Terrorists have no rights.

Wire-tapping, herding Americans into “free speech zones,” detaining citizens without charges, and generally ignoring the law are acts George W. Bush excuses by saying that this is war. What does that mean, exactly?

War used to be easy to identify. It happened between states—governments, actually—according to predictable rules. But when someone blows up a building for a political cause, is it an act of war, or a crime? When bin Laden’s people did it in September, 2001, it was an act of war. When McVey et. al. did it in 1993, it was treated as a crime. When Iraqis do it, it’s treated as both at once.

It’s important to know the difference, because our constitution limits what police can do. They are forbidden, for example, from driving down the road shooting whoever looks suspicious. They aren’t permitted to arrest people and put them in secret prisons with no access to attorneys, and without filing charges.

The idea isn’t new that “rights” just don’t apply to certain groups of people. We’ve all heard someone say that child molesters don’t have rights. Lately, we hear that terrorists don’t have rights.

But here in America, we’re supposed to understand that people are innocent until proven guilty. Innocent men have rights. If we forget that because of the horror of the crimes involved, we will have given up on what it means to be freedom-lovers.

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5 Responses to “Terrorists have no rights.”

  1. Pidyon Ami Says:

    Looking at the rest of your blog entries you are obviously simple minded yet, being that we are in a democracy, one needs to try and reach the minds of the simple and ignorant in the hopes that they won’t screw up too badly when they vote.

    The word detain means to capture and hold a person and then barring their exit. The protestors could leave the pen anytime. They would simply not be allowed to protest once leaving the pen. Looking at the article you linked on this subject one finds the thinking of the columnist to be unreasonable. There is no reason to assume that any one person, or group of people, must be guaranteed access to any person or group they desire. One wonders why with snail and e-mail access to various politicians, the force of the vote and the ability to access politicians in places, other then the very visible venue of the National Conventions, one fights so hard to have access to people who will be distracted by the vastness and importance of the pageant they are entering. Due to the nature of these conventions they are some of the worst possible places to try and get your reasoned opinion off to a politician. Slogans are the only real form of communicating in these environments and slogans are not for the consumption of people of power. They are designed to simplify and bias an audience in sound bites. This form works only for media consumption. So, the protestors are being disingenuous in trying to convince us that these conventions are an opportunity to relay the will of the People to the government. What the protestors resent is not the infringement on their freedom of speech but rather their limited play on the news and their difficulty in disrupting the processions into the conventions. The issue of security is not marginal but as regards this issue it is not the only rational for limiting access to the delegates to conventions.

    War is when an organized group of people band together, arm themselves and use violent means for political gain. Crime is when an organization or individual breaks a law. Sometimes acts of war are also criminal. Once Timothy McVeigh was captured and jailed there was no group, foreign or domestic, to keep the fight going. The game was over and it was best handled as a criminal case. 9/11 was funded by foreign powers, backed by organizations that navigate in nearly lawless regions of the world, are backed by petro- and narco-dollars and who keep training more people to do the same or similar violence. There is a high degree of difference between McVeigh and Islamo-Fascism and it takes only a little common sense to see this.

    Our Constitution limits what our government can do to Americans. The limits on what can be done to foreign people are far less strict. When foreign people are in the United States they gain some of the rights all Americans have and when they become legal residents in the US they gain even more rights. The rights of enemy combatants are spelled out in the Geneva Convention but we are fighting a war with organizations that have not agreed to these conventions and do not follow these rules. That makes the rules null and void in this conflict. There is no legal requirement for charging enemy combatants during war nor are we required to put them to speedy trials with lawyers there to assist them. The President has the right to suspend Habeas Corpus during wartime. There is no requirement to confide in the public where enemy soldiers are being held. During WWII we had thousands of German soldiers shipped to the States where they were held in camps for the duration of the war. There were no trials and people where not told about it then. This is not a new Bushist phenomenon. There are no requirements in our laws to tell the public or, since they too read the news, the enemy where we are keeping enemy soldiers. I do agree that due to the more ambiguous nature of this war Americans should have the right to a trial as well as access to lawyers. Foreign nationals should have to wait until the war is over. If the enemy wants these trials to begin they should surrender. The choice is theirs. One could also see the new trend in giving enemy soldiers legal council has something to do with lawyers trying to make money off this war?

