Treason, Terrorism And Wartime Criminal Justice

2846 words - 11 pages

PAGE PAGE 1 Treason, Terrorism
Treason, Terrorism and Wartime Criminal JusticeNameClassInstructorDateTreason, Terrorism, and Wartime Criminal JusticeIn the history of the United States the acts of treason, terrorism and criminal justice during times of war have taken on various forms. From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the current war on terror, the Constitution and its amendments have been challenged to ensure national security. To understand this we must first look at what treason and terrorism are and the effects they have had in the reduction of civil liberties during times of war.TreasonTreason is defined as: "The betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies." (Wehl, 1950)Under Article III, Section 3, of the Constitution, any person who levies war against the United States or adheres to its enemies by giving them "aid and comfort" has committed treason within the meaning of the Constitution. The term aid and comfort refers to any act that manifests a betrayal of allegiance to the United States, such as furnishing enemies with arms, troops, transportation, shelter, or classified information. If a subversive act has any tendency to weaken the power of the United States to attack or resist its enemies, aid and comfort has been given.The Treason Clause applies only to disloyal acts committed during times of war. Acts of disloyalty during peacetime are not considered treasonous under the Constitution. Nor do acts of Espionage committed on behalf of an ally constitute treason. For example, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage, in 1951, for helping the Soviet Union steal atomic secrets from the United States during World War II. The Rosenbergs were not tried for treason because the United States and the Soviet Union were allies during World War II."Under Article III a person can levy war against the United States without the use of arms, weapons, or military equipment. Persons who play only a peripheral role in a conspiracy to levy war are still considered traitors under the Constitution if an armed rebellion against the United States results. After the U.S. Civil War, for example, all Confederate soldiers were vulnerable to charges of treason, regardless of their role in the secession or insurrection of the Southern states. No treason charges were filed against these soldiers, however, because President Andrew Johnson issued a universal amnesty." (Smith, 1956)The crime of treason requires a traitorous intent. If a person unwittingly or unintentionally gives aid and comfort to an enemy of the United States during wartime, treason has not occurred. Similarly, a person who pursues a course of action that is intended to benefit the United States but mistakenly helps an enemy is not guilty of treason. Inadvertent disloyalty is never punishable as treason, no matter how much damage the United States suffers.As in any other criminal trial in the United States, a...

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