On the trials we are greeted with the litany of:
- They were captured in a war so they must be tried by military commission.
- This will only invite more attacks.
- What if they get off?
- This is war, not crime.
- Repeat (endlessly it seems).
As you might imagine, I take a different position. I'm old school on this. I think a war should be declared, by congress, against another sovereign state. No declaration, no war. No sovereign state, same result. As has been said before, the War on Terror is a war against a tactic. Let's have a War on Land Mines. How about a War on Flanking Maneuvers. Ya, it sounds pretty silly doesn't it. If, on the other hand, we take the criminal approach we can clearly see that action can be taken against those who committed, planned or supported criminal acts. This approach can be applied to large acts, like 9/11, as well as small acts, like the "shoe bomber". This neither diminishes the horror of 9/11 nor elevates Richard Reids attempt to light his shoes at 30,000 feet. A crime is a crime and should be prosecuted as such.
Which brings us to Nidal Hasen and Fort Hood. The neocon right is screaming that Hasen's actions are terrorism, and he must be treated as a terrorist and, I suppose, be shipped off to Gitmo and a water-boarding session or two (or 183, you never know).
But wait a minute! If Hasen is a terrorist and our response to terrorist attacks is based upon the War on Terror model, who, pray tell, should we now invade? With whom should we start war number 3? Hasen wasn't, as far as we know, a part of any al-Qaeda sleeper cell. He didn't train at an Afghanistan "monkey bars" training camp. He wasn't bin Laden's driver, or go-fer, or anything. He is a Palestinian by birth so maybe we should invade Palestine. Oh wait, there's no such country as Palestine. OK, maybe we should invade the West Bank. Or Gaza. See the problem in dealing with Hasen as a terrorist actor in the War on Terror.
To my mind this blows up (sorry) the whole idea of the War on Terror as anything other than a holy war against Islam. That 800 pound gorilla is the only connection between Hasen and al-Qaeda. In fact, Islam is the only real connection between the many far flung Islamic terrorist groups around the globe from Asia to Africa to Europe. If Hasen must be treated as a terrorist it must be because he is a Muslim. There is no other logical reason.
Nidal Hasen is a murderer for whatever reason he himself used as motivation. Likewise, those who planned and executed 9/11 are murderers. We know full well in this country how to deal with murderers. By labeling him, and them, anything else leads to endless war in countries with little or no connection to the acts committed. I, for one, have more and better faith in our justice system then those on the right it seems. What ever happened to American Exceptionalism?