To explain what Pres. Obama ought to do I have to give a little history first.
Bush invaded iraq illegally without a declaration of war from congress, which is the only body legally allowed to declare war. Which is likely why they keep calling the war in iraq the “war on terror”, because they can’t call it an actual war for legal reasons. Because it’s not a legal war but instead a “police action”, the prisoners taken by US forces are not prisoners of war and thus do not get protections under the geneva conventions such as a right to challenge their encarceration and the right to not oh I dunno, be tortured or beaten to death, as many detainees have been. But that’s another blog. Sticking to this one subject, bush passed the Military Comissions Act of 2006 which, among other things, invented the classification of “enemy combatant” and allowed “enemy combatant” status to be assigned to virtually anyone, stripping them of most of their civil rights, including the right to be marandized, right to have an attourney or representative present for interrogations, right to challenge your incarceration, and so on.
Now, getting us back to Obama, many want him to turn the people in gitmo over to civillian courts to be tried. But the problem with that is if he does, then even the people in gitmo that are actually guilty, and I’m talking people who planned 9/11 here, even people who confessed before being tortured, would likely be set free. Because the evidence against them was obtained without them being given the right to an attourney, without them being marandized in any accepted system of law, without any protections whatsoever, and as such would be inadmissible. As would evidence against other people which were obtained by ill-gotten confessions.
So what should obama do? He should turn them over to the civillian courts, knowing that many if not most of them will go free.
This is what we do when cops break the law and violate peoples’ rights. We live with the consequences. If a cop breaks your arm to get you to confess, it’s inadmissible in court. It doesn’t matter if that confession leads to evidence that you were the second gunman on the grassy knoll, it’s inadmissible and you go free. This is the way it has to be, because this is why cops don’t break suspects’ arms or dangle you off a tenth story balcony to gain a confession. This is why criminals aren’t tortured in prison to gain information about other criminals, and if they were that information would not be admissible, no matter how many criminals it could put behind bars, or how safe it might make us.
Freedom is not safe, it is quite dangerous. In a free society where the rights of all are protected, sometimes murderers and rapists go free, and they murder and rape more people.
But what is the alternative? The alternative is to give our government the right to do horrible things, and mostly to innocent people merely suspected of wrongdoing.
There are a lot of things we could do to make ourselves safer. If we put hidden cameras in peoples’ homes, I’m sure that would save a lot of lives and catch a lot of criminals in the act (say rapists and murderers, abusive spouses, child molesters and so on). But do you want the government putting cameras in your house? Do you want to live like that?
Freedom or security. Pick one, because you can’t have both.