On 'Treason' and Julian Assange

By James Fallows

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/10/on-treason-and-julian-assange/65437/