Major Hasan and Treason

Major Hasan and Treason
Erin Solaro

The issue is not whether Major Nidal Malik Hasan is a terrorist.  It is whether or not he is a traitor.

Here are the known facts.

Major Hasan, a field grade officer in an Army of a nation at war contacted and maintained contact with for an unknown period, an imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, known to be linked to al-Qaeda, who is, if not a known operating agent, most certainly a known agent of influence. Major Hasan was a medical officer, not an intelligence or foreign service officer acting under orders and supervision.

Major Hasan’s emails have been described as pursuant to his official duties researching post-traumatic stress disorder, and their contents as relatively benign. “Relatively benign” is, of course, only in relationship to their very existence, which was profoundly malevolent. We can say with near-certainty that any information on PTSD al-Awlaki could have offered Major Hasan, Major Hasan could have obtained from far less problematic sources: Jonathan Shay, one of the world’s preeminent experts on combat trauma, is extremely approachable and if Major Hasan did not know of him, he was beyond incompetent. There is simply no good reason for a military field grade medical officer to contact someone like Anwar al-Awlaki. The standard of prudence for a field grade officer is not the standard of prudence for Private Snuffy or Joe Bag of Donuts.

We also know that Major Hasan is alleged to have cried Allahu Akbar while killing and wounding dozens of his fellow Americans. That is a jihadi war cry.

At this point, it is time to drop the nonsense about terrorism and the other nonsense about PTSD and understand that Major Hasan’s attack was an act of treason. The more so since Muslims kill other Muslims all the time. Nor was it an act of existential and professional anguish, such as locking himself in his office and downing too many pills and too much alcohol, or hacking up his wrists and bleeding all over his copy of Achilles in Vietnam. Or his case notes.

If Major Hasan is found to be sane according to the McNaughton Rule and there are not enormous extenuating circumstances, his acts were those of treason, not terrorism. 

Major Hasan chose to ally himself with enemies of his country and kill and wound his country’s soldiers. That meets the definition of treason laid down in the Constitution: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.” And this is true whether he acted alone, as is likely, or with accomplices.


3 thoughts on “Major Hasan and Treason”

  1. I think it is a mistake to call the Fort Hood shooting terrorism, whether or not you consider Major Hasan sane or a traitor. Terrorism is generally thought of as a deliberate attack on civilians who would not normally be considered legitimate targets under the generally accepted rules of war in pursuit of a debateable political point. For Hood was an unconventional attack on a military target.

    We have in the past called attacks on military targets terrorism. The Beirut barracks, the USS Cole, and the Khobar towers come to mind. I think one reason why we call these things terrorism, when clearly they are not, is that calling them acts of war would then logically require some sort of response, which we have been disinclined to pursue. In this case, calling Fort Hood terrorism helps to divert attention from the unpalatable fact that we are still at war, and the enemy has demonstrated the ability to hit us at home.

    I fear we can expect more of this sort of thing. This was not the first attempt to carry out an act of jihadism on American soil this year. It just happens to be the first that produced an actual body count.

  2. A brief follow up to my earlier comment, which was posted in haste because I had to be out the door.

    Yes, this was treason by the definition given in the Constitution. Our Constitution defines treason very narrowly, thank God, but that’s exactly what we have here. I don’t believe Major Hasan should be charged with murder. He levied war against the United States, and attacked a military target while doing so. So the proper charge is treason.

  3. Burke:

    Super comments! The other reeason, I think, that we do not call attacks such as the Cole or Khobar Towers, or the Beruit barracks (in which my ex was fortunate not to die) is that we cannot imagine US troops as lawful combanats, and thus as legitimate targets of those who oppose our presence or policies. As you know, I am not commenting upon those policies, but on our willful refusal to understand that the world and American policies look very different to those who are not American.


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