Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Eason's Treason?

Roger Simon raises a good point as to whether Eason Jordan, the news chief at CNN, committed treason by insinuating that U.S. Servicemen deliberately target journalists covering the war in Iraq. Treason is defined, among other things,in Title 18, Section 2388 of the United States Code as being perpetrated by:

(a) Whoever, when the United States is at war, willfully makes or
conveys false reports or false statements with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the military or naval forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies

In other words, treason is not necessarily limited to disclosing top secret information to the bad guys. It's enough that you say things that you know will help the bad guys. Assuming that Jordan's assertion is false and that he knew or should have known it was false, let's examine the application of 18 USC 2388 in his case point by point:

  • Is the United States at war? While a Declaration of War was not proclaimed by Congress, a very good argument can be made that a state of war exists based upon the resolutions passed by the Congress in support of the Iraq War. Practically speaking, after all the handwringing by the Left, do you think for a moment that they do not believe we have been at war these 22 months (and more)?
  • Was Jordan acting willfully? The accepted legal definition of a willful act is an" act ... done intentionally, as distinguished from an act done carelessly or inadvertently." What do you think? You don't drop charges like that by accident, especially when you are the head of one of the world's largest news organizations (et tu, Dan Rather?)
  • Was Jordan's intent to interfere with the operation or success of our military or to promote the success of our enemies? This is one of those self-evident propositions. It's impossible to get into someone's head and directly discern their intent on committing an act. However, just like proving any other intent based crime, you look at the probability that one intended a certain outcome based upon what was done. The criminal prosecuted for intending to commit murder does not need to confess that he intended to kill the victim; it's sufficient to show that the bad guy pointed a gun at someone's head and pulled the trigger. The intent can be inferred from the act itself. So, too, here. What other possible motive could Jordan have had than to promote the success of our enemies in Iraq? Was it to scoop CNN's competitors? No, if that had been the case, don't you think CNN itself would have broken the story? How about an altruistic desire to reveal the truth? If that were the case, then why did Jordan backpedal? The simple answer is: he wanted to throw this handgrenade out there and then disclaim any real responsibility for it when and if it exploded ("I didn't know that thing was going to blow up!").
The United States has been far too lax in enforcing its laws against treason in the last 40 years. Part of it probably stems from a fear that an activist judiciary will strike down the laws as violative of the First Amendment.

Word of advice to the Justice Department: Get over it and get after these people.

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