Senator Vitter Leads Assault On UN's Sea Treaty
October 8, 2007
By Cliff Kincaid
The media have been pummeling conservative Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana for apologizing for sexual indiscretions. But America should be grateful he stayed in the Senate and did not resign in the wake of the media assault. The senator demonstrated recently, during a hearing into the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Treaty, that he is going to continue to do the job he was elected to do. Vitter's performance was so effective that he left State and Defense Department officials either speechless or caught up in embarrassing contradictions about the impact of this international agreement on America's security and sovereignty. It should now be perfectly obvious that Bush Administration officials, in collusion with liberal Senators, are trying to bamboozle the Senate into quickly ratifying a very dangerous pact.
One area of concern is how other nations and international lawyers could use the treaty against the U.S. in a back-door effort to implement the (unratified) global warming treaty, with the result being higher gas prices for the American people and perhaps even energy rationing. The Law of the Sea treaty creates a tribunal and various bodies, including dispute resolution or arbitral panels, to resolve conflicts which may arise. Major parts of the treaty mandate international regulation of U.S. economic and industrial activities on land. Greenhouse gases, for example, could be viewed under the terms of the treaty as contributing to pollution of the oceans.
Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told the Senate committee that the U.N. body established by the treaty has "no jurisdiction over marine pollution disputes involving land-based sources." He said, "that's just not covered by the treaty." Negroponte's sidekick, State Department Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III, said, "It clearly does not allow regulation over land-based pollution sources. That would stop at the water's edge." But Vitter shot back, "...why is there a section entitled pollution from land-based sources?" Not only is there a section by that name, Vitter pointed out, but there is a section on enforcement. The section is Article 207, "Pollution from land-based sources." Anybody can look it up. But apparently our top officials and lawyers have not. Either that or they are trying to mislead the people about the ramifications of this treaty. In either case, we are sunk if this treaty goes through.
It was absolutely clear to anyone paying attention that Negroponte and Bellinger either had no real understanding of what was in the treaty or didn't want to tell the American people what was really in it. In the end, under withering fire from Vitter, Bellinger insisted that the controversy was too "technical" to discuss at the hearing and that he would submit something in writing. Senator Jim Webb, chairing the hearing, suggested he do so, attempting to save Bellinger from further embarrassment. Our liberal media favoring this treaty will, of course, not bother to point out that one of the top brains in the State Department had been caught in the act of trying to mislead the U.S. Senate.
This wasn't the only exchange in which Vitter caught Bush Administration officials saying things that were untrue. He caught them in evasions and obfuscations over the claim that U.S. military and intelligence activities on the high seas cannot be restricted by the treaty. U.S. officials are making that claim in a declaration in the Senate resolution of ratification. It is one of 24 declarations or understandings being made by the U.S. for a treaty that administration witnesses repeatedly claimed would provide "legal certainty" about what nations can and cannot do on the high seas.
If the treaty is so definitive and clear, then why is there a need for 24 declarations and understandings? To make matters worse, these declarations and understandings have no legal validity under the treaty.
Exhibiting an arrogant streak, Bellinger told Senator Bob Corker that the U.S. had "effective lawyers" and were likely to win most of the disputes. He said each side picked arbitrators in a dispute but neglected to mention that the U.N. Secretary-General can pick some, too. Most of the members of the U.N. Sea Treaty organization, like members of the U.N. itself, come from the anti-American bloc. Despite Bellinger's confidence in the ability of the legal profession, it is political power and anti-Americanism that will decide these outcomes. That is why, except on the U.N. Security Council, where the U.S. has a veto, U.N. decisions almost always go against America and our economic and security interests.
Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the Senate committee and long-time advocate of the treaty, turned in an embarrassing performance as well. Lugar, who has accepted campaign contributions from the Citizens for Global Solutions, a pro-world government lobby, attacked critics of the pact as conspiracy theorists who were exaggerating the dangers of the pact. He attacked an ad that my group, America's Survival, had put in the Washington Times on Wednesday, saying it was misleading. In fact, the claims were based on the text of the treaty and official U.N .documents. I have been denied the opportunity to testify to set the record straight, which is another indication that the treaty is being rushed through before the American people can understand its ominous implications.
Noting the outrage over the attempt to pass the Senate illegal alien amnesty bill, which also involved the issue of national sovereignty, Senator Jim DeMint said this was the wrong time to be trying to push the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Treaty through.
DeMint asked some tough questions of administration witnesses, focusing on the fact that while the U.S. would follow the treaty if ratified, other nations would not. On the question of using the treaty to enforce international environmental accords, DeMint noted that Britain had been taken to court under the treaty for operating a nuclear plant on its own soil. The South Carolina senator also rebutted the claim, mentioned often at the hearing, that President Reagan had rejected the treaty only because of its seabed mining provisions. He read from the new book on Reagan's diaries in which the former president says he would not have signed the treaty even w ithout those provisions.
Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the committee, did not even show up, probably because he was campaigning for the presidency somewhere. Indeed, only one Democrat, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, came to the hearing. He became acting chairman in Biden's absence. Senators were restricted to only one round of questions, lasting about seven minutes each. Considering the deficient answers to Vitter's questions, one can now understand why. They did not want the holes and traps in the treaty to be exposed to public view.
It is apparent that this treaty is being rushed through the Senate, despite the abundant evidence that it will backfire against America and undermine our sovereignty and security. But Senator Vitter has served notice that they are not going to run over him. Americans concerned about their sovereignty and security should thank him profusely.