Skip to comments.Itís Hard to Be an American Traitor, Even If You Try
Posted on 12/05/2018 4:28:17 PM PST by vannrox
Legal Scholars Tell Warren Olney Why Treason Is So Difficult to Commit in the United States ...
Why is it so hard to commit treason in the United States?
The short answeroffered at the debut of a Zócalo/KCRW event series, Critical Thinking with Warren Olneyamounted to this: America was founded by traitors.
The American Revolution was a massive act of treason against the British government, said UC Davis legal scholar Carlton F.W. Larson, who is working on a book about treason. And even before the war, American colonists had been accused of treason under English law for acts of protest like the Boston Tea Party.
So, Larson said, the Founders pointedly included a limited definition of treason in the U.S. constitution. The more expansive version in English law made it easier to punish those who opposed the King as traitorswith not just execution but decapitation and disembowelment. The Founders had another reason for making treason hard to charge and prove: to discourage political opponents from accusing one another of treason and being un-American.
What the framers did not want was to have a democracy where the winning side prosecutes the losing side for treason, Larson said, a sentiment that echoes in todays bitterly partisan American politics.
Larson explained the history in response to questions from Olney, the legendary public radio host and dean of Southern California journalists, during the event at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Los Angeles. Larson and his fellow panelists, all lawyers and scholars, emphasized that treason is the only crime defined in the U.S. constitution: Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. It is also the only crime with a standard of evidence: 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.
UCLA legal scholar Eugene Volokh said those requirementstreason must occur in the context of war, and there must be two witnessesseverely limit prosecution for treason. When Americans commit crimes that are popularly characterized as treason, they are usually charged with other crimes. Even assisting countries like Russia and China, with whom the U.S. is often in conflict, isnt treason because were not currently at war.
There is a vast range of bad behavior, including bad behavior having to do with other countries, he said, a tiny fraction of which is treason.
Another panelist, senior lecturer at Yales Jackson Institute for Global Affairs Asha Rangappa, had firsthand dealings with what might be called treason in her previous job as an FBI special agent. She worked to identify those engaged in intelligence for foreign governments, and then flipped them to help the U.S. They are essentially betraying their country for the United States, she noted. This is the spy game. We do it. Other countries do it.
But American double agents do not necessarily commit treason under the Constitution, she said, given the requirements of war and witnesses. The notorious Robert Hanssen, a former FBI special agent who provided information to the Soviet and Russian governments for two decades, wasnt convicted of treason, but of espionage.
There are very few laws against spying, said Rangappa.
Rangappa suggested using alternative words to convey betraying the countryher preference is treachery. In the Inferno, Dante reserved the ninth circle of hell for treachery. He made it the lowest, blackest, and furthest from heaven, she recalled. When I talk about Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, both of whom she said she considered traitors, their behavior may not be the legal definition of treason, but it is treacherous.
Snowden and Manning are part of a long line of American figures who are perceived at least by some as traitors. The panelists mentioned Benedict Arnold (who remains the greatest traitor America ever had, said Larson); Robert E. Lee (Volokh saw him as a traitor but noted that the Civil War shows the wisdom of having a pardon power to promote national reconciliation); and John Walker Lindh, who aided the Taliban (he pleaded guilty to charges lesser than treason).
The panelists also argued in complicated detail over Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who became an Al Qaeda propagandist and was killed by a U.S. drone on orders of President Obama. Intriguingly, panelists said that al-Awlakis online recruitment videos would not meet the Constitutions requirement of two witnesses. However, Larson allowed that if the Founders had anticipated video technology, they might have included such a video declaration as a standard for proving treason.
During the question-and-answer session, audience members pressed the panelists to comment on the ongoing investigations surrounding Russia, the 2016 elections, and President Trump and his associates. One audience member asked: Could you explain what might happen when we have the results of special counsel Robert Muellers investigation?
Many things, said Volokh, but not a treason prosecution.
Rangappa praised Mueller, her former boss when he served as FBI director, but said that people expecting his investigation to put people in prison may be disappointed. Even if he uncovers bad behavior, it could be difficult to prove federal crimes. At another point in the evening, she noted that providing information to Russians on how to use Facebook to target certain voters is not a crime, and definitely not treason.
She added that its important not to equate whats legal with whats right. She recalled doing FBI background checks of government appointees, and asking questions about peoples loyalties, bias, personal finances, or use of alcohol and drugs. The point of such checks isnt to identify crimes so much as it is to identify people who should not be in positions of public trust.
Theres a bigger picture we lose sight of when we just focus on legality and criminality, she said.
