For the first time since World War II, the United States has decided to charge an American citizen with treason.  Adam Yehiye Gadahn of Los Angeles appeared in propoganda videos for al Qaeda with al Qaeda’s #2 man, Ayman al-Zawahri and is currently believed to be somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Now do not get me wrong; I am all for locking up terrorists after their due process.  However, something just doesn’t sit right with me about Gadahn.

Look at treason itself.  If you read up on treason at Wikipedia, then you’ll see it’s history.  I was particularly interested in the US code, which you can find here at a Cornell site.  It states:

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.

See, the thing is, we have declared war on an ideology, not a nation.  If we declared war on a nation, it would be easier.  But since we have declared war on an ideology, it gets really, really murky.  The United States does have the separation of church and state, and we also have freedom of religion.  Gadahn has the right to be Islamic if he wants to; we can’t take that away from him.  If he is helping al Qaeda in planning attacks on the United States, or US interests, then he is an enemy combatant.  But treason?

By walterh

One thought on “Treason”
  1. We can only hope that this is just a warm-up to bush, cheyney, rummy et al being charged with treason, too. A test run of the machinery, to make sure the auld beast is firing on all cylinders… Yup, Gadahn has the right to be Islamic– and the right to be an ‘Islamist‘ too if he so chooses– just like I have the right to call myself a Liberal Christian. A fascinating part of the U.S. Code that Walter quotes–“Whoever, owing allegiance…” etc is the wording– a big question becomes to whom does a given person give their primary allegiance? Obviously in Gadahn’s case his primary alleigance is to his (I’d say perverted)interpretation of his faith. As far as I can tell, he hasn’t ever renounced his U.S. citizenship, so our government has context under which to charge him with treason. He’s appeared in videos with Zawahiri, the radical Islamist version of appearing on American Idol– now that he’s been charged with treason, it’s like he’s moved on to the semi-finals, and we’ve handed him bigger cred amongst his terrorist colleagues. Bush Corporation Meaningless Gesture Number 12,847…

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