Thursday, January 07, 2010

On the Alleged Undies Bomber

I keep coming across posts and articles that forget to prefix mention of the alleged bombing-attempt of Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day with the term "alleged."

The decision to try Mr. Abdulmutallab in civilian courts means that he must be treated as any defendant would be treated in the American legal system. That includes the presumption of innocence and the right to avoid self-incrimination.

I am partial to the idea that people who are engaged in combat with our nation be treated as enemy combatants. This is especially true in times of war. The alleged undies bomber, after all, sees himself as a freedom fighter.

The goal of a criminal court is to establish universal laws needed for running a society. War generally involves people outside that society seeking radical change in the law.

This whole legitimacy of law thing makes it necessary to have a different layer of courts to handle enemy combatants.

The reason that I think the alleged undies bomber should be tried in a military court is that the actions of combatants take place in context of a larger war. The way one treats an action should take into account the current state of the war. A soldier killing people in the heat of battle should be looked on differently than the same action taking place during a cease fire or in times of peace.

Civilian court systems should try people in the context of civil society.

Having civilian courts try enemy combatants runs risk of compromising the the integrity of the courts as political forces try to bend the court's actions to meet political needs. Notably, we see big problems with the rules of evidence involved in trying the detainees at Gitmo.

The administration has a strong political need to see the people convicted of crimes, but the confusion of the battlefield hampers the ability to collect physical evidence.

It would be far better for this country if progressives used the political power gained by their agitation campaign against Bush to make a better military court system, than this foolery of trying people who see themselves as freedom fighters in civilain courts.

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