Judge Andrew Napolitano made an interesting remark in his latest column in the Washington Times, criticizing the president’s swap of Taliban leaders for the release of an American soldier held (or possibly voluntarily chose) in their custody for five years.
Yet the release of these Taliban leaders in a prisoner swap materially assists the Taliban in such a way as to be criminal. How can it be criminal to release a prisoner? It is not a crime to release a prisoner who has been acquitted, but it is criminal to release an untried prisoner whom the government reasonably thinks will aid a terrorist group. Federal law prohibits any person from providing material assistance to a terrorist organization, even if the organization fails to use the assistance, and even if the use of it produces no measurable harm.
As the saying goes, treason is merely a matter of dates. I would add one more. Treason is merely a matter of who is in charge and who isn’t.
The Founding Fathers understood this very well when they wrote the definition of treason in the Constitution. In England’s eyes, they were all guilty of treason. The intent, however poorly it has been employed, was to limit it to only those whose crime was not merely against the government but against the people in the country.
But today treason is almost exclusively accused of citizens, never politicians or those in power. The Rosenberg’s were convicted and executed, but they had no power in government.
No president, as long as he maintains control, will ever be officially accused or convicted of treason, no matter how heinous the crime. The validity of the State necessitates that the leaders be protected.
Look no further than Edward Snowden, who is hiding because he informed the American public about the Orwellian surveillance the NSA has maintained on them. Yet James Clapper, who blatantly committed perjury during his congressional testimony, remains in his position. One did a service to his country, the other betrayed it. One is on the run. The other is in power.
Treason has become more or less a crime against the State. Therefore, those who run the State can never be guilty of it. What they can do is betray, and betray they do. They betray their (supposed) principles, their moral convictions, and those who foolishly place their trust and hope in a flawed, imperfect human being to rectify the imperfections in their own life and that of the world.
They also betray their oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution, and it is this continual betrayal starting from the very beginning of the Republic that has led us to where we our now.
It is not without reason that Dante placed betrayers in the innermost circle of Hell in the Inferno part of his Divine Comedy.