So the terrorists don’t have to

imprisonedImagine you are at the mall one day and suddenly you are surrounded by a bunch of strangers, arrested, and taken to jail. Then you are transferred to prison and ultimately to the infamous U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. No one bothers to tell you that you are suspected of being a terrorist and will be held without formal charges, without an attorney, without a trial — indefinitely, or until the “War on Terror” ends.

It could happen. This week the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) go to conference and a final reconciled version of the bill will be settled upon and sent to President Obama to sign. He has threatened to veto the bill, but a threat doesn’t make it so. In our current hyperpartisan political climate and with the next election looming, anything is possible.

The law would violate the Constitution, denying U.S. citizens their due process — the right to hear the charges against them, the right to an attorney, the right to a speedy trial by their peers, the right to face their accusers in a court of law. It would expand to American soil, to Anytown USA, the right of our military and law enforcement officials to take any suspected terrorist off the streets and throw him or her into a military gulag to languish forever.

First the Patriot Act; now the NDAA — America making war on Americans, so the terrorists don’t have to.


Related post on Pied Type: I will not live in fear

18 thoughts on “So the terrorists don’t have to

  1. There’s no arrest and no charges because the individuals in question aren’t criminals; they’re enemy combatants and are to be captured and held as POWs under the laws of war. One held, if they are determined to be criminals as well, normal judicial procedures are to be followed.

    1. My apologies, Jonolan. Your comment got caught in the spam filter and I just found it.

      Even so-called “enemy combatants,” if arrested under U.S. law, are also entitled to the protection of U.S. law, IMHO. And to date the problem with our capture or seizure of “suspected terrorists” is that we never get around to trying them to determine their guilt or innocence. We just toss them into Gitmo to rot. It’s incomprehensible to me that anyone would consider doing that to U.S. citizens within the U.S. Where’s the rule of law? Where’s the presumption of innocence, the right to a speedy trial, etc? Suspects are neither criminals nor enemy combatants until a trial proves they are.

      1. No problems – WordPress has been trying to censor me for months and marking me as a spammer is part of it – and thanks for digging out the comment.

        On the topic at hand though – You’re still thinking in terms of crimes. A captured enemy isn’t necessarily a criminal insofar as civilian courts are concerned and are held as POWs. That could, up to a point, apply to people holding American citizenship.

        As for the foreigners in Gitmo – It’s the best place for them and, again, they don’t need to be tried except possible under military justice as illegal combatant or war criminals – but I don’t strongly advocate doing that due to the fucked up manner in which manner were captured and the harshness of UCMJ punishments

        I certainly DON’T want US civilian courts trying foreigners who were captured in foreign countries for alleged illegal acts committed solely on foreign soil. Think about that for a moment. .

      2. I would agree that U.S. courts shouldn’t be trying foreigners captured for acts on foreign soil. But Americans captured on American soil certainly should be. And no one anywhere should be held indefinitely without charges, proof of guilt, or hope of release.

        The “war on terror” is not a war at all. It’s a trumped up, grandiose term for a heightened state of alertness that will never end, and therefore Gitmo prisoners have no expectation of ever being tried or released at the “end of hostilities.” Personally I think the whole terror thing falls into the category of international crime and should be dealt with by national and international police and law enforcement agencies and, where appropriate, U.S. special forces.

      3. There’s no point in our continuing our particular debate; we have too fundamental of a disagreement to make it worthwhile. You think of the situation in terms of crime and I think of it terms of national security. We’re always going to have vast and irreconcilable differences of opinion on how the matter should be handled.

      4. You’re welcome and thanks as well. I too enjoyed our exchange which is partly why I chose to curtail it when we reached an insurmountable philosophical impasse.

  2. I agree with you, Pied, even if in some people’s eyes that makes me a certain “Type of person”, despite my military career.

    America was stampeded in fear by 9/11, led by George W. Bush into an irrational over-reaction to a one-time event in which the context of the word “war” was bastardized into something different from its historical meaning. We saw something similar in the over-reaction to the Commies at the start of the Cold War when many good and well-intentioned people were unfairly demonized by Sen. McCarthy and his ilk. Scare tactics trump discourse every time.

    Both parties are now being swept into unwise acts like this because of political demagoguery, and the nation’s integrity is forfeit in the balance.

    1. I agree 100% with your assessment of Bush’s reaction to 9/11. And ten years after the fact it seems that in some ways the paranoia, instead of subsiding, continues to grow.

      I thought of McCarthy too. Except with this bill, instead of just ruining careers and reputations, we’ll be adding one-way all-expenses-paid trips to Gitmo.

  3. I’ve been telling my friends that I’ve been looking for a remote cave in the Northern Territories with high speed internet. So if you hear of any coming available, please let me know. I’m not liking where our country is going in so many ways.

    1. I’m afraid it would take more than the Internet to keep me happy in a cave, but if you come across some slightly more comfortable accommodations up there, I might be willing to split the rent. I haven’t been this concerned about our country since the days of the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam.

  4. No one ever said it was easy to balance the need for security with the rights of freedom, but that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. Clearly, we’re push too far in the wrong direction.

    1. Yes, the implementation of security measures should stop where the rights of Americans begin. Even the average American reader with an 8th grade education can understand what the Constitution says about due process.

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