Federal courts are a time-tested, constitutionally sound, and internationally approved system for prosecuting designated enemy combatants. The United States Constitution is intended not to grant rights, but to protect those rights in the face of the power of the federal government. Military commissions not only fail to provide constitutional protections, which, by rule of tradition, apply wherever the federal government reaches its hand, but also are not feasible in their notoriety or in the illegitimate title of their fabricated captive: the enemy combatant. Terrorism is a criminal act, and must be treated as such in order to preserve our nation's integrity and honor.
The lawful protection of all persons in relation with the United States, citizens or aliens, males, females, people of all nationalities, races, religions, and yes, even of all criminal stripes, are encompassed in a single phrase in the fourteenth amendment: Due process. That, in turn, is best defined by a single word: fairness. This country's federal courts were carefully crafted and have been meticulously perfected over two centuries precisely for the sake of preserving proper due process. Military tribunals for prisoners of war have also existed since the country's inception, and though they do tend to subvert due process, they are regulated by national and international laws of war. Military commissions for so-called enemy combatants, however, are not governed by these laws, though they are supposed to be.
[...] Depending on which one they are deemed to be by a proper tribunal, not some defective CSRT, they are to be tried as civilians in federal courts or in military courts as soldiers with full Geneva protections. They are one or the other. There is no in-between, and titles claiming them as such are illegal. Conclusion Terrorism is a criminal act, and as it is such, suspected terrorists must be tried in federal courts. However, if their acts are deemed violations of the laws of war, then the may be tried as prisoners in military commissions, but only with full Geneva protections. [...]
[...] As the senior managing attorney of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Shayana Kadidal, points out, interrogators come in to testify and claim that other, firsthand witnesses freely gave incriminating evidence against a defendant, how should the defense team prove those witnesses were in fact tortured or coerced without having them there to cross-examine?” Kadidal brings up another point: Though both the first Military Commissions Act, proposed by President George W. Bush and passed in 2006, and President Obama's amended version of the 2006 Act, the Military Commissions Act of 2009, prohibit the admission of evidence acquired through coercion, neither takes substantial accent against the so-called “clean teams,” which are “groups of FBI interrogators who interrogate previously-tortured witnesses and ask the same questions as the torturers, without the torture.” The new Act merely recommends that the Judge consider the "totality of the circumstances," including, as appropriate, lapse of time, change of place, or change in identity of the questioners between the statement sought to be admitted and any prior questioning of the accused." But the Military Commissions Act of 2009 still allows testimonies taken in those circumstances to be used. [...]
[...] Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, put it aptly in saying that “displac[ing] [the federal court] system for a military commissions system that does not have rules, that is certain to result in further delay and that is viewed as illegitimate by much of the rest of the world, would be deeply irresponsible." Federal Courts, as Time-Tested Forums for Trying Suspected Terrorists, Are Better Than Military Commissions. Federal courts have successfully prosecuted more than 150 terrorism cases since 9/11, with the average sentence being 16 years. [...]
[...] Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that captured combatants should be treated as POWs unless a competent tribunal determines otherwise. As noted above, CSRTs are not “competent tribunals,” and therefore, they, and the military commissions as a whole, defy Article 5. Of course, the military commissions don't purport to follow the Geneva Conventions in their entirety. In fact, previously, the Bush administration had tried to claim that no rights under the Geneva Conventions applied to detainees suspected of terrorism. However, the Supreme Court, in the 2006 case of Hamdan v. [...]
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