By LARRY M. JONES
In the 1st Century B.C., Marcus Tullius Cicero, distinguished Roman statesman and orator, stated:
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason from within. … He (the traitor) infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.”
Although written over two millenniums ago, his sage observation is as true today in America as at any time throughout history. For whatever the reason, our nation seems to no longer have the ability to resist the apathy and rot from within that is destroying the mightiest nation in the history of the world. Since the beginnings of our great moral decline in the 1960s, we seem to constantly be attacking the very things that made us powerful. We no longer have the will to prosecute those who betray us.
According to Oran’s “Dictionary of the Law,” treason is defined as “...[a]...citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation].” “A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.”
In Dante’s “Inferno,” the ninth and lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors. Judas, who betrayed Jesus, supposedly suffered the worst torments of all – being constantly gnawed at by one of Lucifer’s own three mouths. Today we seem unable or unwilling to deal with treasonous behavior.
Hardly a day goes by without the news being filled with stories about breaches in our national security. The latest “soap opera” concerns Edward Snowden, a former technical contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency and a former employee of the CIA who leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British government mass surveillance programs to the press. Why isn’t this clown waiting in line for a firing squad?
One of the most notorious cases involving traitors was that of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. They were tried and convicted of espionage – passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. With what should be considered standard national security policy, they were executed for their crimes in 1953. Since that time, America seems to have lost the resolve to protect her sovereignty.
Over the past decades, we have allowed heinous acts of treason to go unpunished. In my opinion, the most flamboyant, and perhaps the one to set the stage for even more egregious acts to go unpunished, was that of “Hanoi” Jane Fonda’s traitorous misconduct (in my opinion) during the Vietnam War. If her actions don’t fit Oran’s legal definition of treason, I fail to understand why.
One of the most damaging acts of espionage against the United States was carried out by former Navy Warrant Officer John A. Walker, a submariner who, for two decades, provided the Soviet Union countless highly classified documents. Despite being probably the most damaging case of espionage in U.S. history, he was merely given life in prison for his crime. Since then, we have charged numerous individuals with treason – Aldrich Ames, Jonathon Pollard, Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, and others.
Even though federal law assigns punishment by execution for treason, espionage, federal murder, and other crimes, none have been carried out in decades. Failure to enforce law breeds contempt. Or as in the words of Cicero, “it infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist.” As a result, our nation will cease to exist.
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.