[star]The American Mind[star]

January 31, 2005

Non-Combatants Can Go to Court

If some federal judges have their way the U.S. won't be able to hold any terrorists.

A federal judge ruled Monday that foreign terror suspects held in Cuba can challenge their confinement in U.S. courts and she criticized the Bush administration for holding hundreds of people without legal rights.

Judge Joyce Hens Green, handling claims filed by about 50 detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, said the Supreme Court made clear last year that they have constitutional rights that lower courts should enforce.


"Although this nation unquestionably must take strong action under the leadership of the commander in chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats," she wrote, "that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most basic fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over 200 years."


I'm galled that Judge Green thinks non-citizens have the same constitutionally protected rights as American citizens. In a metaphysical sense all people have the same rights--thus they're called human rights. This has to be approached differently in a world of nation-states, borders, and anti-terrorist security. If it's the U.S. government must respect the rights of non-citizens then President Bush's call last week to spread freedom across the globe isn't just American policy. It could conceivably be a legal obligation.

Right now, the military holds hearings where prisoners can appeal their status as enemy combatants. Periodic review seems sound since intelligence and security concerns require easier standards than criminal trials. Judge Green ruled those unconstitutional today as well.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the conundrum the Supreme Court has placed us in:

The hard truth is there are people in custody who would love to see thousands of Americans dead. Those in custody are the same types of evil thugs beheading foreigners and bombing Iraqis who are working to bring freedom to their country. The Bush administration and the American public now have to face a significant consequence of the Supreme Court ruling that prisoners held by the military have a right to a hearing. Since letting the prisoners go would guarantee future American deaths we have two choices: either we hold the most dangerous terrorists until they die; or we shoot them. (The CIA will just moved them outside the U.S. with a "rendition" and off them.) Human rights activists who seem to care more about the rights of America's enemies than Americans don't like to admit that's the dilemma we face. They worry about government abuses. That's something I'll grant has taken place, is taking place now, and will in the future. However, if it's a terroist being abused instead of an American killed then that's a tragic tradeoff I'm willing to make. It's us or them, and I know what side I'm on.

"Judge Backs Guantanamo Detainee Challenges"

Posted by Sean Hackbarth in Terrorism at 12:42 PM | Comments (5) | Trackbacks (1)
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