What is Treason?
I had the same reaction as Steve Bannon to the news of Donald Trump Jr. Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner meeting with a cadre of Russians to get the dirt on Hillary Clinton. That aligned with suspicions roused by Mr. Kushner’s request for a secure phone line from the Russian Embassy to the Kremlin and the ever so convenient amnesia about any and all meetings between representatives of the Trump Campaign and Russian representatives. I think we are all so accustomed to Russian boogeymen and Communist hobgoblins that we forget the Russians were our allies in the Second World War, then our enemies, then our friends for a bit with Gorbachev and Yeltsin and now turning back to enemies under Putin and we are prepared to think the worst. President Trump has not helped his own cause by his loose connections to the truth on the campaign trail and in office.
I have been reading the biography of General Grant, which is just getting into the treason of prominent Southerners in starting the Civil War; many of them were his friends from West Point and service in the US Army. And I have been reflecting that General Washington and all our nation’s founders were traitors in the eyes of the British crown. So by the standards of our founding fathers, you are heroes when you win and traitors when you lose, subject to the gallows or the firing squad. Not long after our nation’s founding, Presidents Adams and Jefferson took contrary views on allying our new nation with the British versus the French and the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed to jail those espousing the French point of view, then were repealed when Jefferson won. President Lincoln sought to bind the nation’s wounds after the devastation of the Civil War and was shot for his pains.
There is no question that we all agree that Benedict Arnold became a traitor when he handed over Fort Ticonderoga to the British. John Wilkes Booth goes down in history for his heinous and traitorous crime. Most would agree that handing over the secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviets for whatever reasons was treasonous. Jefferson Davis was clearly a traitor to his country; does this apply to his Generals as well; their statues are still reasonably widespread.
So really treason is trying to overthrow the government, aiding and abetting its enemies, or trying to kill the nation’s leaders on behalf of another power and losing. This is not a term to be casually thrown about. Yet we do so.
Anwar Al Awlaki was trying to harm the US due to his beliefs about jihad, but primarily through his propaganda. Does he become a traitor once he picks up a gun and becomes operational, or simply when he allies with Al Qaeda? How about Edward Snowden? He was clearly trying to harm the US due to his beliefs about our foreign policy and misguided and uncontrolled spying; he was trying to open eyes. Does he become a traitor when he flees to seek asylum in Russia rather than return and face charges in the US court system? Or is he a hero for exposing important hidden truths? What about Daniel Ellsberg who tried to open our eyes about our nation’s misguided foreign policy in Vietnam? He became a hero to many of us and was exonerated at trial. I heard then Assembly member Tom Hayden attacked as a traitor on the floor of the California Assembly because he had been outspoken across the country and around the globe about the mistaken Vietnam War.
The political campaign of 2016 was not a war, and Donald Trump Jr. was trying his best to get his Dad elected to the Presidency. We don’t as yet know all the secrets surrounding the Trump Campaign’s interactions with Russia. We know of several meetings and efforts to get dirt from Russia on the opposition by several campaign operatives. We know that dirt was forthcoming through WikiLeaks; we do not know all the interconnections. We know that meetings were held with Russians by a number of members of the Trump Campaign, and that their existence was denied, and the contents of the conversations were concealed. We know this was not a plot to overthrow the US government or kill the President, but rather a run of the mill political campaign to elect the highly unconventional Donald Trump that succeeded. We do not know if and whether there was a quid pro quo; “I’ll go light on Ukraine sanctions if you release the dirt on Hillary Clinton; we’ll begin a new day of US-Russia relations”. We do know that the FBI Director was fired, that he declined to go light on General Flynn, to publicly exonerate the President, or to swear fealty to the President. We know that Attorney General Sessions has been in the President's doghouse for his recusal and failure to protect the President. We know the Russians interfered in our elections in several different ways to help Trump and hurt Clinton and that they did so in France, Germany, Britain and Montenegro as well; we know they are trying to undermine and break up NATO. We know that the President and his allies have tried and continue to try to sweep all of this under the rug as it undermines his legitimacy. Is this just garden-variety political shenanigans by inexperienced young men under the chaotic pressures of a political campaign? How then do you explain the involvement of highly experienced political practitioners such as Manafort and Stone? We think we know that General Flynn is talking, but we have absolutely no idea what he knows or is saying. Some think that Russian money played a role with the Trump and Kushner fortunes, but to what end; this too is a mystery. We can see some disconnected tips of this iceberg, but do not yet know much about what was and is underneath. Let’s hope that all the mysteries are cleared up in the year 2018.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin ‘