promoting the unwanted, redheaded stepchild that is individual liberty

The rights of terrorists Part II

In liberty and rights on April 19, 2010 at 2:59 am

While many Republicans and even Democrats are crying foul over the Obama administrations’ proposal to read terror suspects the Miranda Warning, it appears the Bush administration has already done so. According to a February 2008 article by The Washington Post, FBI agents were reading suspected terrorists their rights long before Obama stepped foot in the Oval Office.

In an attempt to bring six of the men allegedly connected to the Sept. 11 attacks to justice, including mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Bush administration assigned FBI agents to obtain information that could be admissible in court. According to the article:

“The men were read rights similar to a standard U.S. Miranda warning, and officials designed the program to get to the information the CIA already had gleaned by using waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and other techniques such as sleep deprivation, forced standing and the use of extreme temperatures.

Prosecutors and top administration officials essentially wanted to cleanse the information so that it could be used in court, a process that federal prosecutors typically follow in U.S. criminal cases with investigative problems or botched interrogations.”

They argument that the Miranda Warning applies only to U.S. citizens is equally an uneducated one. The fact is all criminal suspects, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda vs. Arizona, are entitled to be informed of their rights. This means all persons detained, including immigrants and foreigners, are read their Miranda rights. The obvious purpose of Miranda is to assure information obtained is admissible in a court of law as required by the Bill of Rights.

Miranda aside, the underlying assumption driving the motives of those advocating military tribunals is that the crime of terrorism is so horrible precedent and law do not apply and/or that terror suspects are already guilty. For example, it’s not uncommon to hear conservative pundits referring to Guantanamo Bay detainees as terrorists rather than suspected terrorists. It’s as if they’ve already made up their minds — no evidence or trial necessary.

As Americans, we must remember why we have protections in place such as those in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. The rights enumerated in these documents were not bestowed on us by our enlightened and all-wise founders. They could not be given, as they already belonged to us by the mere fact of our humanity. Just as each and every American has the inherent right to justice, so to do such detested figures as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Osama bin Laden.

Detested, but still human.

See The Rights of Terrorists Part I

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  1. I don’t see why this discussion is even taking place. Would you argue that the Nurenburg trials should have been held in the U.S. and under civilian jurisdiction?

    These were enemy combatants and should be subject to military trial. Period.

  2. The problem is defining “enemy combatant.”

    The Military Commissions Act of 2006 defines such as a person “who has engaged in hostilities or who has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its co-belligerents.” Under this this broad definition, a number of innocent persons have been detained — including German, Canadian and American citizens.

    The real problem is the U.S. government offers bounty of up to $5,000 for terror suspects captured. According to Amnesty International, “More than 85 percent of detainees at Guantanamo Bay were arrested, not on the Afghanistan battlefield by US forces, but by the Northern Alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and in Pakistan.”

    As the men in this video can attest, many, if not most, of those captured just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    As for the Nuremburg trials, consider this: if the U.S. had lost World War II, wouldn’t you want our soldiers to have had the right of an attorney, due process and trial by jury? I am not convinced military trials are in the interest of justice.

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