Saturday, November 14, 2009

Conservative Terrorist Trial Options

Conservatives are wetting their pants over the concept of trials for the terrorists responsible for 9-11. They are coming up with several alternatives to due process.
  • Summary Execution - Several want to skip the whole "finding out if they are guilty" phase and jump right to the killing 'em part. Some don't even want a quick bullet to the head. No, they want the United States to kill its prisoners slowly, by torture.
  • Indefinite Detention - More liberal conservatives get kind of queasy over summary executions and prefer the concept of indefinite detention. I'm not quite certain if they imagine a Louis XV-style Bastille prison or an open-air Joe Stalin-style gulag system. Will it be a place of permanent torture or one where the prisoners are just slowly driven insane?
  • Military Tribunals - This concept is popular whether they would be secret (Star Chamber) proceedings where little more than the verdict is made public or show trials where the verdict is decided first and the trial is just theater. Some conservatives are obsessed with secrecy lest terrorists learn what we are up to but I believe most conservatives want showy show trials with the emphasis on show. All conservatives agree that military tribunals are vital to keep hidden all of the torture and maltreatment our prisoners suffered.
The basis for all of these options is the conservative philosophy that the Constitution only applies to citizens. Their support for torture is rooted in the belief that "cruel and unusual punishment" is only prohibited for US citizens. Habeas Corpus is a right denied non-citizens. Carrying this logic forward, conservatives must certainly believe that the 14th Amendment only applies to citizens and, therefore, slavery is legal if the slaves are non-citizens.

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