The Washington Post has written an article about former President Jimmy Carter.
For an event that would turn a page in American history, former President Jimmy Carter has agreed in principle to host former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami for talks during his visit to the United States starting this week.
It is a standard practice of social etiquette to continue to refer to any former American President as President. It is a symbol of respect for the office and for the service rendered while in that office. And while I will often refer to someone by just their last name, I try not to do that for former Presidents, even impeached, cigar-hiding Presidents.
President Carter isn’t a formal part of our government system anymore, but he is still afforded respect for his service. So I am dismayed to read in the Washington Post that he is willing (and probably eager) to deal with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami because this appears to skirt dangerously close to breaking the Logan Act.
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.
This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.
Yes, President Carter is not meeting with a formal member of the Iranian government, but just as President Carter retains a semblance of government involvement, so does former Iranian president Khatami. If President Carter has the intent to ” influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government ” or “defeat the measures of the United States” then he is guilty of violating the Logan Act.
If I were President Bush, I’d send President Carter a little note telling him to stop mucking with the government’s workings with other countries, a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” sort of note to basically tell him to shut the @#$% up and go back to his peanut farm or house building. Yes, that’s a tad harsh, but when people refuse to get the message, you sometimes have to be blunt.