Hysterical Treason Accusations: Not Just for Ann Coulter Anymore!

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Via Morons.org, I learn that Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alab.) had this to say about some Bill Maher joke poking fun at the military:

I think it borders on treason. In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country….I don't want [Maher] prosecuted, I want him off the air.

And in congressmanship (as Rep. Yoda here might put it) one definition is having three brain cells to rub together and sufficient regard for free speech not to go slinging around the word "treason" like rhesus feces. A press release on Bachus' site adds

Congressman Bachus has sent a letter to the entire Board of Directors of TimeWarner, HBO's parent company, asking that they stop distributing this tasteless and hurtful programming.

That crass attempt at intimidation notwithstanding, Bachus notes that "Because of the sacrifice of Americans in the past, Maher has the right to say what he wants no matter how contemptible. " So in the comments threads, be sure to thank the troops before exploring what colorful terms and phrases best characterize Spencer Bachus.

NEXT: V-T Day?

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  1. Thank goodness our good fighting men and women have preserved the right of HBO to note and ignore Bachus’ gripes as well. Moving right along to the next non-controversy…

  2. I want Maher off the air too. But not because of this just because he is an idiot. Of course if people want to watch him and HBO wants to keep him because of that there is not much I can do about it.

  3. What was the joke. I’m sure it was unfunny, but I still want to hear it.

  4. “Better to keep your mouth shut and…” aw, you know the rest.
    — Mark Twain

  5. I see your point, but I can’t just dismiss it that quickly. Representative Bachus, writing on Congressional letterhead, does not carry the same weight as citizen Bachus, especially not after the steroid spectacle. Time Warner would surely ultimately win, but they could just as well follow the lead of the movie and video game industry and decide that it’s easier to “voluntarily” censor–oh, I mean monitor–themselves.

    And Representative Bachus, if he ever actually started to read the Constitution, apparently didn’t make it to Article III.

  6. Pretty neat trick, this guy’s managed to make Bachus rhyme with jackass.

  7. Rep. Yoda? Wouldn’t he have rearranged the words of that sentence?

    One would expect the god of wine to have a better sense of humor.

  8. Drat! I just stepped in a pile of doggie bachus. Now I have to stop and clean it off my shoes before I can mail this package of porno to the deserving troops.

  9. Jeez, am I the only one who’s gonna take up the Sanchez Challenge?

    Thank heavens for our brave fighting men and women, whose honorable and worthy sacrifices over the years allow me to write, without fear of state harrassment, “Rep. Spencer Bachus is a grunting, skunk-fucking moron who plays handball with his own shit.”

    C’mon, its fun!

  10. rhesus feces…rhesus feces…Reese’s Pieces!

  11. Chuck,
    Does this mean we actually have to write HoBO in support of Maher? It’s a bitter pill but a fight to the death nonetheless.

    You are certainly right, it is pathetic how any modicum of perceived criticism has suddenly risen to the level of aid and comfort these days.

  12. “What was the joke. I’m sure it was unfunny, but I still want to hear it.”

    Mo, here’s the excerpt from the article:

    Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., takes issue with remarks on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, first aired May 13, in which Maher points out the Army missed its recruiting goal by 42 percent in April. “More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club,” Maher said. “We’ve done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies.”

  13. Eddy,
    The Constitution also requires an overt act. Passing secret documents is an act. Verbal criticism is, well, talk. Most people recognize the difference between talking and acting, but then again we’re dealing with Congresscritters here, so maybe they don’t, actually.

  14. Ok, this is going to come off as completely crass, but I just have to know if I’m the only one who feels this way: Does anyone else think that Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin would make one wonderful, angry, helluva sandwich?

  15. Of course, this is basically a cage match between two crap-flinging monkeys, Maher and Bachus.

    Wow. I think Bachus should get his own show – “Congressional Oversight: The Bachus the Jackass Hour”? Ok, so the title definitely needs some work.

