RANGER AGAINST WAR: Democracy Is Messy <

Friday, July 28, 2006

Democracy Is Messy

Democracy wasn't always messy, but since 9-11, it's become an absolute slog.

The Department of Defense (DoD) has taken the lead in this mudsling. They insist on preempting Department of State functions after invading countries and destroying regimes, embroiling themselves in activities for which they lack the necessary training and finesse. Messy, but hey, welcome to the Dr. Strangelovian era of militarized democracy.

Then we have the National Security Agency (NSA), which is an arm of DoD, collecting intelligence that should be gathered by the FBI. The FBI is a law enforcement agency, and any intelligence domestically collected should be acted upon by them. Hopefully, law enforcement is the intent of the NSA (DoD), and not the subversion of the U.S., though I believe they have already covertly done that via their illegal intrusions into our erstwhile Constutionally protected privacies.

The DoD also seeks to preempt the Department of Justice (DoJ), by trying terrorists at military tribunals instead of civilian trials. This is because Attorney General Gonzales finds the legal precedents set by the Geneva Convention quaint, and refuses to try criminal terrorist activity in its proper venue, which is courts of law.

In an additional military coopt of civilian authority--in this case, law enforcement--the National Guard now enforces civilian law on the Mexican border in what appears to be a long-term engagement for a long-term problem. Doesn't the National Guard have it's hands full with the military aspects of the War on Terror?

So now we are at the newly-messy issue of the rule of law. Before any legal proceedings can be conducted in our democratic system, jurisdiction must be established. And the only jurisdiction that our legal system has over terrorism is U.S. Code, which clearly addresses the issue. To wit: if apprehended by law enforcement and properly charged, a terrorist will be tried in open court.

Our legal system is equipped to realistically and effectively address this issue; however, this administration refuses to trust democratic court action based upon their claims of needing to secure military secrets. The resulting subversion of democracy is wrought by this Administration, and not by any terrorists or the legal system itself.

The issue of whether military tribunals apply is actually a very un-messy one: If captured on the battlefield, then the Geneva Convention applies. If apprehended by law enforcement during the planning or execution phase of a terrorist activity, then the civilian legal system will address the problem. (Terrorists are similar to politicians in this way --they assiduously avoid the battlefield.) This separation of powers is the basis of democracy. When state secrets preempt an open and fair trial, then the concept of America is finished.

Why is there such an administrative aversion to reliance upon the criminal justice system? Could it be that open trials would reveal that the Terrorists are actually an incompetant and low-level threat? That they are largely a bunch of bumblng foot soldiers, headed by a relatively small cadre of planners, a cadre that could be ferreted out via competent intelligence and police functions? That the use of the military is not the correct way to address a criminal problem? That the only reason 9-11 happened was government incompetance, which persists today? Could it also be the rats don't want to get too near the trap?

I reluctantly conclude that the administration is somehow benefitting by disallowing the court system from fulfilling its Constitutional function of dealing with accused criminals in a balanced manner.

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