When former president Jimmy Carter meets with terrorist Hamas leader Khaled Mashall this Friday in Damascus he will apparently violate two federal laws. His eager defiance of the law threatens Americans at home and our troops abroad.
Muhammad Nazzal, an Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) terror group official in Syria, told the Associated Press that Carter had sent an envoy to Damascus requesting a meeting with their exiled leader Mashaal. Hamas “Welcomed the request.”
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said of Carter’s meeting, “US government policy is that Hamas is a terrorist organization and we don't believe it is in the interest of our policy or in the interest of peace to have such a meeting." Assistant secretary of state David Welch spoke with the 82-year-old Carter before his trip and asked him not to meet any representative of Hamas.
Carter’s meeting will violate the Logan Act (18 U.S.C. § 953) which makes it a felony for any American, “…without authority of the United States,” to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any “…disputes or controversies with the United States.” A citizen found guilty of this law could be imprisoned for up to three years. Carter’s specific intention is “to provide momentum for current efforts to secure peace in the Middle East.”
The Logan Act dates back to the French revolution. In 1797, President John Adams sent envoys to Paris to settle differences with the French arising from our failure to support their revolution. When the envoys returned empty-handed, Dr. George Logan, a physician and Philadelphia Republican, attempted to resolve the crisis on his own.
Logan, who carried a private certificate from then vice president Thomas Jefferson, succeeded. Logan’s freelancing effort, however, irritated President Adams who recommended that Congress take action to stop the “…temerity and impertinence of individuals affecting to interfere in public affairs between France and the United States.” In 1799, Congress passed the law which remains in effect to this day.
Carter’s proposed meeting will also violate part of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 which prohibits any US citizen from knowingly providing “…material support or resources” to a foreign terrorist organization (18 U.S.C. § 2339A(b)). The phrase “material support or resources” includes “expert advice” which is what former presidents provide. A citizen found guilty of violating this law could be imprisoned for life.
The State Department has legally defined Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization based on three criteria: it is a foreign organization, it engages in terrorist activity, and it threatens the security of US nationals or the national security of the US.
Hamas was founded in 1987 during the first violent Palestinian insurrection (intifada) against Israel. Since January 2007, Hamas has governed the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and has activities in Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings inside Israel and routinely fires rockets at Israeli settlements. Its leaders are committed to terrorism and say they intend to continue their attacks until Israel is eradicated.
In February, on al-Aqsa television, Hamas parliamentarian Fathi Hammad, declared that, “For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine."
Israel is not the only nation threatened by Hamas. Before his assassination in 2004, Hamas chief Abdel al-Aziz Rantisi took part in a Gaza rally in support of the Iraqi insurgency. Amid chants of “Death to America” and the burning of American flags, Rantisi called on Iraqis to “Strike and Burn” US troops and “Teach them the lessons of suicide actions.”
In August 2004, Hamas’ current leader Mashaal signed a statement calling on all Muslims to join with radical Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in his fight against American forces in Iraq. Later, al-Sadr vowed to serve as the “striking arm” for Hamas in Iraq.
Hamas also serves Iranian interests in Israel. It receives weapons and money from Tehran and The London Times reports that Hamas has been sending its forces to Tehran to train with Iran’s Qods (Jerusalem) Force and Lebanon’s Hezbollah for more than two years. Both Qods and Hezbollah have American blood on their hands.
Hamas is also a threat to our homeland. Rantisi wrote a 2003 article stating that attacking America was not only “…a moral and national duty -- but above all, a religious one.” FBI director Robert Mueller said, "Although it would be a major strategic shift for Hamas, its United States network is theoretically capable of facilitating acts of terrorism in the United States."
That shift may be underway. In August 2004, a Hamas money-man, Ismail Selim Elbarasse, was arrested for videotaping cables and other features "…integral to the structural integrity” of Maryland’s Bay Bridge. The incident was treated as a Hamas reconnaissance of the bridge and “…as a potential link between Hamas and al Qaeda.” Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who pleaded with Carter not to meet with Mashaal, believes Hamas is responsible for the murders of at least 26 Americans.
Carter’s plan to showcase his opposition to the government makes him just one among a number of prominent Democrats who have violated the law by meeting with our avowed enemies.
Last year, house speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Damascus “…to communicate on foreign-policy issues” with Syrian president Bashar Assad. She claimed her trip sought a “…road to peace” but her stature and the fact that Syria was enabling Iraqi insurgents against American forces sent mixed messages.
In 1972, actress Jane Fonda toured North Vietnam where she participated in a staged press conference accompanied by captured American servicemen to “prove” that the POWs weren’t being mistreated. It’s noteworthy that Fonda has endorsed Senator Barack Obama, who promises as president to “…meet separately, without precondition” with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.
In 1984, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson traveled to Cuba and Nicaragua and returned home with Cuban political prisoners seeking asylum. Then Jackson met with Hamas’ Mashaal in Syria in 2006. Jackson, too, has endorsed Obama.
None of these transgressors have been taken to task for their behavior. The responsibility for the nation’s foreign policy is constitutionally vested with the president. Jimmy Carter had his chance in the 1970s and made a mess of it. We should not allow him to speak for us now and should never elect a presidential candidate who pledges to meet with terrorist regimes “without precondition.”