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Sunday, July 13, 2003

Posted by Jake
Unjust, unwise, unAmerican -- America's plan to set up military commissions for the trials of terrorist suspects is a big mistake

I have to say that I have always been a little uncomfortable with military tribunals for foriegn nationals. I understand the security concerns: that they might convey information about intelligence gathering, that they might cause a legal fiasco with civil rights organizations, or that they might be acquited on largely political grounds. Clearly, a civilian court is not acceptable with those considerations.

But the "compromise" worked out by the administration may be going a bit far. It abdicates the vast majority of what I would call necessary liberties, and with them even an illusion of fairness and impartiality. Other compromises when it comes to terrorist trials are not without precedent. The article cites terrorism courts in Britain, Spain, and South Africa that have been successful while abdicating minimal procedural rights.

Understanding that other options are available, that these trials can be run justly without becoming their own "quagmire", is what makes this policy so galling. Why shouldn't we punt the decision, and release British citizens to British courts? Don't you think that they would recieve the justice they deserve from a system that has agreed with us on so many other policies?

I agree with the concerns of the Bush administration. We shouldn't be a light touch in matters of terrorism. But we can do this, and do it thoroughly, without resort to the methods they have chosen to adopt.


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