Treason? What's That?

Liberals don't believe in the concept of American nationhood.

As the last semblance of civility in our political discourse dies, the American people have become so used to the over-the-top mudslinging that the attacks almost don't matter anymore.  McCain calls Obama's attacks on him lies; Obama calls McCain's ads lies.  Various pundits on both sides "prove" that the other guy is lying; even so-called nonpartisan groups betray their biases by how they weigh the various charges.  It's enough to make the average voter throw up his hands in disgust.

But lost in the charges and counter-charges is the concept that there is, in fact, such a thing as Truth, and it can be known.  When a charge is made, there either is an underlying truth or there is not.

Barack Obama either did support a bill which permitted graphic sex education for kindergartners, or he did not.  John McCain either did receive support from Fannie and Freddie in exchange for defending their protected status, or he did not.  Sarah Palin either did, at a given point in time, finally torpedo the famous Bridge to Nowhere as she claims, or she did not.  These are all facts which should be capable of being found out and explained with unspinnable clarity.

To quote Rush Limbaugh, "Words mean things."  The fact that attacks and accusations are often false and that they are therefore frequently ignored or disregarded does not mean that there is no underlying meaning.

Every word has a definition; and those definitions can be compared to behavior to see whether the word accurately applies.  This requires logic and critical thinking, two skills in desperately short supply these days; but their scarcity makes them even more valuable.

Godwin's Law is often cited to say that anyone who makes a comparison of their opponent's position with Hitler and the Nazis has automatically lost the debate.  There's no doubt that Hitlerian comparisons are ludicrously overused, but the actions of Hitler and the Nazis are a matter of historical record, and it's perfectly appropriate to make comparisons.

Hitler is known to have committed genocide against a specific people, the Jews - he tried to wipe them out.  Saddam Hussein, for example, is known to have attempted genocide against at least two specific peoples, the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds, and arguably against the Iranians too.  How is it inappropriate to compare him with Hitler on those grounds?  It's not - and any use of Godwin's Law to defend Hussein from being compared to Hitler is itself a sign of a weak argument.

With this in mind, let's consider a word which is thrown around freely these days, so much so as to have become all but meaningless - and yet one which is of such vital national importance that it was specifically defined in the Constitution by the Founders.  This word is "Treason," which is defined as follows:

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.

You couldn't ask for a clearer explanation; anyone except a lawyer or politician can tell you exactly what it means.  A person who is legally a US Citizen commits treason, and is therefore a traitor, when he either a) fights in a war on the opposite side from the United States, or b) gives aid and comfort to a group which is an enemy of the United States.

It's not too often that you find a clear example of a traitor by the first definition; John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban," is the only person who became famous for treason by fighting in recent years.  He served in the Taliban army while the United States was at war with the Taliban, a clear-cut treasonous act.

However, even he was never charged with treason specifically, but with ten lesser crimes, and he made a plea-bargain in which he admitted guilt to two.  He's now serving twenty years in Federal prison.

A person needn't actually carry arms against the United States in order to be a traitor, though.  The Constitution specifically states that giving "aid and comfort" to our enemies is every bit as treasonous as going to war against the United States.  Given that, right now, we can all agree that al-Qaeda and the rest of militant Islam are sworn enemies of the United States, it shouldn't be too hard to determine the truth of treason accusations.

If there's one person who is definitively not a traitor, it's George W. Bush.  In fact, by the Constitutional definition, not only is he the exact opposite of a traitor, but the specific accusations against him levied by the left are their own proof that he's not a traitor.

Bush is pilloried for torturing suspected terrorists, incarcerating them without trial, and eavesdropping on their communications.  These actions are as far from giving "aid and comfort" as it is possible to be.  Now, you can make the argument that Mr. Bush' actions are unconstitutional in other ways, or unwise, but treasonous?  Clearly not.

Although Islam provides the vast majority of the world's effective terrorists, there are others.  Over the last year, we've had occasion to recall the Weather Underground terrorist group of the 1960s and 1970s.  It's worth noting that the Weather Underground issued a "Declaration of a State of War" against the United States in 1970.  Then they proved that they meant it by planting bombs in various government facilities.

By the definition given in the Constitution, that makes them "enemies of the United States," and as the Weather Underground members were American citizens, that makes them not merely criminals, not merely terrorists, but traitors.

You might say they were just a bunch of misguided kids, and you might be right.  George H.W. Bush described John Walker Lindh as "some misguided Marin county hot-tubber," but that didn't save him from paying the penalty for his crimes: he's now spending two decades in the pen.

