In what is being described only as a “major blow to the Bush administration,” the United States Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the terrorists detained at the American detention center at Guantanamo Bay are protected under the rights and guarantees of the U.S. Constitution.
It is still impossible for me to fathom how something can be a “major blow the U.S. administration’s war effort” without somehow also being a blow to the rest of us Americans.
Osama bin Laden declared war on all of America, not just the Bush administration. Bush wasn’t even in office when this occurred. This ruling doesn’t just hamstring the Bush administration’s efforts to protect us from unrelenting terrorists – it hamstrings every administration to follow.
Now, before I go on, I am not for a moment advocating in favor of watering down the Constitution. I am just unable to find where the Constitution covers foreign combatants making war against the United States.
If they are covered under the Fifth Amendment guarantees of due process as U.S. citizens, one would think they would also be guilty of treason under Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, which defines treason against the United States as consisting “of levying war against America.”
Of course, one can’t charge Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with treason against the United States. As a non-U.S. citizen, he owes America no allegiance. As a self-avowed enemy combatant against the United States, it is his duty to attack this nation.
For that reason, the United States has never extended the Fifth Amendment guarantees to prisoners of war. Prisoners of war are governed according to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, and then only if both parties adhere to its provisions.
Our enemy does not extend such courtesies to prisoners. It doesn’t have prisoners. The enemy takes hostages, which are held only as long as they are useful. Then they are usually tortured and brutally murdered.
The detainees at Guantanamo are not Los Angeles gang members. They are dedicated, religiously inspired, fanatical Islamic warriors who consider death in “jihad” the noblest of all possible fates and their only assurance of Paradise.
At least a dozen of those detainees already released have since either been killed or recaptured after having returned to the battlefield.
This isn’t an issue of politics; it is one of military strategy, not to mention military effectiveness. Mohamed Atta, the pilot of the first plane to ram into the Twin Towers, was forced to be released in an Israeli prisoner exchange by the Clinton administration. He thanked us by leading the 9/11 suicide attacks.
Our forces are currently locked in combat in various places around the world with the same enemy just granted constitutional protections by the Supreme Court.
Will they be required to read them their rights before capturing them? Will they be afforded the right to an attorney before being questioned about such things as the military disposition of enemy forces?
What is some 19-year-old private first class from Middle America supposed to do when confronted with an armed enemy actively trying to kill him? Hire an attorney?
Many of those now detained at Guantanamo may soon be free to resume their war against the United States, including the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was waterboarded during his interrogation. Everything obtained from that incident forward cannot therefore be used as evidence against him.
This ruling means that, theoretically, Khalid Sheik Mohammed could walk away a free man after planning the murder of 2,948 innocents – while some private defending himself from an armed and fanatical enemy could find himself going to jail for violating the enemy’s constitutional right to try and kill him.
This isn’t just bizarre. It’s surreal.
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