tv Jeremy Duda Discusses If This Be Treason CSPAN February 23, 2017 9:04pm-9:47pm EST
overall with big gains in public persuasion and relations with congress. how did our historians rate your favorite presidents? who are the winners and losers in the ten categories? you can find all of this on c-span.org. >> i am excited about to talk about my first book. i am jeremy dudda and many of you know me as political reporter for the arizona capital times. i spent the last past eight years covering the governor's office. i think those who know me personally know my greatest passion is history. if you have been to my house you have seen wall after wall of double stacked bookshelves full of history books.
it has been a dream of mine to write a history book. i was fortunate in that i got that opportunity last year and the result is "if this be treason". before starting, i want to expree express special thanks to changing hands bookstore. also a special thanks to c-span which is here recording for booktv which is good because it has been a dream of mine to be on booktv. if you know someone who wanted to come but couldn't make it, or you find me so captivating you want to watch me again, it will hopefully be on booktv soon. the original title of the book was almost treason. that helps explain the book and another thing that explains the book is our recently ended presidential election.
it was a contentious affair and probably the most of my life time. treason was a word that probably on a daily basis if you were on social media you heard it thrown around by the major party candidates and supporters. i would not blame you if you didn't notice it was a low key affair but the acquisitions were flying around just a bit. when people say treason, what do they really mean? treason is defined as levying war against the united states or providing aid or comfort to enemies. it is the only crime defined in the u.s. and the framers of the constitution had a specific reason for doing that. under british rule, when they are very familiar with, treason was applied to a great many offenses.
in one of the cases we will be discussing in your book tonight, the supreme court noted treason was not only raising a hand against the king but simply thinking murderous thoughts about had king. we saw that at the constitutional convention and one of the delegates recalled a case of an english man who had wished death upon a man who killed his unknown -- and that was the king and for wishing death upon the king he was convicted of treason. the framers were familiar with the way the treason laws could be abused and they wanted to try to prevent that from happening in their new countries. they put the definition in the constitution so the congress couldn't change it at whim. that hasn't stopped people from
using the word treason over and over but most of the time you hear it in certain pregnancy -- concern presidential elections, what people mean is not they are levying war against the united states. they feel like someone is being disloyal to the u.s. and betraying the country. it is kind of an i know it when i see it definition of treason. there is one thing that inspired the book and i would love to take credit for it but they let me one wild with the rest of the book after i got this one idea. in 2015, president obama was trying to negotiate a deal with iran to end the country's nuclear program. republicans were not happy about how that deal was going and 47 republican senators led by tom cotton of arkansas sent a letter
to the leaders of iran warning them any deal reached would need ratification and if they didn't get that it could be scrapped by the president. if you have been following the news lately that seems like a likely outcome. they accused senator cotton of violating the logan act which prohibited free lance diplomacy by citizens and went so far as accusing him of treason. the logan act may sound familiar from the recent presidential election. just a couple weeks ago, donald trump made a comment imploring russia release hillary clinton's e-mail. the incident with senator cotton is a good launching point for a discussion of this book not only
because that incident was the inspiration behind the book but because the logan act is of my first chapter. 12 chapters and an epilogue and as much as i would love to get into each one that would keep you all here until midnight. i will focus on a small handful and start with the logan act. in 1798, the united states and france were on the brink of war. the time known as the quasi-war. france was at war with a bunch of neighbors in europe and trying to stop nueutral shippin from sending gifts to enemies. they were attacking the shipping and capture sail areas and war seemed imminent especially because congress and the white house immediate president john adams were controlled by the federalist party which was hostile to france and the democratic party led by thomas jefferson was pro-france and
anti war but there was not a lot they could do about it. there was one democratic senator who was a philadelphia doctor named george logan. he was a democratic republican, friend of thomas jefferson personally, a quaker, a pacifist, very pro-french. he thought if he could get to france and meet with france's leaders he might be able to talk them back from the edge and keep his country out of war. george logan was a prominent person. it was no one of the stature that would be needed to go and negotiate with a country's foreign leader. it would be like taking out a second mortgage to go to iran and negotiate a better nuclear deal. he spent his money and sold
parcels of land to finance the trip. he went to france and was able to meet with france's leaders. france had seen the wisdom of walking back. it was impossible to determine what george logan's real impact was. but the french thought there was a lot of impact for his attempt to come and make peace. he became a celebrity in paris. you would think he would receive similar treatment for his initiative and trying to make peace. the federalist were out raged ad viewed this as interference in
america's policy. they viewed the democratic republicans as the mob rule to the french american revolution. they wanted to do something to make sure someone like logan never did that again and that ended up being the logan act. a law that makes a crime for a private citizen without authorization from the government to correspond directly or indirectly over a dispute or controversial involving the united states. this has turned out to be one of the most worthless laws passed by congress and i know that is a high bar. something like 225 years since it was passed, not a single person has been convicted of violating the law and only once has someone been charged with it.
