Sunday, July 03, 2005

Did Karl commit treason?

One aspect of the Rove - Plame leak story that has bothered me has been the buzz that somehow Rove may very well face treason charges. Now don't get wrong, what Karl did was despicable and he deserves to have the full weight of the DOJ brought down on him. However I just don't see how what Karl did fulfills the elements of treason.

Treason is defined in Article III, clause 1 of our Constitution...
"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."

This definition is very restrictive and the Supreme Court's Treason jurisprudence is similiarly narrow in focus. Mr. Rove leaked the name of a covert CIA operative to members of the American press corps, a vile act but hardly treason. If Karl had outed Ms. Plame to the Tehran Times or the Damascus Dispatch or even Al-Jazeera you could at least try and make the argument that Rove was levying war against the United States.

What about "aid and comfort"? Here the Court has ruled that an "overt act" of assistance to the enemy must have occurred. The "acts" of Rove that are at question here are his phone calls to members of the American press. Are those "overt acts" of aid to the enemy? Again, remember that the Supreme Court has taken a very restrictive view of what constitutes treason.

Anyway there's some good information about treason and the relevant Supreme Court jurisprudence here and here. Read up and tell me why I'm wrong! For that matter I would like to see a cogent argument for treason, all I have seen thus far are general rantings in the blogosphere.

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