    Then we could put Maher in Congress and it would be a completely level playing field…

  16. How could someone with the name, Bachus, be so up-tight? I guess the name, Spencer, must be dominant.

  17. “Does anyone else think that Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin would make one wonderful, angry, helluva sandwich?”

    A carpet sandwich?
    Who would munch it?

  18. If not for the sacrifices of generations of fighting men and women, Representative Spencer Bacchus would be licking Santorum off the monopedal prostitutes he patronizes IN JAPANESE!

  19. First, let me thank all of the brave men and women who have selflessly devoted their lives to defending my right to insult the Congressman.

    Second, when the Congressman rails against a JOKE I am reminded of something that I saw in some politically correct brochure on “harassment” on campus:

    (paraphrase)
    “I was only joking” is not an acceptable excuse for behavior that is disrespectful towards other members of our academic community.
    (end paraphrase)

    I wonder how the Republican Congressman from Alabama feels about being compared to liberal college administrators on the West Coast.

  20. Ok, I’ve seen the light. All my best to the boys and girls putting their lives on the line in service of our country allowing the freedom to say that syphilitic, gonorrhea ridden, festering Con-gr-Assman Bachus can go and suck the balls off a brass monkey.

  21. “Does anyone else think that Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin would make one wonderful, angry, helluva sandwich?”

    A carpet sandwich?
    Who would munch it?

    Coulter is a perfect serviceman’s dream: hot enough to fuck, and mouthy and opinionated enough so you don’t feel guilty kicking her out at the next corner.

    (duck)

  22. GI Joe-

    That is the first time I have laughed out loud while reading something on the Internet in five months.

    Thanks!

  23. I would love to be able to quiz the Founding Fathers about their opinions on treason.

    As I read and interpret the Constitution, the U.S. government can’t have any “enemies” unless there is a declared war.

    Since there has been no declared war since WWII, my understanding of the Constitution is that the Founding Fathers would be of the opinion that there can have been no treason since WWII.

    I’d be interested in other folks’ opinions about that.

  24. Most of the relevant opinion was likely once classified.

  25. So words have no meaning? I suspect that most of our troops know that Maher is an arogant elitist who holds all us normal folk in contempt, but somewhere a jihadist will take heart from Maher’s comments and rush out to his buddies and shout “Vietnam is kicking in, have heart.”
    If Maher had been in the WTC on 9/11, I am confident his above the struggle neutrality would have been respected. But wait – there were no liberals in the WTC tht day. Why do you suppose that was?

  26. Fuck the troops! If they hadn’t gone and won World War II, the Nazis would have invaded and exterminated mewling little shits like this congresscriminal. We would have had some real representation in this country, by God!

    – Josh

  27. Hey, Walter’s back! And he’s making crazy statements like before!

    No liberals in the WTC on 9/11? Either Walter buys into a conspiracy theory, or he believes that every single person in the building became a conservative because of the experience.

    Which is it, Walter?

  28. Jeez, Mahler gets branded a traitor for making a Lyndie England joke? What’s next, do they go after Mort Walker for Beetle Bailey? I mean, it portrays the US army as a bunch of lazy, unprofessional hicks? What a boon to the insurgents.

  29. But wait – there were no liberals in the WTC tht day.

    “Now that I’m trapped in this burning skyscraper, I find I have suddenly become opposed to gun control and universal healthcare. Weird…”

  30. (variation on a theme)

    Anne Coulter is a serviceman’s dream: hot enough to fuck, bony enough to use as an improvised weapon.

  31. Does anyone else think that Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin would make one wonderful, angry, helluva sandwich?

    Coulter I wouldn’t do with a stolen johnson. As for Malkin, I wouldn’t make her for the same reason I wouldn’t make Jenny McCarthy or Paris Hilton: I don’t think stupid women are sexy…

  32. Walter is perfectly right. It’s a well-known fact that terrorists always check HBO to gauge the mood of a country before they attack. In fact, if Carrie hadn’t been so depressed about breaking the heel off her favorite pair of shoes on “Sex and the City,” the World Trade Center would still be standing today. And anybody who calls me ludicrous for saying this, or claims that there’s no connection between pay television and terrorist murder, is a traitor.

