We hear this word often. Yes, we toss it around: we call somebody a traitor or some act treasonous. We basically know the meaning. Do we, however, feel it?
Many years ago, while working in the rocket industry, one of our scientists was led past me, handcuffed and ushered by official-looking uniformed men. I felt stunned at such a sight and, of course, highly curious. It turned out this man was a Russian spy. It was at that time that I learned Russian spies were so well trained in the flavor of English spoken in the area of our country to which they would be sent that they would not be detected.
In an earlier event in my life, I heard about the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for spying on this country. They were passing secrets from the Manhattan Project (atom bomb development) to Russians. This was betrayal against their own country. They were arrested, tried and sentenced to death. They both died in the electric chair on the same day. I recall the horror I experienced in thinking about this. While I knew they were guilty, it terrified me just thinking about how they faced and experienced death.
The Rosenberg’s could not be charged with “treason” because the United States was not at war with Russia. Since WWII, the United States has mostly refrained from declaring war: referring to our military conflicts as “police actions” or “military actions.”
So, let’s define treason: it is the high crime of betraying one’s country. The Rosenberg’s (citizens of the United States) were spying for the Soviet Union and accused of conspiracy to commit espionage. They were tried and convicted. The judge in the case, Judge Irving Kaufman, told them:
“I consider your crime worse than murder… I believe your conduct in putting into the hands of the Russians the A-Bomb years before our best scientists predicted Russia would perfect the bomb has already caused, in my opinion, the Communist aggression in Korea, with the resultant casualties exceeding 50,000 and who knows but that millions more of innocent people may pay the price of your treason. Indeed, by your betrayal you undoubtedly have altered the course of history to the disadvantage of our country. No one can say that we do not live in a constant state of tension. We have evidence of your treachery all around us every day for the civilian defense activities throughout the nation are aimed at preparing us for an atom bomb attack.
Among other traitors to the United States have been, most famously, Benedict Arnold. General Washington ordered him hanged. Jane Fonda is considered to be a traitor, though curiously she was never charged. People declaring her to be a traitor is due to her involvement with the VietCong during the Vietnam Military Action (which, again was not officially a war).
href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bruce_Mumford”>William Bruce Mumford tore down a United States flag during the Civil War—he was convicted and hanged.
In closing, I’d like to say that treason is probably not a good idea.Tags: Betrayal Traitor Treason