Did Gen. Mark Milley Commit Treason?

By | September 21, 2021

[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.


  1. Another two were convicted for treason against a state. https://www.liquisearch.com/list_of_people_convicted_of_treason/united_states
  2. 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.)
  3. https://www.heritage.org/constitution/#!/articles/3/essays/119/treason
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

34 thoughts on “Did Gen. Mark Milley Commit Treason?

  1. corralesdon

    … and people in the White House and at the Pentagon wonder why folks are so upset … it’s because we know more about the US Constitution and its application than all their smart people put together.

  2. Wilson Cox

    Do not be surprised at Gen. Milley’s behavior. Is it “unbecoming of an officer”, well, YES it is. Is he a traitor by helping the Chinese, the worlds biggest enemy? Well, maybe and he should be investigated for what the book by Woodward and Costa exposed. Excuses given by Milley’s PR machine, notwithstanding, you don’t give an enemy advanced notice of an attack nor do you say you will. That’s borderline treason at the least. It would be better for the US and the world if Milley stepped down now, while he has a semblance of honor left.

  3. Mr. T.J. Asper

    I think Gen. Milley committed treason. We can skirt around the issue all we want but the man betrayed America. And what do we do with traitors? Today, nothing. He is another Hanoi Jane.

    1. Forrest Gump

      Hanoi Jane …. China Milley or Commie Milley …. other suggestions.
      Stupid is as stupid does.

      1. Doug Smith

        How about Swamp Milley or I’ll bend over Milley or See me run Milley. I could think of a few more but this is a family friendly leadership website. Thanks special to Gen. Satterfield for getting this article up.

  4. Dale Paul Fox

    Let’s all note that Gen. Milley is NOT in the US military chain of command. That was established by law, clearly in 1947. Read about it. Milley just upset the apple cart on this one by injecting himself into the role expressly given to the US President as clearly written in the US Constitution. At the very least, Milley violated the basic principles established in civilian control of the military.

    1. Rev. Michael Cain

      Yes, and let’s pray that Gen. Milley does the right thing now and resigns from office.

      1. Rusty D

        ….. and he is wearing a face diaper outside in the rain. What’s up with that. He’s a moron.

  5. Nick Lighthouse

    More people should be reading this leadership website. I know that it is focused on senior leaders but I want to add that Gen. Satterfield gives us great advice for more junior leaders too.

  6. Tom Bushmaster

    Why do we even have a controversy here? Simple, Gen. Milley betrayed the trust and confidence Americans have in their government and military. Milley stomped on it and hi-fived his media friends in the end zone. Americans don’t like to be treated this way. They rightly feel betrayed. That is not what Milley is supposed to do. If he believes he did right, then it is up to him, not anyone else, to explain it to the public. And do it NOW. Of course, he cannot explain it because his betrayal is recognized by himself and he is afraid. He is a coward.

    1. José Luis Rodriguez

      Yes, Milley is a coward, a moral coward. And one who betrays his nation.

  7. Max Foster

    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. I will add to Gen. Satterfield’s comment. Gen. Milley has helped destroy the confidence the American people have in our US Military. That is, sadly, the truth and a terrible thing in itself. People like Milley are terrible leaders. Did he get promoted to his level of incompetence. His job is hard, very hard, but no excuse for telling the Chinese he would give them a warning if we were going to attack. This also says a lot about Milley’s DC swamp mentality the he would even think that Pres Trump might start a war with China “to stay in power.” How deranged.

    1. Jonnie the Bart

      Bob Woodward suggested General Milley committed treason by:
      1. Telling his Chinese counterpart he would tip them off through a secret heads up before Trump attacked the communist regime.
      2. Coordinating information with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) outside the chain of command.
      3. Asking senior officers to swear an oath to him over the President of the United States.

      1. Roger Yellowmule

        If this is true, it’s a violation of the general’s oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and a gross violation of the law. In particular, the third point could be construed as a coup and treason.

      2. Colleen Ramirez

        Good points from the article. And, thanks Max for helping put this into perspective. 👍

    2. McStompie

      “Deranged?” Yeah, traitorous? Maybe. That is the crux of the issue. The bottom line is that Milley did betray the USA and for that reason he must go. If Pres Biden refuses to remove him, then that is just another reason we should get rid of him as well.

  8. Willie Strumburger

    Gen. Satterfield, well written and to the point. I agree with your analysis. Before I read it, I would not have said so publically. I also re-read the part of the Constitution on what “treason” is and read others who say what it is not. Yep, Mark Milley is a real dirtbag but not a traitor, not yet any way.

  9. Army Captain

    Good analysis, Gen. Satterfield. And, I must say that I agree with your argument about this not being treason, but Gen. Milley’s behavior was disgusting. Not unlike the behavior of past military men like John Kerry. What is it that the media makes such darlings out of those who fail their duties in the military?

    1. Erleldech

      To answer your last question on why the media “makes such darlins” out of them is because the media is full of snowflakes that hate America and would feel comfortable with a dictatorship. Of course, they don’t realize that a dictator first takes over the media and executes those who don’t support the tyranny. Too bad.

  10. Guns are Us

    I still think he did, Gen. S. Thanks for your view, however, and I do respect your comments but the man is a traitor, pure and simple.

    1. Dern McCabe

      Yep, Gen. Mark A. Milley committed treason, and he should be punished severely for it. Years ago, we would have hung him on the gallows. He should know that, as he claims he knows “history.” He should be afraid about now or he knows that dementia patient zero Biden will do nothing about it.

      1. KenFBrown

        Just another DC swamper. Milley is a disgrace. I will volunteer to pull the lever for the trap to hang him. Or, we could just take over the Pentagon and drag his ass out for some “special” treatment. Naw, that won’t work but hey, fun thinking it.

        1. Laughing Monkey

          Ken, I agree with you. Milley is no Patriot. We have patriots who win wars and destroy our enemies. A DC swamper is only interested in dollars (or in this case Chinese money) to make himself rich and famous. Milley needs to go. Anyone else thinking something different is nuts.

        2. Shawn C. Stolarz

          Crazy DC swamper!!! Get him out now. He is what is destroying our military’s reputation and fighting effectiveness.

    2. Greg Heyman

      I’m not sure, but maybe most people still think that Gen. Milley needs to be removed from office in any possible way. He should just resign and get it over with.


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