A prosaic dictionary definition is “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.” This is sufficiently vague that it was used through the centuries to justify vicious persecutions by the sovereigns of their political opponents. The Founding Fathers wisely wrote a more specific definition into the Constitution.
Article III, Section 3 of 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.
The section was worded in this way so as to preserve the efficacy of the First Amendment–people can say what they want, even oppose the very Constitution that keeps them safe in saying it. “Levying War” is straightforward, but “Adhering to their Enemies” may be a little more difficult to pin down. It probably includes promoting sharia law, which is incompatible with the Constitution. “Aid and Comfort” means more tangible support such as furnishing them arms in Libya, Syria, and Mexico (the so-called “fast and furious” operation). It might consist of providing billions of dollars in support including the recent $400 million “non-ransom”.
Ah, but then . . .
Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
Sir John Harrington (1561-1612)
The 2016 election, more than anything else, is to determine whether treason shall prosper.