Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Justice is served... sky still intact

Last week, Jose Padilla was convicted of plotting to kill people overseas and supporting terrorism.

Padilla, an American citizen, was held in Guantanamo Bay for several years without trial or charge under pretext that he wanted to detonate a 'dirty bomb' in American cities. As soon as it appeared clear that the US Supreme Court was going to order Padilla be charged in a regular court or released, the 'dirty bomb' charges were mysteriously dropped and these new charges pulled out of a hat.

This is because White House and "Justice" Department realized that in order to convict in a real court, they would require actual evidence, compelling evidence. Unlike the kangaroo version, real courts have standards. This is why the Bush administration fought so hard to keep Padilla's 'dirty bomb' charges kept away from the real judges, for fear of its own humiliation.

The conviction of Padilla on these lesser charges is a strong repudiation of the Bush administration's tactics but also of its now virtually discredited defense of the Guantanamo Bay kidnapee camp. For years, they argue that the kidnapees must be kept in Gitmo without charge, without access to lawyers and without any recourse to the judiciary because the sky would fall otherwise. Our fragile democracy would collapse if authorities provide an actual legal justification for their detainment of random and sundry people seized in foreign lands (not prisoners of war, the president insisted).

For too long, Gitmo has served as a perfect excuse invoked by dictators as diverse as Robert Mugabe to the late Turkmenbashi. If the US can take (steal) liberties under the pretext of fighting terrorism, if the so-called leader of the free world can suspend the rule of law as they wish, why can't the despots?

Now is the time to put ALL of the Gitmo detainees on trial in real courts. If there's not enough evidence against certain detainees, they should be released. There is no longer any excuse.

The American judiciary was able to deal with Padilla, just as it'll be able to deal with the other detainees. Our system is strong enough to do things the right way.

American values were upheld, despite the administration's vehement opposition. The sky didn't fall with Padilla's conviction. And it won't fall if the other detainees are given what's due to anyone held by any nation that calls itself civilized: their day in court.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Silly Brian, the sky won't fall if we try suspects in our courts. Everyone knows the sky will really fall and western civilization will come to a screeching halt with gay marriage!