by Steve Dupree
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48
Treason Trea'son, n. OE. tresun, treisun, traisoun, OF. tra'ison, F. trahison, L. traditio a giving up, a delivering up, fr. tradere to give up, betray. See Traitor, and cf. Tradition.
1. The offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power; disloyalty; treachery. 1913 Webster
2. Loosely, the betrayal of any trust or confidence; treachery; perfidy. 1913 Webster
Imagine a scenario wherein an Iraqi-American who is Muslim, discovers some information of interest to some foreign governments about an agent of one of our intelligence organizations. Imagine also that we were involved in a war with Iraq. Finally, imagine that the Iraqi-American chose to publicize the information he or she had, even though he or she knew it was classified and had the potential to be very damaging to certain specific intelligence efforts.
Would the definitions of treason offered above not apply? Wouldn't we call for the traditional punishment of traitors during a time of war? Wouldn't we feel justified in doing so? How would we feel about those who were of a similar ethnicity and who claimed that what he did was all right, that no crime had been committed? That is where the definitions above lack clarity. They neither implicate nor exonerate those who are supportive of the treasonous individual.
To me it seems obvious, if you attempt to ameliorate or justify the actions of a traitor, then you too are a traitor, at least in thought if not in deed. If you assist or, attempt to assist, the traitor in evading punishment, then you too are a traitor in my eyes. Why should I believe differently? (I am not a lawyer so, complex and arcane legal arguments are a waste of both of our time. I'm just a simple, unsophisticated kid from a poor Black neighborhood in East Knoxville, so be sure to frame any justifications you attempt so that I can understand them. Traitor.)
If you know the name Benedict Arnold at all, you likely know it because of his treasonous behavior. You may have even heard the name as a synonym for traitor and indeed, the man did betray our infantile nation in 1780. What you may not know is that prior to the events that lead to his treasonous behavior, he was a decorated and accomplished leader and general. There are those who allege that the American Revolutionary War would have been lost without him. They were proud and happy to have him as a citizen serving his nation. However, once he committed his treasonous act, his heroism wasn't obviously discussed much, and few, if any, thought he should be forgiven because of it.
I suspect that we would be of a like mind with our hypothetical Iraqi-American. It would not really matter to us how great of a citizen he or she had been, how many little old ladies he or she had helped to cross the street, how many kittens he or she had rescued from bags in the river, once he or she crossed the treasonous divide: All that went before is lost and he or she is deserving of nothing but scorn. I suspect that very few would have to have it explained to them why this was so.
It turns out, the imaginary Iraqi-American in the first paragraph isn't imaginary and isn't of Iraqi ancestry. No, he is a White-American who has been a public service functionary for quite some time.
Scooter Libby lied under oath to cover for someone who purposefully and illegally made public the identity of a covert intelligence asset. Among the missions this particular asset was tasked with, was tracking, and possibly preventing the sale and movement of non-conventional weapons. The CIA seems to believe that it lost valuable work and contacts when Ms. Valerie Plame was outed as an agent. Some allege that â“assetsâ” may have died as a result.
I can see nothing that makes the entire sordid affair look like anything except an act of treason. It was an act committed by someone likely inside the government. I see no ambiguity here. The original â“leakerâ” of the information is a traitor, a domestic enemy of the United States. Those who, knowing of the treasonous behavior, assist or attempt to assist the traitor in avoiding being held responsible for their treasonous behavior are traitors and domestic enemies of the United States. (The vow many of us made getting into the military weighs heavily on our minds in considering such a thing.)
Pick most any comprehensive report about this issue, and every time you see the name â“Libbyâ” or â“Scooterâ” or some variant thereof, replace it with the phrase â“an undisclosed Iraqi-American of the Muslim faith.â” Then tell me how you feel about what happened. Do you think you could honestly then say that there was no underlying crime? Would you describe the whole thing as no big deal?
I kept the secrets entrusted to me when I was in the military. The overwhelming majority of us peons did. It would appear that the payment for my loyalty, for our service and loyalty, is betrayal. Can you really not see that?
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