Monday, 03 August 1998

The Spectre of Treason

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Sooner or later members of Congress and the American people have got to deal with the unmentionable "T" word and all that it implies. And it had better be sooner because later may be too late. A nation cannot long survive treason in its highest offices and positions of trust. But one of the most grotesque symptoms of the pernicious malaise of liberalism that has infected Western political, academic, and media elites during the last half century is the unwillingness to recognize treason for the terrible crime that it is — or even to acknowledge that such an offense exists. These elites have perennially apologized for, romanticized, defended, explained away, and covered for the traitors who have committed these despicable acts. Even worse, they have transformed treason into official policies which have resulted in the transfer of massive assistance — including military aid — to our deadly enemies.

"Priceless" Traitor

A prime example of this aversion of the "liberal" mind to the whole concept of treason is found in the highly praised book Bombshell: The Secret Story of America's Unknown Atomic Spy Conspiracy, by Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel. The authors focus on Theodore Hall, a brilliant young physics prodigy from Harvard who worked on the super-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. Come to find out, all these many years later, that young Hall was the central figure in the infamous communist spy ring at Los Alamos that gave the atom bomb secrets to the Soviets. In fact, after the war he continued to pass secrets to Moscow, assisting the Soviets in developing the hydrogen bomb. The Soviets called his information "priceless." Hall then went on to a "distinguished" scientific career and now, at age 72, lives in comfortable retirement in England. He has admitted his treachery to Albright and Kunstel and apparently has no remorse for his crimes.

Albright and Kunstel have done a commendable investigative job in piecing together newly released evidence from Soviet and U.S. archives about Stalin's spies in the bowels of the U.S. defense establishment's most sensitive weapons project. They tell an important story from which many vital lessons can be drawn. But they cannot bring themselves to exercise any moral judgment. They cannot bring themselves to condemn Ted Hall's treason - or even admit that what he did was really treason. Never mind that he gave critically important information on what was then the most powerful weapon in the world to a totalitarian dictatorship run by a megalomaniac bent on world conquest, who was then the bloodiest mass-murderer in history.

According to Albright and Kunstel, the "mix of morality and politics that makes up Ted Hall's story is complicated and colored in a spectrum of varying shades, depending on the eyes of the viewer." They suggest that maybe Hall was right in "breaking the monopoly of nuclear weapons" and helping to create "a balance of power." The authors imply that the treason of Ted Hall and his wife Joan was understandable, perhaps even admirable, since they "were passionately loyal to broader principles of political life - justice and equality, for example - that they believed weren't being observed in their native country." The Halls and their coconspirators were not perfidious traitors, but "people who were smart and bold and convinced that American democracy wasn't functioning for the good of the people." Besides, the real evil of the time was "the slash and burn approach of McCarthyism" and the "hysteria and political opportunism" that were "integral to the purges of the fifties."

There you have it, the standard liberal response whenever the ugly truth about communism and its iniquitous agents seeps out: Shout "McCarthyism." One gets the impression that Albright and Kunstel could stumble across evidence that the Hall had secretly constructed an atomic bomb for the Reds right here on American soil, to be used for nuclear blackmail against their own country, and excuse it as a minor peccadillo next to the supposed crimes of "McCarthyism."

Contemptible Stand

Physicist Sam Cohen also worked on the Manhattan Project and considered Ted Hall a friend. But after learning about Hall's role in the spy ring, he had no difficulty in mustering the moral outrage to condemn the perfidy. "He was a traitor, pure and simple," Cohen told THE NEW AMERICAN, "and our government should extradite him and put him on trial for treason." Cohen sees as contemptible the Bombshell coauthors' refusal to condemn Hall's treason.

Just as contemptible is the current refusal of so many even to consider the possibility of treason in the ongoing Clinton sellout to China. Betrayal by the President of the United States? Unbelievable! Impossible! The Founding Fathers did not think so. Which is why they listed treason first among the offenses for which a President may be impeached. James Madison warned that impeachment may be necessary to protect the country against a President who "might betray his trust to foreign powers."

The Founders had more than an academic understanding of betrayal. Benedict Arnold, whose name is synonymous with treason, was a famous Major General in the Continental Army. He proved himself a fearless leader in his heroic and brilliant actions at Ticonderoga, Quebec, Lake Champlain, and Saratoga. Nevertheless, Arnold went on to sell out his country. So, too, did Major General Charles Lee, another able warrior who was second in rank only to George Washington himself. Very soon after our country got going there was the treason trial of Vice President Aaron Burr. He was acquitted for lack of a second witness to his misdeeds, but there is no doubt that he was guilty.

