Quote of the Day: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Is Not An Enemy Combatant
Our Quote of the Day comes from attorney-blogger Doug Mataconis, commenting on the call by Republicans including Sen. Lindsey Graham to declare captured Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant” so he would not be tried in civilian courts and would lose some of the legal rights in how he is handled and tried that ordinary citizens have. He points out the implications:
We have courts because they are essential to the protection of the rule of law and the rights of individual citizens, and they are the method by which we dispense justice under rules that are designed as much to protect us as they are to protect criminal defendants. Treating Tsarnaev, a naturalized American citizen who has lived in this country since he was eight years old, treated no differently from men who were captured on battlefields in Afghanistan and are currently sitting in the prison complex at Guantanamo Bay where they are likely to remain for a very long time, is a perversion of that system of justice in the name of a haphazard system of non-justice that has risen up in the years since the September 11 attacks. If Tsarnaey is treated as an “enemy combatant” then it would mean that any American citizen could potentially receive the same designation if the government so chose, and that they could be subjected to the same deprivations of rights, including lack of access to counsel for extended periods of time. That’s a perversion of justice and a perversion of liberty.
But then there is the political element — and it does touch on the political. And he nails it here as well:
Graham, I think, speaks for a large segment of the Republican Party here. Outside of people like Rand Paul, who have been far more circumspect and cautious when talking about the “war on terror” and related issues, most Republicans do indeed believe that the entire nation, indeed the entire world, is a “battlefield” in this war, and that wartime tactics and legal regimes are necessary to fight it. It’s the reason that the Bush Administration was so easily able to justify not only the establishment of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which to some extent is likely necessary, but also “enhanced interrogation” techniques that we now know clearly crossed the line to torture, rendition of suspected terrorists to CIA black sites in friendly countries (including, according to some reports, countries like Libya) where American agents were free to engage in brutal interrogation techniques without having to worry about legal niceties. Now, they are suggesting that we extend that power not just to terrorists captured on a foreign battlefield, but to American citizens arrested in the suburbs of America’s 21st largest city. If we do that, where, exactly, does it end?
There’s a lot more so go to the link and read it in its entirety.
I suspect that come Monday when the talk shows are in full gear you’ll see that this will morph into a political attack line that will quickly become broader. We’ll know if I’m wrong one week from today.