Charlie Savage examines the Obama administration's decision to disregard a statute that forbids State Department officials from attending UN meetings led by nations sponsoring terrorism.
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has declared that President Obama can disregard a law forbidding State Department officials from attending United Nations meetings led by representatives of nations considered to be sponsors of terrorism.
Based on that decision, which echoes Bush administration policy, the Obama administration sent State Department officials to the board meetings of the United Nations' Development Program and Population Fund in late spring and this month, a department spokesman said. The bodies are presided over by Iran, which is on the department's terror list, along with Cuba, Sudan and Syria.
The administration's decision was disclosed in a little-noticed legal memorandum recently posted on the Justice Department Web site.
The law at issue is a fairly narrow one, and presidents of both parties have long objected to such statutes as infringements on their power over foreign relations.