Donnerstag, Januar 25, 2007


This from today's WSJ got me to thinking about what treason would have to look like today to get anyone to notice.

What is treason?

Well, let's look at Wikipedia:

In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation or state. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Oran's Dictionary of the Law defines treason as: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]." In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aided or involved by such an endeavour.

Traitor may also mean a person who betrays (or is accused of betraying) their own political party, family, friends, ethnic group, religion, social class, or other group to which they may belong. Often, such accusations are controversial and disputed, as the person may not identify with the group of which they are a member, or may otherwise disagree with the group leaders making the charge. See, for example, race traitor.

At times, the term "traitor" has been levelled as a political epithet, regardless of any verifiable treasonous action. In a civil war or insurrection, the winners may deem the losers to be traitors. Likewise the term "traitor" is used in heated political discussion – typically as a slur against political dissidents, or against officials in power who are perceived as failing to act in the best interest of their constituents. In certain cases, as with the German Dolchstosslegende, the accusation of treason towards a large group of people can be a unifying political message.

Disloyalty, betrayal, willfull cooperation with an enemy. Actions to help a foreign government destroy a parent nation.

Now, what does the law say?

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Treason is the only crime listed in the US constitution as well:

Section 3: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Interesting, that one: you can't convict of treason unless two witnesses come forth of the same act, or one confesses in open court. Also there is no condemning of family and wealth, with any penalty only be applied to the person found guilty.

What are the consequences of treason? Drastic: the death penalty for treason is part and parcel of the US constitution, and while a court may apply it, it doesn't have to. But at least five years and $10k fine; no public office whatsoever in the US.

Supreme court rulings in the past point that treason must be an actual assembling of men for the treasonable purpose, which is to make war, and that treason is first and fundamentally a military thing: hence political sentiment cannot be treason, but the publishing of military secrets may be.

Finally, there have been fewer than 40 treason cases brought. The last case, but for this one, was brought in 1952.

Folks opposed to the war (after having voted for it), who are hindering US war efforts - the US, is, after all, at war, even though 90% of the public isn'rt paying attention and only one Democrat - Lieberman - is willing to admit it - and are being disloyal, betraying the goals that that willingly agreed to at the time when the choice was made.

But that's not treason.

But it is irresponsible. And irresponsible behavior - clearly defined as refusing to accept responsibility for one's decisions - can be as damaging as treason

Some may know this quote from the Saucy Godson: Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason .

He's wrong. The treason that he understands is the British take on treason, which was disloyalty to the King.

Let's re-work it: Irresponsibility doth never prosper: what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it irresponsibility .

Doesn't quite have the metric, I agree: but the point is valid.

The Democrats are the party of irresponsibility. The fundamental problem is moral hazard: the redistribution of risk changes people's behavior. The irresponsibility of Congress' cutting of aid to the South Vietnamese led to the collapse of South Vietnam in the face of more armor than the Wehrmacht used to conquer France, and the condemnation of an entire people to Communist rule, leading to the mass deaths of the Vietnamese exodus (aka "The Boat People"), but it led to successful careers for people like Kerry and the Kennedies, as well as the entire "anti-war" left of the 1960s. Their achievements - of abandoning an ally - were irresponsible.

Not treasonous, but irresponsible. That way they can claim their patriotism while at the same time working against government policy.


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