Is It Or Isn’t It?

President Obama decided to do a little fence-mending yesterday, strolling across Lafayette Park and speaking before the US Chamber of Commerce. It’s no surprise that his speech was peppered with cautious defiance but loaded with subdued subservience, pointing out the positives of new legislation like Health Reform and Financial Regulation on one hand while begging Big Business to use some of their historically unmatched profits to actually hire some people. I’m sure it was a nice luncheon but I don’t expect Tom Dono­hue and the Chamber will take the rhetorical flourishes seriously. After all, they’ve spent the last two years trying to defeat the president at every turn, funding political operation explicitly and otherwise and it won them a new, reactionary congress and a ‘grassroots’ movement that fights on business’ behalf while remaining angrily unaware. Not to mention fighting against American business (despite its expressed purpose) and enriched its members handily. Why compromise now?

But the big news of the day wasn’t the presidents pleading. Rather it was the surprising news that the CoC sent a letter to Iran, expressing its opposition to sanctions and trade embargoes against that country. It was a curious report, seemingly implicating the Chamber in direct action against official US foreign policy. In many circles, this is defined as treason.

Today, via TPM and Greg Sargent, the Chamber issued a denial of the report, saying that it sent the letter to the White House, not Iran. However, in clarifying the communication, the Chamber did not refute the substance of the report, namely that it was opposed to “unilateral” sanctions, only that it relayed the letter to Iran. The letter itself, as quoted by Greg Sargent, seems to support the notion that the CoC didn’t favor the approach to sanctions that would hinder its ability to trade with allies and makes the determination that such sanctions would not help advance the goal of a nuclear-free Iran.

So the question is this: if the Chamber contradicts US foreign policy publicly, in such a way as to make its communication ripe for seemingly propagandistic purposes by Iran, despite the lack of a clear and direct collusion with said regime, is it still treason? Perhaps we should take a look at all those foreign donations and see if there might be a clearer link.


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