RANGER AGAINST WAR: Guilty Until Proven Innocent <

Monday, April 10, 2006

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

A recent Wall Street Journal article, "Terrorists and the Supreme Court" (Review and Outlook, 4/1-2/06) is extremely troubling as it confounds several unrelated topics. The confusion is amongst the terms "captured", "enemy" and "enemy combatant". Indeed, Supreme Court Justice Scalia is quoted: "I'm not about to give (a Guantanamo detainee) who was captured in a war a full jury trial."

If they were captured in a war, then they are prisoners of war and should be afforded the full protection of the Geneva Convention. There is no other way in a democracy sworn to abide by the rule of law. Why are we unclear on this matter?

What statute, US law or international law legitimizes the concept "illegal enemy combatant"? Categories cannot be arbitrarily established for the convenience of the war on terror. If a person is in fact a terrorist, then arrest him, try him, and legally incarcerate him, for he then falls under the purview of criminal civilian law. Why is this administration loathe to rely on the open rule of law? Isn't this the basis of democratic thought and action? Keeping people imprisoned without due process or affording them POW status should sicken all Americans.

The article goes on to talk about the "all too real threat from dirty bombs, anthrax and WMD that can kill hundreds of thousands", yet , where is the evidence to prove the veracity of this 1984-ish statement? We accept these statements without critical evaluation, which creates a climate of fear that enables the administration to trample on the rule of law, all with the US cirizen's tacit approval.

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