We Don't Respect No Stinkin' Detainees...
Throughout the article the words "captured", "enemy", and "enemy combatants" appears. Indeed, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is quoted, "I'm not about to give (a Guantanamo Bay detainee) who was captured in a war a full jury trial."
This is exactly the point that keeps getting obfuscated. If they were captured in a war, then they are POW's, and should be afforded the full protection of the Geneva Convention. If they are terrorists, then they are criminals. I guess anyone in prison is a "detainee", but the fine point of the law which is absolutely skirted evertime is: what are they in for? There is no other way--the detained person must be categorized. "Detainee"--while it may describe the held person's state of being at the moment--is not a categorization which will hold up in a court of law. Why are we unclear on this matter? If we are to maintain any integrity in the world community, we must abide by the rule of law.
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the U.S. declared this action to be a violation of international law. But when the U.S. did the same thing, it was democracy in action! Can you say "double standard"?
What statute, U.S. law or international law legitimizes the concept of "illegal enemy combatants"? Categories cannot be arbitrarily established for the convenience of the bullheaded architects of the War on Terror (WOT). We are a nation of laws, and the laws dictate that if a person is a terrorist, then there is a protocol to follow regarding how they are to be arrested, tried, and legally dealt with, from initial incarceration to sentencing phase. This is all in place, in present U.S. legal code. 9/11 did not shake the bearings from our Consitution.
"Illegal + enemy + combatant" is not a conflation which we recognize. It is akin to someone running in on a football game from the sidelines, wearing a stolen jersey and helmet, and saying that they were really in the game once they are caught in their ruse. The people we are speaking of are not running into the fray from the sidelines. They are affiliated. And while they may lack the proper jersey and helmet, they are not confused about which side they are on. If they are fighting an invading power, and subsequently subdued by the occupying force, then they are POW's. On the other hand, if they are wreaking havoc upon an unarmed populace for the purpose of advancing a political agenda, they are terrorists (=criminals), and should be prosecuted to the extent of the law.
Why is this administration loathe to rely on the open rule of law? Isn't this the bedrock of democratic thought and action?
The concept that a detainee has the burden to prove his or her innocence is anathema to U.S. law. "Innocent, until proven guilty" has been our legal system's watchword since our origin. In contrast to this revered ideology, the new detainees have been denied access to all legal measures, and for some reason, Americans are proud to keep them in prisons without either due process or the conferral of POW status. This should sicken all Americans.
The WSJ article goes on to talk of the "all too real threat from dirty bombs, anthrax and WMD that can kill hundreds of thousands." Where is the evidence for this 1984-ish statement? We accept these warnings without critical evaluation, permitting a pervasive climate of fear, enabling the administration to trample upon the rule of law with the U.S.citizen's tacit approval.
I have heard my fellows say, "Well, I have nothing to hide, so what need have I to fear wiretaps and other infringements upon my First Amendment rights?" I am brought to mind of the poem attrbuted to Martin Niemoller, "First They Came for the Communists." To paraphrase:
"When the Nazis came for the communists/the social democrats/trade unionists/Jews...I did not speak out. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."