Thursday, July 27, 2006

The travesty that is Hamdam v. Rumsfeld

Another thing I have been meaning to comment on was the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision handed down by the Supreme Court. There have been plenty of legal analysts who have commented on the details of the opinion and the correctness of the decision. Obviously I don't have the same level of expertise so I am going to comment in a more general way.

Hamdan has already had some disastrous effects, chief among them being the Pentagon's decision to extend the Geneva Convention's Common Article 3 protections to illegal combatants. The experience of the farcical Moussaoui trial should have been warning enough to the Bush administration and the Pentagon as to the unsuitability of treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem.

That trial took four years and cost many millions of taxpayer dollars and the result was that we couldn't even sentence to death a person who, by his own admission, wanted to fly a jet into some structure full of people and was trying to achieve that end. And, why was his life spared? His father was abusive. And some people in France treated him badly because of his race. And, so for that, the American taxpayers can pay to feed and clothe him for the rest of his life. Wonderful.

(As an aside, I will just state that I don't think Moussaoui was the "20th hijacker". I think he was a wanna-be and a stooge and executing him would have granted him his fervent desire to become a martyr. That being said, I can understand and sympathize with the desire to execute him.)

And, now the Pentagon, rather than interpreting the decision as narrowly as possible has ruled that these illegal combatants are entitled to many of the same protections as our soldiers.

A point that I have tried to make in the past about the Bush administration is this: they can't repeat can't win over their critics. No matter how hard the Bush administration tries (see No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drug benefit, out of control federal spending), they get crucified for it anyway. How much goodwill have these kinds of policies won them from the Krugmans and Dowds and the crowd? None. Zilch. Zip. Why not govern your principles and slough off the rhetorical slings and arrows?

I don't know why not. I do know that our enemies are not stupid and these kind of decisions are what emboldened them to attack us in the first place. Combine the Hamdan decision with the equally misguided McCain anti-torture amendment and one can see that we are rapidly painting ourselves into a corner in which we will find that our forces are hamstrung in their ability to find, fix and kill the enemy, while the enemy will find himself free to commit any and all atrocities.

Think about it: every day you hear and read stories about an enemy that targets women and children and there is little or no outrage. Conversely, some terrorist cretin gets a hangnail and there are hundreds of stories and editorials decrying the American "evil empire". This is the same attitude which has clouded the reporting on the Israeli incursion into Lebanon and it's despicable.

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