In our high-strung hyper-partisan rhetoric, the word Treason gets thrown around a little too cavalier.  "He has committed Treason against the U.S. and the Constitution!"  "Her actions are Treasonous!"

I have heard that word bandied about since working in talk radio, and I always cringe a bit.  Please remember that if whoever uses that term against another, somebody else can use the term right back.  Cool with that?

Thinking about it today, the wording matters. To say some action is "treasonous" is okay because the word is an adjective to describe a traitorous act.

To accuse someone of "Treason" is using the noun as a legal term for the crime.

Hand in jail
Credit: anurakpong, TSM Media Center
Montana Talks logo
Get our free mobile app

To help clarify the term, I have asked guest host David Knobel, a local attorney, for his legal analysis of Treason.  He referenced the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3, Clause 1:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court."

Knobel stressed the historical context of Treason and this clause.  "The reason treason is strictly defined in the constitution is because the founding fathers knew that charges of treason had been abused in the past by governments and kings and leaders. The founders did not want treason to be simple and easy and able to be abused. The founders did not want charges of treason to be the immediate go-to when it came to political disagreements."

Sound familiar?

He furthered explained that "I believe the US Supreme Court has interpreted this to require a formal declaration of war and someone working with the other country in their war against America."

With that I ask, "Are we at War?"

Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

"We are in a war for the Soul of America."

Sorry, culture conflicts don't count.

"We are at war with _____ (fill in with any political entity)

A shooting war?  A killing war?  A flag-draped coffins' war?  When was it formally declared?  By whom?

Unless a formal war has been declared, no one in the nation can be accused of Treason, no matter what they may have done or what harm their actions may indirectly cause.

Okay Travis, you smart a#%, what about the Cold War and the Rosenbergs?

Good question.  The Cold War was still not a declared war.  No nuclear bombs or any explosives dropped.  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for espionage and stealing atomic secrets for the Soviet Union.  Not for Treason.

Is there a federal law that supersedes this part of the Constitution, or provides more detail on Treason?  Please let me know, I'm curious.  Thanks.

Weirdest Celebrity Conspiracy Theories

From immortal stars to secret twins and fake baby bumps, these celebrity conspiracy theories are literally too weird to be true.

Gallery Credit: Erica Russell

Celebrities Who Tried to Expose the So-Called Illuminati

Are there really sinister secret societies in Hollywood? These stars seem to think so.

Gallery Credit: Taylor Alexis Heady


More From Montana Talks