I just caught wind of this, and I’m still doing research. I want to know why this provision was tacked on to this bill at the last moment, and why they want an all-or-nothing vote.
Is Obama about to burnish his foreign policy “cred” once again by sending U.S. servicemen to die in yet another undeclared war?
In a bizarre and unprecedented move, the House of Representatives (the one that is allegedly controlled by Republicans) is jamming through a bill that would make it illegal for U.S. diplomats to have the kind of low-level contact with Iranian representatives that led to the release of those three American hikers who had been held by Iran.
This is from the Friends Committee on National Legislation:
The House is currently considering legislation which could dangerously undermine prospects for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program, increasing the threat of war. See the text of the most current available version of H.R. 1905 here.
The anti-Iran diplomacy provision in H.R. 1905 (section 601 c of H.R. 1905, ANS) would prohibit U.S. government employees in any “official or unofficial capacity” from contacting anyone who is affiliated with the Iranian government and who “presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations.” To waive this requirement, the President would have to certify 15 days in advance that not making this contact “would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States”. […]
Bill Blasted by Former Ambassadors, Experts
This anti-diplomacy provision has been roundly condemned by a host of national security experts because of the chilling effect that it would have on diplomatic engagement with Iran.
Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and William Luers have called the bill “preposterous,” noting that it “raises serious constitutional issues over the separation of powers,” and that former top Middle East intelligence analyst Paul Pillar excoriated the bill, saying, “this legislation is another illustration of the tendency to think of diplomacy as some kind of reward for the other guy, rather than what it really is: a tool for our side.”
Another source has noted that this provision would make it impossible to collect intelligence in some cases. And it seems to me, that with Iran, we need MORE intelligence, not less.
Another group I follow, DownsizeDC.org, has this to say:
“We haven’t had a connection with Iran since 1979. Even in the darkest days of the Cold War we had links to the Soviet Union … If something happens it’s virtually assured that we won’t get it right, that there will be miscalculations which would be extremely dangerous…” Admiral Mike Mullen, recently-retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
TOMORROW, Tuesday December 13, the House will vote on the “Iran Threat Reduction Act” (HR 1905) under a “suspend the rules and pass” vote — which means, with no amendments and no debate.
We at DownsizeDC.org believe there are many problems with the bill. Section 601, however, is particularly dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that even if you believe Iran is a threat and deserves harsh sactions, it is important for your Representative to vote NO and force a debate.
HR 1905 must be defeated so that it can be amended to remove Section 601.
Section 601 outlaws any diplomatic contact between U.S. and Iranian officials — no matter how low level or incidental those interactions are. The President can waive this restriction only by notifying certain Congressional committees 15 days in advance.
As Stephen Zunes points out, “never in the history of this country has Congress ever restricted the right of the White House or State Department to meet with representatives of a foreign state, even in wartime.” (http://huff.to/vgSc5E)
Imagine, if this 15-day requirement applied to Cuba and the Soviet Union. How would the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis have been resolved?
And, in the event of war, with whom can our diplomats negotiate a peace settlement, since all contact would be illegal?
If this bill was currently in force…
* The U.S. couldn’t have won Iranian cooperation in suppressing the Taliban.
* And couldn’t have won the freedom of three American hikers held in an Iranian prison.
In the event of a confrontation with Iran, should the Obama Administration have to wait more than two weeks before having any contact with any Iranian officials?
What could be behind this? Why now? Why no amendments? Why no discussion?
What’s really going on behind the scenes? Why have over 40 members of the Progressive Caucus signed on as co-sponsors of this bill?
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