    During war you shoot suspicious looking people. The Army at war is not a police force. Some Americans were killed by friendly fire during WWII because they gave the wrong codeword for the day or because the sun shone into the shooters eye and he didn’t recognize the human shape headed his way. Fatigue, fear, hunger, thirst and various other factors play into some of the unfortunate incidences that are common to everyday life as well as war. There is a big difference between rounding up civilians and killing them in order to depopulate the area and shooting civilians because it appears they are working for the enemy. Only when order is restored can one hold soldiers accountable to the full level of responsibility and respect for human life that is expected in peacetime. That said, we are far more sensitive to the limits spelled out by the Geneva Convention then is necessary and this speaks volumes about our moral stance in spite of the situation. In every war the US has fought and achieved her goals she did an honorable job in respecting the surrendering enemy. The US brokered a settlement with Mexico and has kept to the contract. The Spanish have no complaints against the US Army stemming from our war with her. In WWI we came, we won and we left. In WWII we learned from this mistake and stayed in Japan and Europe long enough to rebuild the country and hand it back to its people. In the first Iraq war we kept to our agreement but because we didn’t remove the enemy he remained in power and broke his agreement with us. This got us back into a war just ten years later. The lessons we have learned from the past is to choose our wars wisely and then finish the job until we have won and reordered the nations we have liberated. Leaving Iraq now makes the mistakes of WWI and the First Iraqi War all over again. We must do as we did after the Civil War, the Spanish American War and WWII. Defeat the enemy and then help them rebuild.

    I respect that everyone has the right to his or her opinion. I understand that even the mentally dull feel compelled towards opinions and in a democracy these opinions will be felt perhaps more so then in other systems. If you were to take a more then cursory look at world events you find that the Americans and British hold themselves to standards that no Empire in the past has attempted and we often succeeded in maintaining these moral standards. There is evil in everyone and our system, liberal-democracy, has shown itself to moderate the evil in us. As for Israel, you can compare no nation to Israel in upholding moral decency, human dignity and legal restraint when under the sort of duress that has, in history, only led to the collapse of nations. Israel has been under intense, bigoted, hate-filled attack since before the Jewish people managed to declare their state. At every step Israel offered peace and was responded to with contempt and more hostility. Even when Israel has given what it has so little of, land, their “peace partners” have not upheld their part of the bargain, peace. Peace for land is not likely to work if you keep giving land and you keep receiving attacks. Look at the historical events and you will always find that the “aggressive” Israelis have always been ready to make peace and its neighbors have had so little love for their own people that they have been willing to send them to their death for the expressed purpose of taking land that was never theirs in the first place.

    You knowledge, attitude and mental aptitude are all suspect. In spite of people like you I think democracy and freedom stand a good chance of succeeding.

    P. Ami

  2. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Too bad that P. Ami started out with an insult to the intelligence of the site owner. This reflects badly upon him (or her, as the case may be).

    However, it is time to clearly note the one question that is seldom asked when discussing this matter. P. Ami has alluded to this above and rightly so. It is of paramount importance to question whether American rights belong to anyone who is not an American citizen. I think not. While it is always advisable to apply human decency to our treatment of another being, it is also tantamount to granting “diplomatic immunity” if we apply rights to a non-citizen in the same way that we guarantee them to our citizenry. I am sorry if this offends your moral senses, but it is entirely logical and absolutely must be so. In this, I must agree with the above commenter. You have no such guarantee of full rights when entering another country-neither should their citizenry have such a guarantee when coming here. There is no reciprocity in the matter, nor should there be. Let them apply for citizenship, if they desire. These days one may even have dual citizenship.

    It cannot be any clearer than this. Anyone thinking otherwise is adhering to personal feelings (which change with the opinion winds of the day) and not to logic (which is and should be a constant-a Polaris star to guide us from generation to generation). This is not, however, the goal and intent of the One World Government-ers who ultimately desire (whether they see it clearly or not) to have some far-removed foreign dictator telling them what is is good for a town or nation he has never stepped foot in and likely never will. (It begs the question as to who the “simple-minded” souls truly are, does it not?)

    I also have to point out that the above writer may be correct that we presently are living in a Democracy, but I must also add that this sad state of affairs was never meant to be. None other than Benjamin Franklin (you remember him-the really bright elderly gentleman who was THERE and took part in the stifling and heated secret meetings to hammer out our Constitution) openly defined for us what our form of government is MEANT to be. When asked, upon his exiting the building at the conclusion of the meetings, “What have you wrought?”, he replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” We might also note that in these meetings he stated that “If a sparrow cannot fall without the Great Author of the universe being aware of it, neither can a nation rise without his aid.” I may be slightly off in the correct wording, but not by much.