What's more, Lindh confessed his crime in open court, which usually gets you some mercy.  Bill Ayers, today's best-known Weatherman, said "I don't regret setting bombs; I feel we didn't do enough" in an interview with the New York Times that was published, of all days, on 9/11/2001.

So here we have an American citizen who joined in a formal Declaration of War against the U.S.; who took explosive military action against American targets; and who has never claimed any repentance or surrender.

Because of prosecutorial incompetence, he was never prosecuted for attempted murder or any of the other direct crimes, but according to the Constitution, that's not required to convict him of treason.  All that's required is two witnesses that he participated in the Declaration of War and resulting terrorist actions - which he himself has proudly proclaimed to be the case.  Why are we so shy about prosecuting treason?

Does Treason Exist?

There's a very good reason, and a frightening one.  To find it, let's listen to Barack Obama, Bill Ayers' political acolyte and fellow board member for many years, as he speaks to thousands of Europeans:

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world. [emphasis added]

Treason and citizenship are two sides of the same coin.  When the Russians sent spies into the United States to steal secrets, they were not committing treason - they were acting patriotically, in fact, fighting on the side of their country.  When we caught them, we could convict them of espionage, but not treason.

The American citizens who helped them, though, were traitors.  You can only be a traitor against a cause that you have previously acted loyal to.  A Russian officer is obviously not expected to be loyal to the United States; but he is expected to be loyal to Russia.  An American is expected to be loyal to America; an Iranian is expected to be loyal to Iran, and so on.

What does it mean to be a citizen of the world?  We hear this term a lot, particularly from our liberal elites.  If you are a citizen of the world, then by definition, you put the world first - even if it means harm to the United States specifically.

This explains, then, why liberals are so eager to destroy our American economy through wrongheaded "global warming" taxes and regulations.  Sure it'll hurt the U.S., but it will save the World (they think), and that is where they see their true citizenship.

If you think of yourself as a citizen of the world, you don't mind committing treason against America - in fact, it would be hard for you even to think of there being such a crime.  After all, anything that benefits the World will inherently benefit the United States since the U.S. is part of the world; so any harm to the U.S. is automatically outweighed by expected benefits elsewhere.

With all our liberals implicitly denying that treason against America even exists, how can we expect our Justice Department to prosecute traitors?  Perhaps that's why they haven't tried in a half-century.

Many people have wondered how Barack Obama, who gives no sign of personally having any hatred for the United States, white people, or anyone else, is able to be friends with terrorists like Bill Ayers, racists like Rev. Wright, and thieves like Tony Rezko.  All these people not only harm America, they do as much harm as they can possibly do because their goal is to harm America.

A real American, as opposed to a non-American who happened to have American citizenship, would want nothing to do with them, but for a citizen of the world, they're just a different point of view - just like the different points of view of Iran's President Ahmadinejad and North Korea's Kim Jong Il, two other enemies of America whom Barack Obama has invited to chat without preconditions.

If you see yourself as a citizen of the United States, you can with good conscience vote for a bill which will cause a small harm to one particular state if it will benefit all the others because it benefits the United States as a whole.  Congress does this all the time, and since we are "one nation, indivisible," that's as it should be.

The same is true if you are a world citizen - if you see an action as benefiting the world as a whole, it does not matter if it harms one particular country, even if that one country is what others might see as your own country.

Without the concept of citizenship, the concept of treason has no meaning.  We saw the importance of this concept at the Republican convention with the theme "Country First" plastered everywhere.  Say what you will about John McCain, he knows what it means to put the United States first - ahead of his own personal health, comfort, and career, ahead of all other countries, ahead of his own life.

Does Barack Obama see his responsibility as a US Senator to act in the interests of the United States, or would he rather act in what he perceives to be the interest of the world at large?  Does Nancy Pelosi, who is happy to meet with Bashir Assad, president of our enemy Syria, against the instructions of our own President, act in the interest of the United States, or is she favoring the liberal one-world agenda?

How about Al Gore, who famously thinks the U.S. should pay the price of the world's carbon consumption?  How about those who give aid and comfort to sworn enemies of the U.S. - and if calling for the release of imprisoned terrorists isn't giving them aid and comfort, it's hard to imagine what might be.  How about newspapers who publish sensitive material revealing to Osama bin Laden how we eavesdrop on him?

The Constitution gives a clear warning about the dangers of permitting treason.  We ignore it at our peril.

