[January 16, 2018] The recent question circulating among our senior political leaders is about the idea that we can no longer formally charge or prosecute people for treason despite it being the only crime defined in the U.S. Constitution. Their belief, as well as many scholars, is that recent leader trends suggest that we actually encourage treason among our citizens.
Historically, known to everyone, is the case of treason of Benedict Arnold during the American Revolutionary War. While an American general he defected to the British Army to support their cause against independence. He was punished after the war by America for his crime.
“Under the Constitution, giving ‘aid and comfort’ to a wartime enemy can lead to a charge of treason.” – Walter Cronkite, American broadcast journalist
There are other, more recent examples that lead us to the conclusion that treason is no longer taken seriously and in fact a case can be made that in the U.S. treason is encouraged. Those who make the claim point to the case of Jane Fonda who visited North Vietnam during the war in 1972. She condemned all U.S. soldiers as “war criminals” and claimed that American POWs were liars about being tortured.
“Hanoi” Jane Fonda, as she is derisively referred to, encountered no legal or professional repercussion upon her return to the United States. While it is clear that her actions were treasonous, her career was actually enhanced and her stardom assured by her behavior. Later, she claimed to deeply regret her actions.
A more recent example revolves around the case of Chelsea Manning, the transgender former U.S. Army private who betrayed the country by passing classified government documents to WikiLeaks. Manning’s 35-year sentence for violating the Espionage Act was commuted by President Obama. This also gives credence to the argument that we encourage treason.
Critics of this line of reasoning will point to the cases of Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and John Walker, Jr. (https://www.theleadermaker.com/who-is-john-walker/) as examples of those found guilty of high crimes against America. There were major lessons learned from their exposure and the fact that they passed highly classified information to the Soviets makes the case of Manning’s recent pardon particularly relevant.
Yet, if we look at Hollywood and major political leaders today, there is an unspoken rule that your career will be enhanced by your treasonous behavior. There is an element of risk that should not be overlooked and that is why, I believe, many use other strategies in career development.
[Comment by ARMY VET] When nations failure to follow the rule of law and encourage rule-breaking, that nation is on the path to destruction by its own self-inflicted chaos and confusion, protection of the guilty, harming of the innocent, selfish promotion of narcissists, and a slide to tribalism. We call this “political correctness” and it damages everything it touches, including family, religion, community, and state.
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