In the past 56 years, there has only been one American citizen charged with the crime of treason.
In October 2006, Adam Yahiye Gadahn was charged with treason by the United States Justice Department for giving "aid and comfort" to Al Qaeda by appearing in a series of highly publicized videotapes urging violence against the United States.
Gadahn, however, was never captured, arrested or tried, and rumor has it that he was killed in a missile attack in Pakistan in February 2008.
Before him, a person would need to go all the way back to 1952, when American-born Tomoya Kawakita was convicted of treason and sentenced to death for his crime. President Dwight D. Eisenhower later commuted his sentence to life in 1953.
Of all the criminal acts in this country, treason is the only one that is clearly defined and spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution says:
"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 Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."
The Constitution does not itself create the offense; it only restricts the definition and permits Congress to create the offense. The crime is prohibited by legislation passed by Congress. Therefore the United States Code at 18 U.S.C. § 2381 states: "whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States."
In the history of the United States there have been fewer than 40 federal prosecutions for treason and even fewer convictions. That averages out to one person being charged with treason every 5.8 years.
So, why has only one person been charged with treason in nearly the past 60 years?? Is it because no American citizen has committed that crime in all that time?? Or is it because no American citizen has been caught (or, at least, arrested) on that charge??
Has treason become an obsolete crime?? Is it just mere words on an old, yellowed, wrinkled-up piece of paper now?? Has the definition of treason become so obscure or irrelevant that the chances of someone being charged with it (let alone being convicted of it) are too remote and improbable to even discuss the subject today??