  33. I think it’s a good thing. The more these idiots run their mouths (both sides), the better. Sooner or later, their words become a fart in the wind.

  34. Mahar’s response and what he actually said are here:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/archive/bill-maher/fruit_1561.html

    …”And by the way, these “comments” were part of a longer, scripted comedy piece in the modest proposal tradition. I can see why administration supporters would want to deflect attention away from the gist of the piece, which was this: now that we can’t meet our recruiting goals, maybe it’s the people who were so gung ho for this war to begin with who should step up and go fight it. But of course it’s always easier to distract people.”…

  35. I have found “liberals” quite free in slinging around “treason” (thereby demonstrating they have not read the Constitution they wrap themselves in). Like the GEnie poster who accused another poster of “treason” for writing “Clinton is not my president”.

  36. The same poster asserted (in mouthing off about the Waco siege) that once somebody has said “I have a warrant”, you have no more rights, including the right to see his alleged warrant. When we asked (along with suggestions that we go to his house and say “I have a warrant”) whether he would behave in accordance with his own statement, he replied “No, I always make them arrest me first.”

  37. “So words have no meaning?”

    It’s quite a leap to go from “a comedian should not be accused of treason for making jokes” to “words have no meaning”. Nobody said “words have no meaning”, just that we are guaranteed the freedom of speech by the Constitution—and it’s not “treason” just because you disagree.

    “I suspect that most of our troops know that Maher is an arogant elitist who holds all us normal folk in contempt”

    Maher is right on some issues, wrong on others. He used to be pretty libertarian, but his shift to the left was transparently for popularity’s sake. He’s still right on the war on drugs, and he’s still pro-liberty in some other ways. Yes, he’s a jackass liberal on alot of issues, but you can’t simply dismiss him as you did above via blanket statements that are easily disprovable.

    “but somewhere a jihadist will take heart from Maher’s comments and rush out to his buddies and shout “Vietnam is kicking in, have heart.”

    Bawh ha ha! Jennifer said it best…I’m sure the jihadists scour HBO talk shows to guage the feelings of the country at large. And the fact is, the turrrrrrsts are probably MORE likely to hear about the joke because Bachus made such a big deal about it. How’s that for irony?

    “If Maher had been in the WTC on 9/11, I am confident his above the struggle neutrality would have been respected.”

    If you base your judgment of someone’s beliefs on whether they died in some tragedy, then that’s really pathetic. I’m sure there was a neo-nazi or two that died on 9/11—but I don’t “respect” their horrid beliefs any more or less because they died that day. How absurd!

    “But wait – there were no liberals in the WTC tht day. Why do you suppose that was?”

    As Thoreau notes, either you buy into some big silly conspiracy theory, or you believe that everyone instantly turned against gun control and abortion the moment the planes crashed into the towers. Either way, I have a hard time believing that your post wasn’t a joke…

  38. “Coulter I wouldn’t do with a stolen johnson. As for Malkin, I wouldn’t make her for the same reason I wouldn’t make Jenny McCarthy or Paris Hilton: I don’t think stupid women are sexy…”

  39. Stupid hit&run posting engine.

  40. I suppose that treason is in the eye of the beholder. I consider those sworn to uphold the Consitution to be traitors when they willfully break their vow. Some good examples are: President Bush, most of Congress, and most of the SCOTUS. Hell, Bush admitted that he believed McCain-Feingold was unconstitutional, yet he still signed it. By this standard, most presidents, congressmen, and Supreme court justices since FDR are traitors (and I bet the Founders would agree with me). In my dream of dreams, all such guvmint asswipes would be executed for any violation of the Constitution. Wouldn’t that be pretty!

  41. The war party usually plays the “criticism is treason” card whenever it can, and this works for your more feebleminded constituents. The right side of the bell curve, however, generally calls bulls**t on this.

  42. OK, one more time. From Article III of the U.S. Constitution:

    “Section 3. 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.

