Is Celebrity Engagement Helpful in Bringing Attention to Policy Matters?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
April 8, 2008
Angelina Jolie in Iraq

When Angelina Jolie went to Iraq, she met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and U.S. General David Petraeus to discuss the plight of Iraqi refugees. George Clooney traveled to Sudan to highlight the predicament of that country’s refugees. Bono has met with several world leaders, including President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss aid for Africa.

Is celebrity engagement helpful in bringing meaningful attention to these policy matters?

Comments

Comments

Zharkov
|
United States
April 8, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

The Logan Act prohibits U.S. citizens from contacting foreign officials regarding U.S. policy matters. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act but it is used on occasion by the State Department as a threat against people wanting to exercise their constitutional rights of association and free speech.

These constitutional rights supercede the unconstitutional Logan Act, so it would be wise for Congress to repeal the Logan Act so celebrities need not worry about whether the State Department will cause them legal problems. Until then, the State Department should either not selectively threaten U.S. citizens with enforcement of the Logan Act or prosecute all of them whenever they contact foreign officials without the consent of the Executive Branch.

Is it helpful to violate U.S. law? The CIA does this daily. Sometimes it is the only choice if something must be done and the U.S. government isn't doing anything, which is too often the case.

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
April 8, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes: What about 'without permission' did you not read?

§ 953. Private correspondence with foreign governments.

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 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.

1 Stat. 613, January 30, 1799, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 953 (2004

When and why was it written and last used by whom? Ragan...

The add on:

Sec. 923. False statements influencing foreign government ? Whoever, in relation to any dispute or controversy between a foreign government and the United States, knowingly makes any untrue statement, either orally or in writing, under oath before any person authorized and empowered to administer oaths, which the affiant has knowledge or reason to believe will, or may be used to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government, or of any officer or agent of any foreign government, to the injury of the United States, or with a view or intent to influence any measure of or action by the United States or any department or agency thereof, to the injury of the United States, shall be imprisoned not more than ten years.[7]

Often the proof is often in the pudding and history reveals correctness where information is concerned. Unless someone changes it, for reasons beyond our understanding.

The bill was to cover the political aspect. But then you had actors supporting Chavez. Could that not be seen as the same? False information by the press can be viewed under this act. False information or the changing of information by any Federal authority can be viewed under this act...but when has it ever been? It is a safety feature.

The act was originally passed to keep the political aspect of in House separation from conducting itself outside the Congress and Senate and insure correctness of intelligence latter. This is understandable.

I believe people like Cynthia Bassinet are very good examples of how impact can be made productively. For years she and others have worked diligently to bring starvation, abuse and womens rights world wide to the forefront. The UN has recognized many of their efforts.

Exposure of a positive is always welcome.

DennisMCallies
|
Wisconsin, USA
April 8, 2008

Dennis in Wisconsin writes:

The Logan Act not withstanding, celebrity engagement with world political leaders can be just as helpful as celebrities morphing into domestic political leaders. An example would be Ronald Reagan, movie actor, president of Screen Actors Guild, governor of California, president of the United States. Intelligence and concern is found in all walks of life.

Problems arise when a celebrity extends his endorsement, and it flashes superficially among his fans. Is there any real advocacy? Is there issue oriented action? Outside of their day job any attention that celebrities draw should be directed toward issues and policies.

Dan
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 8, 2008

Dan in Washington, DC writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Thanks for those interesting observations. If people would like to know more about the Logan Act, here is a link with some basic information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan_Act

Some of this discussion reminded me of what Dean Acheson, in reference to one of President Wilson's 14 points, recognized as "Open covenants openly contrived against... "

Also in this regard, seemingly it is not just "celebrities" that are playing a role here. For example, here is a link -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jody_Williams -- to info about Jody William, once an unknown Vermont school teacher, who received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the campaign she led -- the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

Also, it is interesting to note that the word "diplomat" has the same origins as the word "diploma" ... in other words, one of the traditional foundations of the concept of a diplomat was that such a person had an official credential from some recognized nation-state authority appointing him as an official representative. Seemingly globalization and the technology revolution have done much to alter the traditional status of who is a diplomat and who can carry out diplomacy...

