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September 10, 2007

Due Process for Terrorists

If everyone weren't so distracted by the events on Capitol Hill, Fred Thompson's remark in South Carolina today that Osama bin Laden should receive due process if he is captured would be getting more discussion.

A Thompson spokesman later clarified the Senator's position:

"[T]he same rules ought to apply to him as to everyone at Guantanamo Bay, and there ought to be due process through a special military court or commission.''

"For anyone to suggest that we shouldn't squeeze out every last bit of intelligence information has absolutely no understanding how to fight a long term global war on terrorism,'' spokesman Todd Harris said. "It would be very dangerous for the long-term security of our country to not try to milk bin Laden for every ounce of information he has.''

Thompson's support for upholding the due process rights of Osama bin Laden is not inconsistent with his spokesman's clarification, the protestations of Leftists notwithstanding. Bin Laden, should he be captured alive, remains subject to the law, its obligations, and its protections.

It is easy to slip into the trap of thinking that such a self-evidently evil man should be summarily disposed of, law be damned. But that is not the American way, and it is no way to show our enemies that they have been thoroughly beaten by the West.

Bin Laden wanted to subject the world to Islamic tyranny and Sharia law. I can think of nothing more appropriate than seeing him a bowed and broken subject of American law. He thinks he is outside of our laws; as a symbolic matter, I see no reason to grant him any exceptionalism. He is murderous scum; let him see how the law treats his kind.

Questions over the due process of terrorists always make me think of Robert Jackson, a Supreme Court justice who, after World War II, went to be the Chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremburg. At the end of the tribunal, Jackson told the court:

The future will never have to ask, with misgiving: “What would the Nazi’s have said in their favor?” History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. They have been given the kind of trial which they, in the days of their pomp and power, never gave to any man.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:18 PM

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