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"Giving aid and comfort to the enemy"

I recently got into a discussion on another web site where the term "treason" came up. The host (a proud liberal) said that conservatives tend to toss around the terms "treason" and "traitor" very easily, and attempted to discredit me by association. I went into great depth about how I don't use that term, myself, except when it is clearly justified. It's a "big gun" kind of term, and I don't like using those big guns except when truly justified and no other terms fit.

And it's really one of the biggest guns, too. Here's how the United States Constitution defines treason:

Section. 3. Clause 1: 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.

Clause 2: 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.

Now, one of the key elements of treason that isn't spelled out explicitly above is the "betrayal" aspect. The traitor has, by definition, have to had prior pledged loyalty to the United States and then betrayed it in order to qualify as a traitor. For example, most terrorists don't qualify as traitors; only those who are American citizens are.

Which is why I can't consider The Arab Bank as a traitorous organization, despite this news.

But I think the evidence is clear that the Arab Bank has chosen freely to give aid and comfort to terrorists, in truly tangible and substantial ways. I think it's time to investigate further and, if the evidence stands up, seize every single asset the Arab Bank has in the United States and bring charges against the officers of the Bank.

What this bank has done is to encourage and subsidize terrorism. They are literally giving out "blood money" and paying people to commit acts of terrorism. And they need to be stopped -- as quickly and forcefully (nay, as brutally) as possible.

(Update: I would like to brag that I wrote this piece at around 6:30 this morning, and set it to publish at 11 -- before Rob wrote his piece about it, and before Rob broke story of the Americans caught in Iraq. I liked Rob's take on it, too. Timing is everything -- even when it's completely coincidental.)


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Comments (9)

While I'm a registered Cons... (Below threshold)
Todd:

While I'm a registered Conservative and I agree with your view, I have a question. Isn't Karl Rove some type of traitor or treasonous for leaking Plame's name to reporters? Or do you support everything this pseudo-Republican administration does just because they are there? I mean conservatives have to have the gumption to self-critisize!

I think that you are missin... (Below threshold)
Rob:

I think that you are missing an important distinction of the constitutional definition, specifically the part where it says, "in adhering to ..." It clearly implies that by adhering to your enemies that that act gives "Aid and Comfort." I would also posit that the phrase, "Aid and Comfort" has been bandied about willy-nilly by conservatives, and the divisiness this kind of language creates also gives "Aid and Comfort" to our enemies using the same rationale you imply.

Nice to see Todd talk about... (Below threshold)
Craig:

Nice to see Todd talk about conservatives' need to self-criticize. All too rare.

One thing I notice is the tendency for sides to look for differences with their enemies that mask similiarties and exaggerate differences to make the enemies the bad guy. We're doing that now with the focus on 'terrorism', which of course often is bad, but too much focused on as a means, perhaps.

Is the United States capable of doing *any* wrong? Is it capable of terrorism? When the US launches missiles based on very weak intelligence where Saddam might be, and only kills innocents, at some point is that terrorism? If it does this fifty times, as we did, is it reckless enough?

When the United States creates the Contra forces to oppose the elected president of Nicaragua, and those Contras are committing terrorist acts, is that terrorism by the US?

To the original poster, some on the right argue at times that those who support withdrawing from a war, those who support not funding a military program, are providing 'aid and comfort' to the enemy. There's some literal truth to this, yet these are perfectly appropriate acts.

So the term does need to be used with more care than it often is.

Too often, the right seems to grab at any weapon it has, like an accusation of treason, and to be too prone to self-serving double standards when condemning enemies.

While we look for a possible hotel room meeting between two people at some point involving Saddam and Al Queda, imagine if either had done one hundredth what the US has to support either, with the US's huge funding and arming of both Al Queda and Saddam in the past, even supplying Saddam WMD.

Glug, Glug, Glug....<... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Glug, Glug, Glug....

More Kool_Aid, please...

Good topic! IMO, the Bush s... (Below threshold)
tubino:

Good topic! IMO, the Bush support for the Saudi royals after 9-11, when Saudi involvement in 9-11 was clear, could be construed as giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I don't mean that random Saudis should be captured and imprisoned, but that to assist in flying away Osama bin Laden's relatives PRIOR to any investigation was easily construed by the real enemy as a willingness to give well-connected Saudis an incredible break. And the famous blacked-out pages on the Saudi involvement only strengthened it.

The way some would read it, the pullback of forces from Afghanistan (to Iraq prior to invasion) would also constitute aid and comfort -- but I think that's going too far.

While I'm a registered C... (Below threshold)

While I'm a registered Conservative...

New York state?

Todd: so far, your imagini... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Todd: so far, your imaginings are not proven. Paranoia and projections of possibilities do not facts make.

About the thread, however...my experience with this term and the social animosity in rebellion against the concept (treason and what treason is and how it's enacted) is that there's a great absence today of reverance for many (this included) concepts as to our civilization and particularly as to what our democracy is, and what responsibilities citizen have to it/those.

I was viewing a broadcast the other day about the Founding Fathers and another one about the later Civil War generals, and the lives they (all) led, the statements they made, journals they wrote read in voice over, and the entire tone and even the language was immensely composed, appreciative, humble yet inspirational, never pretentious or foolish, never grandiose but rather, grand.

Letters from their families, statements made by their friends and supporters, all of it depicted a time when people took the lives they led far more seriously than today, when they realized just what a special thing it was to serve the country, to even have the country itself, and so much more.

I'm not advocating returning to the past but I did notice the huge difference that those two broadcasts made clear when compared with our current times and that was that today, the responsibilities of citizenship are often criticized and underestimated, if recognized at all.

Treason is simply defined and is a very terrible act of betrayal and of character desperation. It's not a weaponry word but a real definition of observable behaviors and statements and the people who most criticise the use of the word least understand the weight of the action/s involved.

Damn folks, if you want the... (Below threshold)
Mike:

Damn folks, if you want the definition of a traitor look no further than the junior senator from Massachusetts and our last presidential nominee from the democrats. Forget Jane Fonda. This guy was a commissioned naval officer at the time.

Traitor?...Hmmm...Let's see... (Below threshold)
Zsa Zsa:

Traitor?...Hmmm...Let's see we have Jane Fonda... ...BUT...What about John Kerry? After all at least Jane had the decency not to run for the Senate and the Presidency!




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