Home > Uncategorized > Thats Okay, Most People Don’t Appreciate Their Rights Anyway

Thats Okay, Most People Don’t Appreciate Their Rights Anyway

Snatching this from a friends Facebook wall, I am overwhelmed by thoughts on the bill. It’s a complex issue to be sure, but the major premise is valid, let me explain.

Essentially this portion of the defense authorization would permit enemy combatants, regardless where detained, to be held in custody indefinitely and without charges. It would apply even to US Citizens and on US soil. This is actually nothing new nor is it a direct violation of the due process amendment of the Constitution. The reason it is not a violation (at least looking at it from where I am sitting) is that it doesn’t apply to bank robbers, or murderers but to those planning or conducting what Congress considers acts of war.

If you are not familiar with the Geneva Conventions, the third convention covers treatment of Prisoners Of War (POW’s). The convention specifies how prisoners are to be treated and who constitutes a legal combatant and so forth. Non-uniformed personnel (irregulars) engaging in hostilities are in violation of the rules of war and thus are not subject to protections under the Geneva Conventions. In fact, even on US soil an unlawful enemy combatant can be detained for these war crimes, and that is as it should be.

So I can support the act on the basis of principle with regard to the rules of war. However, I find the provisions to be abhorrent. Like I said, I can agree that unlawful combatants should not be afforded the rights of legal combatants, what I can’t agree with is the broad detention powers to be draped on the executives shoulders. For those detained on US soil, courts should be left to decide who is and is not an unlawful combatant and whether or not that person is acting on behalf of a “hostile power” such as Al Qaeda. It’s pretty clear that there are no legal combatants fighting on behalf of that organization, so all of them are unlawful (not being uniformed, openly carrying arms or acting on behalf of a sovereign nation).

A competent tribunal must be  used to determine which of the three categories the detainee fits into.

1. Lawful Combatant (includes civilians legally acting in support of a warring power)
2. Unlawful Combatant
3. Non-combatants who have committed a crime; having done nothing with any relation to any war and should be held and tried in civilian custody

You see it matters a great deal whether a domestic crime has independently been committed, such as a bomb planted in Oklahoma City or whether the act was on behalf of a foreign power of some kind. One of them is a crime, one of them is an act of war. It makes all the difference in the world and I’m glad Obama has pledged to veto this bill if it contains these provisions. I’ll not trade freedom for the illusion of security, write or call your representative and/or senators and try and persuade them that you won’t either.

Addition: In case it wasn’t clear. I am for the holding of unlawful (and lawful) combatants indefinitely without charges, but I am against this bill. It needs to be up to a properly constituted tribunal whether of not the person is a combatant or simply a criminal, whether that is the civilian courts or some other body.

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