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 8, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Hey folks, interesting subject matter.

I took note of the following and now completely understand why no one has ever been convicted of, and to my knowledge ever even been charged for violating the Logan Act.

"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.""the right of a citizen to apply for himself....for any redress of any injury....

Well to put this in layman's terms, I could simply say the following and no jury would convict, because no prosecutor could make a case after it was uttered.

"I'm just flat sick of being witness to it, so I have the right to communicate with any foreign government that can help solve what I consider an infringement upon my peace of mind."

Dan
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 8, 2008

Dan in Washington, DC writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Re: your comment "Is it helpful to violate U.S. law? The CIA does this daily" ...

Not according to the below information taken from the CIA's Frequently Asked Questions web page found on the CIA's web site (see https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/faqs/index.html):

Begin excerpt from CIA web page:

"10. Who oversees the CIA? Does it act on its own initiative?

Both the Congress and the Executive Branch oversee the CIA's activities. In addition, the CIA is responsible to the American people through their elected representatives, and, like other government agencies, acts in accordance with U.S. laws and executive orders. In the Executive Branch, the National Security Council -- including the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defenseãprovides guidance and direction for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence activities. In Congress, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as other committees, closely monitor the Agencyãs reporting and programs. The CIA is not a policy-making organization; it advises the Director of National Intelligence on matters of foreign intelligence, and it conducts covert actions only at the direction of the President or Director of National Intelligence."

End excerpt from CIA web page.

Aline
|
New York, USA
April 8, 2008

Aline in New York writes:

I disregard immediately anything that is endorsed by "celebrities". I've never believed that being a so-called celebrity qualifies anyone for advising others.

Schmetterling
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 8, 2008

S in Washington, DC writes:

Hi State! S here! I know you missed me, but I want you to know I've been out of the country, for a LOONG time! India, Nepal and then that crazy Dubai! Sick as a DOG I was, up along the India/Pakistan border, my only link to the English world was "BBC WERLD-BRINGING YOU-THE WERLD” (oh yes, I got sick of my "BBC World " (like I always do) soon enough-but was very entertained by Bollywood productions!)And then in Travel-Warning plagued Nepal-precious Nepal! Oh, how I loved it here-the Katmandu Valley is GORGEOUS! Then, on safari in Chitwan National Park, some of my Dutch colleagues got right by a middle of a RHINO ATTACK! YES, REALLY-it was VERY SCARY! But not me-S didn't go on a jungle walk with them -only my beloved elephant rides (and an elephant WINKED at me in Jaipur-yes, it did, really!) But I DIDN'T love that red Maoist hammer and sickle we saw as we moved over the India/Nepal border by foot and bicycle rickshaw-(LOVE crossing international borders by foot!) What an experience that was! And that maharajah "resort " we stayed in, in that god-forsaken area along the India-Nepal border-WOW! Scowling tiger skin and head on the wall in the parlor, which greets us the minute we walk in from this lovely wrap-around veranda and garden with royal palms, but then, S peeks into the dining room and sees: Triple tiger heads mounted above the fireplace in the dining room -- Yes! So didn't like that! But fascinating? How could it be? (Now I know where all the Indian tigers have gone-here, on the wall of this maharajah's home on the Nepal border!) And then, Kathmandu! Oh Kathmandu! How I love you! Jimmy Carter is now there, to be an impartial observer of the upcoming elections-I SO hope and pray that civil war will not break out after the elections-Jimmy Carter, I am so rooting for democracy to take hold in Nepal, but they are doing away with their 300 year old monarchy-what will happen next, who knows? I went to the Tibetan Buddhist community at Bodhnath-one of the highlights of my trip-that was very special-Oh this WAS a trip of trips, State! Would that every American could have tagged along with me, to see the wonders of the Hindu worship ceremony at night on the banks of the Ganga, setting out our floating candles and watching them move away like tiny runway lights in the night-the cremation ghats burning, always burning in the distance -- Unforgettable! Love India and Nepal!

But Dubai? Eh! If you like upscale shopping malls with everything you can think of from home, you'll love it here! Applebees, Cinnabon, Starbucks, Seattle Coffee Company, TGIF -- They're all here and wating for you! But not me-I didn't care for it! (Except for the beautiful Arabian Gulf waters-very lovely beaches here!).