    The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”

  43. thoreau@1:37 (and Evan@9:14),

    Third option, maybe Walter was referring to the liberals who died that day and have oddly voted conservative in subsequent elections.

  44. who died that day and have oddly voted conservative in subsequent elections

    Nope, terrorists attacked NYC, not Chicago.

  45. Mark Bahner,

    I think you’re being excessively literal and a little silly. Yes, I agree that Congress should declare war when we attack someone. But absent that declaration, an armed group that’s attacking us is pretty clearly an “enemy,” especially when our military is there attacking them back. Are you really saying that because there was no declaration of war, we didn’t really fight a war in Vietnam?

  46. And don’t forget that all the guards at abu were democrats.
    It is no coincidence that the left side of the Bell Curve is dedicated to the left side of the political spectrum. I suspect that I have difficulty comprehending the message of the left because, way over here in 136 land I can’t see back over the hump.
    I am back because the gatekeeper was asleep. Enjoy while you can. Once they catch me, I will be gone until Virginia comes back.

  47. Oh, Steve? Since the constitution does not require specific wording to a declaration of war, reasonable people can infer that congress can use any words they desire to indicate a declaration of war. It is not, as surprising as it may be, a game of “Simon Says.”

  48. “I think you’re being excessively literal and a little silly.”

    I beg to differ. (Needless to say.)

    “Yes, I agree that Congress should declare war when we attack someone. But absent that declaration, an armed group that’s attacking us is pretty clearly an “enemy,”…”

    Have *you* or anyone in your town been attacked lately? There was a heinous **crime** committed about 3.5 years by a bunch of Saudis.

    So…if I send food and clothing to someone in Saudi Arabia, am I committing treason?

    I’ve given literally hundreds of dollars to Iraqi bloggers (e.g., http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/)…have I committed treason by doing so?

    “Are you really saying that because there was no declaration of war, we didn’t really fight a war in Vietnam?”

    Yes, I’m saying that. I’m also saying that, absent a declaration of war from Congress, it is impossible for anyone to know who our enemies are.

    Like I wrote, if I give money and food to Saudis or Iraqis…are they our enemies? How about Afghanis?

    What about if I give money and food to Iranians? Syrians? Mainland Chinese? Cubans?

  49. “I suspect that most of our troops know that Maher is an arogant elitist who holds all us normal folk in contempt, but somewhere a jihadist will take heart from Maher’s comments and rush out to his buddies and shout “Vietnam is kicking in, have heart.”

    If we didn’t learn anything else from Vietnam, didn’t we learn that some things are more expensive than they are valuable?

  50. “Have *you* or anyone in your town been attacked lately? There was a heinous **crime** committed about 3.5 years by a bunch of Saudis.”

    Is it only an act of war if it comes to whatever town you live in?

    How, exactly, do you determine the difference between a crime and an act of war?

    If the same crew of guys had detonated a nuclear weapon on NYC instead of airplanes on the Towers and the Pentagon, would you consider THAT an act of war? Or merely a crime?

    When a group declares war on you, your country, and your culture’s way of life, you are at war whether you want to admit it or not. Even if the enemy is a smaller, poorly armed, poorly trained force.

    “Since there has been no declared war since WWII, my understanding of the Constitution is that the Founding Fathers would be of the opinion that there can have been no treason since WWII.”

    Dude, just confess – you’re a lawyer, aren’t you? Or at least someone for whom the letter of the law supersedes its spirit…

  51. Walter makes a good point. I’d also say that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that an “enemy” is someone who who’ve declared war on, if you want to be super-literal about it.

    Beyond that, Mark, I suspect you’re being deliberately obtuse. How can I respond to your contention that we weren’t at war in Vietnam, or Iraq? They sure as hell look like wars to me, but since Congress didn’t declare war in either case, there’s obviously nothing I can say to convince you that those were indeed wars. Lots of people got killed in organized fighting between two states. Is that enough?

    It’s true that 9/11 is somewhat different. But it’s not impossible for me to tell who our enemies are: Al-Qaeda, the group that attacked us, is our enemy. Giving them aid and comfort would be treasonous. Legally, they’d probably call it something other than treason, but you still wouldn’t want to face those charges. I think jihadists in general are our enemies, and the enemies of all decent people.

    But as with the definition of war, if after all these years, you think of the massacres of Sept. 11 as a crime, as a neighborhood robbery is a crime, divorced from any geopolitical ambitions, then I probably won’t convince you of anything.

  52. On the question of whether an armed conflict is a war without a declaration by Congress:

    Some things are what they are regardless of what Congress says (or doesn’t say).

    But it might be nice if Congress would admit what’s up and formally declare it, so that the conflict can be handled in accordance with a declaration by the nation’s representatives. Otherwise the executive branch is basically acting on its own discretion, and we all know how well that tends to work out.

  53. Rob writes, “Is it only an act of war if it comes to whatever town you live in?”

    No, it is only an act of war if it was committed or sponsored by a GOVERNMENT. That’s what wars are. Fights between GOVERNMENTS.

    (Now, if you say that the WTC attacks were planned and supported by Osama bin Laden, and Osama bin Laden was officially the Minister of Defense or whatever for the Taliban GOVERNMENT, then I would agree it was an act of war. By the TALIBAN government. And if the Saudi government knew what its citizens were going to do, then it was an act of war by the Saudi government. And if a representative from the GOVERNMENT of Iraq met with the terrorists and knew of their plans, then it was an act of war by the IRAQI government. And if the West German government helped the terrorists, knowing of their plans, then it was an act of war by the West German government. Etc.)

    My point in asking whether your town had been attacked lately was that the WTC attacks couldn’t be an act of war if they were carried out by private Islamic terrorists; that’s because there will ALWAYS be Islamic terrorists. Exactly as there will ALWAYS be Christian terrorists (e.g. Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph). If you say that even though the WTC attack was carried out by private individuals, it was still an act of war, then the United States will be at war forever. There’s simply no way the Constitution allows that.

    “How, exactly, do you determine the difference between a crime and an act of war?”

    It’s very, very, VERY simple. Crimes are committed by private citizens. Acts of war are committed by governments.

    “If the same crew of guys had detonated a nuclear weapon on NYC instead of airplanes on the Towers and the Pentagon, would you consider THAT an act of war? Or merely a crime?”

    As I just wrote, it would depend on whether a GOVERNMENT gave them the nuclear weapon. For example, if the terrorists stole the weapon (or plutonium to make the weapon) from the British government, then it would not be an act of war. But if the British government GAVE them the nuclear weapon (or plutonium to make the weapon) then it would be an act of war by the British government.

    The absolutely key thing is that it is NOT the magnitude of the crime that changes its status; what changes the status is whether or not a GOVERNMENT was involved.

    “When a group declares war on you, your country, and your culture’s way of life, you are at war whether you want to admit it or not.”

    No, Rob! Absolutely not. That is a dangerous mistake in logic. When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he considered himself and his accomplices to be “at war” with the United States government. But he was not. He COULD NOT be. He was a miserable piece of murdering criminal scum. He was NOT a soldier.

    When you say that whoever attacks us is at war with us, even if those attackers are private citizens, acting without any government support, then you ELEVATE those criminal scum to the status of soldiers. You do not want to do that! That makes you LESS safe, not more safe!

    “Dude, just confess – you’re a lawyer, aren’t you?”

    No, I’m an environmental engineer. But I’d be happy to debate any Constitutional lawyer who disagrees with me. I’d eat them for breakfast. This is very clear-cut. Private citizens can NOT commit acts of war, under the Constitution. Only governments can commit acts of war.

    “Or at least someone for whom the letter of the law supersedes its spirit…”

    No, Rob. That’s not true. And even if it WAS true, it would be irrelevant to this debate, because the letter of the law and the spirit of the law are in agreement on this. Acts of war are committed by governments. Private citizens commit crimes.

    You might be interested in my discussion with “Murky View” on whether the “insurgents” in Iraq are protected by the Geneva Conventions. (They most certainly are NOT!):

    http://www.murkyview.com/archives/2005/04/08/war-crimes-fallujah/

    http://www.murkyview.com/archives/2005/04/13/fallujah-war-crimes-part-2/

    So I’m an engineer. But I CARE about The Law (the Constitution), because when the U.S. government follows The Law, I’m both freer and more safe. That’s why it is extremely disturbing to me to see the government blatantly violating The Law in virtually everything it does, and U.S. citizens aren’t thinking clearly enough to object.

    Best wishes,
    Mark

    P.S. I think you’re asking terrific questions. (E.g., “What is the magnitude of the act that changes it from a crime to an act of war?”) It’s just that the answers I think you currently have to those good questions are wrong. (I think you think that there is some body count that changes acts from crimes to acts of war. But body count is irrelevant. It’s government involvement that matters.)

  54. “How can I respond to your contention that we weren’t at war in Vietnam, or Iraq?”

    You can point me to a Congressional declaration of war. Here’s what one looks like:

    http://www.law.ou.edu/hist/germwar.html

    “Declaring that a state of war exists between the Government of Germany and the government and the people of the United States and making provision to prosecute the same.”

    “Whereas the Government of Germany has formally declared war against the government and the people of the United States of America:”

    “Therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that the state of war between the United States and the Government of Germany which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the government to carry on war against the Government of Germany; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all of the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.”

    If you can’t show me a Congressional Declaration of War for either Vietnam or Iraq, then you should concede my point that we were not at war in either case. The were “police actions”…or some such other completely bogus and unconstitutional acts.

    “They sure as hell look like wars to me, but since Congress didn’t declare war in either case, there’s obviously nothing I can say to convince you that those were indeed wars.”

    When a magician shows me his hat is empty, and then pulls a rabbit out of his hat, it sure as hell looks to me like he conjured a rabbit out of thin air. What do I need to do to convince that he did so? (Or do you think *I* should be the one who concedes that he couldn’t possibly conjure a rabbit out of thin air?)

    Similarly, in Saving Private Ryan, when the troops hit the shore on D-Day, it sure looked and sounded like a war to me. How can I convince you that it really was a war?

    Finally, the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City sure looked like a war scene right after Timothy McVeigh set off his car bomb. How can I convince you that it really was a war?

    “It’s true that 9/11 is somewhat different.”

    It’s not SOMEWHAT different, it’s COMPLETELY different. (Unless one says that Osama bin Laden was an official member of the Taliban government, and therefore the Taliban government aided in the attack.)

    “But it’s not impossible for me to tell who our enemies are: Al-Qaeda, the group that attacked us, is our enemy.”

    Not in the way “enemy” is used in the Constitution. As I told Rob, it’s very dangerous to ELEVATE the criminal scum in Al-Qaeda to the status of “enemy.”

    “Giving them aid and comfort would be treasonous. Legally, they’d probably call it something other than treason,…”

    “They” would do that because it wouldn’t BE treason. Al Qaeda are criminal scum. There will ALWAYS be criminal scum.

    “I think jihadists in general are our enemies, and the enemies of all decent people.”

    Do you consider Eric Rudolph (the Atlanta Olympics bomber) to be “our enemy”? What about Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber)? Is he “our enemy?”

    “But as with the definition of war, if after all these years, you think of the massacres of Sept. 11 as a crime,…”

    I think of September 11 as a crime because it WAS a crime. (Unless Osama bin Laden planned the attack as part of his duties in the Taliban government.)

    “…as a neighborhood robbery is a crime,…”

    The September 11 attacks were orders of magnitude more EVIL crimes than a neighborhood robbery. But it’s not MAGNITUDE that’s relevant. It’s whether or not a government was involved.

    “…divorced from any geopolitical ambitions,…”

    If some guy kills Kofi Annan because he thinks that will help make him Ruler of the World, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a simple case of murder.

    Al Qaeda may want to rule the world. (In fact, I think they do!) But that doesn’t elevate their status; they are criminal scum, nothing more.

