GOP Senators Take Orders from AIPAC

By reaching out to Iran in a bid to sabotage negotiations to limit its nuclear program, Sen. Tom Cotton and his 46 Republican colleagues not only show their contempt for President Obama and the U.S. Constitution but their obeisance to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and AIPAC, explains Gareth Porter.

By Gareth Porter

The “open letter” from Sen. Tom Cotton and 46 other Republican senators to the leadership of Iran, which even Republicans themselves admit was aimed at encouraging Iranian opponents of the nuclear negotiations to argue that the United States cannot be counted on to keep the bargain, has created a new political firestorm.

It has been harshly denounced by Democratic loyalists as “stunning” and “appalling”, and critics have accused the signers of the letter of being “treasonous” for allegedly violating a law forbidding citizens from negotiating with a foreign power. But the response to the letter has primarily distracted public attention from the real issue it raises: how the big funders of the Likud Party in Israel control Congressional actions on Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2014.

The infamous letter is a ham-handed effort by Republican supporters of the Netanyahu government to blow up the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran. The idea was to encourage Iranians to conclude that the United States would not actually carry out its obligations under the agreement i.e. the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

Cotton, R-Arkansas, and his colleagues were inviting inevitable comparison with the 1968 conspiracy byRichard Nixon, through rightwing campaign official Anna Chennault, to encourage the Vietnamese government of President Nguyen Van Thieu to boycott peace talks in Paris. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “LBJ’s ‘X’ File on Nixon’s ‘Treason.’“]

But while Nixon was plotting secretly to get Thieu to hold out for better terms under a Nixon administration, the 47 Republican senators were making their effort to sabotage the Iran nuclear talks in full public scrutiny. And the interest served by the letter was not that of a possible future president but of the Israeli government.

The Cotton letter makes arguments that are patently false. The letter suggested that any agreement that lacked approval of Congress “is a mere executive agreement”, as though such agreements are somehow of only marginal importance in U.S. diplomatic history. In fact, the agreements on withdrawal of U.S. forces from both the wars in Vietnam and in Iraq were not treaties but executive agreements.

Equally fatuous is the letter’s assertion that “future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.” Congress can nullify the agreement by passing legislation that contradicts it but can’t renegotiate it. And the claim that the next president could “revoke the agreement with the stroke of a pen,” ignores the fact that the Iran nuclear agreement, if signed, will become binding international law through a United Nations Security Council resolution, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has pointed out.

The letter has provoked the charge of “treason” against the signers and a demand for charges against them for negotiating with a foreign government in violation of the Logan Act. In a little over 24 hours, more than 200,000 people had signed a petition on the White House website calling such charges to be filed.

But although that route may seem satisfying at first thought, it is problematic for both legal and political reasons. The Logan Act was passed in 1799, and has never been used successfully to convict anyone, mainly because it was written more than a century before U.S. courts created legal standards for the protection of First Amendment speech rights. And it is unclear whether the Logan Act was even meant to apply to members of Congress anyway.

AIPAC Marching Orders

The more serious problem with focusing on the Logan Act, however, is that what Cotton and his Republican colleagues were doing was not negotiating with a foreign government but trying to influence the outcome of negotiations in the interest of a foreign government.

The premise of the Senate Republicans reflected in the letter that Iran must not be allowed to have any enrichment capacity whatever did not appear spontaneously. The views that Cotton and the other Republicans have espoused on Iran were the product of assiduous lobbying by Israeli agents of influence using the inducement of promises of election funding and the threat of support for the members’ opponents in future elections.

Those members of Congress don’t arrive at their positions on issues related to Iran through discussion and debate among themselves. They are given their marching orders by AIPAC lobbyists, and time after time, they sign the letters and vote for legislation or resolution that they are given, as former AIPAC lobbyist MJ Rosenberg has recalled.

This Israeli exercise of control over Congress on Iran and issues of concern to Israel resembles the Soviet direction of its satellite regimes and loyal Communist parties more than any democratic process, but with campaign contributions replacing the inducements that kept its bloc allies in line.

Rosenberg has reasoned that AIPAC must have drafted the letter and handed it to Senator Cotton. “Nothing happens on Capitol Hill related to Israel,” he tweets, “unless and until Howard Kohr (AIPAC chief) wants it to happen. Nothing.”