Next up for S: Russia! (But that's a few months from now...)

Anyway, I'm back here in boring DC, and as for your very excellent and relevant question, one that I've thought about a lot, actually, as I move around the world, I have only one conlusion: Yes, any way, any means that can be used to bring attention to these parts of the world where women and children are suffering because of ethnic tensions, areas which are so isolated from the modern world, areas that would never get attention otherwise, where the celebrities involved actually get governments to do something constructive about remedying the terrible injustice and civil war casualties that we see in these places-yes, yes yes-i think it has been demonstrated, certain of these celebrities have the requisite star-power to literally move a bureaucracy in the developing world-such clout, in distressed areas like Darfur, and other places in Africa where ethnic warfare rages, such publicity and interest is worth the price of rubies, and many thousands of camels!

I'm for it, and you must know, I would be Angelina Jolie and George Clooney if I could, I would be doing as they are doing, absolutely, if I had the means, because I can see the altruistic benefits that star power can bring to the catastrophically disenfranchised peoples of the world!

Zharkov
|
United States
April 9, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ Dan in Washington, DC -- Dan in Washington, DC, said in reply to my assertion that the CIA violates federal law daily..."Not according to the below information taken from the CIA's Frequently Asked Questions web page".

Sorry folks, the CIA website is not truthful on this point.

Governor Jesse Ventura, in his NY Times bestseller book, "Don't Start The Revolution Without Me" wrote that the CIA is prohibited by law from conducting operations within the U.S. borders, yet has agents posted in the capitols of every US state, collecting information on American citizens and specifically independent party governors, a violation of federal law. Within the first few weeks after his election, he was summoned to a room to be interviewed by 21 CIA employees in the Minnesota state capitol. Further, U.S. government spy satellite surveillance has been redirected to American cities, if you have followed recent news reports, which again, could constitute a violation of U.S. law depending on which agency receives the data. Moreover, the CIA routinely violates the Freedom of Information Act in refusing to declassify information that merely embarrasses federal officials rather than threatens national security.

So it seems fair to say that the CIA routinely violates federal law, and they are not unique in that respect.

The State Department has a double standard when it comes to contacting foreign officials. A private citizen may find himself referred by the State Department to the Justice Department for investigation after visiting Fidel Castro, but celebrities, journalists, state officials, even certain private citizens such as Henry Kissinger have no problem with threats of Logan Act enforcement. This double standard must end.

The Logan Act is unconstitutional and free citizens should not need government permission to speak with foreign officials about US foreign policy because they are unable to bind the US government to any agreement. There is no evil to be prevented by such a law and no legal reason for the Logan Act to exist. If some government officials are embarrassed by private citizens or celebrities accomplishing things they were unable to do, then perhaps a little competition will produce better policies.

Purpose
|
Pennsylvania, USA
April 9, 2008

P in Pennsylvania writes:

To answer this question I would need to know not only which celebrities met with which world leaders, but also, when did they meet and which key issue was discussed. That is a great question and the only examples that come to mind directly and without research are Shirley Temple's embassy work and Oprah Winfrey's school in South Africa. I know that Robin Williams has performed USO shows for years and Elvis Presley did similar work, but the effect on Policy issues is not measured, to my knowledge. The Vietnam war called for multiple celebrities to meet with World leader and their actions did influence the American public's opinion in relation to the war, and therefore indirectly effected the leaders' policy decisions. I am extemporaneously unable to comment on a more current meeting with a measurable impact leading to an effectual relationship between a celebrity visit and a policy change.

Gary
|
Virginia, USA
April 9, 2008

Gary in Virginia writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. wrote --

"Sorry folks, the CIA website is not truthful on this point [i.e., the point of whether or not the CIA violates U.S. law daily].

Governor Jesse Ventura ... wrote that the CIA ... has agents posted in the capitols of every U.S. state, collecting information on American citizens and specifically independent party governors ... Further, U.S. government spy satellite surveillance has been redirected to American cities ..."

