west that would ally with France. The subsequent purchase of the Louisiana Territory caused the separatism issue to disappear. In 1941, it was suggested that the Logan Act could apply to former President Herbert Hoover because of his negotiations with European nations over sending food relief. In 1975, Senators John Sparkman and George McGovern were accused of violating the Logan Act when they traveled to Cuba and met with officials there. In 1984, Jesse Jackson traveled to Cuba and Nicaragua to negotiate for the exchange of political prisoners. Again, the Logan Act was dusted off and implied.
And I'm sure you all remember the little political trip that Nancy Pelosi took in 2007. Representative Steve King introduced legislation that would prohibit then-Speaker of the House Pelosi from drawing on Federal funds to travel to foreign states which the U.S. deems to sponsor terrorism. King claimed that Pelosi's dialogue with the Syrian government violated the Logan Act. The amendment was not adopted, of course.
So, does all this sound like political grand-standing? Yes! Political sour grapes? Absolutely! Senator Cotton and 46 other Senators did not violate the Logan Act. There were no "negotiations"; just stated facts about the Constitution. And to insinuate that he is a traitor to his country, or could be dangerously close to committing treason is absurd. I, for one, am impressed with his forthrightness, his loyalty to the Constitution and his country, and his unflinching attitude in defending the American people from what he thinks is dangerous policy.
I think we can actually go back to the original intention of the Logan Act ... "to curb the temerity and impudence" of men like Tom Cotton. How dare he stand up for the American people and the United States! May the courage he displayed in the midst of war carry him through the battles he will face in the belly of the beast that is Washington, D.C. And may he remain steadfast in his determination to defeat those who would defeat us; and avoid the failure of being compromised as so many before him have done. We, the American people, watch and wait for someone to defend us.
Proverbs 13:6 "Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked."