It might seem unimaginable that Bush Administration officials, such as Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and State Department Legal Advisor John Bellinger, could get away with dissembling before a Senate committee led by a Democrat who wants to be considered a serious contender for the presidency. Perhaps that is happening because Sen. Biden could not find the time to attend either of the two hearings he called concerning the Treaty. Neither for that matter did the panel’s two other active presidential candidates, Democrats Barak Obama and Chris Dodd. Don’t bother them with the facts. Let’s vote.
Then there is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It did manage to hold a hearing on LOST, but it was a classified session and only featured official witnesses. Unsurprisingly, all of them supported ratification. What is surprising, though, is Chairman Jay Rockefeller’s uncharacteristic acceptance at face value of representations by executive branch officials like Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell. Based on such testimony, Sen. Rockefeller recently signed a letter with GOP Vice Chairman Kit Bond declaring that U.S. adherence to the Treaty would have no negative implications for U.S. intelligence. While there are strong arguments to the contrary, like Mr. Biden, Sen. Rockefeller has no time for a second opinion that might produce inconvenient truths.
As things stand now, the Foreign Relations Committee’s inaccurate and unbalanced record will be the only public one Senators have to go on. Formal requests made by Sen. Jim Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Environment and Public Works committees, asking them to examine the Treaty’s myriad repercussions for matters within their jurisdiction are going unanswered. The same is true of similar appeals made to those and six of the Senate’s other committees with relevant areas of responsibility by the Coalition to Preserve American Sovereignty (see http://www.rejectlost.org/Letters_to_the_Senate.html).
So, here’s what Senators and their constituents need to know as decision-time looms on LOST: Ronald Reagan rejected the Law of the Sea Treaty twenty-five years ago. We have been able to survive ever since without being a party to it, following Mr. Reagan’s direction – observing its provisions regarding navigation, with which we can live, and not being bound by those hostile to our interests.
The latter involve, among other things, a supranational, UN-affiliated government of the seas with the power to extend its authority to our interior waters, sovereign territory and even our air. There is no justification for haste, let alone stealth, in trying to make such a treaty the “supreme law of the land.”
The Republican leadership, both in Congress and on the presidential hustings, recognizes that what is at stake in LOST amount to defining issues. These leaders learned something from the ugly fiasco that resulted during the elite’s recent efforts to foist immigration “reform” on the American people. Much of the public is deeply skeptical of secretive initiatives that would, similarly: undermine U.S. sovereignty; compromise our constitutional, representative form of government and its exclusive responsibility for regulating our national affairs; and endanger our security interests and economic competitiveness.
As with immigration, it matters not a whit to millions of American voters that President Bush and the establishment elite support such dubious initiatives. In the absence of Senate due-diligence and transparency about LOST, particularly those Senators up for reelection next year flout this pivotal part of the electorate at their peril.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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