So the CIA's website is untrustworthy on that point? OK. But you expect me to believe that Jesse Ventura is a reliable source of information about CIA spying on independant party Governors [meaning, on Jesse Ventura himself, since there haven't been any others]? Is he also your source for the re-targeting of spy satellites to American cities?

Wow! Who knew? And I thought Ventura was just a has-been TV wrestler who got lucky in one election.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 10, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Here's a concrete proposal on how America can end the Iraqi refugee crisis:

We de-mothball all the military bases that have habitable quarters and space for portable housing, and set them up as temporary refugee processing centers where human needs can be addressed immediately, and in a secure environment.

The screening of refugees has been a big hang up for people getting out of harm's way in general, so perhaps there is a way to keep the security aspect intact while screening the refugees in a structured setting here in the U.S.

Here's the thing, and I base this on the same premise that I built bicycles for the homeless with, that if the homeless person that I build it for uses it to it's full potential, then he/she is no longer homeless, because they've just become a commuter.

Refugees have had their entire lives disrupted, uprooted.

Overall, I can only assess that for many decades the International System has functioned on a sub par level compared to its potential to render aid.
In many ways it has fallen to America to push others to act, and frankly if "star power" is an aspect of "soft power" wielded with the blessings of the U.S. government, that's not a bad thing if it has half a chance of achieving results.

But I think it is also sad in a way that a rock star (perhaps Bono might agree) has to instigate awareness that is rightfully the global politician's job to begin with.

One small voice of a man, one giant mouse that roared for mankind.

John
|
Greece
April 10, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- I do not know about the re-targeting of spy satellites, but I'm sure that these satellites do not kill journalists and other "dissenters" like KGB spies still do, not only in Russia, but also internationally.

JOE
|
Tennessee, USA
April 10, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

This is about the use of Celebrities and the most amazing part of it comes from the fact that the entertainment industry, Liberal as it may be, gives, produces and brings to the forefront more proportionately than the Churches which President Bush has called on to aid more with. It may be a diametrically political dilemma due to the pacifist nature and political stance of many, but that is the intent. All is given with peace as the overall intent. Love for humanity is a valuable asset which aids us well; especially when it is given without Political intent or Religious overview.

What Jane Fonda did was not in her Countrymens best interest and that is where the line should be drawn.

To answer the question: The world needs all the help it can get. Why be negative about it at all?

As far as CIA, not The CIA is concerned: a country is only as secure as its Intelligence. If you do not do anything wrong and no one is limiting your freedoms, who cares?

The rest of the nonsense sounds like a cheap paperback or one hour TV show.

Jesse Ventura did a wonderful job fiscally and put his State in the Black. Within one year of him leaving, it was in default again. He proved himself on the field as a Seal and as the average American being able to represent his people. One line from a book written by a Navy Seal will always contain some information from a military perspective and in his case some paranoia resulting from him not being part of the political system. It is understandable. Why take it out of context?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 11, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- Hey Joe, Why is it that folks think pacificism is the exclusive domain of liberal thinking? And personally I think the more folks tend to use labels to define mindsets, the further away from reality a discussion gets.

Historicly the U.S. has been a pacifist nation, regardless of party in power. We were dragged kicking and screaming into WW1, caught with our pants down in WW2, Co founded the UN as a forum for conflict resolution, Decided containment as policy and a cold war that got decidedly warm at times was better than mutually assured destruction; Being the only nation to have used atomic weapons in war, thus having implemented policies instigated communications over the decades that has made sure not another one gets used by anyone, including us.

The Peace Corps, USAID and having been the leading donor of support (22%) of the UN as well as the leading donor of humanitarian aid globally, it goes without saying that the American public as a whole goes deep into the pocket to help those in need around the world.

Caught with our pants down again on 9/11...

Joe, I think it is safe to say that is in our nature as Americans to be at peace with the world, if given the chance.

You'd think perehaps at this point folks would understand that if you want to lose a war, simply pull a sneak attack on the USA and wake the "sleeping giant" up.

I think it behooves us as Americans to be completely accurate in our understanding of this situation regardless of which side of the political spectrum any of us comes from.

When the full truth of Iranian involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is publicly on display in the UN, I believe the world will come to understand that a lasting peace in the region will not allow for the continued existance in power of the current leadership of Iran.

