Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

5/29/2005

Treason! part 2

Seriously, wingnuts: you've got to stop accusing people of treason because you don't like the shit they say. It's making you look ridiculous. Andrew Sullivan's 'email of the day' comes from someone who claims to be a soldier in Iraq:
I would hope to see you over here in theater running your pie-hole about your calls to remove Marines from their post for the 'New Testament' inscription on the main battle tank. You would be buried with your insurgent 'friends' that you support, through your criticism of our men and women dying for this mission with a bulldozer.

For your safety, I would not even be around soldiers, airmen, or marines. Treason is a high crime and misdemeanor and the price is quite high. Your actions border on treason. You could not survive the long days, enemy in-direct and direct fire, and high demands that our soldiers today execute in 100 degree weather. You would have to have a rucksack full of Vagisil for your clam pal to make it a week here.

Most of us are Christians and will continue to support our faith in any way we see fit. Do the right thing: support us or STFU !!!!!!!!!!
Look, if treason were prosecuted the way some right-wingers would have it, 48% of the US population (the percentage that voted for Kerry) would be thrown in prison. (I can hear the wingnuts thinking to themselves: "Fine by me!")

Treason is defined rather ambiguously in the Constitution (Article III, 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.
What they meant by 'adhering' to the enemies of the US, or giving them 'aid and comfort', is anybody's guess. Plus, the last two clauses ("or in adhering ...") are somewhat ambiguous; is "adhering" to their enemies supposed to be tantamount to "giving them aid and comfort"? Is the latter phrase supposed to be analogous the second clause is a sentence like: "He divorced his wife, leaving her to raise their children alone" ?

The Supreme Court case of United States v Haupt interpreted treason as anything that
strengthens or tends to strengthen the ability of the enemies of the United States or which weakens or tends to weaken the power of the United States to resist such enemies.
This is an extremely ambiguous statement, though, and it is capable of being interpreted in all sorts of ways. People like Sullivan's letter writer would obviously be inclined to interpret it very liberally, saying that any speech in support of the enemy, or disparaging the US military, helps to 'strengthen' the ability of the enemy, or to 'weaken' the US campaign against that enemy.

A saner interpretation of the treason clause in the Constitution is given by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Wimmer v. United States case:
Treason is "adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Both adherence and giving aid are necessary. To "favor or support" is, very likely, to "adhere"; but it does not carry the idea of giving aid and comfort, unless by a rather remote implication. Hence it may well be said that adherence by words only is an offense quite distinct from treason.
On this interpretation, one presumably would have to give some tangible, specifiable 'aid and comfort' to an identifiable enemy before he could be convicted of treason. So speaking out in favor of the Iraqi insurgency wouldn't be treason, but donating money to them would be.

Any workable definition of treason would have to exclude the mere act of criticizing the US military. 'Aid and comfort' cannot reasonably be interpreted as the 'psychological comfort' of Iraqi insurgents that (supposedly) comes from knowing that they have sympathizers within the borders of the US.

'Miliblogger' Dadmanly, a soldier in Iraq, makes what I take to be a paradigmatic conservative argument that members of the media, through unfavorable coverage of the military, are guilty of treason--though, and this is important for me to note, Dadmanly doesn't actually use the word 'treason' in this post (though he has elsewhere). So I want to make it clear that I am not attributing to him the view that the media are traitors. However, that conclusion is often drawn from arguments like the one he makes:
As a member of the U.S. Military in Iraq, let me say something very clearly to Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and any other media organization of any integrity.

You are creating greater risk for me personally. You are creating incredible hostility in Muslim countries due to incessant negative reporting out of context and ignoring orders of magnitude of good news in doing so ...

You create added danger for my soldiers. You feed into enemy (yes, enemy) propaganda efforts in yielding unlimited access to pre-staged voices with calculated intent ... You diminish and demean our service.

...Your vain and callous search for what you indignantly claim as objectivity is really nothing more than neutrality in the face of absolute evil ... you are accomplice in its result.
These claims are basically unverifiable (this is not, in and of itself, to say they are untrue). The harms Dadmanly points to are essentially intangible. To prosecute for treason based on these kinds of claims would be a completely unworkable policy. So Republicans, even if their claim that the media has an anti-military agenda is true, need to stop accusing people of treason. Opposing the Bush administration is not treason. Opposing the US war in Iraq is not treason. Even opposing the military itself is not treason.

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