Monday, February 11, 2008
Scrutiny of Guantanamo trials is welcome
The New York Times this morning was full of alarmed commentary about military prosecutors’ decision to seek the death penalty for the six men being charged with involvement in the 9/11 attacks. To wit, the military commission system isn’t ready for trials of this magnitude and seeking the death penalty will bring “intense scrutiny and criticism” from abroad. I am far from a supporter of Guantanamo or the military commissions. To the contrary, I oppose both. Nonetheless, echoing the words of our commander in chief, I say: bring it on. After all of the misadventures on which our government has led us in the name of pursuing vengeance for 9/11, and out of all the people that it has held as alleged terrorists, if this prison camp and these commissions are meant to be used for anything, they should be used to try those whom the government believes to have been central to the 9/11 plot. And if we are going to hold trials under these conditions, outside of our ordinary justice system, of men who have been waterboarded and worse, then “intense scrutiny and criticism” of these trials from the rest of the world is perhaps some minimum guarantee of – if not due process – then at least public accountability for any failings in that regard. The Pentagon says the defendants will have all the rights and protections of our servicewomen and men and that these trials will be held openly and transparently. I hope so. And if not, I hope that we’ll all raise hell about it, both we concerned citizens here and our allies abroad.