Iran's leadership has much to explain to the Iraqi people and to the world regarding their crimes against humanity in Iraq, including their role in exacerbating civil strife regionally resulting in a flood of refugees.

Some years back, James Jeffrey, Senior Advisor to Secretary Rice and Coordinator for Iraq Policy led a discussion on "The Way Forward in Iraq: An Integrated Political-Military-Economic Strategy."

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/59632.htm

(State got the name wrong, but I do appreciate my question being answered)

Ellen writes:

With regards to militias like Sadr's Mahdi Army, who's loyalty is to Iran , and the premise of Iraqi sovereignty, does not this situation constitute a violation on the Iranian government's part of UN resolutions regarding Iraq?

James Jeffrey:

Dear Ellen -- Interesting question. First of all, we support the new constitution 's ban on military militias. The existence of these militias undermines security in Iraq and poses a threat to the Iraqi people, Iraqi Security Forces, and Multinational Forces-Iraq that cannot be tolerated. Regarding the possible violation of UN resolutions, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 requires Iraq 's neighbors to respect the sovereignty of Iraq and also encourages its neighbors to do what they can to assist in the development and reconstruction of the country. Those countries that are found to undertake actions that do not respect Iraq 's sovereignty or that contribute to undermining stability in Iraq risk reaction by the international community. We have significant concerns with Iran in this context and are prepared to discuss them with the incoming government in the proper forum.

--END Excerpt--

I believe the time is now to press the issue...hard.

Zharkov
|
United States
April 11, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ P in Pennsylvania -- I agree with P in Pennsylvania that the question is meaningless without knowing which policy issues are to be discussed, and which foreign officials will be contacted, and what the views of the celebrity might be when the discussion begins.

Former president Carter, now a private citizen and subject to the Logan Act, plans to discuss U.S. foreign policy matters with Hamas, a known terrorist organization. Do we know what he will say and how it may affect future State Department negotiations with other groups? Will his former office carry so much weight with Hamas that it will consider it a binding agreement with the U.S. government? Is Carter authorized by anyone to discuss anything with Hamas?

Amateur diplomacy has its downside even in the absence of a Logan Act prohibition. It can make matters worse, and often does, especially when Mr. Carter was involved, and in that regard, his deal with the Sandinista rebels comes to mind.

Obviously, the State Department has no control over the situation involving private citizens negotiating with foreign officials, foreign terrorist groups, or foreign NGOs, other than to warn the citizens that if they are taken hostage, they will have to rescue themselves -- someone did warn Mr. Carter, I hope?

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
April 11, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

This always seem to go off topic...but:
My writing is relative to PRESENT day and topic.

The lack of understanding the American People have concerning the fact we have Peace and presume it doesnãt come at a continual cost is a form of blissful ignorance to begin with. Without a complete lesson in history, Military history and opening the NSA vault, why do you feel your peace comes from simply handing out the olive branch throughout history?

What we want, expect or would like is only relative to what we have. To presume it all comes simply because it is general nature is not relative to how it comes about is more than eliminating half the premise. Our compassion and charity is only one of the benefits which we have a United States Citizen because we have been kept in safe haven by our Leadership.

To keep our people in peace, often much has to be decided on which may not be in line with our personal desires. It is the Presidents priority to keep us safe and economically sound. What we have and want is not relative to what transpires outside our boundaries which we have limited control of.

As far as American History is concerned, we do always hand out the olive branch first, from the American Revolution onward; but all freedoms we have and the founding of the State of the Union came from war, not peace. Our present day liberties still stem from war, not peace. Constant vigilance is required to maintain these freedoms and thank God we have the people who do.

As far a labels go, please do not be insulting. The entertainment industry is liberal as a whole for reason, there is nothing wrong in that and it is a generally accepted nature of its workings. We all live our lives by identification and association. Anyone not have a psychology or sociology course here?

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
April 13, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- No insult Joe, let me rephrase the question so the paradox becomes clearer. Why is it that conservatives get called "warmongers" when more democratic presidents have led the nation in wartime than Republicans?

Now does my observation that followed make more sense?

You wrote:
"Constant vigilance is required to maintain these freedoms and thank God we have the people who do."

