From the Voice of America:
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says he is ready to hold talks with the United States on stabilizing the Middle East. In an interview with an Italian newspaper (La Repubblica) Mr. Assad said the United States, Israel, European nations and other major powers should hold talks with Syria and Iran about solving the region's problems. His comments follow Democratic Senator Bill Nelson's (of Florida) visit with Mr. Assad on Wednesday. Nelson said he saw his visit as an opening for dialogue. The White House criticized Nelson's trip to Syria as "not helpful" and "not appropriate." White House spokesman Tony Snow said Thursday that lending any legitimacy to the Syrian government undermines the cause of democracy in the region. He said the Syrians have been "adventurous" and "meddlesome" in Iraq and Lebanon.
Two other prominent Democrats, Senators Christopher Dodd (of Connecticut) and John Kerry (of Massachusetts), also plan trips to Damascus. They have defended the trips as necessary fact finding visits, not attempts at negotiating.These are deliberate violations of the Logan Act. The Logan Act is a federal law that forbids private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Passed under the administration of President John Adams during tension between the U.S. and France, it was named for Dr. George Logan of Pennsylvania, who engaged in semi-negotiations with France during the Quasi-War. Text of the law :
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.Once again, President Bush will be too much the gentleman to fight a direct, treacherous attack on his office. These weasels will get away with confusing our enemies, undermining the war on terror and usurping the constitutional authority of the president. Very, very frustrating.