Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yes, Everyone has rights!

In the car today I caught some of today's Talk of the Nation. The segment I heard was about the latest Supreme Court case concerning the rights of detainees in Guantanamo. I only heard about 5 minutes or so, but it was enough to make me start yelling at the radio.

This guy calls, and he's clearly got the winger talking points memorized. He says -

  • Why are we worried about giving rights to people who would slash our throats in a heartbeat? Why worry about protecting people who aren't even Americans?
  • Why are we wasting time arguing about the rights of criminals when we have other problems in this country?
  • What about all the reams of vital intelligence we've got from Guantanamo?

A woman answered him, I assume it was Gitanjali Gutierrez, and she was far too nice to him. She took the approach of explaining that American citizens have been detained as enemy combatants and that whatever intelligence we might have gained from Guantanamo has come at far too high a price, and has cost us the ability to gather more meaningful intelligence in the region with the cooperation of people we have now alienated. She also mentioned that we already have a system in place to deal with criminals and we should use that system.

She was followed by David Rivkin an attorney and a member of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, who argues that the legal system is not appropriate for the detainees and that, in fact, if tried through the system, that most would go free. He claims that most of the detainees are Al Qaeda fighters.

Let's be clear about what's being said here -
  • Non-citizens don't have inalienable rights. The only rights they have are those we deign to grant them.
  • To win the war on terror, these guys are prepared to pick up and imprison innocent men along with the guilty. There is no other reasonable conclusion to draw if they're unwilling to grant them the right to challenge their detention and to force the government to meet a minimum burden of proof. So Rivkin is a lawyer and a member of a human rights commission who believes neither in basic human rights nor basic legal protections
One thing I find encouraging about the possibility of a Democrat in office, any Democrat, is that I think this system is going to change. If the nutjob Giuliani gets in, this will only get worse. Hearing the Democratic candidates talk about addressing the roots of the distrust of America by Muslims, restoring our image and restoring habeas corpus is so refreshing after 7 years of these idiots in power.

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Toast said...

Word. Sometimes I have to remind myself that, as lackluster as the Democratic field might be, any one of them would do worlds of good in terms of restoring America to the country I always assumed it was, the country I was taught it was.

John Howard said...

It's amazing to me that so many people can't make the simple correlation from protecting the rights of people who may or may not have done horrible things to protecting their own rights.

Also, it's ridiculous how many people can't grasp the concept that, if the people are indeed so vile and despicable that basic human rights are too good for them, then it should be mighty fucking easy to find something to find them guilty of using the same system we use for everyone else.

How can someone argue that they would go free if we treated them like people, but at the same time argue that they're so horrible they're not worth basic human rights. It seems to me that the only conclusion you can draw from that position is that our justice system simply doesn't work at all.

Rickey Henderson said...

You really think any Democrat getting in would help? Rickey's not being rhetorical, he's just curious... Rickey's not sure that Hillary Clinton would revoke the Patriot Act and that kind of scares Rickey. But hey, it's better than that fascist Guiliani winning the election...

John Howard said...

That's just Rickey being Rickey.

Chris Howard said...

Well, I may be naive here, but I do believe that the military tribunals will end. At least they're all talking about restoring habeas corpus and rehabilitating our image with the world, and getting rid of this shit is one of the steps you have to take.

Rickey Henderson said...

Fair point. Hillary Clinton is just too much of a damned wishy washy centrist to please Rickey. Not that the other candidates aren't, but at least they started off aligning themselves with the liberal base before gradually moving toward the middle. From day one of her Senate term in NY, she tried to be as moderate as humanly possibly. Rickey takes issue with that. Go 'bama. (go pride!)

Has anyone coined that yet? It needs to be. Rickey demmands royalties however.

Rob said...

I'm more concerned with Mike Huckabee than Rudy. Having said that, no one in the running for President really makes me want to go out and vote.

Chris Howard said...

no one in the running for President really makes me want to go out and vote.

My ideal candidate may not be out there, but after 8 years of Bush, I'll be genuinely excited to vote for any of the Democrats.