Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
–Sir John Harrington
The expansion of American law relating to terrorism since 9/11 has been staggering, primarily ensconced in the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act. Those who have exposed the crimes of the American empire (Manning, Snowden, et. al.) have been branded traitors and charges have been brought under the Espionage Act. The most common rationale one hears for such prosecutions is that the acts of the whistleblowers have aided “the enemy”.
But what happens when President Obama aids the enemy? Will we as a nation insist that the President should also be subject to the law? Are we a nation of laws, or corrupt banana republic which only enforces the law against those powerless to resist?
At issue here is the Syrian conflict. “The rebels” are a diverse bunch, but include members of al- Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other groups. In fact, as many as half of the rebel fighters are jihadists or Islamic extremists, and the bulk of the effective fighting force is now allied with al-Qaeda. In case you don’t know, al-Qaeda is the primary terrorist group that the national security establishment has been warning us for the past decade or so means to do us harm and we are currently waging the Global War on Terror™ on al-Qaeda and their affiliated groups.
With this in mind, providing support to the rebels becomes a violation of American law. Under the Patriot Act 18 USC § 2339B(a)(1) reads as follows:
Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
So given that we have provided support for the al-Qaeda rebels in the form of training, intelligence, and now actively arming the rebel groups, and the death of a person has resulted from that, it appears that President Obama has violated the Patriot Act. In fact, under the NDAA (2012), it appears that President Obama is subject to indefinite detention under the provisions of section 1021:
(b) COVERED PERSONS.-A covered person under this section is any person as follows:
(1) A person who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored those responsible for those attacks.
(2) A person who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces.
(c) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR.-The disposition of a person under the law of war as described in subsection (a) may include the following:
(1) Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
Title 18 of the U.S. Code is the criminal and penal code for the Federal Government. 18 USC § 2381 – Treason:
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.
I’m not a lawyer, and I am not sure if Title 10 of the U.S. code applies to the President (as Commander-in-chief of the armed forces) or not, but here’s the relevant code that every other member of the military must adhere to.
Any person who—
(1) aids, or attempts to aid, the enemy with arms, ammunition, supplies, money, or other things; or
(2) without proper authority, knowingly harbors or protects or gives intelligence to, or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly;shall suffer death or such other punishment as a court-martial or military commission may direct. This section does not apply to a military commission established under chapter 47A of this title.
Lastly, under Article III of the Constitution, providing aid to our enemies during a time of war constitutes the crime of treason:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
And now, President Obama has waived a provision in federal law meant to prevent the transfer of arms to terrorist groups, arguing that arming the al-Qaeda rebels in Syria is “essential to the national security interests of the United States.”
Laws used to mean something in this country.