January 03, 2005
Wrapping Yourself in the Magna Carta
Julian Sanchez worries that America is standing at the abyss ready to sacrifice its freedom-loving soul because the Bush administration is thinking about holding terrorist prisoners forever. He even tries to make the Magna Carta his medieval ally. Later on, Sanchez admits there are different standards domestically and internationally. The primary role of the nation-state is to protect the rights of its citizens. I'm not a medieval law scholar, but I feel confident in claiming that the term "free man" in the Magna Carta didn't apply to invading armies.
Sanchez compares the domestic standard we use domestically with murder suspects with the nebulous standard applied to the Gitmo prisoners. There is two significant differences. First, there's a knowledge difference. For a domestic murder suspect it's much easier to collect evidence and interview witnesses. In the fog of war that's more difficult. The same judicial standards cannot be applied. Second, releasing a murder suspect due to lack of evidence doesn't endanger as many people as releasing a terrorist prisoner. At worst, the murder suspect could kill one or two before caught. A released terrorist would rejoin a network that has succeeded in killing 3000+ Americans in one day and shows no sign of ending their war.
His solution is giving those prisoners some kind of trial. But you can bet if that happened Julian Sanchez would first to gripe about the low evidentiary standards the government used to keep the terrorists locked up.
"Endless Detention: From Guantanamo to 'Camp 6'?"
UPDATE: Ace's argument is that the prisoners will be released at the end of the war.
Now, this is indeed a war that may go on for some time. But that does not change the basic rule that captured soldiers are held until hostilities end. And if Al Qaeda wants to make war for generations to come, that's just bad luck on their "soldiers," isn't it?
I would think such long-time rules of war would satisfy Sanchez, but I doubt it.