“POWs: A National Threat”
After the terrorists attacks of 9/11 our country was thrown into a security crisis. While still trying to instill freedom to the public, our government had to increase security in many sectors of transportation and other industries. Many people’s lives have been turned upside down after the tragedy, while others are barely affected directly, but the point is that this horrible event in US history affects us all in some way. Because of our governments decision to wage war on terrorism it has become pertinent to detain terrorist in camps in Guantanamo Bay. Some say the fact that we are detaining these terrorists is unethical and unconstitutional. I believe that if the terrorists are a threat to our national security we have the right to hold these individuals prisoner. Our national security should take precedence here.
To make a valid argument one must properly see and understand the opponent’s ideology and where they are coming from. The Bush administration has come under extreme scrutiny from many Human Rights groups. These groups see the detaining of the POWs as unconstitutional and unethical. They believe that if a person is held by a government he must be tried in a court with due process. And while the military is planning on trying them in a military court, these groups think that they should be tried in a normal court. “At issue in the latest case was the government's strategy in holding special military trials, in which defendants do not have the same rights as those in regular courts (Supreme).” The opponents to the prisoners being held also contend that they should have the rights as any accused person in the US. In the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, his lawyer and civil rights groups have filed a Supreme Court appeal before the hearing. “Human rights groups and hundreds of members of the British and European parliaments encouraged the court to make a special exception to hear the appeal even though the case is still pending in a lower court. Claude Stansbury, the attorney for the parliament members, said that the world is watching to see how the U.S. government and courts handle prosecutions. He said Hamdan's right to a speedy trial is in question after more than three years in prison, including prolonged solitary confinement (Supreme).”
I believe that the persons being held at Guantanamo Bay are being held constitutionally and according to our national security. Although there are not many precedents of this type of detainment, I think it is important to realize that national security is front and center. First of all the prisoners being held are not US citizen, and therefore do not apply to be held to the same rights. Secondly, we are at war and our country has the right to take prisoners and treat them accordingly. Although we have never fought terrorism like this before, we have had prisoners of war in many cases. In WWII German soldiers were not only taken prisoner but also used in rural America to help harvest crops during some times of the year. The government has explained in many cases why holding the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is legal. “Every detention is fully consistent with established constitutional and statutory authority. Every person detained has been charged with a violation of either immigration law or criminal law, or is being lawfully detained on a material witness warrant (Justice).”
Another point to bring up is the safety of our troops. If a suspected terrorist is captured and believed to have information concerning plans that could put military personnel in danger I think it is necessary to hold him accordingly. "Everybody who was involved in this process had, in my mind, a white hat on,’ Timothy E. Flanigan, the former deputy White House counsel, said in an interview. ‘They were not out to be cowboys or create a radical new legal regime. What they wanted to do was to use existing legal models to assist in the process of saving lives, to get information. And the war on terror is all about information (Golden)." When our forces are hindered by a lack of information while we have access to it but our legal system prevents us from attaining it, we must weigh what is more important. It is easy to say we must not take the rights from foreigners. Is the same true if the price is US soldiers’ life? It is a moral question and therefore it is not easily answered. Some would say that if we imprison these terrorists we make ourselves just as bad as there are. But I would argue if we do not our whole existence would be threatened and then it would not matter if we sank to their level. This is not WWII and this war can not be won by brute force or speed. This is the information age and that applies to the wars of the era as well. This war has and is going to continue to rely on the intelligence we gain from foreigners both friendly and hostile. This is yet another example of how the terrorist attacks of 9/11 affected everyone in some way.
To further explain and strengthen my position I believe our forefathers if put in today’s world would agree that we have the right to hold these terrorists. Article. 1. Section. 9. Clause 2 states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” I have no doubt that the terrorists being held right no are a threat to public safety. Not only would I argue that our forefathers would have agreed with me, but also those at the 1950 Geneva Convention: “The Detaining Power may subject prisoners of war to internment. It may impose on them the obligation of not leaving, beyond certain limits, the camp where they are interned, or if the said camp is fenced in, of not going outside its perimeter. Subject to the provisions of the present Convention relative to penal and disciplinary sanctions, prisoners of war may not be held in close confinement except where necessary to safeguard their health and then only during the continuation of the circumstances which make such confinement necessary(Geneva).” This article in the Geneva Convention basically backs up my argument and disputes anyone who would say that holding prisoners of war was not fair and ethical. To those people I can only impress the fact that war is not fair or ethical therefore different rules apply so says the Geneva Convention.
In closing, while it is understandable that people feel that these prisoners are having their rights taken away from them; it is an essential part of war. I am not just a raving mad conservative. I argue that the constitution as well as treaties reinforce my argument therefore I believe that it is not unconstitutional to incarcerate POWs without formal charges.
“Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War” Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 12 August 1949. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/91.htm, [Accessed 10 Mar 2005].
Golden, Tim. "After Terror, a Secret Rewriting of Military Law." October 24, 2004, late edition. Link: http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/document?_m=8e98f7d08d767315d6991eb058e305a5&_docnum=12&wchp=dGLbVlz-zSkVA&_md5=e70a5590487267a7792bdf28b84aef63 [Accessed 10 Mar 2005].
"Justice Official Discusses U.S. Terrorism Investigation" US Embassy Jakarta, Indonesia November 28, 2001 Link: http://www.usembassyjakarta.org/justice1.html [Accessed 10 Mar 2005].
"Supreme Court sidesteps Guantanamo Bay case." CNN, January 18, 2005. http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/01/18/scotus.terror.suspects.ap/index.html, CNN.com [Accessed 10 Mar 2005].
- I know that this is just a short rough draft to your longer paper, but it is a good start and you have some good points and ideas. Going along the suggested structure guidelines that Professor Barke provided, you have clearly stated your position and defended it. You stated the importance and relevance of the topic and provided background information and examples which is good. However, areas need to be elaborated, which I’m sure you were planning on doing in your longer paper. Some of those areas are: why it’s constitutional to hold these “prisoners” in places like Guantanamo for national security purposes; you mentioned the terrorists’ attacks affecting everyone and I think that needs to be tied in periodically throughout your paper—you mention it in the opening paragraph and then just drop that point. It also might add to your paper to bring in opinions from the opposite side and dispute them based on your opinion and information backing it. The quotes and cites you already have are good and add to your paper. Lastly, don’t forget to end your paper with a conclusion paragraph summing up your opinion and findings. ~Contributed by Czechowicz
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