It never dies!
People in the comments of my earlier post keep saying “aid and comfort,” which in today’s climate is one of those ominous codes meaning “he’s a traitor.” One guy even said “What Arnett has done would have gotten him arrested and jailed in WWII.” So I thought I’d do a little research on the nature of treason.
Turns out it’s a slippery beast. In particular, you have to prove that the guy wasn’t acting under duress, and you have to prove that there was the intent to cause harm. In Cramer v. United States, the Supreme Court said “On the other hand, a citizen may take actions which do aid and comfort the enemy… but if there is no adherence to the enemy in this, if there is no intent to betray, there is no treason.” If Arnett believed that he was providing aid and comfort, that’s probably sufficient. If he didn’t — and see a slew of previous comments from me on the reasonable belief that most of what he said was nothing you couldn’t read in a million other places — that’s probably not.
Now, in Chandler v. United States, Douglas Chandler was found guilty for participating in propaganda broadcasts from Nazi Germany. But he was paid by the German government and actively assisted in planning the broadcasts, and clearly showed intent to betray. Aid and comfort alone are simply not enough. In Chandler’s case, there weren’t countless US media outlets saying the same things he was.
(I still think Arnett certainly deserved to be fired.)
The Tokyo Rose case, Toguri v. United States, is also fairly interesting and relevant. (Iva Toguri broadcast on Radio Tokyo during World War II, and in fact was convicted for treason, but President Ford later pardoned her on the grounds that the trial was a sham.)
One might enjoy The Law of Treason in the United States, by James Hurst, if one would like a good comprehensive background on what treason actually is.