The U.S. government should be endowed the right to incarcerate individuals suspected of terrorist activities as prisoners of war, given appropriate evidence for such suspicion. This statement is carefully worded not to give the government undue power to incarcerate its law biding citizens. The constitutionality of this argument lives in the words of our commander and chief’s state of the union address after the 9/11 tragedy. Acting as the leader of the armies of this nation he declared a war against terrorism wherever it lives. This declaration was both confirmed and condoned with congressional approval for wars in Afganistan and Iraq. The most difficult task is not determining whether or not the government has the right to incarcerate these individuals, but on what grounds may they use this right. The office of Homeland Security should be first in charge of this discrepancy. Though they are not given the same rights as a citizen being charged with crimes against the state they will be given all the rights of a prisoner of war, and are not guaranteed the right to council until the charges are brought against them. Often war crimes are brought against people years later, take for example World War Two. Several individuals were brought before war crimes courts years after the war had ended, and in our case the war in currently going on. Thusly they could be held until such time as the war has ended or said time that charges have sufficient evidence to be brought against them.
Evaluation by Skrotor
This draft accurately emphasizes the need for government regulation of when the right of habeas corpus is to be suspended. Without any sort of clear definition, the government may incarcerate any individual with whom it finds fault by using this loophole. I would suggest finding a source that does not advocate the suspension of habeas corpus and juxtaposing the two positions to more clearly emphasize why you think this position is the better of the two. Overall, this paper is going in the right direction. Skrotor
The United States government has every right to incarcerate foreign nationals suspected of terrorism without formal charges or the advice of an attorney. Our president and congress have condoned a war on terror ever since the September 11th attacks. During this war captured terrorists are considered to be prisoners of war. Accordingly, they are afforded only those rights agreed to in the Geneva Convention. The real concern is determining standards for who is a terrorist and the length of detainment, not whether or not the U.S. has the right to incarcerate these terrorists.
President Bush, in his speeches after the September 11th tragedy, declared a war on terrorism. He first described the acts of the terrorists as “…an act of war against our country.” (Bush) He went on to say that “…freedom itself is under attack.” (Bush) After much talk of terrorism and terrorists, president George W. Bush declared that , “Our war on terror…will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.” (Bush) To that end Congress received wide latitude in what falls under this war and consequently has declared war on both Afghanistan and Iraq. They have also created a new branch of the bureaucracy, The Department of Home Land Security. The nation as a whole hears and sees that we are in a War on Terror daily from sources ranging widely from reputed news stations to co-workers at the company break room. The chief officer of our military forces has declared it, and the war declaring body of this country responded with not one but two separate declarations of war under the same umbrella of terror as well as a new department developed to coordinate efforts against terrorists. Clearly we are at war, and that war is with terrorism and terrorists.
Stemming from these actions the U.S. government has every right to incarcerate foreign nationals suspected of terrorism without formal charges or the advice of an attorney only as far as these incarcerations fall under the classification of prisoners of war. The chief governing principles for prisoners of war were established in the Geneva Convention and adopted on August 12th, 1949 and put into force October 21, 1950. Parties that can be considered for prisoners of war chiefly fall under the category of “[m]embers of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces…[or]…[m]embers…who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.” (Office…) The individuals in question should always fall under these categories which are established in article four of the Geneva Convention. Terrorists, such as the Al Qaeda organization that attacked on September 11th, are members of a militia in the party of terror with whom we are at war. They also have and profess a clear allegiance to a cause that unifies their groups along with other terrorist groups. The two declarations of war on Afghanistan and Iraq show that direct national allegiance does not curtail a separation in the group of terror. Any individual in a form of preparation of a terrorist attack against the U.S. thusly falls into the categories set in place by the Geneva Convention as prisoners of war within our War on Terror. If brought into question of whether or not a suspect falls into a prisoner of war status, article five of the Geneva Convention gives a blanket clause for those questionable suspects to fall under a prisoner of war status until their status is determined by appropriate authorities. So all suspects with evidence of terrorist ties or involvement fall into the category of prisoners of war.
Next, the rules of what rights a prisoner of war receives must be established. According to the rules already set in place by the Geneva Convention, no formal charges need to be brought up against these individuals. However, the ethical treatment of the prisoners must be guaranteed. No physical harm or humiliation can come to them. Furthermore, no legal aid need be provided for their defense either. Once formal charges are brought against the accused some advisory attorney must be provided for their full understanding of their charges and to aid in their defense, but there is no standard for how long a prisoner can be incarcerated before being charged. Furthermore, during their incarceration “A prisoner of war shall be subject to the laws, regulations and orders in force in the armed forces of the Detaining Power.” (Office…) Meaning that all detainees must follow all of the rules and guidelines set by our military. Once charges are formally brought against the detained then the U.S. would be required to inform the opposing party. The government can accomplish this by announcing these charges publicly, which would most likely be done anyway through the press. Lastly, the U.S. would be required to either formally charge the prisoners or release them to their home country at the termination of the conflict, though there is no clear ending in sight to the War on Terror.
The legality of the arrests out of question as well as who can be classified a prisoner of war and what rights they are entitled, the major precaution should be the requirements for the arrests. Simple interrogations should be allowed for any suspect, but not prolonged detainment. Since this war clearly differs from a ground war between nations, the distinction for charging someone as a prisoner of war in this case must be heavily investigated rather than those clear cut cases. The evidence against them must align the suspect with a terrorist organization or terrorist activities as described above or through interpretation of the Geneva Convention. Detainment requires physical evidence to involvement in said terrorist activities such as; wire taps, witnesses to involvement, materials for creation or implementation of destructive devices or other materials obtained illegally or that are illegal themselves related to those topics, DNA evidence, affiliation with terrorist organizations etc. Clearly the simple ethnicity of the suspect should never count as evidence against them. Also, citizens of the U.S. fall under the rights and protections afforded them in the constitution until a state of Marshall Law is declared by the president, which has yet to occur. If however, that does become the case then anyone can be taken under the scrutiny of proper authorities with or without formal charges and legal advice. It is doubtful though that suspects in these proceedings would be citizens of the U.S. as there have yet to be a case of this scenario in the War on Terror. Given these above requirements a suspect can both be considered a prisoner of war and held without formal charges accordingly.
In the end, it must also be guaranteed that no person be held indefinitely. Since there is no end in sight for this War on Terror, time frames should be established to determine the length of time they will be held before formal charges are brought against them. However, after an initial interrogation and detainment suspects can be held while authorities are obtaining proof to proceed with charges or deportation procedures. So as long as investigations are currently being carried out on a suspect, holding them is justified. The government must provide necessary and proper evidence to their guilt and must eventually charge them of war crimes or take other measures that do not involve detainment or bringing charges upon them, such as deportation.
Therefore foreign nationals suspected of terrorism can be held without formal charges or advise from legal aid while considered prisoners of a War on Terror declared by president Bush. The Geneva Convention describes the standards for both who can be considered a prisoner of war and what rights and privileges can be afforded to them. Time frames for charges to be brought up should be established as the time of detainment, but those time frames are also subject to change according to evidentiary findings. As long as the U.S. government follows these guidelines they have used since 1949 for prisoners of war and a uniform standard for time frames of holding prisoners of the War on Terror these incarcerations are perfectly legitimate.
Bush, George W. 2001. “Transcript of President Bush’s Address.” [web page] Sep 2001; http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/20/gen.bush.transcript/ [Accessed 12 April 2005]
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War” [web page] 1997; http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm [Accessed 13 April 2005]
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