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.