that is a distincion that belongs to a kentucky farmer. he felt like they were out of touch with americans and not paying attention to their needs. in the absence of any real estate mogul to vote for he decided he was going to write an article under a pseudonem. this was before the louisiana purchase so france controlled the land. local u.s. attorney over zealous and saw this and decided it was indirect correspondence with a foreign country. and indicted him. it fell apart quickly and never went to trial.
there is a penalty of $5,000 and three years in prison. the worst penalty faced was he was a historical footnote for authors like me. the turns out it is only good for accusing your running mate. we saw this for jim right, the speaker of the house who helped negotiate the niguara civil war. some critics accused ross perot of violating it when trying to get serviceman back from vietnam after the war.
nothing has come from any of this. as we see from george logan who had nothing but the best of intention having good intention is no substitute for being accused of treason. he is not the only person who found my way into the book for trying to make peace. the other is nicolas tris who betrayed his president and there is no question about that. whether he was doing it in the best interest of the country is another matter. in 1847, we were in the middle of a war with mexico. we had marched and conquered a
lot of work. they wanted him to negotiate a peace deal and give him a set of terms he would to abide by. there was the minimum which was a border at the rio grand and all the land we are seeing down here and land we ultimately got. there is a few other concessions he wanted to get but were particularly important. he was a loyal southern democrat, second in command at the state department and a strong supporter of the war which was controversy. he turned out not to be as safe as president polk thought. once he got to mexico, he was
appalled and called it as an an abusive power by the united states and felt ashamed of what his country was doing to mexico. he was having misgivings about the war. mexico was loosing but wanted to keep fighting. there was a general cease-fire and tris wanted to stop this from happening. he started offering a little bit more than president polk was comfortable. he offered a neutral zone between the two disputed borders. nothing ever came of it.
but word got back to washington and president polk and secretary buchanan heard about it and went through the roof and concluded sending him to mexico was a huge mistake and immediately recalled him back to the united states. buchanan sent a letter saying return to washington immediately. the pro-peace action took over mexico's congress and they were ready to sit down and hash out a deal. he was very concerned about what was going to happen to mexico. he decided he was going to disobey his president and illegally negotiate a treaty with mexico and bring an end to
what he viewed as a horrible war. he knew he could not negotiate anything that was a fair and just treaty but at least negotiate a least bad. he knew it would have to still be accepted by polk and the senate. he could try to mitigate the damage quite a bit. this event gaually gave us the d we were seeing. polk was furious but the treaty was good. it gave him everything he wanted so despite how angry he was with his envoy he september --
accepted it, sent it to the senate and it was ratified. some of polk's allies in congress and members of his cabinet were thinking he could get a lot more out of this war. some people wanted to extend our border several hundred miles further south to where it is today. that wall our new president wants to build would be going up further away from us than it would be now. some people wanted to annex the entire country. there is no way of saying if any of these things would have happened. the whig party had just taken over and they were keen on defending the war effort and halting the war all together. mostly out of sheer racism.
