F. Grey Parker
“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression” – Thomas Paine
Not only is the decision By Atty. Gen. Eric Holder to try Khalid Sheik Mohammad and 4 of his alleged co-conspirators in civilian courts on mainland American soil smart, it is also the only appropriate action. The extremes of secrecy that were a matter of course under Cheney/Bush require that the pendulum swings back and in a big way.
The cacophony has begun. The dominant voices of the right, no longer having (or even making room for) the likes of the late, great William F. Buckley, are apoplectic at the prospect that these “evil-doers” might receive a fair trial. In fact, since Friday morning's dramatic announcement we have been subjected to prominent men and women in power actually saying these men don't deserve a fair trial.
If we are to “hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” then there is no alternative to an open hearing for even the worst and most heinous of our enemies. That Holder's decision is proving so contentious 60 years after Nuremburg is stunning. It was there that the righteous victors of western principle demonstrated to the world that a transparent proceeding for monsters was not only just, but was the wisest decision politically. After Nuremburg, only the most dedicated Holocaust deniers and fascist sympathizers could argue the virtues of the Reich.
The international effect of this approach will dis-empower one of the primary arguments of Bin Laden's recruiters, IE: that we are an oppressive people with a double standard of justice for ourselves and everyone else in the world. A trial of these men before our citizens and the world will better demonstrate our re-commitment to our ideals. An open hearing will also prove just how evil our enemies are.
The first fundamental flaw in the Right's opposition to open trials is their devotion to secrecy. Star Chambers are utterly inconsistent with our founder's core principles. The second flaw, and this is a very important distinction, is that these prisoners are not members of an acting army. They are not agents of a particular government. For all intensive purposes they are a gang of hoodlums, however ferocious. In a traditional military tribunal, we would be required to engage a combatant's government of origin. These are soldiers of no one.
As yesterday morning unfolded, we bore witness to an incredible cavalcade of vulgarities from the expected sources:
“They (Obama/Holder) want the United States on trial... All of this is being done to satisfy the rabid, radical, far left that hates this country” -- Rush Limbaugh
Not exactly. After 7 years of complaints from the judges, prosecutors and defense officers assigned to Gitmo and almost no progress in resolving the destiny of these human beings, it's time to get this over with. We have established an international precedent of detention without trial. This WILL be used on our own soldiers in the next larger conflict. To think we are not eventually going to face a much fiercer and more traditional military foe than Al-Qaeda in the is naïve. If we were to find ourselves in a repeat of the Korean or Vietnam scenario (in the form of a proxy war with China) we will lack the high ground and far greater horrors will be visited upon our own troops.
“Our criminal system is geared to let guilty people go free” – Rudolph Giuliani
Former NY prosecutor Giuliani would have us believe that he has no faith in the American Legal System. This is the man who got Gotti. This is the man who “broke” the mob. The targets of dozens of his successful prosecutions were vicious murderers who used violence as currency. Fear was also their greatest weapon. His cases were built using the domestic equivalent of intelligence gathering. Did anyone argue that we could not prosecute the mob because they would then know how we know what we know? Mr. Giuliani now advocates for endless extra-constitutional secrecy because our criminal system is either too ineffectual or too fragile or both. This is a far cry from the sorts of things he once said such as “the only way to deliver a deterrent effectively is to publicize it.”
“There are needless risks from this decision” – Sen. Mitch McConnell
There are needles risks in continuing to provide evidence to the world that we are willing to jail people indefinitely without charges. We are risking the future of our philosophical legacy both at home and abroad if we fail to act.
This represents the Obama Administration putting “liberal special interests before the safety and security of the American people” – Rep. John Boehner
If the concept on which we were founded that fundamental rights are “inalienable” is to be preserved, then we must radically shift back the clock. I would rebut knee-jerk accusations that I am returning to “9/10/2001” with my assertion that I simply understand the period between the years 1776 and 1789.
“I can't see anything good coming out of this” – Fmr. US Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey
Nothing at all? Not even a hypothetical? I think this is terribly revealing with regards to the Neo-Conservative mind set. They don't believe in the American system. They cannot conceive that “evil” people still have a right to their day in court.
“It raises the risk of further attacks that we could've prevented” – Fmr. Gov. George Pataki
Punitive actions that violate our own laws as well as treaties we have negotiated in good faith are being used as a recruiting tool by our enemies. Isn't it worth the risk to live up to the standards we purport to believe in?
“Would you have brought Herman Goering to NY for trial?” – Bill O'Reilly
We would have. In fact there were those in our government who tried. The reason we did not is two fold. First, the French, English, etc. wanted their pound of flesh. Second, our government was smart enough to want to avoid the appearance of vengeance seeking.
In fairness to O'reilly, he featured Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) very prominently early in his broadcast.
“The purpose of insurgency is to spread narrative” – A retired general on FoxNews Saturday 11/14/2009 1:40pm
This seems to argue that the hearings should be closed specifically to prevent political speech. This is fast taking hold as an argument amongst the foes of Holder's plan. That we have detached so far from our traditions is frightening and wholly un-American.
“This will compromise sources and methods of intelligence gathering” – Karl Rove
Excuse me? Beating all previous records for “sitting, standing or jumping gall,” Mr. Rove uses this as the rub. I have two words for him in the form of a proper noun: Valerie Plame.
Conversely, there was at least one stunning moment of clarity on FoxNews this morning from none other than Giraldo Rivera:
The best analysis of the day came from Rick Federico, a military lawyer. He said “It's most difficult for Americans to wrap our heads around how it is we can have these men in detention for so long and not provide a forum to adjudicate their case.”
After eight years of captivity and an almost glacial tribunal process, it's time for these men to pay.
These men will never “walk free.”
In the ridiculously unlikely event that any single charge is dropped against one of these men, another charge will be brought. And another. And another.
Think about it. Do you really believe there is any chance that one of these guys will EVER be 'freed” on a technicality?
The deal is done. We, as a nation, are either as brave as we must be to deserve the America of our Founders or we are as small as the the cherry-picking fascists who salivate for Glenn Beck.
The “enemy combatants” argument holds no water. Even if the designation is correct, the previous administration abandoned all precedent set by our nation for dealing with enemy combatants.
First of all, what the were Bush and Cheney thinking bringing these people to Guantanamo Bay in the first place? During WWII, German POWs were brought to Hoboken, NJ.
Second of all, if our country can no longer handle the open rule of law for which so many of our sons and now daughters have fought, bled and died... then what the hell ARE we fighting for?