Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Power corrupts

I've been reading quite a few blogs that think the recent Supreme Court decision granting Habeas to the Gitmo detainees is soft on terrorism. "Terrorists have no rights!"

As far as "Terrorists have no rights", I would tend to almost agree--once they are properly convicted and appeals have been exhausted.

Imagine if Obama is elected, and manages to push a new Assault Weapons ban through, except this time it is a total ban. He issues a statement that possession of an assault weapon is not just a crime, it is incontrovertible evidence that the possessor is a terrorist. Anyone the federal government finds with an assault weapon is hauled off to Gitmo until we are done with the War on Terror.

Obviously unconstitutional. Except enemy combatants don't have the right to challenge their status as enemy combatants...

Too often I see people supporting expansion of power, based on trust that the current leaders will only use it for good. They forget that our leadership changes, and it is very likely that their political enemies are likely to exercise this power.


  1. "As far as "Terrorists have no rights", I would tend to almost agree--once they are properly convicted and appeals have been exhausted."

    The people in question were taken on a foreign battlefield, bearing arms against US troops and our allies.

    The idea that we would extend the same rights to people taken into custody under such conditions as are enjoyed by a criminal arrested here in the United States is risible. We haven't done so in our entire history as a nation, and no other country on Earth does so now.

    We would be within our rights to simply line them up against the wall and shoot them, since they violate every rule or law that guides modern warfare.

    The problem is that you keep talking about how the US government keeps reaching for more power, which is simply not the case here.

    Instead the Supreme Court has vastly extended the rights and powers of our enemies, and for no other reason than the majority doesn't like the Bush administration.


  2. I'm fine with treating them as prisoners of war--We aren't doing that. I'm fine with holding them in the US, and following the law here--We aren't doing that. I'm fine with holding them in one of our allies' territory, according to their law--we aren't doing that either. Pick some set of laws--The most advantageous set, and follow them. Gitmo is a way to avoid following any law.

    Habeas doesn't set anyone free, it doesn't leak secrets. It is merely the ability to request a judge look into the circumstances of a prisoner's confinement. The judge can say no. It is nowhere near the full set of rights of a criminal in the US. If any class of people can be held indefinitely without charge, or the right to challenge their detention, what keeps the government from declaring ME part of that class? Of adding whoever they want to that class?

    One of the major things that makes us better than the kind of country our enemies want is that we are a nation of laws. Due process is essential, and that includes how we handle captured enemies, be they legitimate POWs or "Enemy Combatants", or something else.