they didn't want to bring that many new non-white citizens into the united states. several of the chapters in the book follow the theme of suppression of free speech. as a journalist, this is a personal subject to me. there is a lot of chapters that subject journalists and that is because they end up in the middle of them facing oppression from the government during times like this.
the first time swee we saw this was with the ally alien act that was to crack down on the press hounding the federalists. we saw this again in the civil war when lincoln cracked down on descent. i explore that through the story of a former ohio congressman who was a leader of the anti-war copper head foundation. lincoln exiled him to the c confederacy for speaking out against him. we saw this with world war ii and the espionage act. no discussion of civil liberties
in general is complete without an examination of the mccarthy era. when i started writing the book, or researching it, i knew i would have to include something from the chapter. there is a lot to chose prom. so many incidents from the time that are engrained in our national constitution. the hollywood 10 scandal, mccarthy's witch hunt. i chose to focus on something that for some reason is almost unremembered and that was the smith act trial. a trial of 11-top ranking members of the communist party usa who were convicted for being members of the communist party. the smith act was a law passed in 1940 that makes it illegal to advocate for the violent
overthrow of the u.s. government. it was passed to target communists but it was mainly used during nazis in world war ii. once the cold war started after world war ii things changed. by the late 1940's, harry truman was under pressure to accuse him of being soft on communism and to rebuff those charges he wanted to make the example of the communists. the only question was what law would he use and with the urging of hoover they settled on the smith act. truman would not have found a less sympathetic group of defendants at the time. you hear about people erroneously believed to have communists sympathy and these 11 were proud leaders of the communist party and fit the stereotype that the average american had of an economist to
a t. one of the leaders of the party was charged multiple times, went into hiding. he had lived in the soviet unit twice and traveled the world. he and his wife had to leave their son in the country because the russian government said he only speaks russian and he will seem too suspicious if you take him back to america. not an ex extremely seympatheti group of people. there was no evidence of this group of people plotting to overthrow the government by violent force. but their case rested on the communist party advocated overthrowing the government and by their membership they were
conspi c conspiring to overthrow the government. and the focus on agitation in the courtroom the men were convicted of the change. they decided that even if these 11 had not been plotting at the time to, you know, immediately overthrow the government, they were going to get around to it when they could. whatever the earliest convenient time they considered everything. there was a struggle but these 11 men constituted a clear and present danger to america.
only two judges descent. one acknowledged there was no way to a fair trial considering how inflamed people's passion was over communist but as he put it quote in calmer times the supreme court would come back and restore the civil liberties it was trampling on. those calm times didn't come for a while. it was about six years and justice black's worst fears in the six years came true. once the supreme court upheld the conviction, the department of justice interpreted this to begin an all-out assault against the communist party usa. in 1957, the supreme court surveyed the landscape and realized they might have made a mistake and struck it down as
unconstitutional. in these intervening six years, 126 members of communist party organizations across the country, not including eugene dennis and the original defendant were charged, 93 were convicted and some stayed in prison n for a while. i think the last one was in jail until 1962 when john f kennedy struck down the sentence. the smith act is still on the books today. .... ....
the adams administration and actually he was dead by the time it went into effect and yellow fever got him before the adams administration did . some of them suffered severe consequences. >> with those current events that you mention what do you think of the edward snowden situation as a historical example quick. >> a think he is of perfect embodiment he is the focus of the epilogue as it is still ongoing but that is the of the perfect example if you hear the word trees and used quite often he does
reject both cables but he is living in moscow. >> has that awareness changed over the last 200 years? >> maybe if we use the term little less frequently we have seen one case in the past 60 years. and doing propaganda videos for a cockeyed up. -- out kinetic is a foreign concept and now to say on cable news that it is the i
know which when i see it is standard rather than what is set out in the constitution spent. >> of what about going back home court. >> nothing good happened. >> nobody would pass any laws but needless to say the jobless not waiting for him there was no government employee. to be in the employee of the state department. for many years it was very tough and in 1861 they forged an alliance while in mexico with abraham lincoln to give him a job but he was not too keen on the 80th.
