Saturday, May 9, 2009

Military Tribunals for Guantanamo Prisoners

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is getting ready to revive the Bush administration's idea of using "military commissions" to try prisoners -- albeit under "under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protection." Assuming the article is correct, this is mostly good news.

It's good news because it demonstrates that the Obama administration is facing reality -- that allowing foreign terror suspects access to the civilian court system would be both stupid and dangerous. As usual with the Obama administration, however, there is also some bad news.  The new military commission rules

block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys
Excluding evidence of any kind is idiotic. Evidence gained by coercive interrogation, if it can be independently confirmed, is no different than evidence gained by any other means. Even evidence which cannot be verified should at least be heard and evaluated.

When dealing with alien terror suspects, the first priority of the U.S. should be U.S. security and interests -- not the imaginary rights of suspect enemies. Hopefully the Obama administration's nod to "greater legal protection" for these prisoners will not result in the U.S. freeing any actual terrorists. But there is more good news. A spokesman for Amnesty International and the head of the ACLU both reacted with horror at the thought of new military commissions. Here's Tom Parker of Amnesty:

"This is an extraordinary development, and it's going to tarnish the image of American justice again,"
and Anthony Romero of the ACLU:
"We'll litigate this before they can proceed, absolutely,"..."Any effort to tinker with military commissions would be an enormous mistake. There is no way to fix a flawed process that has not rendered justice."
Neither of these organizations cares the slightest bit about U.S. interests as they pertain to national security. The ACLU, which was founded to protect the rights of Americans -- and sometimes actually does that -- is currently engaged in a major effort to create rights for our enemies.  The fact that Amnesty & the ACLU are so upset about this development indicates that the Obama administration is moving in the right direction.

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