    “…then I probably won’t convince you of anything.”

    As I wrote above, could I convince you that the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan was film of a real war? Maybe you should consider the possibility that your own views are wrong. It actually appears that you acknowledge your own views may be wrong, “Legally, they’d probably call it something other than treason,…”

    If legally, they’d call it something other than treason, then isn’t it likely that it’s not treason?

  55. Walter’s never answered the question, how do you know the party registration of all the guards at Abu Graib prison?

  56. Mark,

    I only have one last bone to pick with you. It’s a small point, so I think it’s one where we might make some headway. You said:

    “This is very clear-cut. Private citizens can NOT commit acts of war, under the Constitution. Only governments can commit acts of war.”

    There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that defines the word “war.” Nothing. You might be of the opinion that “only governments can commit acts of war,” but the Constitution is silent on the matter.

  57. “No, Rob! Absolutely not. That is a dangerous mistake in logic. When Timothy McVeigh bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, he considered himself and his accomplices to be “at war” with the United States government. But he was not. He COULD NOT be. He was a miserable piece of murdering criminal scum. He was NOT a soldier.”

    We can certainly declare war on people who do not have a gov’t or a specific nation. Certainly that’s what we’re currently fighting. If there had been other McVeigh-type cells, we’d be at war with them, not just going around trying to arrest them.

    I think you’re confusing legal and illegal combatants. Legal combatants are soldiers. Most of the insurgents and terrorists we’re fighting now are illegal combatants and therefore we don’t afford them the status of soldiers. Basically your argument would mean that according to the British, the Revolutionary War was not a war, which is certainly a point of view… But it obviously was a war. Same logic applies to the Civil War, which was conducted as a war between 2 nations, but was not technically a war because Lincoln didn’t declare it a war but rather an uprising/rebellion. Your definition makes both of those wars “police actions.”

    “When you say that whoever attacks us is at war with us, even if those attackers are private citizens, acting without any government support, then you ELEVATE those criminal scum to the status of soldiers. You do not want to do that! That makes you LESS safe, not more safe!”

    I don’t know how giving these folks the status of those we are at war with makes them any more or less dangerous to us. I would argue that declaring war on them means we can engage our military to track them down and kill them to a man all over the globe. That equates to “we’re safer” because we have a more robust capability to track them down and put them 6 feet under where they belong.

    “Crimes are committed by private citizens. Acts of war are committed by governments.” I think we’ll have to disagree on this, since I certainly believe that private citizens can commit acts of war – whether that crime is treason, espionage, or outright attack.

    Groups of private citizens of various nationalitites banding together to commit acts of war are also acts of war (Al Qaeda). Treating them as criminals gives them plenty of benefits (right to fair trial, etc) that killing them in a shoot-out in downtown Baghdad, or even downtown NYC doesn’t allow for.

    The fact that they are illegal combatants even removes their Geneva Convention rights – which are considerably less than the rights of a criminal. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t have ANY status other than as legitimate targets for lawful, lethal military action by our forces.

  58. Previous post was a response to Mark Bahner, BTW.

    On that note, Mark, I would also point out that whether to define terrorism as an act of war or an act of terrorism has certainly been an ongoing problem for U.S. law enforcement, intelligence and military organizations. It’s a good question, and a tough question.

    I say we give them waht they want – war. Designating them criminals means we have to make every effort to bring them to trial. War means we can kill them legitimately in pursuit of their defeat. Since they’re not signatories to the Geneva convention, and the fact that they don’t fight for a nation, under color of authority, in uniform, etc. makes them illegal combatants – which gives us even fewer responsibilties to “play fair” in the John Wayne sense that Geneva encourages.

  59. Hi Rob and Steve:

    I probably won’t have much time to write much more. I gotta tell you both, it’s more than a tad depressing to me to read the things you both write, knowing that this is a blog mostly populated by people who consider themselves libertarians.

    I suppose I ought to respond to both your posts before I close with some questions.