AIPAC apparently supported the letter, but there may be more to the story. Sen. Cotton just happens to be a protégé of neoconservative political kingpin Bill Kristol, whose Emergency Committee on Israel gave him nearly a million dollars late in his 2014 Senate campaign and guaranteed that Cotton would have the support of the four biggest funders of major anti-Iran organizations.

Cotton proved his absolute fealty to Likudist policy on Iran by sponsoring an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 that would have punished violators of the sanctions against Iran with prison sentences of up to 20 years and extended the punishment to “a spouse and any relative, to the third degree” of the sanctions violator.

In presenting the amendment in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Cotton provided the useful clarification that it would have included “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids”.

That amendment, which he apparently believed would best reflect his adoption of the Israeli view of how to cut Iran down to size, was unsuccessful, but it established his reliability in the eyes of the Republican Likudist kingmakers. Now Kristol is grooming him to be the vice-presidential nominee in 2016.

So the real story behind the letter from Cotton and his Republican colleagues is how the enforcers of Likudist policy on Iran used an ambitious young Republican politician to try to provoke a breakdown in the Iran nuclear negotiations. The issue it raises is a far more serious issue than the Logan Act, but thus far major news organizations have steered clear of that story.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. [This story first appeared at Middle East Eye.]

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26 comments for “GOP Senators Take Orders from AIPAC

  1. Dave
    March 15, 2015 at 21:54

    1799 hmm if the logan act is to old to be of any use ,how is the constitution worth anymore it dates back even further

  2. Wm. Boyce
    March 14, 2015 at 22:42

    Great, so not only do mega-corporations control our so-called legislators, foreign governments with the right lobbying power do as well. When will the interests of OUR people be served?

  3. bobzz
    March 14, 2015 at 17:55

    Just think: 1) Tom Cotton as Vice President = assured war with Iran if Republican elected. 2) The Rosenberg links are interesting. 3) America sounds tough when it comes to being a puppet to the UN or international courts, but Israel apparently owns us, and Congress pays them $3.5 billion in tribute or protection money; don’t know which. Sorry about the numbering. Trying to say something in a short space.

    • hjs3
      March 15, 2015 at 18:01

      If you look at Israel’s budget or what they present to the world to be a budget, you will notice there is a significant shortfall or deficit right smack dab in the middle. For starters you have half of it’s population making less than $1500.00 per month….the economy in Israel right now is dreadful…..Another small sin of omission by Netanyahu during his visit to the U.S. Congress….

      We should only hope that the publicized $3.5B is all that we give these people…
      It was no secret that George H. W. Bush was far less than enthralled with Israel than his predecessor. But what really pissed ’em off was the “insidious-meddling” of AIPAC…..Of course his Sec. of State Baker, James Baker essentially told a colleague how they really felt about Israel and their Lobby group….later on with the now infamous quote of “Fuck the Jews,
      they don’t vote for us anyway……” Most sources shorten it to simply “Fuck the Jews” but the entire quote stands and makes more sense…(GOP in those days were capturing about 27% of the Jewish vote) Bush came under fire from AIPAC for something or other and became a bit defensive or offensive if you will when he said that his country, the United States of America was giving every man women and child in Israel $1000.00 per year in aid…..If the population of Israel at that time was say 5.1 Million people how does that make $3.5B today any big deal….

      I for one strongly suspect with budget shortfalls apparent, we are probably providing Israel with something closer to $8B no matter what is printed by MSM….I’ll believe it’s less right after they write the history of Nuclear armament in Israel and how they came about obtaining it…followed up by the Documentary……..Seems reasonable to me…..

  4. oneSTARman
    March 14, 2015 at 13:45

    PLEASE SIGN and SHARE the Petition at http://wh.gov/iD6Ec to: File charges against Senator Cotton and the signers of the Letter to Iran under 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason – In addition to Violating the Logan Act,18 U.S. Code § 953 Private correspondence with foreign governments; “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United STATES, levies war against them or ADHERES to their ENEMIES, giving them AID and comfort within the United States or ELSEWHERE , is guilty of treason..”

    The Iranian Assembly of Experts, the clerical equivalent of the “Senate,” and the Revolutionary Guard are the Sworn Enemies of the United States and are opposed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This letter ADHERES to their position and AIDS our Enemies in Iran continue to prepare for Nuclear War.

  5. March 14, 2015 at 11:00

    The capture of Congress was graphically illustrated by a satirical (barely) remix of Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Txrcpl49GQ

  6. Joe Tedesky
    March 14, 2015 at 01:56

    AIPAC by just being AIPAC is proof of how bad off the U.S. Has become. Due to our country’s love of money, the lobbying business is well off. Influence from campaign time all the way through to passing bill time is bought, and paid for by Washington’s corporate masters.

