Saturday, October 7, 2006

Rethinking the treatment of enemy combatants

I had a long talk with a friend last night and I realized during that talk that perhaps I was a bit off re: the detainment of enemy combatants. The right to habeus corpus, as Thomas mentioned, goes beyond the constitution. In fact, it goes all the way back to the Magna Carta. One could make a very good argument that the habeus corpus right in particular is one of the most important rights seen in Western society and actually transcends citizenship. If Western society stands for the norm that justice is a good thing, then denying habeus corpus is a bad thing. But even beyond that, I came to the conclusion that habeus corpus would actually help us win this war against the Islamofascists. (NOTE: the question as to whether these people should be on trial is a separate one from whether they should get full fourth, fifth, and sixth amendment protections, which I do not believe they are necessarily entitled to) Here is why. 1) If one views this as a battle to preserve Western civilization, then they win if we become uncivilized and lose the right to habeus corpus. Yes, there have been suspensions of habeus corpus in the past, but they were during limited times of war. This current war will probably go on for decades, has no defined battleground, and it is hard to define what a 'victory' is. And thus, the suspension of habeus corpus may go on for decades. 2) Americans and the world at large are not accutely aware of the enemy we are facing and the type of war we are involved with. The enemy is being shrouded in secrecy. We are afraid, but mostly afraid of an unknown. It would do us good as citizens to actually know the threat we are facing so we can evaluate the effectiveness of the war we are facing, and so we can perhaps choose that this is a war worth fighting for. I think support for the war would RISE if more Americans were knowledgeable as to who the enemy is. Stephen Colbert ironically (and very unintentionally) hit the nail on the head re: this in a segment of his show, 'The Word.' It is obvious what Colbert was trying to say. I just happen to believe he made an unintentionally good point. Now, I do not believe that we should seek to institute senseless fear into the hearts of Americans. I do believe, however, that knowledge as to the extent of the threat we face is something Americans should have. We are kept dumb by our leaders. Habeus corpus would hopefully lead to the exposure of the crimes that these people have committed - something we need to be aware of. We are fighting against an unknown enemy, and the only way to win is to face the enemy we are fighting squarely in the eye. And not because it's a Republican or Democrat thing. But rather, this is the right thing to do from the standpoint of justice and knowledge.

5 comments:

Jason H. Bowden said...

That's just what we need to defeat the global jihad. Constitutional rights for terrorists.

You need to rethink this. The Constitution does not apply to enemy combatants, and the idea of getting sued by enemy during a war completely blows my mind.

Back in the 60s -- the 1860s, a guy named Lincoln suspended habeas corpus for Americans, arbitrarily jailed 13,000 people, including journalists, and shut down dissenting newspapers. Roosevelt, the great liberal hero, put Americans in concentration camps. Presidents Wilson and Adams took heavy handed efforts against domestic enemies, as the Palmer Raids and the Alien and Sedition Act show.

I don't think we need to do anything remotely close to this, but it simply shows how flabby and decadent we have become as a society today.

Seriously, while we lost 33,000 people defending South Korea from North Korea, in the same amount of time in Iraq, we lost less than 3,000. And unlike North Korea, where the crazy leadership remains, Hussein is gone from Iraq and a nascent democracy is in place. That is a ***success***, not failure, like the media spins it. The terrorists and their fans at home can kiss my ass.

Think about the anti-war movement in the 60s -- the 1860s again. The anti-war Democrats wanted to bring the troops home in 1864, when victory was just around the corner, because the casualties were too high. But we stayed the course and won, even though 600,000 Americans died.

Now we're blubbering about whether we're losing too many people and deliberating whether we should allow our enemies to defile our courts. I'm disgusted.

Red Tulips said...

Jason:

Read what I wrote again. I said that I think it's questionable as to whether or not the right to habeus corpus applies via the constitution. I think it's a western society thing. I also think this helps us to actually defeat the Islamofascists.

Moreover, we don't know how long this war will go on for. I am aware of what Lincoln did, however, in his situation, the war was against a defined enemy who declared war against the US. That is NOT the case here.

I never said that the enemy combatants deserve fourth, fifth, or sixth amendment rights in any trial they would receive. I think that would actually be a mistake. But how exactly does it behoove us to have people rotting away in prisons for possibly years on end, without any trial, and without any proof that they did anything? We make mistakes, you know. There already have been cases of mistaken identity and whatnot, where the individuals rotted in prison for YEARS before it was discovered they were wholly innocent. Are you okay with that?

Zeyad said...

R, could you please contact me as soon as possible or send me your phone number? I changed my phone and I lost it.

Ibrahamav said...

It is a wonder that others expect us to guarantee the citizenship rights we enjoy, to those who seek our destruction.

I understand that top-level Nazis were kept under key in secret prisons while we extracted every bit of knowledge we could.

Anonymous said...

The war on terror is an ideological war. I've seen videos of arab children brainwashed into hating and glorifying violence. You can't fight that with soldiers or laws.