The Bush administration has admitted that they can’t prosecute “the 20th hijacker” because they tortured him. Why can’t they torture him? Because that’s outside of their own claimed standards. It’s amazing—Bush set up his own special courts, his own prosecutors, his own prisons, his own legal system just for convicting supposed terrorists—the whole damned system is rigged—and he still can’t manage to bag this claimed baddie. It’s just pathetic.
And don’t forget, they repeatedly claimed that they had to set up their own trial system from scratch instead of using courts martial or ordinary civil courts was the need for “swift justice.”
“Supposed terrorists?” Your fidelity to due process for unlawful combatants is the whole problem.
Will: See, here’s the thing. A lot of them are very bad, bad people. Not all of them are- the problem comes from in part from the fact that we were paying Pakistani and Afghan police (and individual civilians) to turn over terrorists to us. Obviously, this created an incentives problem. I’m over-simplifying, but you can see clearly that there needs to be a process- we can’t just hold people forever who might not be terrorists, because when we get around to being all, “Whoops, you’re actually cool,” they’re so pissed off that they decide to become terrorists.
In addition, while indeed we may not like giving full due process to unlawful enemy combatants, we are. There is a sense with the new team handling these cases, that we have an obligation to do this, and that we have to be the better people here- better than our enemies in terms of justice, and better than our predecessors. It’s in part driven by the “you did it, so why can’t I?” idea of war- if we do act X, it creates an invitation for our enemies to also do X, and we can’t complain about them doing it as credibly, because we did it first.
Oh, and I worked on the detainee issue for the government, Will, so I can tell you for a fact that it is not the fidelity to due process that is the problem, but rather the process and traps set up to avoid due process that ended up creating more tangles in the long run that was the problem. Not the whole problem, and I’m not saying terrorists should be treated as warm and fuzzy individuals with all the rights and privileges of US citizenship, but granting due process hearings is surely not “the whole problem.” (long story short, short staffing –> more lawyers needed very quickly –> intern being told by the powers that be to be a “real lawyer” and must therefore carry the same case load as a regular attorney, which meant that I spent my summer analyzing the dossiers on individuals we’re holding, collecting evidence, and writing responses to explain why those individuals are terrorists. Let’s just say I am intimately familiar with the shortcomings and problems of the current GTMO system. Due process ain’t really one of ’em.).
“intern being told by the powers that be to be a “real lawyer” and must therefore carry the same case load”
And of course, by this, I mean, “that she has to be a real lawyer…”
@Will: How do you know they are “unlawful combatants”? That’s for a court to decide.
No, it’s not. We should just have the Marines shoot them on the battlefield unless they surrender.
Thanks for your thoughtful and informative response, Genevieve.
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