Terrorists' rights: An apology
Above: "Achmed, they've just subpoena'd Osama!"
You could quite justifiably tell me I'm a little late to discuss whether captured terrorists should be allowed full trials according to American law; after all, the Supreme Court ruled the answer to be a big old Yes well over a year ago now.
But I've got something to get off my chest, so I'm gonna give it to the old college try anyway.
Even if you don't remember the reactions to the verdict, I'll bet you can probably imagine them without any help. The Democrats crowed over their latest victory; the Republicans jeered that the Democrat candidate's slogan for 2008 should be "The Party for Terrorists' Rights".
I wasn't one of the jeerers. I certainly wasn't on the side of the Democrats, though, either; despite being apolitical due to my religious beliefs, I still have a bit of the old soft spot left for the grand U.S. o' A, and that being the case, I've always tended to sympathize with Americans more concerned for their own safety than-... well, the safety of people who hate them and are trying to kill them. I'd write "That's not so hard to understand, is it?", but for today's Democrats, the answer stupefyingly seems to be yes. Their own soft spot for Lady Liberty hardened over a long time ago, it seems. Bring on the Socialist States of America.
I digress. I didn't want to support the bozos; I didn't quite feel right about supporting the conservatives. So I never entered into that particular debate.
I really should have. The answer was clear from the get-go - and the answer is, quite embarrassingly, exactly what the bozos and the Supreme Court justices have been saying all along.
It's also right there in the United States' Declaration of Independence, written in simply lovely penmanship:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."
The conservative argument for terrorists' lack of speedy trial and non-Geneva treatment has always been, at its core, that the terrorists are (a) not playing by the rules which guarantees them protection by the law and (b) are at any rate not Americans, thus not subject to its laws.
But the second objection is obvious poppycock, because one of the most beautifully brazen acts of the Declaration of Independence is not simply to declare Americans endowed with inalienable rights, but men (and later, we logically extrapolated "men" to include women). It's not just a smack in the face to anybody who would oppress us; it's a smack in the face to anybody who oppresses anybody else!
The first objection likewise doesn't hold up to any logical scrutiny. Basically, the Geneva Convention is a set of agreements amongst nations to treat each other's soldiers well, should they end up fighting, since those soldiers are fighting on behalf of their governments. It's a special dispensation of extra rights to soldiers ("Your uniformed citizens can kill ours without being criminally charged if our uniformed citizens can kill yours."). A theoretically good idea.
However, you can't enforce such a contract except by - er, force, which is a fairly useless threat in circumstances where the revocation of the Convention is an issue in the first place. That being the case, if one army decides not to play the game by Convention rules, the only proper response is to hit them with what the Geneva Convention was meant to protect them from: criminal charges.
Thus losing coverage under the Geneva Convention simply returns a killer to civilian status, to be tried under civilian law.
There, now. It all makes sense, doesn't it?
Yes. I think so, too.
I just wish I'd thought so before now. Sorry about that, Libs; score one for you.