Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Detainee Rights

The Supreme Court is once again considering the rights of detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Arguments on both sides suggest the case to be a no-brainer.

All prisoners have a right and must be given access to full representation and all charges and supporting information brought against them. This is one of the cornerstones of any democratic society and a primary and significant difference between democracies and non-democracies. Without these rights, the ability to accurately determine guilt or innocence cannot be ensured.

A departure from this standard would only be another chink in the armor of our way of life. If we are fighting for democracy, we must ensure we hold ourselves to the highest standards, or we have already surrendered the battle. Justice without a fair trial is not justice at all, and is regularly practiced in non-democratic societies around the world. We should genuinely fight for and defend our founding democratic principles.

The Supreme Court has two choices: the right choice and the ideological choice. This decision is a defining moment for this Court and will not be forgotten by the history books of tomorrow nor the tyrants and despots of today.

UPDATE: This case has been thrown an important, if indirect curveball. According to new reports, Senate and House Intelligence Committee members of both parties were apparently briefed as early as 2002 about the CIA's use of waterboarding in detainee interrogation. While not directly related, it certainly enhances the necessity of detainee's receiving proper representation and fair treatment under the law. If the U.S. Congress can sign off on torture, federal courts should have the ability to review the cases.

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