RANGER AGAINST WAR: Creative Miscreancy <

Monday, September 18, 2006

Creative Miscreancy

The current debate over military tribunals is a distraction to protect the administration's miscreant torture policies from reaching the scrutiny of an open court. And before I continue, I'll say it again: terror suspects should have the same legal protections of any person bound before our courts. Any other proposition is preposterous if we are to be entitled to the designation "democracy".

I must further declare that I am not
anti-American, nor am I soft on terrorism. In fact if a terrorism suspect is condemned to death by a duly convened court, then I will gladly pull the trigger. (Could you imagine your garden variety, pro-war flag-waver doing the same?)

But if we do not have legality, then what is it that defines the U.S. as the good guys? Bush decreeing it so does not equal a papal edict. Even a papal edict is just a piece of paper. Sorry George. The Constitution is the piece of paper we're sworn to abide by.

I believe the present administration policy is soft on terrorism exactly because they do not allow the trials which could lead to appropriate sentencing if the suspect is in fact found guilty.

Legal categorization is the name of the game, and there are no fuzzy categories here:

(1) If a person is captured on the field of battle by the U.S. military, that person becomes a POW. While what constitutes a battlefield may have changed from the old model of massed armies facing each other, whatever constitutes a battlefield today (the street, a desert, etc.) entitles these combatants to POW designation. We must bear in mind, we are invading armies in both countries; so wherever we fought our way in, therein is the field of battle.

This means no torture. No trials, as POW's are not criminals (no matter how distasteful their credos or leaders are.) They are detained until the end of hostilities, at which time they are released to their home nation. After all, 900,000 SS soldiers were not tried in civilian courts after WW II.

(2) If a person is suspected of terrorism, then under international law that suspect should be turned over to the host nation for adjudication. If that suspect violated U.S. code and is in a foreign nation, then extradition should be effected to bring that person under the jurisdiction of U.S. Federal courts. This means no torture, extraordinary renditions, kidnappings, etc.

(3) If somebody is claimed to be an "armed enemy combatant," then the Geneva Convention applies. Maybe I'm stupid, but armed + enemy + combatant = POW. Armed enemy combatant is a nomenclature that has no precedent in international law. But unfortunately, it is a term which does delegitimize the soldier.

(4) Another viable option is to hand terrorism suspects over to the International Court of the Hague. This is not presently an option open to the administration because Bush cannot or will not allow the court to transparently expose the illegal nature of the U.S. response to the terrorist threat, namely, that of torture.

The two problems facing the U.S. are (1) Al Quaida terrorism aimed at American interests worldwide, and (2) what we are calling terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is targeting our military presence there.

Those falling into category #1 are terrorists. The persons in category #2 who are fighting the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are legitimate POW's and must be treated as such.

Terrorists--Al Quiada operatives--should go to the Hague Court or host nation or U.S. Federal Court. Jurisprudence requires this reasoned and unambiguous response. Our confusion arises only because we imagine we are a special case in the arena of world terrorism. But we are not. Now is the time to act with moral rectitude against those lacking this quality.


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