Thursday, June 14, 2007

WSJ disagrees with Fourth Cuircut ruiling and I

The opinion page of the WSJ today opined that the Fourth Circuit's ruling forcing the federal government to extend rights of habeas corpus to individuals who are either American citizens or in the U.S. legally. Their opinion was split into two parts. The first part predicts that the ruling will be overturned. I agree. They made broad sweeping proclamations that were not warranted.

"There's no doubt that the 2-1 Fourth Circuit ruling in Al-Marri v. Wright is remarkable and dangerous in its sweeping judicial claims. Judges Diane Motz and Roger Gregory, both Bill Clinton nominees, ruled that a person like al-Marri does not qualify as an enemy combatant, because the U.S. cannot be "at war" with a private group like al Qaeda."

I believe that the government can declare war against any foreign entity that threatens the security or sovereignty of the United States or any of American citizen. Furthermore...

"For the "enemy combatant" moniker to apply, the court said, a terrorist must have set foot in the soil "alongside" the forces of an enemy state--i.e., Iraq or Afghanistan."

As the WSJ states, this is odd considering that the modern terrorist organization does not necessarily have/need state sponsorship.

Where the WSJ goes wrong is their trust in the federal government. They trust that the government is an altruistic institution which would never misuse the "enemy combatant" label. Trust misplaced for sure. Why are we so scared of the American judicial system?

They, and others, claim that 1) plotting terrorists will get off (mainly through loopholes) and 2) sensitive information will be put out in court. Both legitimate concerns. Legitimate enough to scrap the constitution? I think not. Gangsters and mob boss trials threaten to also allow murderers to get off and out undercover informants or sensitive information, but do we hold them incommunicado without their rights of habeas corpus? No. Nor should we.

Furthermore the whole purpose of the enemy combatant label, or any suspension of habeas corpus, is meant for the battle field. It would be crazy to hold trials for combatants while we are still fighting a war. Although I am hesitant to do so, I will extend this to the war on terror although this should only hold for foreigners.

Under the WSJ's assumptions, Timothy Mcveigh could have been held as an enemy combatant. As despicable as his actions were, should he not have the protections of the constitution? Is somebody who conspires to shoot an FBI agent an enemy combatant? Where is the line drawn? I don't know and neither does the WSJ or the Bush administration. I will again ask conservatives who disagree with me one simple question:

Do you trust President Hillary Clinton with the power to hold American citizens incommunicado without rights of habeas corpus for alleged crimes against the state?

1 comment:

BillT said...

I was listening to the Dean of the Chapman Law School last night and he thinks that the case will get certiori. The issue is whether or not being an Al Queda member (as the defendant attested) represents combatant status.

If it does, then, like the German sabateours (no spell check) in World War II, the Al Queda member would be subject to military justice and not granted habeus corpus.

I still haven't had the time to read up, but my general impression of the Dean is that he is a competent legal scholar and knows his stuff (I hear him once a week).