Saturday, October 11, 2003

Defending the indefensible

The White House is trying to defend its Caribbean gulag at Guantanamo:

These individuals are terrorists or supporters of terrorism and we are at war on terrorism and the reasons for detaining enemy combatants in the first place is to gather intelligence and make sure that these enemy combatants don't return to help our enemies plot attacks or carry out attacks on the United States.

Substituting "criminals" for "terrorists" in the above will show you how murky that thinking is. What the White House is advocating is locking people up in preventative detention, without trial or any form of oversight, until America feels safe enough to let them go. This contravenes the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair, speedy and open trial, and the requirement that the government actually prove its case before inflicting punishment.

We would not tolerate this for criminal suspects, and we should not tolerate it for those suspected of terrorism. If the United States has a case against these people, then it should charge them in court. If it doesn't, it should release them.