“Treason” is a strong word, but I’m seeing it thrown around all over the internet this past month. On “Loyalty Day” (and in the spirit of Inigo Montoya) it might behoove us to look up the word “treason” to see if we are applying it correctly. It’s not the same everywhere so when you search it include the name of country you are curious about.
“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.” – This particular quote came from Cornell University Law School
Memes abound with emphasis on “adhering to their enemies” or “giving them aid and comfort,” but I think we might be getting ahead of ourselves. What about this “enemy?” Another strong word. Does the United States have any enemies right now? Is it possible to commit the crime of treason when we’re not technically at war? Maybe if we’re with ISIL and committing actual acts of war against the United States?
According to 50 USCS § 2204 [Title 50. War and National Defense; Chapter 39. Spoils of War],
“enemy of the United States means any country, government, group, or person that has been engaged in hostilities, whether or not lawfully authorized, with the United States.”
Prepare to die!
Or be impeached!
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. – U.S. Code via Cornell University
BTW, no person has been executed for treason by the federal government under the Constitution (interestingly, not even any soldiers who fought for the Confederacy against the United States even though they were traitors). We don’t like 45 (and the numpties), and he’s a vile human being, but what he is doing and what he has done are likely not treason, exactly. Don’t let that stop anyone investigating; who knows what will turn up. We just need to use the right word. Which leads to more Googling. Maybe “espionage?”. . .
1 May 2017
Link: The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Jan., 1918), pp. 331-347
Link: “Five Myths About Treason” – by Carlton F. W. Larson, professor of law at the University of California at Davis
Link (just because it’s interesting): “Espionage Against the United States by American Citizens 1947-2001” – Katherine L. Herbig and Martin F. Wiskoff, TRW Systems, July 2002 (technical report based on research done by Defense Personnel Security Research Center)
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