Treason, Indifference, or Patriotism

There are three basic positions any person who's legally an American citizen can take:

  1. Treason - actively work against the interests of the United States, or helping those that do.
  2. Indifference - do nothing against the United States but do nothing for it either.
  3. Patriotism - work to support and promote the interests of the United States.

Our founders defined treason as taking active action against the interests of our country, whether directly or indirectly.  We've mentioned two recent traitors: John Lindh, who served against us in the Taliban army, and Bill Ayers, who joined a declaration of war against the United Stated and blew up government facilities on United States soil.

John Lindh had no political connections and is spending 20 years in prison.  Mr. Ayers is a well-connected liberal who helped launch Mr. Obama's political career and serves on the faculty of the University of Chicago.  Our liberal elites don't mind hanging out with traitors; the most likely reason is that they think of themselves as citizens of the world and don't think that treason is possible.

Treason is like marijuana - smoking pot is against the law, but it must be OK since lots of liberals do it; only the poor and politically unconnected ever pay a penalty if they're caught.

Federal officials such as Senators and members of Congress take an oath of office:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

We've noted that most of the Democratic party is rabidly opposed to what we're doing in Iraq.  There are reasonable grounds to differ about whether getting involved was a good idea, but much of what Democrats have done and said about Iraq comes close to treason. Like it or not, we are in a war, we do have enemies, and our legislators have sworn an oath to defend us against them.

Regardless of what individual citizens may do, our legislators have obligations which go beyond the obligations of ordinary citizens.  What's more, the Democrats, almost to a person, have stated over and over that, while they oppose what we're doing in Iraq, they support our troops.

Why, then, did the Democrats refuse to allow a vote on a measure to thank the troops for the work they'd done in Iraq?  The Wall Street Journal reports:

Even Barack Obama, who opposed the Iraq troop surge, has finally acknowledged its success.  But some of his fellow Democrats in Congress apparently remain unconvinced.  Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin teamed up to block a vote on a bipartisan resolution "recognizing the strategic success of the troop surge in Iraq" and thanking our men and women in uniform for their efforts.

Thanking our troops for their sacrifices doesn't mean that anyone agrees with our being there, but the Democrats wouldn't even do that. The Journal gives a plausible explanation:

The Lieberman-Graham resolution is a chance for Democrats to show that their support for the troops is more than rhetorical.  It changes no policy and in that sense is only symbolic.  Yet it is precisely the political symbolism of admitting they were wrong that is stopping the Democratic leadership from letting it come up for a vote before the Senate adjourns.  Unfortunately, the last thing that Democrats want to discuss in this election season is success in Iraq[emphasis added]

Thanking our soldiers for a job well done is part of a legislator's sworn obligation to bear allegiance to the United States, but if you think you're a citizen of the world, the United States has no legitimate interests and thus no thanks are necessary.  Barack Obama wants to be the Commander-in-Chief of our troops; if anyone should want to acknowledge their competence and success, it should be he, but no.

We note that the Economist, a British publication, while acknowledging that non-citizens cannot vote for US President, pointed out that many non-Americans wish they could vote in our election.  Their poll shows that non-Americans support Obama over McCain by a huge margin.

This has been viewed as a powerful show of global support for Obama, but it depends entirely one whether the people voting view themselves personally as citizens of the world, or of their respective foreign countries.

A person who views themselves as a citizen of a foreign country which is the enemy, or even the rival, of the United States is obviously going to prefer the most incompetent US President on offer.  Think about it: As Americans, wouldn't we prefer Iran and North Korea to have incompetent fools in charge, the better for their odious governments to fall?

Other polls have shown powerful feelings of anti-Americanism all over the world; this could be caused by propaganda from their respective governments, disagreement with American policies, or just plain old jealousy, but it surely isn't grounds to think everyone all over the world has America's best interests in mind.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Sen. McCain is a hard-core American who will always put American interests (as he sees them) first - in fact, that's precisely why a lot of Europeans don't like him.  Could it be that foreigners favor Sen. Obama because they realize that deep down in his heart where it counts, he's not really an American in the way that you expect the President of the United States to be?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
Your readers should take careful note of this reasoned argument and compare it with Daniel Pipes, who argues that in today's (globalised) world, the concept of treason is redundant. I disagree profoundly but cannot blog at length so please consider
October 3, 2008 6:55 PM
Agreed, Pipes is wrong. But you'll never get libs to admit that. They all think that patriotism = nationalism = racism.
October 3, 2008 7:01 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...