Monday, June 23, 2008

Presumed Innocent

Let's pretend for a moment that you are a detainee in Guantanamo Bay. Let's also presume that you are not an enemy combatant. Let us further assume that there is no dispute between yourself and the U.S. government that you have never fought against the U.S. government and there is no evidence available that you intended to do so.

Would you feel vindicated simply because your status as an enemy combatant was thrown out at trial? Or would you rather have had the Constitutional protections in place to challenge your detention from the outset?

There are bad people at Guantanamo Bay. There are enemy combatants. There are terrorists who want to attack the United States and her allies. That is not in dispute. What has been in dispute is the mode of classifying individuals as enemy combatants. There are about 270 there now who had been so classified under the CSRTs that were recently declared unconstitutional. Prior to the CSRTs, the number of detainees was over 400. The necessary implication, of course, is that people are not "enemy combatants" simply because the Government said they were; and the CSRTs did go to some degree of protecting them at that end. However, that the protections afforded were insufficient to meet habeas corpus (the right decision, FWIW), the status of the others who DO challenge the validity of their detention is an issue; and that at least one of them has won a victory against his classification, whether it be related to Boumediene or not, shows there is still a LOT of room to go.

I could not imagine being detained indefinitely as an enemy combatant by a nation that conceded it had no evidence of my being or intending to engage in combat against it. Thank goodness I do not live in a nation that does that (in theory).

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