‘Treaty’ with Iran still unconstitutional

Netanyahu and Obama (Getty Images)

“He (the president) shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur …” — U.S. Constitution

Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in which he dismissed their disagreement over the U.S. nuke deal with Iran as a “narrow issue,” reminds us of just how perfidious the deal really was.

Congress brokered a deal with the administration t0 allow the Iran deal to be labeled an executive agreement, rather that the treaty it really is, thus ceding their constitutional responsibility and authority.

In a recent speech at Hillsdale College Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton explained why this matters … or should matter and probably will matter in the near future

“This is a major arms-control agreement with a mortal enemy — an enemy with the blood of thousands of Americans on its hands, and for whom ‘death to America’ is a foreign-policy bedrock,” Cotton said. “And the agreement goes to the heart of the gravest threat facing the world: a terror-sponsoring state armed with nuclear weapons. It is precisely the type of agreement that the Founders intended to be tested and refined by the treaty process. It is precisely the type of agreement implicating matters of war and peace that must be supported by a widespread consensus of the American people.”

Asked why the deal was not a treaty, Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress:

“Well Congressman, I spent quite a few years trying to get a lot of treaties through the United States Senate, and it has become physically impossible.

“That’s why. Because you can’t pass a treaty anymore. It has become impossible to schedule, to pass, and I sat there leading the charge on the Disabilities Treaty which fell to basically ideology and politics. So I think that is the reason why.”

Treaties are supposed to be difficult. Treaties are supposed to have widespread support and not be subject to political expediency and party politics at the risk of national security.

Tom Cotton

Cotton calls this flippant disregard for the Constitution “dangerous and nearly unprecedented.” He said executive agreements are for the little technicalities not nuclear arms deals.

The senator notes that historically major arms deals have all been treaties … except one. That was the Agreed Framework with North Korea negotiated during the Clinton administration in 1994. That was intended to prevent North Korea from becoming a nuclear power. How did that work out?

“I doubt President Obama would like to cite the North Korea case as precedent — although it surely is a precedent in its contempt for Congress, and likely in its failure as well,” Cotton said, calling Obama’s skirting of the Senate the height of hubris.

“The nuclear deal with Iran is a travesty, one that betrays our close friend Israel, provides billions for Iran’s campaign of terror, and paves the way for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capability,” Cotton observed.

Today Sen Harry Reid, prior to a scheduled meeting with Netanyahu, came out in continued support of the Iran deal. “In short, no matter how Republicans misrepresent the Iran nuclear agreement, the agreement brought about the long-sought goal of preventing Iran from having a nuclear weapon,” Reid said. “The agreement does nothing more, nothing less. It prevents Iran from having a nuclear weapon.” Just like the deal with North Korea did.

Obama and Reid can try to be dismissive but the Constitution matters more than their egos and partisanship.




34 comments on “‘Treaty’ with Iran still unconstitutional

  1. Barbara says:

    It is stunning how little regard the Washington Cartel has for our Constitution. I think an Article V convention is the only avenue left to reclaim our rule of law and republic. Certainly we do not have enough statesmen in Washington to ever re-institute the rule of law. It will have to be done by the people through the various state legislatures. It’s a long road home.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    It’s not Obama’s ego so much as it is his ideology and associated perfidy, who can doubt his primary agenda is to advance Islam? He fooled far more experienced politicians, e.g., that he was advancing socialism, but that was to gain entry. Hell, most of us didn’t know that Harry Reid was a socialist, he was just waiting for the right moment to come out. How does he sleep at night?

  3. Patrick says:

    Tom Cotton? Is this the Tom Cotton that some thoght ought to be prosecuted for violating the Logan Acts prescription against private citizens negotiating with foreign governments Tom Cotton? The one who, was at the spear tip of sending a letter to the Iranian government at a critical time in this country’s negotiations with that foreign country, alleging tha the agreement meant nothing?

    For eight long treasonous year, we heard from the right wing that even QUESTIONING, what bush did during the Iraq war against reason was near treason, and now, when some right wing clown, more interested in his campaign contributions FROM Israel (he’s at the top of Israeli “lobbying” donations) actually inserts himself in the middle of discussions with a foreign country and takes a position near 180 degrees OPPOSITE of that the country itself is taking, the right wing cheers?

    Of course, this traitor “thinks” that the only good Muslim, is a dead Muslim.

    “?Tehran must capitulate or face military force – apparent proof that 430,000 Arkansans elected a Commander in Chief while nobody else was watching last November.??”

    Never let it be said though, that this right wing treasonous clown plays favorites though, because not only does he want to invade any country that dares wake up on the wrong side of Israel, he wants to imprision (for starters) EVERY journalist in the country when he decides it ought to happen.

    “…Cotton called for the journalists to be imprisoned. This news story got a lot of heat from various conservative outlets, but before he was even running for office, Cotton took it upon himself to publicize his grievances in a sarcastic?letter?to journalists Eric Lichtblau and James Risen.”

    Arrest him, imprison him, and throw away the key. Or, just send him to Guantanamo because, according to this lunatic,

    ““In my opinion, the only problem with Guantanamo Bay is that there are too many empty beds and cells there right now…?”

  4. At least the 5th Circuit called him on his immigration exec fiat.

  5. Patrick says:

    Here’s what some in his district think of him. (Lots of good links to the lunacy he exhibits and of course the fealty to Israel.)


  6. Winston Smith says:

    Wow, Patrick, nice pumped-up ad hominem attack this morning. What about the Constitutional issue of whether it’s a treaty or not? And since I can’t stand either party particularly, don’t fall back on the “Republicans did it too” bullshit.



