Wes Hickman/Kevin Bishop
-- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-Seneca) has requested the U.S. Justice Department review whether American citizens traveling to Iraq to act as ‘human shields’ or ‘voluntarily engage in conduct designed to impede military action’ could face trial in American courts for violation of federal law.
In a letter to United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, Graham also requests information on whether the Justice Department has considered “formally notifying Americans engaged in such conduct of the legal risks they are about to assume” and asks whether the department “will be aggressive in prosecuting such individuals and groups.”
“I strongly believe efforts to impede a potential military operation against Iraq should be strongly dealt with and I am seeking your assistance in this matter,” wrote Graham, a member of both the Armed Services and Judiciary committees in the U.S. Senate.
“It is my opinion that any American who voluntarily engages in conduct to impede a potential military operation, and who thereby endangers the lives of our nation’s men and women in uniform, is participating in a program designed to weaken the power of the United States to wage war successfully.”
Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines the act of treason. It reads, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Congress has also passed the Trading with the Enemy Act which restricts economic activities, including those associated with travel. Current restrictions are in place for Cuba, North Korea, Libya, and Iraq.
“It goes without saying that Americans enjoy the right to challenge their government and protest in a variety of lawful ways,” said Graham. “However, our constitution and federal legal structure do not allow Americans to actively aid nations or groups engaged in hostilities with the United States.”
Graham noted American John Walker Lindh was recently convicted and sentenced to prison for his relation with the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and Taliban.
“I, along with many other Members of Congress, strongly believe the full force of the law should be applied to those American citizens who give aid and comfort to our enemies,” concluded Graham.