In past centuries, persons convicted of treason could be “drawn and quartered.” It’s safe to assume that society saw the crime of treason as deserving a very gory punishment. The dead person’s family could be punished, too, by way of asset forfeiture.
A traitor is considered a loathsome creature. This is partly because it’s so surprising that anyone would help an enemy group, instead of being loyal to his own group, the very basis of his existence and sustenance. Indeed it would pay us today to inquire as to how, psychologically, anyone might be tempted into committing treason.
One possibility is that, lately, people do not always know who their group is. Robert Reich, in his 1991 book “The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism,” suggests that the upper class of all countries have merged into a sort of nation. They see each other, and not their co-nationals, as their brethren. He estimated that many Yanks belonging to this sort of class. So, should such a person protect his nation or his group of fellow worldwide capitalists?
Who Makes Laws against Treason?
Since 1351, in England, there has been statutory law against treason. The crime consisted mainly of harming the king, or even just speaking about him in a way that indicates contempt. I believe such laws reflect our brain’s natural impression that the monarch is the symbol of society. Thus, to insult him or her is to injure the nation.
It can be argued that the fundamental lawmaker is the whole society. As soon as there was a village chief, in human prehistory, the people, out of natural inclination, probably projected their feeling of respect for Daddy onto the chief. If someone had the temerity to put him down, folks would get angry.
Likewise, the anger that people feel today towards someone who betrays the group, even just one’s business group or one’s club, is psychological. It doesn’t need formal law. The traitor will be ostracized by whatever means are available. If no means are available, perhaps because members lack good communication with one another, treachery may well blossom.
As for current law, Australia and the US criminalise treason at a national level. Note that, at the state level, forty-nine of the US states, and three of Australia’s, can try criminals under the common law (law that got built up from adjudication rather than legislation). I mention this, as no one usually thinks of a state prosecuting anyone for treason!
In the US, the federal matter was settled in 1787 when the Framers of the Constitution specified what would qualify as treason. They said “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or adhering to Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” The Framers tasked Congress with setting the punishment; it is death.
Current Australian Law Regarding the Crime of Treason
In Australia, the Constitution of 1901 did not mention treason, but Parliament included it in the Crimes Act of 1914, and moved it into the Criminal Code as part of 2002 anti-terrorism law. Part 5.1, Division 80.1 of the Code now says:
“(1) A person commits an offence, called treason, if the person:
(a) causes the death of the Sovereign, the heir apparent of the Sovereign, the consort of the Sovereign… or
(d) levies war, or does any act preparatory to levying war, against the Commonwealth; or
(e) engages in conduct that assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist, an enemy: (i) at war with the Commonwealth…or (f) …to assist: (i) another country; or (ii) an organization … engaged in armed hostilities against the Australian Defence Force….
Penalty: Imprisonment for life.
(2) A person commits an offence if the person:
(a) receives or assists another person who, to his or her knowledge, has committed treason with the intention of allowing him or her to escape punishment or apprehension; or
(b) knowing that another person intends to commit treason, does not inform a constable of it within a reasonable time or use other reasonable endeavours to prevent the commission of the offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for life.”
Misprision (Rhymes with Vision)
That last clause is interesting. You may have occasion to quote it in the near future (Chapter 5, Division 80.1, section 2B). This crime is known as “misprision of treason.” It means you are giving aid to the traitors by not dobbing them in. Did you notice the penalty? Those who go to prison for misprision won’t be surfing at Bondi beach any time soon.
Whom should you dob? I think everyone would agree that if you know of a nation about to attack Oz, and fail to report it, you are, as Bob Hawke once said, a bum. (No, actually he said any employer who didn’t let workers stay home to celebrate winning the 1983 America’s Cup was a bum.) But many folks today think some leaders are acting treasonously even though the deeds do not meet the formal definition of treason “levying war” or “assisting an enemy.” So what to do?
My interest in treason – for which I wrote a book in 2011 entitled “Prosecution for Treason,” doesn’t have much to do with the traditional definition of “levying war.” Rather, there are people (I cited the US Congress, en masse) who are acting against the nation. When they pass legislation that has violent consequences for citizens, I think they are truly levying war.
We don’t have to be limited to the dictionary. Anyway, please note that President Lyndon Johnson officially declared a “war on poverty,” and President Richard Nixon, a.k.a. Tricky Dick, declared — I can hardly bear to say this – a “war on drugs.” The wars I listed in my book include the mind control program (violent to the nth degree), deliberately seeded epidemics, and “natural disasters” that are not the least bit natural.
I noted that even if citizens feel road-blocked by the formality of the legal definition of treason, they should have no trouble categorizing the actions in question under other sections of criminal law. The law, in all its glory, exists to serve us, not to cut off our mental processes.
By the way, two crimes are never time-barred by statutes of limitation: treason and murder. Isn’t that nice?
False Flags and That Sort of Thing
The article at hand is a continuation of my October 5, 2014 article in Gumshoenews.com, entitled “Sedition Laws in Australia and a Retrospective on the Bali Bombings.” I had only last week discovered a 2002 article by Age editor Tony Parkinson, in which it was said that Osama bin Laden had directly sent a video message to Australia, warning us that we would get bombed if we bombed Iraq.
In 2002 I was still personally bombed out from my spouse’s death and, anyway, had not really learned about false flags at that point. Granted, every American of my generation knows that President Johnson lied to Congress about the Gulf of Tonkin. He said “The Viet Cong (‘Arabs’) have torpedoed our ship (‘WTC’), so we need to increase our military presence in Southeast Asia (‘I-raq’). But it wasn’t like we were having a new false flag every day. Today, you can hardly keep up with them.
So, do I think Bali was a false flag? I’m ignorant about Bali. However I do know, with as much certainty as I know anything, that the entire Osama story is a crock. If the US can knock down some skyscrapers in broad daylight, and blame it on a poorly armed foreigner, it could also carry out a Bali operation, a Madrid operation, or a 2004 beheading of Nick Berg. (Fascinatingly, when Berg’s newly departed head was held up on TV it had no blood dripping from it!)
But I don’t mean that “the US government” does all those things. I say World Government does them. Thus, when the miscreants Cheney, Myers, Rumsfeld, and Silverstein did the Towers on 9-11, it may have seemed to be the US government, but those individuals were taking their orders from another source. They were, of course, traitors to their country.
Which brings us back to Robert Reich’s observation that nowadays a man (OK, or a Sheila) might transfer his loyalty to a transnational social class. My reaction to that is: “Let them try it!” They may encounter Tickler. But of course it’s up to me and thee to wield Tickler. If we all have an aversion to doing the hard job of punishing those who are killing us, I guess it’s fair to say that Reich-type World Citizens should rule, and we should all start composing our Requiems.
Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB (Adel) will be attending, the “Lucky Country” conference of the Independent Scholars Association at ANU on October 9th and 10,th Insha’Allah,