Professor Charles M. Wiltzse of Dartmouth College has described Burr as "adroit rather than profound, with a magnetic personality and a quick mind not overburdened with scruples." This seems to be an apt description of the current occupant of the Oval Office, does it not? Or how about this description of Alcibiades, the notorious traitor of ancient Athens, from the Encyclopedia Brittanica (14th edition): "Superficial and opportunist to the last, he owed the successes of his meteoric career purely to personal magnetism and an almost incredible capacity for deception."

Other examples from antiquity to modern times could be cited of treason by popular, but unprincipled, leaders. But the self-appointed arbiters of acceptable opinion hold that even to suggest the possibility of treason as one explanation for the incredible concatenation of Clinton offenses with regard to China is beyond the pale.

Congressional Voice

A few members of Congress have been willing to tentatively raise the issue. One of those is Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA), who, on May 13th, rose in the House of Representatives to address the matter of our national security and the transfer of missile technology to China: "Tonight, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, I rise to talk about both of those issues, our national security and a scandal that is currently unfolding that I think will dwarf every scandal that we have seen talked about on this floor in the past six years. Mr. Speaker, this scandal involves potential treason, and if in fact the facts are true as they have been outlined in media reports, which we are currently trying to investigate, I think will require articles of impeachment."

Weldon's statement - as with similar statements by others - was either ignored completely by much of the establishment media, or denounced as irresponsible partisanship and McCarthyism. But we have men who have done far less than Bill Clinton to sandbag our security sitting in prison today. Take the case of Jonathan Pollard, who has become a cause célèbre for many Jewish groups. Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst, pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing many top-secret documents to Israel. "The magnitude of the treason committed," Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said, was so serious that "no crime is more deserving of severe punishment."

Pollard now has a sizable and influential constituency pressing for his release. They argue that he passed on information to an ally, Israel, concerning Iraqi weapons plants and that he meant no harm to U.S. security. Pollard's defenders may be too willing to rationalize and explain away his betrayal, but no more so than the Clinton defenders. Although many of the details of the Pollard case have yet to be disclosed, it is difficult to believe that anything he gave the Israelis could match in importance and magnitude what President Clinton has given the Red Chinese. And while many would dispute Israel's "ally" status, the same would admit that there is far less likelihood of a missile attack launched against the U.S. by Tel Aviv than by Beijing - or by China's client regimes in Iran, Syria, or Pakistan. The problem is that betrayal by an individual like Pollard is called treason, but when it is carried out by the President it is called policy.

And because the President has prospered, none dare call his treasonous policies treason. So he has gone from bad to worse. Speaking to students at Beijing University during his China trip, Mr. Clinton said that what he wants is "a security partnership with China for the 21st century." "And," he said, "I predict to you that what you see us doing with China now ... you will see more and more of that in the future. And I think you will see a lot of security cooperation in that area." Even as he continues his evisceration of our own armed forces, Mr. Clinton is escalating the transfer of technology, including military technology, to China, and promoting the Leninist concept of "collective security."

As recently as 1995, International Affairs, the official policy journal of the Russian Foreign Ministry, stressed the top priority of forging "the comprehensive collective security system which has long been discussed in our country as the highest goal of our foreign and defense policy." This was a reference to the program for collective security laid out by Lenin at the 1920 Comintern Congress. Both Russia and China are pursuing that same Leninist agenda. So, apparently, is the Clinton Administration.

Facing the Problem

Do we have all of the evidence we need to sustain a charge of treason in an impeachment trial at this point? Probably not, but there is certainly sufficient prima facie evidence to warrant a public outcry that will guarantee a vigorous, conscientious, bipartisan impeachment investigation. Impeachment proceedings would cut through the obstruction and stonewalling that have stymied the various investigations by congressional committees thus far. It may well be that an impeachment trial would find that President Clinton was not personally, directly involved in many of the decisions and actions that have so seriously compromised our security vis à vis Red China. It may be that we will learn that Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott or National Security Adviser Anthony Lake - or some other underlings - were keeping the presidential libido perennially occupied with White House affairs of another sort while they were devising the policies and carrying out the actions which smell so redolent of treason. If that is the case, then Mr. Clinton will be proven innocent of treason, though he will still be impeachable on grounds of culpable negligence of the worst sort. Nevertheless, his defenders should be glad to have the evidence put on the table.

One thing is certain: The questions raised here are so serious to our national security and survival that we cannot allow them to go unanswered for 50 years, as in the case of Theodore Hall. In fact, allowing these matters to go on, without the full investigative searchlight of impeachment hearings, is to guarantee national calamity in far less time than that.

Portrait of Benedict Arnold: Library of Congress

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