Monday, November 30, 2009

Justice is Weeping

Austin Hills latest article concerns the trial of some of those held at Guantenamo in New York. As you might expect he is upset at the prospect. And surprisingly enough he makes some good points.
What happens to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, if he is acquitted? “Failure is not an option” Mr. Holder explained in a Senate inquiry. Oh yeah? What about that thing called “due process?” Has the outcome of this trial been pre-determined? Are we to understand that “the fix is in?”Even a lay person like me can see that the outcomes of court trials are often highly unpredictable.

. . . And then there was our President, Barack Obama, who also stated that KSM will be convicted and executed. But what did that mean? Was this the President merely expressing confidence that his vision would become reality, as politicians so often do? Or was this the Executive Branch of our government pr-determining what the judicial branch will and will not do?
Those are some good questions - if you are going to put anybody up for trial you need to at least hold out the possibility that they might be found innocent. If you hold a trial and the outcome is predetermined, well, there's a word for that, and it's show trial.

That said, he doesn't have much of an answer either in my mind.
If, on the other hand, the Guantanamo Bay facility were defined as a “POW camp,” then those being detained there would be “enemy soldiers,” and would be subject to “rules of war” set forth in international law.

. . . By legal definition, a war is not a legal proceeding, and what happens on the battle field is not the same thing as what happens in a criminal investigation.
Fair enough, but prisoners of war are not held forever, nor are they considered guilty of anything other than being on the other side in a war. We didn't execute Germans or Japanese soldiers, except the leaders, who got trials at Nuremburg (those who weren't dead already). Those international laws Hill is referencing do not permit us to wantonly kill prisoners of war (and conservative opinion of those international laws, which include the Geneva convention, has been a bit shaky over the past few years anyway).

All this to say that Obama's plan for dealing with Guantenamo is pretty faulty, and is leaving himself open to these kinds of attacks, mixing some good points with some nonsense.

No comments: