- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2005

Leaders of the conservative movement yesterday openly broke with the Bush administration over the Law of the Sea Treaty, which they say sacrifices U.S. sovereignty.

They warned Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, and other members of his party in Congress that their continued backing of the treaty could cost them the support of conservative voters.

“The conservative movement is opposed to the Law of the Sea Treaty and to the administration’s support of the treaty,” American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene said at a press conference, held during a break in sessions on the second day of the 32nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has held hearings on the treaty, said that if ratified, the treaty could force the United States to concede too much power to the United Nations.

He also said it could undermine America’s ability to protect itself from terrorist attack by restricting shipboard inspections.

The treaty gives the United Nations power to regulate and settle disputes among member countries regarding all aspects of the seas’ resources and the uses of the ocean, including navigational rights, territorial sea limits and conservation and management of the marine environment.

The groups represented at the press conference read like a who’s who of the conservative movement.

They included Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation, the National Center for Policy Research, Oliver North’s Freedom Alliance, the National Taxpayers Union, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America and Right March.

Grover Norquist, chairman of Americans for Tax Reform, said the treaty ” essentially the same one President Reagan refused to sign 20 years ago ” “would give the U.N. the ability to tax throughout the world.”

Pat Buchanan, the conservative television commentator and columnist, called the treaty “intolerable.”

“It is a transfer of sovereignty, a transfer of taxing authority to a world body,” he said. “It creates another instrument of world government.

“I cannot understand how any conservative who believes in the sovereignty of this country and its continued independence can sign on to a treaty that constructs a new world order,” said Mr. Buchanan, who twice sought the Republican presidential nomination before running as a third-party candidate.

The administration is pushing the Senate to ratify the treaty, which was unanimously passed by Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year.

The document originated in the 1970s as part of what its critics called the U.N.’s “redistributionist” agenda for a “New International Economic Order.”

Yesterday, the conservative leaders agreed that its purpose is to transfer wealth and technology from the industrialized nations to the Third World.

“Some might say, well, this just starts in the water,” Mr. Norquist said. “But so do amphibians and reptiles. At some point the United Nations would start getting those little gill things and start getting out on the land. We should kill this now while it’s still an invertebrate.”

Without mentioning Mr. Frist by name, Mr. Keene warned that “as this treaty becomes more and more discussed at the grass-roots level, it could become a litmus test that better be passed for candidates seeking grass-roots conservative support.”

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