I'll take that as a compliment considering that I'm posting the following here as probably the fastest way at the moment to bring it to State's attention.

So here's a "celebrity update" on that wild and "crazy guy" that keeps on hanging himself with his own words, and so consistantly that I can rely on him like clockwork to prove the little socio/political probability hypothisis I offered to be sound within 24-48 hours(**)!!! What a guy!

Iran's Ahmadinejad targets 'corrupt world leadership'
Thu. 10 Apr 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday set Iran the target of wiping out the "corrupt world leadership," in his latest verbal attack on Western powers locked in a nuclear crisis with Tehran.

"The Iranian nation will not give up until the corrupt leadership in the world has been obliterated," Ahmadinejad said in the Shiite holy city of Mashhad, northeast Iran, quoted by the Fars news agency.

"Our foes should know that threats, sanctions, and political and economic pressures can not force our nation to back down," he added.

Ahmadinejad outlined two goals for the Islamic republic and its people.

"We have two missions, to build Islamic Iran and to exert an effort to change the leadership in the world. We have to carry out both (missions) as well as we can," he said.

(**) from previous post-
"When the full truth of Iranian involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan is publicly on display in the UN, I believe the world will come to understand that a lasting peace in the region will not allow for the continued existance in power of the current leadership of Iran."

SCHMETTERLING
|
District Of Columbia, USA
April 13, 2008

S in Washington, DC writes:

Oh poor poor Nepal! This precious and beautiful land, with its incredibly fascinating royal cities, Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, its living goddesses, its fierce Hindu gods, vibrant festivals, beautiful lakes, the temples which seamlessly intertwine Tibetan Buddhism and Hindu beliefs, in the same space -- and those towering mountains of Everest and Annapurna, as well as the jungle lowlands where the tiger and rhino roam (note: be careful of those rhinos-they mean business!) What will become of it now in the hands of the Maoists?

Is it really true, despite all the people I talked to not so many weeks ago, from Chitwan to Pokhara, to Patan to Kathmandu, "no Maoists, they will never win a majority", they told me. And today I read, the Maoists and Prachanda, their leader, have already won certain districts in Kathmandu handily! Jimmy carter, in his celebrity status as former president and election observer in Nepal, has stated just today in a press conference in Nepal, that the us should dialogue now with Prachanda, (one name only for the lead Maoist!) And its refusal to do so is "an embarrassment." JC, this is for you: I don't think so!!

Your rationale -- the fact that the Maoists have temporarily laid down arms after their bloody struggle to bring down the monarchy and the govt. In order to vote for representation, thus making them legitimate -- is not valid, Jimmy Carter! You are not always right, mostly yes, but not always, and not on the topic of the Maoists-they are single-handedly responsible for the wreck that is now Nepal's economy --quite apart from all the killing from their more than 10 year civil war-and now they are to be treated as respected statesmen and diplomats to the outside world? How do you trust those who have murdered innocent people, and who have said that if they didn't win in the elections, that they may take up arms again, that they would leave their options open? How do you rationalize this deferential treatment of these thugs and terrorists as a good thing, Jimmy Carter? I voted for you once, but I cannot accept what is happening now in Nepal -- if the Maoists, with their obscene red and white hammer and sickle flag prevail with a majority seating in their brand new parliamentary democracy, I fear the worst for Nepal -- I fear there will no longer be a Nepal as it is presently constituted!

Here is an example where a former president-Jimmy Carter -- although acting altruistically in his role as an election observer in Nepal-has gone too far, way way too far in making public statements that are supportive and give unwarranted legitimacy to murderers -- Prachanda and his gang-who clearly are not deserving of such recognition! Here is an example of celebrity diplomacy gone way wrong!

Zharkov
|
United States
April 14, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Ex-President Carter said, "I think that it's very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians, maybe to get them to agree to a cease-fire - things of this kind" Carter said he'd be meeting Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudi Arabians and others "who might have to play a crucial role in any future peace agreement that involves the Middle East."

If the people who Carter meets have any official status in their respective governments and they discuss U.S. policies, this could be a violation of the Logan Act, and the failure of the State Department to procure a federal court injunction to bar his travel to confer with foreign leaders is a public display of the double standard I have mentioned.

