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Monday, October 02, 2006

The Detainee Bill

If you have access to the Wall Street Journal, either in print or online (Paid reg. Required), please read "The Military Commissions Act reaffirms our commitment to the Geneva Conventions". By John Warner, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham. Unfortunately I can't post any of it here, since I don't have online access to it (I'm cheap), I had to read it hard copy while waiting for an oil change.

For the folks who's been complaining about the habeas issues with the bill, they have an outstanding dissertation on the issue, and the fact that appeals rights are in place in this bill. In fact, more of them, according to the authors, than are required by the Geneva Conventions, or have every been given to any US POW.

The vote on the bill help prove the disingenuous side of the left on this issue. A large number of Democrats stood with McCain and Warner when they were against the Bush version of the bill; asking for the same changes McCain got written into the bill. Yet when it came up for a vote, they voted against it.

Why did the Dem's vote against it? Well, on the surface, because it withheld basic "American" legal priveledges from many detainees, which is what they are crying about the loudest. The truth is, most don't want to be seen siding with Bush on anything, regardless of the fact that history sides with Bush.

Look at the first arguement though, and you find it to be the flimsiest of straw men. With as many lawyers as there are in congress, you'd expect they'd have been brimming with past examples of enemy combatants being allowed their day in US courts.

We held hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese POW's during WWII; many on US mainland soil. So obviously there must be case law to show how much of an abuse this is by Bush, right?

WRONG!! You see, prior to a few years ago, NO enemy combatant was allowed access to any country's courts when held prisoner. Not here, not in Germany, Japan, England, Viet Nam or Korea.

The Geneva Convention itself points out that unless there is a specific law regarding use of civil courts ONLY military tribunals are acceptable:

Article 84
A prisoner of war shall be tried only by a military court, unless the existing laws of the Detaining Power expressly permit the civil courts to try a member of the armed forces of the Detaining Power in respect of the particular offence alleged to have been committed by the prisoner of war.
There is of course, one minor problem with Article 84, it applies to the armed forces of combating countries, not unlawful combatants, which the Jihadists are, under Article 4 of the Conventions. But we'll ignore that problem for now, since the left doesn't seem to consider it one.

Doing a text search of the Geneva Conventions, in fact, I can't even find any reference to habeas corpus. In fact, there is no right to any type of trial while being held. You are basically a prisoner until hostilities end. The provisions for trials are for those who have broken a law which the holding country would prosecute it's own armed forces for, not just for being on the battlefield.

So why do we hear all of this stuff about habeas, and "legal representation"? Easy,the average person won't follow that link I put above, and read the Geneva Conventions. Instead, they'll believe whatever soundbite their favorite politicians put on the news about it. As long as you know you have an electorate that, by and large, won't do the research, why not toss a bunch of crap at the wall, and see what sticks.

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