and it wasn't until the late '60s when congress repaid them for what he incurred while he was in mexico. somebody convince to grant to give them a job to be the postmaster for alexandria virginia. [laughter] you think there would be a couple. >> how are you decide who to include in the book? because there is the plethora of choices. >> part of that if you mentioned the free-speech and civil liberties union i want to find wind example of each with the philadelphia
lyndon johnson was going about peace in viet nam and hubert humphrey and he was conspiring to tell them to reject any overture. within the was talking to a senator on the phone as the side note if you listen to the johnson white house that is something that will always stand out for that reason but lbj did consider using the logan act but did not have the full evidence that they needed at that point to be very bad of the country had that come out.
>> the year of joseph mccarthy did you write about him? because it turns out he was the big time mentor to the president-elect. >> i believe he was mentioned only in passing of the mccarthy era with the decency and is only mentioned in passing. >> with that assertion he met with iranian agents meeting with hostages until after the election? >> that was under
consideration with the potential logan act and is still a bit murky did william casey that became the director under ronald reagan this was all going on during the iran hostage crisis. and that you tried to negotiate that rallies but the point was to get the amount. >> so maybe to pay a role because that would make carter look great but before the election and coincidentally is about half hour of reagan's
inauguration whether the interference for what is still some one unresolved that william casey did that. >> the following chapters have weird language which i read right before i came here to night of corruption? >> there isn't any punishment or even execution doesn't have to be the death penalty but there is no
limit on how far they can go you have to either admit it is an open court or have to separate witnesses to the treasonous acts that is why we have only seen those that have been charged with treason in this country. >> how many people have been executed total blacks. >> i am not sure. thirty people have been charged in total of 225 years. i think maybe 18 were convicted. lot were executed some spent life in prison the last person convicted 1960 to an american of japanese descent who was in japan at the time
of pearl harbor an used american pows as slave labor so was sentenced to death of president eisenhower commuted the sentence to life in prison. >> when they are jailed for a time like rosenberg's they're generally not charged with treason water they charged with? >> like the rosenbergs' especially they were charged with espionage like edward snowden was under the espionage act. i am sure there are other statutes but they are taking up arms against your country
or passing on national security secrets there are range of other laws. >> what about did you'll -- daniel? >> i do get into him. novel chapter but "the chicago tribune" three days before the attack on pearl harbor to be very isolationist they got a hold of the top floor plan and / that across the frontpage so there was talk of pressing charges to the publisher in the nfl by the wayside as they had bigger things to deal with but the last part of that chapter talks about the "pentagon papers" and press leaks.
>> the one soldier that walked off the post in afghanistan people wanted him charged with treason for aiding and abetting the enemy they claim he went over there to help them buddie you have stories in war time where they were executed without trial for suspicion of treason? >> i did not look into that allot although i'm sure that have been the law in wartime the battlefield the commanding officers to have a lot of latitude. >> "open to debate" trees and is used because there others that can use that against them?
>> i think that is a big part of it so if you have to witnesses with the act of treason in open court to it is not very likely that potentially you could have brought charges with the american television crew was back around the time of 9/11 was then afghanistan captured by u.s. forces in was not charged with treason but george w. bush was asked about that and rode off the possibility of paid treason charge. he said he was some kid who was misled. i don't want to do that it
could be worse. >> the fact the framers sought treason had to be in a separate way so all these other laws create an analogy that are not given the same love all of scrutiny and are inconsistent with what the framers intended by having treason in the first place. >> that is a very good point with that obvious work around that they could carry the same penalty they even found their own work around with the union and the sedition act am probably would have been struck down
as unconstitutional. but espn honors and sedition act so politicians are created with no shortage of ways to get around that narrow definition nothing else? i will sign some books. [applause] >> we will shortly begin to sign the book please don't enjoy in the signing line as it makes it easier for us. please hold up your chairs. [inaudible conversations]