Hillary and the Obama’s sure took a run at it...
0bama, Hillary, Kerry all tried it and .....????
Well it is about to much more difficult and examples are going to made that will last 1000 years or more.
Not true. The side that was legally in the wrong, that betrayed British constitutional principles, was the King's ministers. They attempted to levy taxes on British subjects without consent.
England couldn't lawfully levy taxes on Scotland without their consent given in parliament, and neither could they lawfully do it to Virginia or Pennsylvania.
“Im going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”
Gen James “Mad Dog” Mattis when he was forced to retire by Obama with his warning to the Deep State.
Well we have certainly uncovered a slew of them after electing Donald Trump as our President. I suspect none of them will be charged though.
Some Dare Call It Treachery *-?
naaaaa.. just doesn’t have the same ring to it..
Blah, Blah, Blah.
More New Age codswallop.
There is absolutely no moral equivalency between the events and actions related to the American Revolution
and the underhanded traitorous conduct on the part of democrats and other leftists today.
Saying there is does not make it so.
A Leftist Lie, by those who deny the Declaration of Independence, and whose loyalties lie outside of the U.S.
"treason must occur in the context of war"
The Constitution lists three acts as treason; only the first one deals with levying war against the U.S. The other two can occur outside of an actual war.
Given that the US has been in a perpetual state of war since 9/11, that requirement is automatically met in all cases.
Given some of the things Clinton, McCain, Obama and friends did... treason in the strictest possible sense can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. All three were involved, for example, in running arms to ISIS in Syria.
We had American born propagandists broadcasting propaganda from Germany on behalf of the Axis.
We had Communist agents in the US handing over nuclear bomb secrets to the Soviet Union.
We had a Red Communist actress posing for propaganda photos on an antiaircraft cannon in North Vietnam during the war.
We had thousands of Communist fueled bombings in the United States in a couple of years time.
“Treason” is almost as overused as “racist” is.
Are they trying to get ahead here of what Q is portending ?
When someone mentions traitors, I immediately think of Jeff Flake.
Incorrect. Emotions aside, we do not have an “enemy” outside the context of war.
It must be in wartime
Just goes to show how much consistent effort our current traitors had to put into it to qualify.
Actually, the last state of war declared was 1941 and it ended a few years after the surrender ceremony. A declaration of war is a very specific thing in the Constitution.
By the King, A Proclamation, For Suppressing Rebellion and Sedition
WHEREAS Many of Our Subjects in divers Parts of Our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill-designing Men, and forgetting the Allegiance which they owe to the Power that has protected and sustained them, after various disorderly Acts committed in Disturbance of the Public Peace, to the Obstruction of lawful Commerce, and to the Oppression of Our loyal Subjects carrying on the same, have at length proceeded to an open and avowed Rebellion, by arraying themselves in hostile Manner to withstand the Execution of the Law, and traitoroursly preparing, ordering, and levying War against Us.
AND whereas there is Reason to apprehend that such Rebellion hath been much promoted and encouraged by the traitorous Correspondence, Counsels, and Comfort of divers wicked and desperate Persons within this Realm: To the End therefore, that none of Our Subjects may neglect or violate their Duty through Ignorance thereof, or through any Doubt of the Protection which the Law will afford to their Loyalty and Zeal; We have thought fit, by and with the Advice of Our Privy Council, to issue this Our Royal Proclamation, hereby declaring that not only all Our Officers, Civil and Military, are obliged to exert their utmost Endeavours to suppress such Rebellion, and to bring the Traitors to Justice; but that all Our Subjects of this Realm and the Dominions thereunto belonging are bound by Law to be aiding and assisting in the Suppression of such Rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous Conspiracies and Attempts against Us, Our Crown and Dignity.
AND We do accordingly strictly Charge and Command all Our Officers, as well Civil as Military, and all other Our obedient and loyal Subjects, to use their utmost Endeavours to withstand and suppress such Rebellion, and to disclose and make known all Treasons and traitorous Conspiracies which they shall know to be against Us, Our Crown and Dignity: and for that Purpose, that they transmit to one of Our Principal Secretaries of State, or other proper Officer, due and full Information of all Persons who shall be found carrying on Correspondence wit, or in any Manner or Degree aiding or abetting, the Persons now in open Arms and Rebellion against Our Government within any of Our Colonies and Plantations in North America, in order to bring to condign Punishment the Authors, Perpetrators, and Abettors of such traitorous Designs.
Given at Our Court at St. James’s, the 23d Day of August, 1775, in the Fifteenth Year of Our Reign.
God Save the King.
True. But they were OUR traitors and they won!
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