Sen. Ted Cruz Muddies Constitution to Push Treason Charge for Ed Snowden

by | Jan 15, 2016


Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), quoted in the New York Times on Wednesday, says that whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who revealed the extraordinary scope of the United States government’s mass surveillance program, is a traitor who should be tried in court for the treasonous act of “giving aid to our enemies.” Cruz even declares that the United States Constitution supports this prosecution of Snowden.

It is not out of the ordinary for a senator to want Snowden prosecuted. But, can’t Cruz have the decency to just state his opinion without hiding behind and muddying the Constitution?

Here is what Cruz said:

…’It is now clear that Snowden is a traitor, and he should be tried for treason.’

[Cruz] pointed to his remark in 2013 that Mr. Snowden should be prosecuted if he broke any laws. ‘Today, we know that Snowden violated federal law, that his actions materially aided terrorists and enemies of the United States, and that he subsequently fled to China and Russia,” he said. “Under the Constitution, giving aid to our enemies is treason.’

Ron Paul Institute Chairman and Founder Ron Paul provided the succinct answer to this “aid to our enemies” argument in a Facebook post in June of 2013 — the month reports based on Snowden’s disclosures started to appear:

My understanding is that espionage means giving secret or classified information to the enemy. Since Snowden shared information with the American people, his indictment for espionage could reveal (or confirm) that the US Government views you and me as the enemy.

Suppose, though, that Cruz has in mind some other enemy being helped, maybe al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), Russia, China, France, Brazil, or Mexico — whoever Cruz might think of as an “enemy.” Maybe Cruz is thinking of the fictional nation of Agrabah from the movie Aladdin. In December, Public Policy Polling found that 30 percent of Republican and 19 percent of Democratic voters surveyed think the US should bomb that cartoon nation.

Cruz may wake up the in middle of the night and check for Bulgarians or Vulgarians under his bed. However, constitutionally-speaking the US has no enemies. While the US has bombed, drone-striked, invaded, and funded the take-over of many countries around the world through the last few decades, the US Congress has passed not even one declaration of war since World War II.

It is absurd to say that the Constitution demands that Snowden be tried for aiding some enemy or enemies when the US House of Representatives and Senate have chosen not to employ the constitutionally-required method for declaring an enemy or enemies — passing a declaration of war under Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution.

Of course, Cruz using the Constitution in an attempt to justify prosecuting Snowden is doubly absurd given that Snowden’s revelations exposed an unconstitutional mass surveillance program.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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