Congressional Oversight Seen as Treason By The Authoritarian Right

It is bad enough when the right wing accues private citizens who exercise their freedom of speech as engaging in treason for opposing their plans. It simply shows a total lack of understanding of the democratic process to object to the people’s representatives exercising their Constitutional duties to perform oversight on the Executive Branch. Glenn Greenwald may have moved to Salon but it is the same writing. He starts today’s post with some background information which is useful to have on hand when reading some of the claims of the authoritarian right:

Frank Gaffney, one of the country’s most influential and well-connected neoconservatives, has a column in today’s Washington Times in which he argues that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason. Gaffney specifically argues that the condemnations of Douglas Feith from Sen. Rockefeller “really should be a hanging offense.”

Gaffney begins his column by purporting to quote Abraham Lincoln. Gaffney claims that Lincoln said:

“Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.”

This quote has become a favorite weapon for those who want to criminalize criticism of the Leader and the War. Jack Murtha’s opponent in the last election, Diana Irey, cited this quote while discussing Murtha’s opposition to the war.

But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This “quote” was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits, the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to FactCheck.org (h/t William Wolfrum):

“The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.”

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