I also think the State Department has its Logan Act "double standard" backwards.

No foreign official would believe that ordinary citizen, Joe Six-pack, is speaking on behalf of the U.S. government. With him, there is no evil for the law to address. The Logan Act should never apply to ordinary Americans or even Hollywood celebrities. But replace Mr. Sixpack with Mr. Sex-pot (Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, or Jimmy Carter), and the situation is drastically different. Precisely because of their former official capacity, these ex-officials do create an impression that they may be speaking for the US government. One reason why former U.S. officials seek contact with foreign governments is to foster this impression, so they can continue to enjoy playing diplomat-at-large.

If there is to be a double standard, then it should be that ordinary private citizens are free to contact foreign officials, but former U.S. officials are barred from such contact. Because private citizen contact offers no opportunity for a foreign official to mistakenly believe there will result any agreement with the U.S. government, there can be no risk to U.S. foreign policy goals.

The Logan Act should be limited to former U.S. officials, such as Kissinger, Carter, Clinton, et.al., who can be barred from contacting current foreign officials because there is a possibility that a foreign official may believe the contact is on behalf of the US government despite any official denial. This was the original reason why Mr. Logan merited a new law in his name.

Official U.S. policy - that the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists - loses credibility when a former US president begins negotiations with Hamas. The Logan Act, if it applies to anyone, should be limited to apply only to former U.S. government officials such as former President Carter.

Zharkov
|
United States
April 14, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ Gary in Virginia -- Regarding the CIA, maybe you could read the news rather than scoffing at reality? Here is the current headline:

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in U.S.
Congressional Critics Want More Assurances of Legality

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department's new domestic SATELLITE SURVEILLANCE office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities -- such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.

Sophisticated overhead sensor data will be used for law enforcement once privacy and civil rights concerns are resolved, he said. The department has previously said the program will not intercept communications.

Schmetterling
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District Of Columbia, USA
April 16, 2008

S in Washington, DC writes:

It has really come to pass-the Maoists have prevailed in the elections of Nepal, and Prachanda, who presided over an insurgency against the government that led to the massacre of over 13,000 Nepalis, an insurgency which led this beautiful country to ruin, is now the new leader of this new parliamentary democracy. It appears that Nepal will in fact abolish its almost 300 year old monarchy.

It is scarcely to be believed-yet our former President Jimmy Carter, who was in Kathmandu to be a benign election observer, took the opportunity to criticize the US for failing to deal with the Maoists? A group with the blood of thousands on their hands? Who even in the run-up to the election were intimidating and assaulting potential voters and candidates? Jimmy Carter is a private citizen, and he has a right to go and see whom he wants, but when he uses his celebrity status to make statements about the actions of the U.S., of refusing to recognize a group that has legitimately been declared a terrorist organization, to make statements that are not only inflammatory, but show little recognition of the facts of the insurgency and the destruction it has wrought in this country; indeed, by Carter's facile analysis, any terrorist organization which wins an election should be greeted with open arms by the world, their crimes against humanity simply forgotten? I DON'T THINK SO JIMMY CARTER!

The ironic thing is, that a former President made these criticisms against the U.S. about its refusal to deal with Maoists. One WOULD think, wouldn't one? that a former President of Jimmy Carter's stature would be a little more reticent, and a little more circumspect in making public pronouncements criticizing U.S. policies when he couldn't possibly have the background information and particularly, the intelligence briefings, that those who work on the ground for the State Dept. have in these matters! Jimmy Carter is a dubious example of a former President Gone Wild!

But I say again, poor poor Nepal! I did not have any such impression in my recent visit that the Nepalis in general, from the small villages to the city, supported the Maoists to the extent that these election returns have indicated. But nevertheless, I am rooting for you, Nepal, always! Yours is a very special land!

Eric
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New Mexico, USA
April 16, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Zharkov, here's a little food for thought to chew on:

What if it were possible to detect a radiological device (dirty bomb, nuclear weapon etc) being smuggled into the U.S. from space, but the Gov. didn't bother to use the tech. to protect it's citizens and some fine day we lose a city to nuclear terrorism?

