On 'Treason' and Julian Assange

My colleague Jeffrey Goldberg, author of a superb post this afternoon about the TSA, earlier today posted without comment a citation to an item by Seth Lipsky. The first line of Jeff's item summarized the case Lipsky made:

"Seth Lipsky argues that Lincoln, and FDR as well, would have pretty much tried to hang the Wikileaks founder for treason."

Without going into the whole of Lipsky's contention, let me stop with this point:

Julian Assange is not an American.

Therefore whatever other arguments one has about Wikileaks and Assange, he is by definition incapable of committing "treason" against a country to which he does not belong. Yes, America is a "universal" country and so on, but not in this way.

The Australian government, which has had troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, could in theory consider actions against its citizen Assange -- but the analogies from Lincoln and FDR, in their very different kinds of wars, would carry less weight than ones from their own system.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.

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