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Treating dissent as treason

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The Center for American Progress has coined the term Intimigate to describe "the well established pattern ... that the Bush Administration has summarily fired, intimidated and defamed anyone who has had the courage to tell the truth about Iraq." [1]

Constitutional Definition of Treason

Article III of the Constitution states

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.

Also see Annotations. Section 3. Treason. Definition and Limitations plus Case Law re Treason, FindLaw.com.

Examples

  • Capitol Hill Blue, a political journalism web site based in Washington, DC, reported in January 2003 that President Bush was angry at opposition within the Pentagon to his push for war with Iraq. According to an unnamed White House spokesman quoted in the article, "The President considers this nation to be at war, and, as such, considers any opposition to his policies to be no less than an act of treason."[2][3]
  • The New York Times reported in November 2003 that the Federal Bureau of Investigation "has collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and has advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squad. ... But some civil rights advocates and legal scholars said the monitoring program could signal a return to the abuses of the 1960's and 1970's, when J. Edgar Hoover was the F.B.I. director and agents routinely spied on political protesters like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr."[4]
  • In April 1997, Arianna Huffington, who was part of the conservative movement in the 1990s, complained that Newt Gingrich had become a "Leninist surrealist." She wrote:
Gingrich's determination to squash dissent has simply driven dissent underground and instead squashed the vitality of House Republicans. "The reason why there has been no Jack Kemp emerging in the Republican conference, as in 1978, is because Gingrich is so controlling," a former Gingrich intimate told me. "He pays lip service to the free exchange of ideas but treats the slightest dissent as treason. Had Newt Gingrich been speaker when Newt was a backbencher, Gingrich would never have survived as an insurgent."[5]
  • Dixie Chicks performance in London, March 2003. Cumulus Media responded by censoring the Dixie Chicks from its playlists. Subsequent congressional hearings in July revealed gravity of their corporate directive. Some Clear Channel Communications' communcations stations, independently, also boycotted the Chicks, and two Colorado DJs were suspended from their jobs for their actively protesting against their station's written policy of Chicks censorship.
  • FTAA Meetings in Miami 2003, by Naomi Klein [6]
    • With the activists recast as dangerous aliens, Miami became eligible for the open tap of public money irrigating the "war on terror." In fact, $8.5-million spent on security during the FTAA meeting came directly out of the $87-billion President Bush extracted from Congress for Iraq last month -- a fact barely reported outside of the Miami press.
    • The resulting media coverage was the familiar wartime combination of dramatic images and non-information. We know, thanks to an "embed" from the Miami Herald, that Police Chief Timoney was working so hard hunting down troublemakers that by 3:30 on Thursday, "he had eaten only a banana and an oatmeal cookie since 6 a.m."
    • also "This is not America" [7]=[8]
    • "A judge presiding over the cases of free trade protesters said in court that he saw no less than 20 felonies committed by police officers during the November FTAA demonstrations" in Miami. [9]
  • Greenpeace: Last year, two of its activists boarded a ship that was smuggling illegally harvested rainforest mahogany and unfurled a banner that called on President Bush to act. But instead of going after the smugglers, the Justice Department went out of its way to file criminal charges against Greenpeace, citing an antiquated 1872 law. It's the first time in our history the government has prosecuted an entire organization for the free speech activities of its supporters. [10]

Relevant Quotes

  • "I disapprove of what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it." -- Beatrice Hall summarizing Voltaire's philosophy in The Friends of Voltaire
  • "And though the time is always right for an act of conscience, perhaps the best time of all is when the voices of power are howling that dissent is treason. A crowd marching for principle voices a different kind of power, saying what power itself doesn't want to hear: Americans have a right to dissent. Civil liberties are not a village that you save by destroying." -- Erika Munk, adjunct professor at the School of Drama, about her efforts to organize a protest march in her article "Saturday is the Time To Speak Truth to Power," Newsday (New York), March 20, 2003.[11]
  • "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- Benjamin Franklin, Pennslvania Assembly Reply to the Governor, 1755.
  • "In case you haven't gotten it yet, here it is in a nutshell. Criticizing the president is not the same thing as criticizing the troops. Criticizing the president is not the same as criticizing America. And criticizing the president is not 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy,' which is the classic definition of treason, a federal crime that earns felons the death penalty."[12]

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