Revolution #66, October 22, 2006
The U.S. government is charging someone with treason-resurrecting an
extreme and very rarely used legal charge. This is an ominous
development where the U.S. government intends to assert and exercise
the power to hunt down, imprison, and potentially execute someone
simply because of their public statements.
charged in this case is Azzam al-Amriki (formerly known as Adam
Gadahn), a 28-year-old U.S. citizen raised in southern California who
converted to Islam. Announcing this indictment on October 11, 2006,
Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said that al-Amriki is charged
with treason because “he chose to join our enemy and to provide it with
aid and comfort by acting as a propagandist for al Qaida.” Al-Amriki
has now been added to the U.S. government’s “Most Wanted Terrorists
U.S. Attorney Debra Wong Yang of the Central
District of California said, as the indictment was announced: “The
charges returned today by a federal grand jury demonstrate that the
criminal justice system will not sit passively by while a United States
citizen engages in such activities.”
The “activities” Yang referred to are simply speech.
Al-Amriki is not accused of planning or participating in any attacks.
He is accused, as McNulty made clear, of being “a propagandist”-who
allegedly made statement upholding armed attacks on U.S. targets,
claiming support for al-Qaeda, and calling on U.S. soldiers to desert.
In fact, the only evidence filed against him with the grand jury was five videotapes containing statements he made on behalf of al-Qaeda.
is a completely reactionary group that does not represent the interests
of the masses of people anywhere in the world. But the U.S.
government’s charge of treason, punishable by death, against an alleged
supporter of al-Qaeda for making public statements is a dangerous
precedent. In announcing the indictment, McNulty deliberately described
the charge of treason as “exceptionally severe.”
treason law has not been used since the early 1950s, at a time when the
U.S. ruling class was seriously considering launching a new world war
against the then-socialist countries, the Soviet Union and China.
Hysteria and punishment over “treason” played a part in fanning the
great repression and anti-communist political witchhunts of that
time-where critical thinking was suppressed and tremendous conservative
conformity was demanded of everyone.
administration is now applying this charge of treason to an alleged
supporter of the al-Qaeda jihadist movement. But it is clear that
influential and outspoken forces within the U.S. are demanding that this charge of treason be applied far more broadly-to threaten and repress many different political forces within the U.S.
fascist mouthpiece Ann Coulter has appeared over and over on television
and in the press to insist that the great bulk of the Democratic Party
are simply traitors who should be treated as criminals. In her book Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism,
she writes, “The inevitable logic of the liberal position is to be for
treason.” In a 2005 speech at the University of Florida she said, “They
[liberals] are always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say
let’s do it. Let’s repress them.”
The Christian fascist
lunatic-and-presidential-adviser Pat Robertson argued on his 700 Club
TV show (Dec. 7, 2005): “One of the fundamental principles we have in
America is that the president is the commander in chief of the armed
forces and attempts to undermine the commander in chief during time of
war amounts to treason. I know we have an opportunity to express our
points of view, but there is a time when we”re engaged in a combat
situation that carping criticism against the commander in chief just
doesn’t cut it.”
The next day this accusation of treason
was seconded on the Fox Channel when the raving right-wing commentator
Bill O”Reilly said: “The ACLU is doing what they think is best for the
country they envision, not the country we have now, but certainly is
aiding and abetting the enemy””
After the World Can’t Wait movement placed full page ads in major newspapers like the USA Today and New York Times,
these ads and the signatories to World Can’t Wait’s call were denounced
by Gary Bauer, a prominent Christian fascist and former Republican
presidential candidate. Of the ad, Bauer is quoted as saying: “If
that’s not treasonous, I don’t know what is.” (See “Anti-Bush Ad, Call for Ouster “Treasonous,” Says Bauer,” Agape press service, October 5, 2006.)