    I would be up for giving politicians a raise, provided they took in no more money from outside groups. Have c-span simple debates. Allow elections to be held with a 4 month widow of campaigning to election date. When the news media complaints about the loss of revenue, tell them to start producing the news…and I’m not talking about hearing about Donald Trump comments. Real news desk news, reported from the field as its happening type news.

    I would imagine you may all have ideas, but this is a little monolog of mine.

    Enough AIPAC!

  7. Zachary Smith
    March 14, 2015 at 00:13

    …parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids…

    I’m used to thinking of Indiana as “Mississippi North”, but this kind of lunacy puts the Hoosier state to shame. What kid of voters do they have in the “Natural State” who elect this kind of deranged toady for Israel? I’m beginning to suspect the stereotypes for the majority of people there aren’t exactly inaccurate.

    Yeah, I know there are good people everywhere, but clearly they’re darned scarce in certain places.

    • MA
      March 14, 2015 at 13:32

      21st century politicians, 12th century solutions; this is regression by leaps and bounds.

  8. F. G. Sanford
    March 13, 2015 at 19:51

    Does anybody remember the “tossed salad man” from that documentary, “Scared Straight”? Bibi looks like he’s got those 47 cowards lined up to toss his salad. I wonder – if truth is the first casualty of war, is loyalty the second? Great example these bozos are setting for our military, which must choose to die or disobey based on loyalty to this bunch of asshats.

  9. JWalters
    March 13, 2015 at 19:25

    Another chapter in the story of the war profiteers and the so-called “War on Terror”. Good job of tying this event to its roots. This understanding is starting to break through to the public’s awareness.

  10. Gregory Kruse
    March 13, 2015 at 18:37

    I would be embarrassed that I signed that petition except that those senators are traitors.

  11. JohnWV
    March 13, 2015 at 17:42

    In 1930s Weimar Germany, Jews controlled 103 of the 109 German banks, all the news media, and nearly all the government representatives. Organized Jewry thrived and flaunted its wealth while the WW1 reparations burdened Goyim Germans were near starvation, angry, and increasingly desperate. By 1933, Jews were being corralled together for their own protection. With the rise of Der Fuhrer, German citizens had their way and some Jews (far fewer than Israel advertises) did not survive.

    Of today’s Americans, 2% are Jews. Of today’s American millionaires, 50% are Jews. As in Weimar Germany, they are organized and cunningly extract enormous amounts of money from our economy without contributing value. Wall Street has become a Jewish run casino serving itself and Jewry. Our news media is mostly Jewish owned and blatantly Israel/Jew biased. Our electoral process has been corrupted by AIPAC, the Jewish Conference of Presidents and more enormous amounts of Jewish money. Israel has occupied not just Palestine, but America too. The Wall Street felons remaining unpunished, AIPAC actually writing congressional legislation, and lack of treason indictments attest to the depth of the occupation. The Jewish state instigated 9/11, all our Mideast wars, and benefited from all. None were in American interests, yet we did the dying and suffered the Great Recession. Our diminished America is now being quietly overthrown from within and transformed into a world dominating racist ultrapower, the JEWISH STATE OF AMERICA.

    • Gregory Kruse
      March 13, 2015 at 18:35

      You didn’t have to say it twice.

      • Bobzz
        March 14, 2015 at 17:59

        Greg I posted a comment, but it did not take. I assumed I messed up some way, so I posted again. Later, both comments showed up. After that, I learned to wait. That is probably what happened to John.

      • Zachary Smith
        March 15, 2015 at 12:56

        The software is still mucked up. Since I have quite a few ad-blocking and privacy extension on my Firefox browser, I’ve decided to stick with Chrome for posting.

        A post I made a few moments ago had a “naughty” word and for the first time in quite a while I got a “waiting for moderation” post. That’s ok, but when the posts first appear, then disappear for hours, a person tends to get vexed.

  12. JohnWV
    March 13, 2015 at 17:41

    In 1930s Weimar Germany, Jews controlled 103 of the 109 German banks, all the news media, and nearly all the government representatives. Organized Jewry thrived and flaunted its wealth while the WW1 reparations burdened Goyim Germans were near starvation, angry, and increasingly desperate. By 1933, Jews were being corralled together for their own protection. With the rise of Der Fuhrer, German citizens had their way and some Jews (far fewer than Israel advertises) did not survive.

