Traitors in History

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Treason and Traitors


Treason is the act  of betraying. The dictionary defines treason as “attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which one owes allegiance.” A traitor is one who betrays another, a cause or any trust. We often finds these betrayers among politicians who will promise the public what they know their constituents want to hear with no intention to carry out that which they have promised to do.  Their promise is made in order to obtain votes to achieve their goals, not to help the people who have trusted and voted for them.

Treason and traitors come in all nationalities and religious groups, including our own.  One of the most recent candidates is Madoff, the man who collected money from his unfortunate constituents under the guise of doubling and tripling their savings.  Instead he kept their hard earned, lifelong accumulations to enhance his possessions and those of his family. He obviously had no compunction, no guilt, and no conscience about impoverishing the innocent souls who trusted and believed in him. There were the thieves during the Nazi era who promised for a small fee to transport the few earthly treasures of the victims to Israel to relatives of the ultimate victims for safekeeping.  The silver candlesticks and other precious heirlooms never arrived and were kept by the transporters. 

In world history traitors have always existed.  We will here mention a few whose names are very familiar.  There was Brutus in Shakespeare's story of Caesar.  The famous line of  “et tu Brute” was uttered from the mouth of Caesar as he was destroyed by his erstwhile alleged ally and friend. Brutus had betrayed Caesar which led to Caesar's assassination.

Benedict Arnold is one of history’s best known traitors. He was a successful general from Connecticut during the American Revolutionary War until he switched sides and was caught trying to help the British in 1780. He and a British Major John Andre conspired to help the British seize control of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River.  Andre was caught and the plan was revealed.  Arnold escaped to the British side and Andre was hanged as a spy.  For the remainder of the war, Benedict Arnold led British forces against American colonists, then settled in London.  His name lives on in US history as a byword for treachery.

“Tokyo Rose” was applied to multiple sultry voiced women who worked for Radio Tokyo during World War Two.  These “sirens” cooed Japanese propaganda designed to make American soldiers nostalgic and homesick.  A UCLA graduate, Iva Toguri D’Aquino, was the most infamous.  An American citizen of Japanese descent, she worked as a Radio Tokyo announcer from 1943 to 1945.  She was convicted of treason  in 1949 and served six years in prison.

            Aldrich Ames worked for the CIA and was discovered to be a Soviet double agent in 1994.  He specialized in selling the identities of CIA agents, placed within the KGB, to the KGB, in true cloak and dagger fashion.  The damage he caused US intelligence efforts can’t really be known, but conservative estimates indicate that he exposed over one hundred agents, and was directly responsible for at least ten deaths.  He and his wife made over four point six million dollars over the course of their espionage career.  Ames was sentenced to life imprisonment and his wife to sixty-three months.

            Actress Jane Fonda turned against her own country.  During the Vietnamese conflict she went to universities and other institutions to speak at anti war rallies.  She ranted about the American “baby killers” and how the North Vietnamese were just attempting to protect their country from foreign aggression.  Our boys fought and died in Vietnam.  Fonda, who lived in splendor and privilege, spoke against her own country in favor of our enemies and against our brave men (and women) who sacrificed their lives for freedom for innocent and helpless human beings, and, most of all, who fought for their and our country.


Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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