Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The War on Terror II: Justifying Guantánamo

University of Chicago Law School professor Eric Posner has been an articulate, if sometimes infuriating, voice of reason in the roiling debate over the detention of so-called enemy combatants in the War on Terror, specifically those at the American gulag known as Guantánamo Bay.

Writes Posner in a thoughtful -- and infuriating, because there is great merit to his position -- New York Times op-ed piece:
Critics argue that if the United States cannot prove before a court of law that detainees at Guantánamo Bay have committed a crime, then they should be released. This argument rests on the principle that people should be punished only for committing a crime.

The emotional appeal of this notion is undeniable, and the Bush administration has met critics partway by creating military commissions that will try some detainees for war crimes while denying them the full protections of due process available to criminal defendants. But the critics' argument rests on a half-truth, and as we rethink the wisdom of Guantánamo Bay, we should be sure to understand the complicated reality it conceals.

You can read the whole piece here and should do so ASAP before it disappears before The Times' damned subscription firewall.

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