November 19, 2009

From Enemy Combatant to American Citizen

Terrorists — aka Enemy Combatants — in Guantanamo Bay Prison must be humming to the tune of Happy Days.1 That’s because they’ve moved from an enemy combatant held under Geneva conventions up to apparently the same rights as those afforded to American citizens. No longer do they need to worry about a criminal tribunals like others who were similarly situated in former conflicts.2

But what does it really mean to kick out past precedent and start anew?

For starters, it will be interesting to see what evidence the government can produce that passes the various legal requirements to be admitted at trial.3

Then it will be just plain scary to find out what means and methods will be compromised by the evidence that is submitted at trial. After all, terrorists aren’t dumb. They can figure out from clues who the turncoat is, or what technology the US is using to eavesdrop on them. How many future terror plots will go undiscovered when terrorists find out exactly how they are being monitored by American intelligence?

And not to be forgotten is the potential for the entire case to be thrown out for lack of evidence, or for some technicality, or reversed on appeal. How would you feel if a self-confessed terrorist who assisted in the murder of thousands on September 11 walks out free only because he was tried in an American civil court?4

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