I don't know 'bout you, but I'd have a bit of a problem with that, and I'd wonder why the Gov, hadn't used all possible means to stop it from happening.

In fact, it would be criminally negligent not to use all the tools in the toolkit to keep the public secure.
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Off topic as it is here, it may be a good idea for Dipnote staff to start a dedicated thread for counter terrorism/WMD issues, and maybe a "hot topic in the news" kind of thread where a forum member could submit or suggest a topic.
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On the Carter/Hamas issue as it is relevent to this thread, I don't believe the man's intent is to poke a stick in the eye of the current Admin. peace efforts, or to compromise the policies in place the Quartet has agreed upon and implemented for sound reasons.

If anything, the man's worked decades to try and facilitate peace, and this may be Hamas' last chance to get with the program.

...Can't think of anyone with more peaceful intent to deliver the message, regardless of the flack he's getting for delivering it. And returning w/ their reply.

Someone has to tell Hamas face to face, "You don't get to do these acts of terror anymore."

So I think I'll withold condeming his efforts till we see the results.

John
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Greece
April 15, 2008

John in Greece writes:

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- Joe (TN) wrote something extremely important, intelligent, elevating and sincere:

"...a country is only as secure as its Intelligence. If you do not do anything wrong and no one is limiting your freedoms, who cares?""The rest of the nonsense sounds like a cheap paperback or one hour TV show."

I think that you should decide what you really do love, besides nagging... if you are an American, because your name sounds like Russian?

(I have nothing to comment on Carter's statements or the Logan Act. I do not know the issues. But, I think you hate CIA and NSA)

JOE
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Tennessee, USA
April 15, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico --

Eric in New Mexico wrote:
"No insult Joe let me rephrase the question so the paradox becomes clearer. Why is it that conservatives get called "warmongers" when more democratic presidents have led the nation in wartime than Republicans?"

Truth be known: Wars stem from a series of events, not one party or another, not one President on another. More like the proper or in some cases the negligence of Congress or the Senate on Economic and Security Oversight more so than anything else. In the End, Congress has to appropriate the money. Gee, there is that word again. Guess if you print it, you do not have to be responsible for it right, just print more.

My frustration is in what appears to be extremely generalized thinking on what should be a better sounding board.

Zharkov
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United States
April 16, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

@ John in Greece -- John in Greece might love living in a Big Brother society, but America was not founded to be such a society. A free country doesn't have an informer network, spy cameras on every street, or satellites monitoring citizens - this is why America has a constitution to limit government power and why some in Congress are upset over increased spying by the government on its own citizens.

Whether you are doing anything wrong or not isn't the point; what is relevant is the shift in power away from the citizen and to a government that seeks to know everything - total awareness - about everyone. This kind of power is so dangerous that no democratic government should want it.

This power may not be misused today against Joe in Tennessee, but it was misused against Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York, who is no terrorist but was the subject of surveillance under the Patriot Act.

Unlike other countries, the first job of American government is to protect American freedom, not destroy it, so this is why government spying on ordinary citizens should be denounced by Americans at every opportunity.

The U.S. government had all the investigative power it needed before the Patriot Act, and before Fusion Centers, Total Information Awareness, before InfraGuard, and before satellite surveillance, and before the militarization of local police. What we are seeing now is the initial intrusion of a police state. This shift in power was precisely what which the founding fathers sought to prevent.

John
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Greece
April 16, 2008

John in Greece

@ Zharkov in U.S.A. -- You are right that this is a global debate, because it's being discussed in many countries, not only America.

You are also right that America was founded to be a Free society. Nevertheless, sometimes, in order to protect freedom you need to make some sacrifices. Otherwise, you may destroy freedom, because you did not do anything at all to protect this freedom.

Theoretically, we can suppose that an ideal society should have no cameras or satellites or surveillance.

However, this counts for ideal societies. Today's world ...which is a globalized society with no borders- is not. Thatãs why some bad guys import and export terrorism worldwide. Besides spying.

Do you remember 9/11, London, Spain, everywhere?

How can you fight these guys without technology and surveillance?

Have you ever think that all these security mechanisms have been set on foot in order to protect peaceful citizens and not to make them part of a Big Brother show?

.

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