Top Links: Let’s stop it with this ‘treason/traitor’ talk, okay?

Updated
House Speaker John Boehner
House Speaker John Boehner
AP Photo/Cliff Owen

Top story: The “treason” talk isn’t just legally wrong — it raises the specter of some of the worst rhetorical excesses of the Bush/Cheney years.

  • By now you’ve heard House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (among others) break out variations of the “T” word in regard to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. (The Hill) and (Business Insider)
  • Well, they’re wrong. Legally, the “treason” charge is bogus. Snowden didn’t mobilize an army, nor has he given “aid and comfort.” (Wonkbog)
  • “In the landmark 1945 case Cramer v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that one had to provide aid and comfort and also ‘adhere’ to an enemy to be guilty of treason.” (The New York Times)
  • In fact, “treason” and “traitor” have gone the way of “Nazi” and “Hitler” in terms of their overuse and misapplication to every person against whom someone has a grudge, worthy or not. Witness: (Twitter search for Clinton, treason) and (Twitter search for Cheney, treason)
  • Heck, Sen. Feinstein should know this better than anyone. One of those “We the People” White House petitions demanded she be tried for treason. The charge? Her assault weapons ban demonstrated a hatred of the Constitution. So, you know, off with her head. (The Huffington Post)
  • Incidentally, if Snowden were guilty of treason, then so would be Glenn Greenwald and many others by my (admittedly layman’s) reading of the Supreme Court’s Haupt v. United States, which found a German father guilty of aiding a son who’d come to the U.S. for the purposes of sabotage. (Onecle)
  • Not so incidentally, that legal reasoning wouldn’t bother Rep. Peter King, R-New York, one treasonable bit. (Mediaite)
  • Financial Times columnist Christopher Caldwell: “A free government must leak. Only a paranoid or tyrannical regime would entertain the ambition of hermetically sealing the workings of its bureaucracy.” (The Financial Times)
  • Okay, so why punish Snowden — or Bradley Manning for that matter — but not Greenwald. Caldwell again: “It is journalists and other civilians whose right to speech is protected by the first amendment, not soldiers.” (The Financial Times)
  • And let’s face it: If Aaron Burr and Jefferson Davis can survive indictments on treason — with Burr, amazingly, being acquitted — then Snowden should be just fine. (PBS) and (Rice University)
  • This kneejerk reaction of “Treason!” is inherently wrong for another reason, too; one I’ll let The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank explain in a 2004 election article: “President Bush and leading Republicans are increasingly charging that Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry and others in his party are giving comfort to terrorists and undermining the war in Iraq.” (The Washington Post)
  • True, John Kerry didn’t release documents: He dared to question a war (for which he himself voted). But doing what you think is right — and all indications so far is that that is what Snowden believes he did — is never, and will never be, a treasonous act. Just read about that treasonous Secretary of State we now have if you don’t believe me. (The Los Angeles Times)
  • Lastly, let’s use this post as an excuse to end on an “Arrested Development” clip and talk of “light treason”:

    [hulu id=ntmtndykj5lv1ie4ivqaaa width=512]

Top Links: Let's stop it with this 'treason/traitor' talk, okay?

Updated