Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The Christmas day attempted bombing of an airliner by a Nigerian man, supposedly trained and supplied in Yemen, has turned up the volume on the left/right debate on what we should do about terrorists. 

In the left corner we have the law enforcement folks. Those who think that the actions of the Crotch Bomber tm, attempting to blow a hole in an airplane as it descended into Detroit, should be dealt with as violations of Federal Laws.

In the right corner we have the War on Terror contingent, most recently represented by former Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. On yesterdays Larry King Show on CNN he said this:
“I take a look at this individual who has been charged criminally, does that mean he gets his Miranda warnings? The only information we get is if he volunteers it? He’s not a citizen of this country. He’s a terrorist, and I don’t think he deserves the full range of protections of our criminal justice system embodied in the Constitution of the United States”
In other words, damn the Constitution, full speed ahead into another front in the endless War on Terror. I have a few questions for Mr. Ridge, though.

Just what is it about this fellow, or his actions, which strips him of the Constitutional rights which we freely offer to other legal aliens within our borders? It can't be because he's black, can it? It can't be because he's Nigerian? Is it because he tried to blow up a plane? Well, the Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid, tried to blow up a plane and he was tried and convicted, by the Bush administration, in criminal court just fine. Was it because he had connections with al Qaeda in Yemen? Why should this guy be treated as an Enemy Combatant?

Because that fits within the right's position that all such acts are terrorism and the only way to fight terrorism is as a war. "No ifs, ands or buts about it, we are at war with terrorism and we've got to...."
And that's where the War on Terror bunch starts to change the subject. Even (some) of these chowder heads begin to realize that we can't keep invading every country with any connection to al Qaeda. At least I hope they do.

No, the basic problem here is that those on the right have no faith in the American justice system. Since even before the Miranda decision conservatives stopped trusting that the courts could "get it right" when it came to crime in this country. For that reason conservatives, when they have been in power, lead the charge that has pushed this country to it's position as the prison capital of the world. Justice has become secondary to punishment. So we are expected to see Mr. Ridge's calling this guy a Terrorist as the reason for bypassing the Constitution. Never mind presumption of innocence. Calling him a terrorist puts him into the War on Terror, which is a military and not a criminal justice issue. And anyone, like the President, who disagrees is, well, just use your imagination. I'm sure within the next weeks and months that they'll have lots of names for the President.

But where does it end Mr. Ridge? If all we need do is call someone a Terrorist and puff, all his or her Constitutional rights are forfeit are any of us safe? And would the same apply to Terrorist Sympathizer, or Terrorist Enabler, or Terrorist Leaner? Thought crimes can't be far behind. Of course, they won't be crimes, they'll be acts of war. In the war that can never end.

Here are a couple of links that explore the current situation a little more.

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