If Congress approves the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) before leaving for Christmas holidays, it will likely be without reading any of the negotiations attached to START (note this is the new START, not the old START). In other words, the ratification will take place without knowing what the U.S. has agreed to do for Russia. So far, Obama has refused to release the negotiation records.
On May 6, 2010, six Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee delivered a letter to President Barack Obama requesting access to the negotiating records for the “New START” arms control treaty, which President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed on April 8, 2010, in Prague. In subsequent committee hearings on the treaty, Senator Jim DeMint (R–SC) made repeated requests to review the records.
To date, the Obama Administration and Democrat Members of the Foreign Relations Committee have denied all such requests.
Given the ambiguous language on strategic defensive weapons in the treaty’s preamble, Russia’s unilateral statement on the meaning and legal force of the preambular language, and the reported circumstances surrounding the interchange between negotiators on missile defense, the Administration should reverse its position.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chopped history to her liking and told Senator Jim DeMint that even George Washington did not provide negotiating records for the treaty with the English King, known as the Jay Treaty. The Heritage Foundation says she is wrong and Washington provided the records to the U.S. Senate “together with the correspondence and other documents relative to that treaty.”
More recent history shows a solid precedent for sharing information with the Senate, including the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty and the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty.
The Heritage Foundation asks four questions:
(1) What is the “interrelationship” between strategic offensive and defensive arms, and in what way will that interrelationship “become more important” as offensive nuclear arms are reduced?
(2) To what degree must offensive arms be “reduced” before the interrelationship becomes “important”?
(3) How is “current” strategic defensive arms defined?
(4) At what point does an enhancement of current U.S. strategic defensive arms begin to “undermine the viability and effectiveness” of Russia’s strategic offensive arms?
The arrogance continually heaving from the Oval Office and State Department is unnerving and seriously appalling.
A treaty must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate. In this case, we are committing to reducing our nuclear missile arsenal. I suggest our august Senate body not even think about approving START without first “advising” and “consenting,” after full familiarity with the negotiations.
Once the treaty is approved and ratified, the Constitution’s Supremacy clause (Article VI, clause 2) makes it the “supreme law of the land.” Now why would we enable a treaty, not knowing what supremacy the U.S. is giving up to a foreign power, or what reduction of arms is required, or what the definition of “current strategic arms” is.
When the Constitution created an executive branch and a president of the United States, it gave him no unchecked or unconditional powers. The Constitution made treatymaking a concurrent power. The United States Senate has carefully guarded its share of this power for two hundred years.
Is this our America, in The Time of Obama …with the majority in the Senate holding defense secrets from fellow members of Congress, abolishing any semblance of the Senatorial obligation for advice and consent? Let’s have those negotiation records pronto. Where’s the negotiation records? Republicans, where are your voices?