A good friend of mine (who also happens to be a flaming conservative) sent me a link to this article by Jonah Goldberg from National Review. He and I disagree on many things political. Our running joke is the irony of the fact that I’m an extreme liberal in the hard right conservative military, while he’s an extreme conservative in the hard left world of academia. Yet we’re the best of friends and don’t let our differences affect that fact.
Anyway, many of the articles he forwards I read and just sort of file away. I rarely agree with the point, but I can (most of the time) at least see the point. This time, though, I felt the need to respond. A quick summary of Goldberg’s thesis, seems to be that we should not consider bringing the Guantanamo detainees into a regular criminal system, because they didn’t blow up the towers to make a profit, but are actually trying to take over the world. Throw in some mocking of Democrats and liberals for making such a suggestion and that about sums up the article.
Well, since I’m a liberal and a Democrat, I consider myself mocked. Not sure if I have a counter, per se, to his thesis, but I figure I can give my view on why I disagree with him.
At one point, he says: “criminal” is the most advantageous designation a terrorist can get. It comes with all sorts of rights and rules terrorists can exploit: Miranda, speedy trials, the right to see classified evidence, the benefit of a reasonable doubt, the right to remain silent, etc.
It occurs to me this is just another way of saying — I know they’re guilty. You know they’re guilty. Bush says they’re guilty. What the heck do we need a trial for? Those guys would just use those sneaky lawyer tricks to get off somehow (and what an injustice that would be ’cause we all know they’re guilty, right?). And then where would we be. … it should almost go without saying why I disagree with this line of thought.
Another quote from Goldberg: Under current treaty obligations, if we viewed al Qaeda as actual soldiers, they would be entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions even though they reject those conventions themselves.
So he’s saying, rights? they don’t need no stinking rights! Yeah, see above, that’s what he’s saying there too. I guess I see a theme. Makes me wonder under what circumstances he might acknowledge that there are people improperly imprisoned down there and how it would be that they should try and prove that mistake.
Anyway. I do advocate that the criminal system should be used for all of the detainees. Independent of other facts, the system works and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it for these guys. Most Democrats would be quite happy, by the way, with the use of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, rather than the federal system. I know very well that the UCMJ is a very pro-government/prosecution system that would still allow some rights to the detainees. Oh yeah, and it’s not just Democrats who say that sort of thing. Some Republicans have said it too.
But also dependent on the facts that we have today (alleged use of torture, lack of standing around the world, loss of trust of a large majority of the American people), bringing these trials into a criminal system (federal or UCMJ) would be a good step toward fixing these facts. A little more openness in the system can only be a good thing for this country.
There’s actually a lot more that could be said about this, but my hands are tired of typing and it’s getting late. I’ll leave the rest for another day.