    If this is not enough, let us add the thoughts of Thomas Jefferson-considered by any rational American to be the prime author of the Constitution (and I might point out the fact that this brilliant and highly educated man studied dead languages in order to understand the forms of government that previous civilizations had embraced)-who was convinced that Democracy was the WORST form of government, because once the people realized that they could vote money out of the public coffers, there would be no end to career politicians that would promise anything to get re-elected. You tell me…have we reached that point? Do they keep their promises?

    Compare and contrast this with the experience of David Crockett (you might know him as Davy) who was once returning home from his most recent stint of service in Washington, D.C., when one of his constituants hollered out to him along the road, “Davy, I won’t be voting for you next time. I’m angry with you. You moved to give government funds to the widow ___. That was wrong.” Mr. Crockett reflected upon this and humbly admitted that needs like hers were the reasoning behind community charity organizations and neighbors helping neighbors. He also vowed never to do such a foolish thing again.

    Why do I say foolish? The results speak for themselves. We presently have a government that must decide what “entitlements” (a word you never find in the Constitution when reading about our rights) are owed the people and charity organizations that are having their hands tied in many ways by that same government. Add to this that many Americans no longer contribute as much to charity organizations or help their neighborsas much as they once did, deducing that “the government welfare programs can help them”.

    We get what we deserve, do we not? Entire neighborhoods where no one knows who lives beside them or cares what happens until it is too late. (Reminds me of the comment about the Nazis coming for one group and then another, while the rest turned a blind eye, until the Nazis came for them, too, and there was no one left to save them from the threat).

    It appears we have NOT kept our Republic. We have chosen a mob rule approach disguised by color of law, which says that if the majority of the people want to rob Peter, they will vote and do so-and also take it from Paul, if necessary to the accomplishment of their goal. Under proper rule, law would remain inviolable law, even if 99% of the people wanted it otherwise. Under the disguise of “voting for change” and “change is good”, we have accepted the gradual decay and deterioration of our society. No one ever asked what the “change” might be or what it would lead to. They merely wanted instant gratification and the feeling of power that comes with an irresponsible vote. You might as well give an automobile or a loaded gun to a 5-year-old.

    Our children no longer are required to study and know their rights. They are fed “feelings” instead. “Self-esteem” is more important than a strong family, a cohesive community and a morally pure society. When most adults no longer want to make our Republic safe (indeed, don’t know what it is), but tout making the world “safe for Democracy” (Army training manuals from past decades defined governments and described this as a doomed form of government that ALWAYS decays into chaos), is it any wonder that Socialism reigns supreme?

    The Communists were right-they never had to fire a shot to take us over. We raised their flag ourselves, just as they predicted. We hired their proponents as teachers and professors and then wondered why our children never knew the difference between a Republic and a Democracy; why they never studied the Constitution (or even true American history) and why they are getting less education for more money than ever before. And still we throw more funds from the public coffers at it, do we not? We have entrusted our most precious things (our children) to the care of subversive infiltrators (or should I just say traitors?) And still we tolerate such foolishness while they retain their positions.

    We have been fed pablum and told it is the finest steak. The saddest part of all is that we have believed it. It simply isn’t true. We have been fed a counterfeit, laced with substances that have put us to sleep. And while we dreamt, the “change” was so gradual that the giant never awoke. Now he is tied down with a million little strings and only a supreme effort will allow him to rise again. I fear that ballots are no longer enough. Only bullets will do now. Another American Revolution? You tell me-how much is your freedom worth? How much the freedom of your children and grandchildren? What will they have to say about you in their day? That you fought bravely to defend with honor your rights-or will they adhere to the “party line” they are now being fed and deem you to be simple-minded fools and unrealistic idealists?

    Perhaps the above writer (P. Ami) thinks me to be simple-minded also, but allow me to say that I openly welcome a simpler time and a simpler view. I applaud a clearly defined vista and plain road to a successful and happy future-for ourselves, our children and beyond. I defy change merely for the SAKE of change. I think we need Franklin and Jefferson today. Isn’t it time to go back to what works?

  4. Thanks for your comment. I’m familiar with the David Crockett story. It’s a lovely fable. To react as he did to a challenge is a sign of intellectual integrity.

    But to get back to the topic, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

    Rights are not given to us by our government. We have them by virtue of being human. The government’s job is to protect those rights, but the government doesn’t get to decide who has them and who doesn’t. Our government isn’t required to take direct action to protect the rights of non-citizens, but it certainly doesn’t follow that it should be permitted to trample them.

    Angela Harms

  5. Angela, you are brave to publish your thoughts on this subject when so many people seem out for (more) blood. Thank you for speaking up. It is easy for people to believe it can’t happen to them because they think they are on the “right” side. What happens if, somehow, some way, their side is deemed wrong? How important will human rights be to them then?

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