  7. Patrick says:


    Bad trees don’t grow good fruit.

    Paraphrasing the Good Book.

  8. Even a blind hog finds an acorn every now and then.

  9. Winston Smith says:

    Treaty or not, Patrick?

  10. nyp says:

    why is it unconstitutional for the President to make an Executive Agreement?

  11. Because it is a treaty.

  12. nyp says:

    Wow. There have been more than 18,000 Executive Agreements since 1789. They are all unconstitutional?

  13. The two that were really treaties are.

  14. nyp says:

    Oh, and how does one distinguish a treaty with a foreign power from an executive agreement with a foreign power? Is it simply that anything negotiated by a Democratic President is a “treaty” and must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate?

  15. Steve says:

    Depends on how you define “routine” and “administrative”, nyp.

    Since Kerry made it clear a treaty is simply impossible to get passed in the Senate, we have clear implication the Iran deal was neither routine nor administrative in its very nature.

  16. nyp says:

    so an Executive Agreement that is not routine and is not administrative is a treaty?
    For example, when FDR and Churchill signed the Atlantic Charter that was a treaty that should have been ratified by 2/3 of the Senate?

  17. Steve says:

    You are trying to equate this deal with a world war?

  18. nyp says:

    According to Thomas Mitchell and Senator Cotton it is.
    But I’m fascinated by this constitutional distinction between “routine” agreements and non-routine treaties.

  19. Steve says:

    Circumstances in the world at the time of your example made the Atlantic Charter routine and administrative.

    I don’t see anyone, other than you, trying to elevate the Iran deal to the level of a deal occurring at the outcome of a world war.

  20. Rincon says:

    “You are trying to equate this deal with a world war?” It was either Constitutional or it wasn’t. On the basis of the quote from the Constitution, it seems that the Iran deal really is unconstitutional. The shame of it though, is that half of our Congress is loony enough to imagine that there was a better deal to be had by the time of any vote. War anyone? I say we should put it off just like we’ve put off paying the budget, our dependence on foreign oil and and global warming. Let’s let the next generations deal with it.

  21. Steve says:

    Routine and administrative mean different things under different levels of stress.

    Until this deal became an idea, the only ones under stress were Iran’s government.

  22. nyp says:

    When President Bush negotiated the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqui government that led to the withdrawal from the region of hundreds of thousands of American troops and the surrender of scores of military outposts, was that a “routine and administrative” executive agreement? Or did Bush violate the Constitution by not submitting the Agreement to the Senate for ratification as a treaty?

  23. Steve says:

    That wasn’t a treaty.

  24. nyp says:

    It certainly was not. It was an Executive Agreement.

    Which Mr. Mitchell believes is unconstitutional.

  25. Steve says:

    Circles….that wasn’t a treaty it was a routine administrative action necessary to exit the country smoothly.

  26. nyp says:

    you funny.

  27. Steve says:

    Too bad Obama didn’t follow through!

    ISIS! or is it ISIL!

  28. Winston Smith says:

    “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;” Article II, Section 2.

    Seems to me that the concept of treaties in 1787 was that ANY agreements/deals with foreign countries were to be considered treaties, thus requiring 2/3 Senate approval. But, like in so many other cases over the subsequent 228 years, it just became TOO FREAKING HARD to follow the Constitution, or AMEND IT to make it easier, that the federal government just ignores it, redefines it, or generally shits on it, because it gets in the way of doing what the control freaks and tyrants want.

    So, who decides whether to call a treaty a treaty? Apparently, the assholes from whichever party that happens to be occupying the White House at any given moment, and they don’t want to jump through those oh-so-difficult Constitutional hoops that the Founders created to keep oppression at bay.

    “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” – Thomas Jefferson

    WE THE PEOPLE have let those chains rust and weaken for far too long…


  29. Patrick says:

    “A 2009 study published by the University of Michigan found that 52.9% of international agreements were executive agreements from 1839 until 1889, but from 1939 until 1989 the ratio had risen to 94.3%.

    The founding fathers designed the international agreement system with a lot of flexibility, or, depending on your perspective, ambiguity, because even they couldn’t agree on which branch of government should have the dominant say in how the U.S. reached deals with foreign governments.”


  30. Steve says:

    Then there was nothing wrong with Congress sending that letter to Iran!


  31. Patrick says:

    Key word in “Executive Agreement” is “Executive”.

    Oh, and Logan Act which makes letter from Cotton and other republicans a crime.

  32. Steve says:

    Oh, executives are now all ok!

    Spin baby! Spin!

  33. Rincon says:

    “…it just became TOO FREAKING HARD to follow the Constitution, or AMEND IT to make it easier, that the federal government just ignores it, redefines it, or generally shits on it,” The real problem is that the document we so revere has become out of date in a few ways. It was made in a day when communication with most foreign countries was measured in months, not microseconds. Some of you may consider that to be a trifle, but I say it is huge.

    You’re right, Winston. It IS too freaking hard to amend the Constitution. 2/3 is a nice, round number, but perhaps not the ideal, especially in a political environment where it is difficult to get 2/3 of people to agree on pretty much anything. Perhaps we need an amendment to change the requirements for amending, say 60% As with prohibition, it can be amended back if we get too foolish. There is a better way though. As a people, we need to stop being so afraid to amend it. We treat the Constitution as if it was a religious document. It’s a blueprint and blueprints need to be altered occasionally.

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