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More on Al-Qaeda Adam, Axis Sally, and Tokyo Rose,

in my op-ed in today's L.A. Times. Incidentally, I'm pretty happy both with the op-ed and with my original post on the subject; but comparing the two, I think, helps show the differences in the genres, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. My blog post would never have been published as an op-ed (likely quite rightly, given the generalist audience of the L.A. Times). And if I had published the op-ed as a blog post, I think it would have been less interesting and helpful than the earlier post, which went into more detail on the First Amendment issue, and which focused more on presenting various possible legal rules rather than just quickly saying which one I thought was right.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. More on Al-Qaeda Adam, Axis Sally, and Tokyo Rose,
  2. Al-Qaeda Adam, Axis Sally, and Tokyo Rose:
PersonFromPorlock:
As a denizen of Free Republic (under another nom d'plume), I note the enthusiasm with which some of the more excitable Freepers are nominating their personal betes noires for treason charges; Jane Fonda, John Murtha, John Kerry.... That ought to be sobering to those who think this particular prosecution is just fine.
10.14.2006 5:40pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Were there personal witnesses for the Tokyo Rose case and the others?
10.14.2006 6:03pm
EricH (mail):
That ought to be sobering to those who think this particular prosecution is just fine.

A few oddball anonymous posters on an ideological blog making over the top comments should make us sober over the charges of treason against an al-Qaeda agent?

Gee, I don't think so.

Let us recall, if only briefly, the "sobering" comments by those who accused Rove and Libby and Bush and Cheney and Fleischer et cetera et cetera of treason in la' affaire Plame.

On the other hand, let's not consider either set of over the top comments.

Inflammatory comments by posters at political blogs are not exactly a rare event nowadays (if ever).
10.14.2006 6:18pm
PersonFromPorlock:

Let us recall, if only briefly, the "sobering" comments by those who accused Rove and Libby and Bush and Cheney and Fleischer et cetera et cetera of treason in la' affaire Plame.

Treason charges like that are just good, clean fun*. Similar charges, made because an actual indictment has been handed down, aren't nearly so innocuous.

* Or what passes for it in politics.
10.14.2006 6:41pm
EricH (mail):
Similar charges, made because an actual indictment has been handed down, aren't nearly so innocuous

Charges made by anonymous posters on an ideological blog should be taken seriously? Or shouldn't be dismissed, as I do, as being innocuous?

Really?

How much influence do anonymous posters on a blog have in America?

If you say anything over zero, I want documentation.

For my own usage, of course.
10.14.2006 6:47pm
Justin (mail):
"Let us recall, if only briefly, the "sobering" comments by those who accused Rove and Libby and Bush and Cheney and Fleischer et cetera et cetera of treason in la' affaire Plame. "

In defense of the left, I think most Democrats wanted investigations into whether Libby and Rove committed violations of the Espionage Act and whether Bush and Cheney committed an impeachable offense. I can't remember all too many posts about actual treason prosecutions. I'm sure if you search Kos or DU's commenters hard enough you can find a few, but other than that the difference is real.
10.14.2006 7:05pm
EricH (mail):
I'm sure if you search Kos or DU's commenters hard enough you can find a few, but other than that the difference is real.

Sorry, it was more than a few.

Google: Karl Rove treason

And what real difference is there? A poster here cited a few anonymous posters at FreeRepublic. These are folks who have about as much influence on public policy as my dog.
10.14.2006 7:27pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
Forget about anonymous posters, right wing icons have leveled charges of treason at liberals.

Exhibit one: Ann Coulter's "Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror."
10.14.2006 7:51pm
Truth Seeker:
Forget about anonymous posters, right wing icons have leveled charges of treason at liberals.

Well it is true. We are at war with an enemy that wants to force Sharia law on this country (women in burkahs and stoning of gays) and these leftists are complaining about Bush and want to sit down and sing Kumbayah with people who want to KILL US. Can you imagine in WWII someone wanting to compromise with Hitler, treat it as a law enforcement action instead of a war and make nice?

Every anti-Bush action and every anti-war activity gives aid and comfort to the enemy. It makes al Quaida more hopeful. Lincoln suspended civil rights during the war. Why should we allow such overt treason today?
10.14.2006 11:24pm
Jacob (mail):
Eric H:
Inflammatory comments by posters at political blogs are not exactly a rare event nowadays (if ever).
Why, whatever are you talking about?
...these leftists are complaining about Bush and want to sit down and sing Kumbayah with people who want to KILL US.
...
Every anti-Bush action and every anti-war activity gives aid and comfort to the enemy. It makes al Quaida more hopeful. Lincoln suspended civil rights during the war. Why should we allow such overt treason today?
Oh.
10.15.2006 1:23am
Donald Douglas (mail) (www):
Liked your opinion piece today...helpful (the photos provided a Vanity Fair-ish feel)! Thursdays Times article made it sound like the odds on a conviction were pretty good. My thought was not when we last had a treason conviction, but when we had an execution -- might we have a Rosenberg-like outcome in the Gadahn case?
10.15.2006 1:52am
Daryl Herbert (www):
I'm glad you did a blog post first, because everything in the LAT is behind the Impenetrable Wall of Registration.
10.15.2006 3:35am
Jay Myers:
I cannot access your op-ed piece but your proposed interpretational rules seem to all have the flaw that they assume the speech in question was made on U.S. soil. If someone makes a statement outside of the U.S. then they cannot claim that the U.S. Constitution protected that speech. Or is it your position that the First Amendment forbids the federal legislature from making a law that would have the effect of abridging speech anywhere at all?

