No, the Republican Letter to Iran Isn’t Treason or Sedition

No, the Republican Letter to Iran Isn’t Treason or Sedition March 12, 2015

My Facebook feed has been filled up by people claiming that the idiotic open letter from 47 Senate Republicans to the leadership in Iran was treason. Some have claimed it was, instead, sedition. Such claims are total bullshit and are exactly the kind of wildly exaggerated rhetoric we hear from, and criticize on, the right. The constitution actually defines treason:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

None of those things apply. We are not at war with Iran, they are not our enemy and that letter certainly did not give them aid and comfort (quite the opposite, it annoyed the shit out of them). I think it’s a violation of the Logan Act, though I doubt such charges could actually stick in court. But it sure as hell isn’t treason. Nor does it fit the legal definition sedition, which means encouraging insurrection:

the federal crime of advocacy of insurrection against the government or support for an enemy of the nation during time of war, by speeches, publications and organization. Sedition usually involves actually conspiring to disrupt the legal operation of the government and is beyond expression of an opinion or protesting government policy. Sedition is a lesser crime than “treason,” which requires actual betrayal of the government, or “espionage.” Espionage involves spying on the government, trading state secrets (particularly military) to another country (even a friendly nation), or sabotaging governmental facilities, equipment or suppliers of the government, like an aircraft factory.

Not even close to applying. The letter was reckless and dumb. It was a clear attempt to subvert the separation of powers. It was massively hypocritical. And it was probably a violation of the Logan Act. It was not treason or sedition, not by any reasonable definition. This is tribalistic bullshit, the screaming desire to exaggerate everything that is done by the other tribe to make them look bad. Stop it.


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