[September 21, 2021] A little research on the history of treason in the United States can help us answer whether Gen. Mark Milley committed treason. Most scholars will tell us that there have been only 14 citizens convicted of treason against America,1 some were executed, some were pardoned, and one was deported.
The question of whether U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley committed treason is hotly debated and will remain so for the next few months. There are politics involved, and this factor plays a role in what we may think about what Gen. Milley did to ignite such a firestorm.
In an upcoming book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, best-selling authors, it was revealed that Mark Milley felt compelled to twice assure Chinese officials that Trump was not going to attack their country. However, Woodward and Costa have often played loose with the facts. Here are some quotes from their book Peril:
“I want to assure you that the American government is stable, and everything is going to be okay.” “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.” “I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
We all want to know if this is true, and Gen. Milley has not denied it. That in itself is telling, meaning that it is likely to be true. The first quote is acceptable. I would not be surprised that Milley or another person in his position would say this. The rest is problematic. If so, Milley has usurped the civilian chain of command and violated a long-standing principle of civilian control over the military. For this alone, he should immediately resign his position as the Chief of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The public has lost confidence in this military officer.
The definition of treason is below in a footnote; I do recommend reading it. There is also a good explanation of how the idea of treason was developed in the early years of the U.S. Bradley C.S. Watson has summarized this for the average reader.3
Many have called upon our Representatives in Congress to have Gen. Milley charged for treason. Maybe that is the right and moral thing to do. We would undoubtedly gain some vital information and draw applicable lessons from such a trial. However, Milley would not be convicted. The reason is that his actions, as stupid and as harmful as they were, do not rise to the level of treason.
Why? Most “experts” have argued that Mark Milley did not commit treason. While I am suspicious of Constitutional Law experts, in this case, I do agree with them.
What, then, is the solution? The U.S. military has judicial mechanisms in place to deal with situations like this. The Inspector General should investigate Milley. If he is found to have done those things, it then becomes the job of the Secretary of Defense or the President to remove him. If they fail to do so, they have failed to carry out the duties of their office. The public then has a say in the next election to remove the President.
I would support a strong punishment for Milley, and he rightly deserves the harshest criticism of our nation. He became part of the D.C. swamp. That alone is enough to disgrace the uniform he wears.
My bottom line: I believe that Gen. Mark Milley be removed from his position. Let this be a lesson for senior leaders. I’m afraid they will not learn because moral courage is not a virtue in their world.
- Another two were convicted for treason against a state. https://www.liquisearch.com/list_of_people_convicted_of_treason/united_states
- 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason: 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. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)