Should terrorists get fair trials?

9 Dec

In this short clip, FOX’s Judge Napolitano argues with Bill’O over whether the 9/11 conspirators should be given a fair trial in a NYC civilian court, or prosecuted in a military tribunal.

(I especially love the part where Bill’O admits he doesn’t care about the constitution)

From good ol’ Bill’O’s point of view, Bush declared a war on terror, therefore terrorists are enemy combatants, therefore the rights in the constitution do not apply.

If the government declares a war on terror, and that means “terrorists” are enemy combatants and thus subject to military tribunals, regardless of what the constitution demands, the extreme danger is that anyone the government declares a “terrorist” would be immediately stripped of all their rights. Bill’O has no problem doing this to some Arabs, but what if the government started prosecuting white supremacists and abortion clinic bombers in the same way? “Terrorism” does have a legal definition, and it applies to these groups as well.

Napolitano sees this, but Bill’O will have none of it. After all, Bill’O and his mindless followers are infallible, patriotic, god fearing Americans. They don’t need to be bothered by some document written hundreds of years ago.

But let me ask this: Suppose we adopted Bill’O’s view, that combatants in a war on an idea or condition (not a country) should be stripped of all rights, what would we have? What about the war on poverty? Are poor people enemy combatants? What about the war on hunger? Drugs? Crime? What about the war on Cancer?

This is where conservative readers will object: “Oh that’s ridiculous. This would only apply to terrorists! Don’t you hate terrorists?”

Yes, I hate terrorists, but if you disregard what separates us from them out of fear and hate, namely the rule of law and the constitution, then they have already one. You destroyed yourself without them firing a shot. Congratulations. No, as horrible as terrorists are, we must be better than them. We must abide by the constitution we claim to defend, even when it is most difficult and painful.

4 Responses to “Should terrorists get fair trials?”

  1. Ben Hoffman December 9, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    Yes, how do we know if they’re really terrorists unless they get a fair trial? They could be just some Afghanistan peon just trying to earn a buck to feed his family.

  2. CJ December 9, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    Yea, but that’s the reason the war in Iraq will be lost. The terrorists don’t wear uniforms, so we don’t call them enemy combatants. American soldier gets captured, he gets beheaded on international tv. Arab gets captured, we get tears from sops saying how cruel we are to subject him to a military tribunal. *shrugs* You will lose this war because you play by the old rules. Rules of engagement that only apply to you.

    Might suck, but as long as there’s people trying to get the terrorists treated nicely, you’re going to get more planes in towers. Putting it simply.

    • godlesspaladin December 9, 2009 at 10:33 pm #

      But that doesn’t address the problem of who’s calling who terrorists. If the government can strip anyone of rights just by labeling them a terrorist, then the constitution doesn’t matter, and if that doesn’t matter, then we’ve lost!

  3. Ben Hoffman December 10, 2009 at 12:06 am #

    That’s exactly right, godless. If we give up the things this country stands for, what the hell are we fighting for?

    [Might suck, but as long as there’s people trying to get the terrorists treated nicely, you’re going to get more planes in towers. Putting it simply.]

    That is putting it simply but it’s also wrong. They didn’t attack us because we treated them nicely. They attacked us because we stuck our noses into the affairs of Muslim nations — mainly Saudi Arabia.

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