    1) Steve writes, “There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that defines the word ‘war.’ Nothing. You might be of the opinion that ‘only governments can commit acts of war,’ but the Constitution is silent on the matter.”

    Response: There is also nothing in the Constitution that defines “speech,” or “the press,” Steve. Furthermore, they obviously didn’t have radio or the Internet when the First Amendment was written. Does that mean that nothing that is broadcast on radio is protected by the First Amendment? Does that mean I can be imprisoned for writing here on this blog that G.W. Bush should be impeached and removed from office for invading Iraq without a Congressional declaration of war? Or that he probably won’t be, because Congresscritters are virtually all gutless weasels, who themselves massively violate the Constitution?

    But more to the point, Steve, I hope you’ll join Rob in answering my (HYPOTHETICAL!!!! :-)) questions below.

    2) Rob writes, “We can certainly declare war on people who do not have a gov’t or a specific nation. Certainly that’s what we’re currently fighting. If there had been other McVeigh-type cells, we’d be at war with them, not just going around trying to arrest them.”

    Sigh. Like I wrote, these are some really scary and depressing things you’re writing, Rob. It’s especially scary and depressing to me because I assume you are actually to the liberty-supporting side of the political spectrum.

    OK. You say we are currently at war:

    1) Suppose there are no further crimes–er, acts of war–here on U.S. soil for several more years. The year is now 2007. G.W. Bush orders the launching of several cruise missiles. They hit a pharmaceutical factory…no, make that a group of townhomes…in Durham, NC. A dozen people are killed…including some retirees, a medical editor, and a fellow named Mark Bahner. G.W. Bush goes on national television that night to announce that Mark Bahner was a terrorist, and thank God (no, make that G.W. Bush), the danger has been eliminated. Has G.W. Bush violated the law? Why or why not?

    2) Suppose there are no further crimes…er, acts of war here on U.S. soil for several more years. The year is now 2015. Hillary Rodham Clinton orders the launching of several cruise missiles. They hit a pharmaceutical factory (just like what happened with her husband!)…no, make that a private residence in Yourtown, USA. A dozen people are killed…including some retirees, a couple children, and a fellow identified by H.R.C. only as “Rob.” Hillary Rodham Clinton goes on national television that night to announce that “Rob” was a terrorist, and thank goodness (the goodness of H.R.C.), the danger has been eliminated. Has H.R.C. violated the law? Why or why not?

    Steve, I’m interested on your take on these questions, too. And anyone else at Hit and Run.

  60. Hypothetical #1: Posse Comitatus prevents this. So, yes, Bush (or HRC in #2) would be violating the law.

    Hypothetical #2: See above.

    But I’m certain that the illegal order to launch cruise missiles onto people in Durham or Yourtown would be politely declined by the U.S. military.

    But sending in an infantry unit? I can see that going over. At least it would be justifiable in ways that Waco certainly wasn’t.

    “I assume you are actually to the liberty-supporting side of the political spectrum.”

    You assume correctly. I see no inherent conflict with being pro-liberty but also in favor of using the military to take out terrorists and anyone else who is carrying out a strike of military-level magnitude against my country. The alternative is to arm the police the same as we do the military. That’s much scarier, in my opinion.

  61. “But I’m certain that the illegal order to launch cruise missiles onto people in Durham or Yourtown would be politely declined by the U.S. military.”

    You’re **”certain”** that the military would disobey a direct presidential order in a time of **war**?!

    “But sending in an infantry unit? I can see that going over.”

    So, the President would not be violating the law if he had someone fire an RPG or tank or mortar round into my house? It’s only a cruise missile that’s illegal?

    “I see no inherent conflict with being pro-liberty but also in favor of using the military to take out terrorists and anyone else who is carrying out a strike of military-level magnitude against my country.”

    1) Who wrote anything about “carrying out a strike”? In my hypothetical situation there are some people inside a house. Does that change your answer?

    2) Also, what is a “strike of military-level magnitude”? Would the Oklahoma City bombing qualify? How about the 1993 WTC bombing? What about Columbine?

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