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View Diary: The Case for Trying Terrorists in Federal Criminal Courts (20 comments)

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  •  Furthermore (0+ / 0-)

    An impartial look at the definitions can reveal much about the terrorist when asking if they are criminals or combatants.

    Merriam-Webster defines a crime as, "an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law; especially : a gross violation of law"

    Combat is simply defined as, "a fight or contest between individuals or groups."

    Jay walking, for example, is a crime but not combat.  The use of deadly weapons could be either a crime or combat.  But, the terrorist’s fight with deadly weapons against the West (group vs. group) can only be classified as the latter.

    Criminals break the law for personal gain but they aren’t organized like a military.  Terrorists are organized for political gain (whatever their stated purpose).  al-Qa'ida is categorized as a cell-organization which has leadership but not of a hierarchical nature (think starfish vs. pyramid).  Unlike criminals, terrorists have training camps, weapons supply chains, and orders.  Those who flew into the WTC, Pentagon, and PA had military "orders" to execute.  

    Terrorists are military combatants not criminals. Therefore, they should not be put on civilian trial as suggested by the author ACLU.

    •  With war, though, you can keep someone (1+ / 0-)

      in prison until the end of hostilities - where there is a negotiated peace.  That can't possibly happen here.  It was only those who committed war crimes - like the Nazi prison guards - who were put on trial for their crimes against humanity.

      I don't see any way that can be applied to this war on a tactic - and without that, without some specific side for these people to belong to, there're no real laws that can cover it as a war, but it sure can be covered under civilian law.  These are people who, whether it's for monetary gain or for spiritual gain, are breaking laws as they pursue their fight - they're killing people, destroying property, terrorizing civilians and combatants, they're stealing and looting and there's no single authority directing their actions.  Sure there's some sort of network, but that's not the same level as a government which has a country, boundaries or a particular singular organization.   We've all heard stories about how people join the terrorist cells because that's the only source of money in these devastated areas.  That's the same logic used by criminal gangs here in the US - they have no jobs, no prospects, maybe they're threatened with harm if they don't join.  

      US civilian laws, international laws and the laws of Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq (Spain, Indonesia, England, etc, etc) all cover what these thugs and criminals and gangs are doing.  And we're successfully able to prosecute the cases in court, except where the Bush cabal directed the breaking of laws for their own evil ways.  Sure that's screwed up the prosecutability of some of these cases, but we've seen plenty of evidence that there are many held in error, many more are held because they were victims of heresay that can't stand up in military or civilian court, and we need to get those people justice.  The fastest, most fair way is to do it in our civilian court system and not some shady court where the witness isn't allowed to see or challenge the evidence against them.

      These people should be prosecuted in civilian courts, not as military combatants - we've never gone the military route in the past in similar occasions (I'm thinking both of the way that Bushco prosecuted terrorism cases, the way that we've always prosecuted cases against drug lords who have their armies (should they be given military trials?) and the way we've prosecuted people who were found as spies.

      •  You make some really good points (1+ / 0-)
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        ColoTim

        especially the parts about terror networks not being on the same level as a government. I like you, ColoTim. I appreciate your civility and well thought out arguments.

        This is a tough nut to crack, for sure. Official declaration of war is internationally recognized only between nations and forms of government.  Non-state actors and terrorist organizations don’t qualify and Congress couldn’t declare war against al-Qaida if they wanted to.  This makes a good case for "criminal" court.

        Unfortunately, Jihadists declared "war" against the West therefore we are at "war." Whether or not they are working for a government is not part of the "combatant" litmus test. If is looks like a soldier, acts like a soldier, kills like a soldier...then it's a soldier (read combatant).  As for the Drug Lord "armies," they come close but don't pass the test of taking offensive action against our government.  (Defensive? Sure) Their motivation is profit not politics.

        •  Thanks. A question for you - (1+ / 0-)

          Since Al Quaeda (whatever the spelling) has declared war against the United States, what do we do about their attack against helpless civilians?  Their first attack hit a purely civilian target on 9/11, and back in Africa, they attacked the US Embassy before they attacked the USS Cole in Yemen.

          Al Quaeda attacks civilians and military - it seems they don't discriminate, and often a civilian target is easier than a military one.  There have been many attacks on civilian targets - hotels, restaurants, market squares - and many have been conducted by groups that claim some sort of affiliation with Al Quaeda, but those links haven't been acknowledged in many instances, and if they were, there're questions as to the legitimacy of those who speak on behalf of Al Quaeda.

          Sure they've declared war on western infidels, but that's basically everyone from the west.  They're not just fighting the armies of the west, and they're not using tactics designed to win anything like territory or power - they're out to destroy everything - be it western governments, western civilians, their own governments if they don't follow sharia law, other sects than their own pure religion.  I can't see those people as warriors - I see them as forces of chaos and I consider them criminals, not soldiers, no matter how much training in a camp they receive.

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