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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Another try at justice.

Those who follow the news with any regularity will note that today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the constitutionality of military trials for detainees in the war on terror. In essence, the court ruled that the courts themselves were illegal and, thus, that their resulting decisions were invalid.

As always there were dissenting opinions, this time written by Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Thomas remarked about the majority opinion that the willingness of the Supreme Court:

"...to second-guess the determination of the political branches that these conspirators must be brought to justice is both unprecedented and dangerous..."


However, in truth, this was not the real issue. The majority opinion is not that Congress and the Executive cannot decide who need be brought to justice- only that they must be brought to justice in accordance with the constitution, our laws, and with the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This is equivalent to saying that if a man is accused of rape and murder, you should probably put him on trial, rather than just stringing him up. Not such a hard concept for most people to grasp except, perhaps, when it pertains to terrorists.

I'm sure that there will be those who say that this is a "victory for the terorrists" and that the people who support this decision are "helping the terrorists." Certainly, with the way Bush has been dialing up the rhetoric lately, I don't think we'll have long to wait. Such an argument, however, is nothing more than a dramatic oversimplification of the truth. I don't like terrorists. I don't like al Qaeda. After 9/11 I wanted to see every responsible party located, captured, and put on trial for their crimes. Afterwards, I would very happily have shot them down myself. The problem is that I'm not willing to sacrifice everything that makes my country what it is in order to see that happen. I'm not willing to see us give up our privacy, to surrender our right to confront and question our representatives, or to see those accused of crimes tried fairly. These are freedoms that Americans have bled and died for, and to convert ourselves into a repressive state in the name of combatting those who "hate freedom" is worse than absurd. It is tragic.

Today's decision was a victory for the American people. Now, perhaps, the Bush administration will persue real trials for detainees, and give us real justice, instead of some half-assed cowboy impersonation.

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