    Of today’s Americans, 2% are Jews. Of today’s American millionaires, 50% are Jews. As in Weimar Germany, they are organized and cunningly extract enormous amounts of money from our economy without contributing value. Wall Street has become a Jewish run casino serving itself and Jewry. Our news media is mostly Jewish owned and blatantly Israel/Jew biased. Our electoral process has been corrupted by AIPAC, the Jewish Conference of Presidents and more enormous amounts of Jewish money. Israel has occupied not just
    Palestine, but America too. The Wall Street felons remaining unpunished, AIPAC actually writing congressional legislation, and lack of treason indictments attest to the depth of the occupation. The Jewish state instigated 9/11, all our Mideast wars, and benefited from all. None were in American interests, yet we did the dying and suffered the Great Recession. Our diminished America is now being quietly overthrown from within and transformed into a world dominating racist ultrapower, the JEWISH STATE OF AMERICA.

    • Jay
      March 13, 2015 at 19:24

      Oh great, not, a legitimate critique of Likud’s polices brings out the “it’s all the fault of Jews” chorus.

      Almost like some Likud loyalist is posting this so as to be able to later say: “Look at what those who question Cotton’s motives and intelligence really think of Jews.”

      • hjs3
        March 15, 2015 at 15:35

        I read Mr. Porter’s article yesterday and was truly astonished to hear the ninety-day wonder from Arkansas answering Bob Schieffer’s questions on “Face the Nation” this morning. Feels fully justified with the letter, claims authorship and his polls reveal that 71% of American agrees with his treasonous group as well….In the process, he certainly sounded like he was running for something as well….
        I’m hardly an alarmist but it sounded to me at least as if he were reading his responses directly off an AIPAC cue card….And there were references re: Jewish oppression in South America when in fact there didn’t need to be if you know what I mean…. Are Mr. Cotton’s recitals all off a remembered script or is he by chance reading it off a tele- prompter?

        I don’t know the answers to these questions but if you re-read the article and then were by chance able to gain the transcript to the Sunday, March 15th Show, I believe your interest in the subject would be heightened measurably…..

        Mr. Porter might have his this one right out of the park…….

    • Zachary Smith
      March 15, 2015 at 12:51

      In 1930s Weimar Germany, Jews controlled 103 of the 109 German banks, all the news media, and nearly all the government representatives. Organized Jewry thrived and flaunted its wealth while the WW1 reparations burdened Goyim Germans were near starvation, angry, and increasingly desperate. By 1933, Jews were being corralled together for their own protection. With the rise of Der Fuhrer, German citizens had their way and some Jews (far fewer than Israel advertises) did not survive.

      I predict that most or all of this is entirely bull shit, but I’m not going to spend any time on any aspect of it. A person can waste a LOT of time with fanatics spouting their nonsense.

      Still, if you’d care to provide some internet links or name some books which aren’t of the neo-Nazi type to back up your claims, I’ll check them out.

      Probably the total absence of either is because you don’t have any decent references or you’re ashamed to name them.

      • brandi peters
        March 16, 2015 at 06:55

        What yer sayin is bull but ah aint gonna refute it cuz its bull………
        THE TRUTH IS ANTI-SEMETIC

  13. Minnesota Mary
    March 13, 2015 at 17:30

    What the American people don’t realize is that the really powerful people who run things are behind the scenes calling all the shots for their out front puppet politicians.

  14. Chas Holman
    March 13, 2015 at 16:38

    ‘Bought and Paid for Gop Senators take Marching Orders FROM AIPAC’

    There ya go.. Fixed that headline for ya,..

    • Thomas Howard
      March 14, 2015 at 03:40

      ‘Bought and Paid for Senators, both Democrat and Republican, Take Marching Orders from AIPAC’

      There ya go…Fixed that headline for ya

      • Bruce Marshall
        March 16, 2015 at 09:33

        Yes that is the more correct headline, but of course the appearance of opposition is part of the game…..It is like Obama making peace gestures with Iran while trying to start World War III with Russia.

    • C.Davis
      March 16, 2015 at 02:11

      Cotton took the money to beat the constitutional candidate in Ar. (Cowart,) when the chips were down, he sucked up to the rethuglican machine so he could displace a better man, so how is that party politics thing working out for ya?
      I could have told you something like this was to be expected. Shylock always gets his pound of flesh…

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