Monday, December 06, 2010

The Courts Work

--You're probably one of them knee-jerk liberals
that thinks us gun boys would shoot our guns

because it's an extension of our penises.

--Never thought about it that way. It could be true.

--Well, maybe it is. But this is gun country.

--Death Wish

What was done to me was monstrous.

And they created a monster

--"V" for Vendetta (2006)

The time is out of joint—O cursed spite,

That ever I was born to set it right!

--Hamlet (I, v)
, Shakespeare

With liberty and justice for all

--fr. the Pledge of Allegiance


Why did the recent terror trial, in which 284 of the 286 charges against Ahmed Ghailani were dismissed, leave a bitter taste in the mouth of so many Americans?

The legal approach to dealing with terrorism is the only way, though not all-inclusive or always satisfactory. Are our expectations of our legal system realistic? If not, why do we even have one? Why isn't direct response and vengeance the name of the game?

The justice system is just that -- a system, and one which does not stand alone. It is but one of the legs that support democratic thought. The system depends upon laws which are prudent and enforceable, based upon the Constitution and international law and which are implemented by legislative and executive action. This implies legitimacy and jurisdiction.

After this comes the enforcement agents and ultimately, the court system. Nothing works in isolation, remembering that covert military operatives, intelligence types and military police are not law enforcement, nor do they have powers of arrest or the right to interrogate criminal suspects. The Central Intelligence Agency is not a law enforcement agency, yet somehow in the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) all of these have insinuated themselves into the legal system and have pretended to apprehend and arrest enemy combatants on the field of battle. All with no badges, no warrant and no jurisdiction.

Now we stand disgruntled, saying the legal system does not work, when the courts are functioning perfectly. They are one thing not out of sync, since they refuse to accept tainted evidence gathered via torture, and the courts still believe that prosecutors have the burden to prove the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If we expect the courts to do otherwise then we have lost our one true North; if the courts put the burden of proof upon the defendant, then the courts become dysfunctional per our democratic system. While the legislative and executive functions have lost their way, the courts have held their own.

When we expect the U.S. court system to be a punitive agent rather than an impartial adjudicator, we are attempting to miltarize a civilian concept of law, a notion less viable than nation-building.

The courtroom and the battlefield should remain distinct entities.

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Underground Carpenter said...

Hi Jim and Lisa,

The talking heads were wracking their brains trying to figure out how to get Ahmed Ghailani back to Gitmo and "indefinite detention". Even if innocent of all charges, he's too dangerous to be set free, they said.

"Punitive agent" is exactly what most people expect the courts to be. Thanks for making that distinction. We can always depend on RAW for a good old fashioned clarification of concepts.


Monday, December 6, 2010 at 9:31:00 PM GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home