WASHINGTON (Oct. 2)
Fourteen members of the House of Representatives have asked that the Department of Justice investigate the activities of American Black leaders and possibly others who have been in communication with the Palestine Liberation Organization. A letter originated by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R. Wis.), and signed by 13 other Congressmen, was addressed to Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti.
The letter did not mention any individuals, by name but pointed out that “in the past few weeks certain U.S. citizens” had been in communication with the PLO both in the United States and in the Mideast. An aide to Sensenbrenner left no doubt that the “citizens” was in reference to the Black leaders in touch with the PLO.
The letter pointed out that “the Logan Act prohibits a citizen of the U.S. from carrying on any unauthorized communication with a representative of a foreign government while attempting to influence that government in regard to disputes and controversies with the United States.”
Carter Administration officials made It clean that the Black leaders who met with PLO representatives, including PLO chief Yasir Arafat, are not representing the U.S. government. In connection with the letter of the Congressmen, another Congressional source observed that the PLO “is not a government” and the act therefore may not be applicable.
“If violation of the Logan Act occurred,” the letter said, “immediate steps should be taken concerning the parties involved. Continuation of such conduct will only lead to a further lack of confidence in the conduct of our foreign affairs by Congress and our allies around the world.”
Sensenbrenner is a member of the House Standards of Conduct Committee, popularly known as the Ethics Committee The co-signers of the letter are mainly conservative Republicans.