American Politics: NSA’s Spying on Israel has Come in from the Cold Again! And,There's Going to be Hell To Pay! [274*3]
EDWARD SNOWDEN - SAVIOR OR TRAITOR?
Spying On The Friendlies
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL RAN ITS LATEST REPORT regarding the NSA’s monitoring of world leaders. This is in spite of President Obama’s prima facie promise not to do this. This time, however, it has the potential of becoming a tsunami which might engulf the White House, Congress, or both!!
Why both? Because not only was NSA outed again for spying on a world leader, it was leaded they were spying on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; but he was caught lobbying (bribing?) individual Congressmen!!! The fallout of this scandal is going to reach into all levels of the American and Israeli governments as well as put international relations in a tizzy.
The basic story goes like this. After Snowden’s revelation that the NSA was surveilling many friendly leaders, President Obama promised to “curb” this practice; notice that “to curb” is not “to stop” and that distinction was made clear by Obama although I doubt anybody in the news media or the Right noticed. Who was, however, on the protected list and who was not has been kept secret. Clearly, Mr. Netanyahu was not exempted from being spied upon. My guess is the NSA had good reason to keep up the stake-out because Netanyahu was actively trying to sabotage the Iran Nuclear negotiations. Also of interest is that none of the leaders staff was exempted, regardless of which list their principal fell on.
Did He Attempt to Bribe U.S. Lawmakers?
A Scandal For All Seasons
As I mentioned, Obama’s semantic nuance is not going to protect him from a savage beating by the Right because the surface facts of this case are red meat to Conservatives and they will make the most of it … Maybe. Then again, maybe not since Congress itself appears to have dirty hands in this mess as well; in fact they may be so dirty as to minimize what might happen to President Obama. Also, not getting off Scott-free are Netanyahu and his staff; as we said in Vietnam, he may be in some deep … Kimchi.
To muddy things further, the WSJ insinuates that the White House, “in order to not leave a paper trail”, left the decision of who to surveil as well as information should be reported back to the White House and Congress; as best as I can tell, that is standard practice. Part of NSA’s goal in deciding what to reveal and what not to is whether any Americans who happen to be swept up in the spy effort should be revealed outside of NSA. The standard practice is not to unless there is specific national security reasons to do so. The reader should also know this kind of spying has been going on for decades by all parties who have the technology to do it.
You can read the Wall Street Journal article following the provided link. It goes into much more history of who was doing what to whom and why; it makes very interesting reading. But that is not what this Hub is about; this Hub is concerned with the fall-out from the WSJ’s revelation.
Will The NSA Revelations Lead to a Change in Congress?
How Many Laws Were Broken and By Whom
As I see it, there are at least three sources of embarrassment that will result from the investigations into this leaked information … serious embarrassment … consequential embarrassment. One is obvious – there is now yet another scandal for the Obama executive branch, and in the middle of an election year. The other two are not so clear; but possibly more devastating to America and Israel.
Included in the WSJ article are these two budding bombshells:
- The Israelis asked undecided [American] lawmakers what it would take to win their votes
- Israel’s pitch to undecided lawmakers often included such questions as: “How can we get your vote? What’s it going to take?”
How are the GOP investigators going to handle the important questions which flow from these revelations; let alone how is Israel going to defend bribing American lawmakers? Those are huge moral, ethical, and legal questions which could have a consequential negative outcome for individual Congressman, the GOP, the Democrats, the White House, the election, and oh yes, the Israelis and US-Israeli relationships.
The moral and ethical principles violated are real and palpable. But so is the legal, both civil and criminal fallout. As has been seen in many embarrassing cases, it is not legal for lawmakers to solicit or accept bribes of any kind; everybody knows this. What many people don’t know is that even talking to an agent of a foreign government is subject to the 1799 Logan Act (you may remember it from House Speaker Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak in front of Congress.
The Logan Act was created in response to George Logan's unauthorized negotiations with France in 1798 (Logan was a Pennsylvania lawmaker who negotiated as a private citizen) after President Adam’s envoys failed. The Logan Act (which is a felony and has been amended a few times since) states that:
“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.”
Further, in the Supreme Court decision in United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936), Justice Sutherland wrote in the majority opinion:
“[T]he President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude, and Congress itself is powerless to invade it.”
From these and other laws and precedents, it is clear nobody but the President, and his designated representatives, has the authority to negotiate for the United States and even Congress does not have the power to go behind the President’s back and make agreements (especially for favors), e.g., vote a certain way on national security related items. And, if true, that is exactly what the Congressional lawmakers who were in conversation with Israeli government officials apparently did.
How do we know this? Because “swept up” in the conversations recorded between Israeli leadership were discussions on getting undecided lawmakers to vote in a way helpful to Israel, and at the same time harmful to the President’s negotiations, regarding the Iran nuclear deal Obama was trying to cut with Iran. If the allegations made by the WSJ about American lawmakers collaborating with a foreign power without the President’s authority, then that would seem to me to be a felonious action in violation of the Logan Law by trying to “defeat the measures of the United States”.
In addition to the two aforementioned bombshells in the WSJ report there were also these findings about our erstwhile ally:
- Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations—to undermine the talks
- The Israelis coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal
WHO KNOWS? BUT ONE THING IS FOR CERTAIN, it will be exciting to see. Along with “What’s it going to take?”, now we have Netanyahu actively attempting to subvert Obama’s agenda by making American organizations complicit in their illegal behavior; no wonder President Obama, while supporting Israel as strongly as ever, has a bone to pick with his Israeli counterpart.
One thing I am quite sure of is that, like with the Benghazi affair, the conservative GOP will ignore the facts, protect their own, and try to destroy Obama and Clinton with innuendo, half-truths, no-truths, and unsupportable allegations. But will the White House stay true to form and not face the fact this is out there and, whether or not this kind of spying is common in all presidencies or not, not try to spin it as something not to worry about; it is the elephant in the room after all? Will Naugahyde duck for cover or, more true to form, stick it in America's eye?
There should be at least three lines of attack each side is going to take, I would think.
- The Obama White House will try to deflect the pain over to Congress and Israel because, when all is said and done AND whether what NSA did was right or wrong, the FACTS are 1) Israel was messing around with American foreign policy in a very big and damaging way and 2) it is highly likely some congressmen or women were complicit in Israel's subversion of America.
- The GOP will investigate this as if they, and maybe Israel, did nothing wrong and go after Obama personally for ordering the spying on Congress directly
- Netanyahu will castigate Obama, but not his conspirators in Congress, for having once broken international etiquette and spied on the leader of the best friend America has ever had.
Now that is how I think it might play out, but what really is going to happen is anybody’s guess. There are too many unknowns and moving parts at this point in time. But what is certain is there is going to be hell to pay in the following months, and possibly years, for all the players involved; the White House, Congress, and the Israelis.
Who Win, Who Loses? Do You Know?
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