A Huffington Post article reported, “The Senate on Thursday blocked a second attempt to spare U.S. citizens from potential indefinite military detentions and was set to vote on a third effort to do the same later in the day.”
Basically, if you’re suspected of having ties to al Qaeda, America can treat you like it’s the USSR and your party loyalty is suspect. That analogy worked better 20 years ago, but my point is it’s un-American.
The Defense Authorization Bill’s provision for indefinite detainment, as the article mentioned, includes American citizens, who last time I checked are guaranteed the right of a fair trial.
Maybe someone amended the Bill of Rights when I wasn’t looking, but these are the ideals we’re supposed to uphold, not abandon if they’re inconvenient. That’s why they’re called rights and obligations, not “guidelines.” We’re not pirates, we’re a republic, with laws that must be either re-written or followed, not flouted for convenience’s sake.
“But if we don’t detain them, the terrorists will win,” you say.
Horse hockey. The terrorists win when we give up our rights to try to fight them. A terrorist doesn’t have to kill you to win, he just has to make you think or change your views. And with the provision in effect, the terrorists are winning.
Proponents of the measure say to remove it would endanger America’s safety. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of the proponents of the provision, noted in the article, “Two of the highest-profile recent planned attacks on America failed only by chance, in the cases of the attempted Times Square bombing and the attempted Christmas airplane bombing.”
Graham believes restricting the provision to just enemies abroad, like the failed vote wanted to do, or similar altering of the provision, might hinder counter-terrorism attempts.
That defense seems pretty flimsy to me, but some people are willing to sacrifice our liberties if it makes us safer. To this, I quote Ben Franklin: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
“But what if we try the suspects and they’re acquitted and they go kill someone?” you ask.
How is that different when the same thing happens with a normal criminal?
The idea that the fact these people are terrorists makes them seem special is affecting our judgment. They’re not special; a man who bludgeons his wife with a golf trophy is a criminal. A man who shoots a bus full of school children in the name of nationalism or religion is a criminal.
“But you’re over simplifying it!” you say.
Probably, but that’s beside the point. It can be easy to put aside our rights in the name of security. It’s so easy, in fact, we did it. That doesn’t make it right, of course. This is not a new issue and has been on people’s minds for a while.
Opponents say we can’t afford to put aside our liberties in the name of fighting the war on terror. Some might go off the slippery slope and say the provision is one step short of Orwellian 1984 stuff.
I won’t say that, but the provision is un-American, and worst of all, by giving up our liberties, we let the terrorists win in a way eliminating them cannot rectify. You can say those liberties will be returned when the issue is resolved, but it doesn’t look to be any time soon.
You can make an argument for and against the provision. On one hand, restricting or removing the provision could affect the efforts of the military to protect American citizens.
On the other hand, sacrificing those liberties alters part of what America is about. You can argue over what counts as liberty or security, but personally, I agree with Mr. Franklin.