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The Collective
Monday, January 31, 2005
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Sean Hackbarth disagrees with me on the ruling earlier today regarding the detainees at Gitmo.

While I understand where he is coming from, I do think that at some point we have to make a choice about these people we have detained and I think some modicum of due process is in order. There is the very real chance that there are individuals detained who are innocent, or, even if they not, don’t deserve indefinite detainment.

As I have stated before: if there is proof that these individuals are a serious and abiding danger to the secruity of the United States, then detainment in warranted. However, some at least moderately transparent process must be utilized to establish that guilt. While I am not fond of the cliche about how we are “becoming like our enemies” I will say that if we aren’t careful, we risk seriously violating our own sacred ideals. Indeed, I am unfortunately certain that in some case we have done so.

I am persuadable that full constitutional rights should not be conveyed on these prisoners, however, the US government hasn’t not provided a viable alternative, since (rightly, I would argue at this stage) it has determined that these individuals are not protected by the Geneva Conventions since they are un-uniformed irregular soldiers.

However, some standard needs to be constructed, and it is unfortunate, and a failure of the government’s, that such a standard does not exist.

And while I may be one of the biggest international law skeptics you are likely to encounter, it may well be that an international agreement to amend the Geneva Conventions is in order to deal with these types of detainees.

My general skepticism concerning government, my knowledge of the corrupting influence of power in these kinds of cases, and my abiding respect for the fundamental rights of all human beings requires that I demand a high standard from my government, even in this type of case where no doubt a good many of these individuals do not deserve such consideration.

The problem becomes: without a defined process, and an acquiescence to the fact these are human beings (even if they have been labeled terrorists) we cannot determine in any just manner who deserves punishment and who does not.

Just “playing it safe” doesn’t justify the denial of basic human freedom. As such I grow increasingly concerned about these camps and the interrogations within them.

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