Great piece — thank you for such an intelligent and dispassionate assessment. One quibble: while we are arguably “at war” with Al Qaeda and other such groups, to my knowledge we have not “formally declared” war on them in the strict sense. Bush’s rhetorical use of the term “war” and the widespread but loose usage of terminology like “Global War on Terror” do not have the same force as a Congressional declaration of war, particularly since we are talking about foes who are non-state actors. Indeed, the lack of a formal declaration of war was part of the legal miasma surrounding the status of Gitmo detainees, whom the Bush administration hypocritcally argued could not be considered true “prisoners of war” and therefore were not protected by the Geneva Convention.

As you know, the last time the US formally declared war was in World War II. (Even the Korean war, which you cite, while certainly every inch a war and a brutal one at that, did not include a formal declaration. Likewise Vietnam. Hence the widely ridiculed term “police action.”) Accordingly, I would argue that the definition of treason is due for an updating which reflects this new gray area in which proper “declarations of war” are a thing of the past, an inconvenience that modern statesmen have found bothersome and restrictive, resulting in the confusion and abuse of power we now see all too frequently.

Thanks again.

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Writer, filmmaker, and veteran — blogging at The King’s Necktie @TheKingsNecktie

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