If you listen to the Beltway babble, even the “moderates” are starting to sound a lot like Dick Cheney. Apparently, their faith in our 250-year old Rule of Law is so fragile and skin-deep that the thought of using our existing legal framework to convict someone such as the “X-Mas Underwear Bomber” portends unfathomable danger for every red-blooded American. Furthermore, their interpretation of the Rights extended by the Constitution are either ridiculously misinformed, or intellectually dishonest.
Last week, it took a Kansas jury less than an hour to convict Scott Roeder, the man who walked into a Lutheran church and shot abortion doctor George Tiller in the head. Roeder’s defense put forth an argument that the charge be reduced to “voluntary manslaughter,” which Kansas law defines as “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force” and carries a slim four-to-six-year sentence. The defense was hoping to make the case that Roeder honestly believed Tiller posed an imminent threat to “unborn children” and that using deadly force against him was justified. On the stand, Roeder admitted to shooting the doctor and expressed no regret. The judge denied this argument. The jury convicted Roeder of first-degree murder.
This is in Wichita, Kansas – a hotbed of Conservative activism. I doubt you could find a jury pool in Kansas without a handful of devout anti-Choice members. And it took them less than an hour.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. This guy is a white American murderer,” you may say. “That’s a big difference from being a brown Muslim murderer. (or attempted murderer)” Of course it is. We all know the broad pro-Muslim and pro-Brown tendencies of the American populace.
As the DOJ re-weighs its decision to try the Burned Crotch Bomber and 9/11 murderers in civilian Courts, I’m trying wrap my head around the associated fear-mongering being perpetrated by the Right (and a solid amount of Democrats).
No one less than Conservative Hero Ronald Reagan addressed the issue of trying terrorists in US Courts during his presidency.
The official policy of the Reagan Administration when it came to treating Terrorists, as articulated by the top Reagan State Department official in charge of Terrorism policies, L. Paul Bremer, in a speech he entitled ”Counter-Terrorism: Strategies and Tactics:”
Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are — criminals — and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them.
It was also Ronald Reagan who signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988 — after many years of countless, horrific Terrorist attacks — which not only declared that there are “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever” justifying torture, but also required all signatory countries to “ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law” and — and Reagan put it — “either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.” And, of course, even George W. Bush — at the height of 9/11-induced Terrorism hysteria — charged attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid with actual crimes and processed him through our civilian courts.
While certain imperfections and inequities exist in our legal system, you have to wonder about the endgame for the supporters of indefinite, perpetual detention of uncharged prisoners.
Ramzi Yousef. Richard Reid. Jose Padilla. Khan Mohammed. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri…The list goes on. All terrorists convicted in US Courts. While Holder weighs his options, his critics are ready to pounce.
“The only time [the Obama] administration ever cites the previous administration for a precedent is to mention that there were some terrorists tried in U.S. courts,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday on State of the Union.
“We now know that was a mistake,” declared McConnell. “That was a mistake by the previous administration. The other mistake they made that shouldn’t be replicated by this administration is letting too many people go from Guantanamo.”
So according to McConnell, not only Reagan, but Bush and Cheney are radical leftists. Is this just political posturing, or is the fear genuine?
“This is really dangerous nonsense,” McConnell said of the Obama administration’s policies regarding treatment of alleged terrorists. “We have a way to do it, John,” McConnell told CNN’s John King. “Interrogate them. Detain them and try them in military commissions offshore at Guantanamo from which no one has ever escaped.”
Asked whether he was ready to deny the White House the funding necessary to close the Guantanamo Bay facility and move detainees held there to a location somewhere in the United States, McConnell responded, “Absolutely.” He predicted that there would be bipartisan support in Congress for withholding the funding.
Ahh. The fear of the escaped terrorist single-handedly wreaking havoc on America. Looks like someone has been watching his 24 DVDs.
These fucking Hawks have big enough balls to send other Americans’ children off the fight their bullshit wars, but they’re scared of bringing heavily-guarded and shackled terrorists to an American city where they’re despised? Some critics say trying them in NYC would be a “circus.” Fine. I have an idea. United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Topeka or Wichita.
So far, Obama + Holder’s DOJ have sent mixed signals. It’s about time they step up and stand tall for the Bill of Rights and the American Rule of Law.