A distinction that I would consider much more useful would be between speech that materially aids the enemy, such as telling them military secrets, and speech that expresses a fundamentally political position. Should someone in 1942 have had the right to say, "FDR is a fink and I hope the Nazis win the war"? My personal opinion (as opposed to any feeble judgement on my part of what the Constitution requires) is that they should have had that right. Even if what they say is intended to demoralize, if it represents a political point of view then I think it should be protected. Certainly speech intended to convert others to an opinion more favorable to the enemy should be protected as that seems to be a pure, albeit extreme, example of what I was taught was the purpose of the Free Speech clause: to protect unpopular political speech from government interference.
10.15.2006 1:38pm
Fub:
Jay Myers wrote:
... your proposed interpretational rules seem to all have the flaw that they assume the speech in question was made on U.S. soil. If someone makes a statement outside of the U.S. then they cannot claim that the U.S. Constitution protected that speech.
Huh?

Granted that the First Amendment offers no protection from a foreign sovereign's prosecution of the speaker.

This is a serious question: can you please cite any case that denies First Amendment protection to a citizen's speech in US courts solely because the words were spoken on foreign soil?
10.15.2006 3:35pm
PersonFromPorlock:

This is a serious question: can you please cite any case that denies First Amendment protection to a citizen's speech in US courts solely because the words were spoken on foreign soil?

I seem to recall that one of the administration's reasons for using Guantanamo for a prison is because, not being US territory, the Constitution didn't apply. Of course, that statement may no longer be operative.
10.15.2006 4:49pm
Mark Field (mail):

If someone makes a statement outside of the U.S. then they cannot claim that the U.S. Constitution protected that speech.


In general, constitutional protections apply to US citizens overseas. Reid v. Covert, 354 US 1 (1957).
10.15.2006 4:51pm
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
I'm with Porlock on this. Once we lose the freedom to join a group with a history of blood-soaked attacks on the U.S., work with that group to foment attacks against the U.S., become the public face of that group to the English-speaking world, and tell the U.S. that it is doomed, doomed, doomed to be wiped out in a holy war led by that group unless it starts adhering to the same perverted version of religio-politics that the group follows... well, then we've lost all our freedoms.
10.16.2006 10:03am
eddiehaskel (mail):
Truthseeker and Al Maviva

Is this to be a serious dilaogue or mearely another opportunity to prove the very point being made here:

Treason is a very serious offense that should be reserved for very serious individuals who actively seek the overthrow not just of the current elected officials (perhaps elections in times of war should be outlawed just so that passive abetting of the enemy is not possible) but of the whole system of government.

Are either of you saying that these people actually want to invade this country? That's laughable on its face. Terrorists want to subjugate by fear and loathing.

And can we please stop with the vacuous comparisons to the Civil War. When was the last time a uniformed combatant took a pot shot at any civilians? This so-called "War on Terrorism" stretches the definition of war beyond all recognizability leaving only a shroud behind which those who seem to think the constitution is merely a framework hide in order to justify sweeping changes in our culture, our politics, our meaning as a country, in response to the fear created by isolated terrorist attacks.

These are the actions not of patriots and heros but of cowards more willing to excoriate fellow citizens who dare to express a dissenting view than to do the hard work of confronting the enemy on its own terms. You cannot wage war against a technique; you can only be ever vigilant against madmen, zealots and others who take the law into their own hands to attack individuals in this country.

By painting characatures of those who disagree with you, you merely prove your own inadequacy in dealing with the problem. You demonize the Democrats, liberals or any other fellow citizens more than you demonize the terrorists.
10.16.2006 1:14pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
1) The blog and op-ed are good examples of writing to the audience.

2) www.bugmenot.com is a good way to penetrate many registrations. I read the op-ed with using a bugmenot.

3) My conspiracy theory is that Miller was jailed for shielding her source, because the federal prosecutors needed a second witness to the same act.
10.16.2006 2:28pm
Jay Myers:

In general, constitutional protections apply to US citizens overseas. Reid v. Covert, 354 US 1 (1957).

I've seen the case but I am unable to see the court's reasoning for straying from existing precedent including the nearly identical case Madsen v. Kinsella, 343 U.S. 341 (1952). But since all they did was set two murderers free, it's not a big deal.

My point about assuming that the "treasonous" speech was made on U.S. territory is that, traditionally, extra-territorial or consular courts haven't been held to the same standards as domestic courts in terms of Constitutional limitations. In re Ross, 140 U.S. 453 (1891).
10.16.2006 3:42pm