Conflict within a conflict

by Chris Markham. 0 Comments

Intern Jonathan Welch fills in for this column ...

Since 2001, the United States has been in a state of war on terrorist groups throughout the world. During this conflict, numerous leaders, suspects, and aides of the terrorist movement have been caught or killed.

For those that the United States and its allies have wanted to question, the prison at Guantanamo Bay has been their home. Recently, the suspected terrorists have been shuffled around and talk of a trial has begun. The location and the type of trial associated with these believed terrorists have been hotly debated.

The United States has used military tribunals, or commissions, since the first time America went to war in 1776, after 56 patriots committed no less than treason against the British crown. In each successive example of the United States going to war, tribunals have been used against members of the enemy force.

The military commissions of the past were not indifferent to a persons country of birth. Fellow Americans have been tried and sentence by military tribunal in several cases, most notably Native Americans during the Dakota War in the years of the Civil War (and for those of you keeping score at home, the one year war saw the highest civilian casualties up to the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001), and the Lincoln Conspirators.

However, after the Civil War, the Supreme Court made a ruling, known as Ex Parte Milligan, that effectively outlawed military trials of civilians when civilian courts were in operation. During World War II, President Roosevelt ordered a military commission for eight German prisoners caught attempting to sabotage the infrastructure of the United States. Six of the eight men were sentenced to death, while the remaining two were sent back to Germany.

All of this history brings us to the current situation. Former President George W. Bush sought to use military tribunals to try the unlawful enemy combatant captured and kept at Guantanamo Bay. There have been recent plans by the Obama administration to continue Bushs desire to try the men in a military tribunal, (hope and change right?). But human rights activists have clamored that the commissions are a flawed system and that the suspects should be tried in United States civilian courts (But where? And who will foot the bill?).

Among the first in a series of flaws in this new reasoning is that none of the suspects are American citizens. A second is the equating of the suspected terrorists to you or me. The commissions have experienced legal setbacks at almost every turn. The sheer fact that groups are concerned for the legal welfare of those that show no regard for the life of American infidels baffles me.

While the constant berating of the Obama Administrations handling of things slows down the process of the tribunals, the same groups that are complaining and stalling the trials are the same that are criticizing Obama for delays and injustices on human rights.

There is also a site floating around the interwebs calling upon people to send mail to the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. A letter can go a long way in helping to relieve the ordeal of men who have been incarcerated in the worlds most notorious prison the website says. It cites their faith and love for Allah as their only glimmer of hope in the cells. But to me, promoting someones faith and devotion to the same deity that they believe is telling them to kill all non-believers does not sit well, and might even be considered a paradox.

Amnesty International, the chief critic of the trials, has harped on the daily injustice and immeasurable damage the forthcoming tribunal has caused the suspects. My only thought is if it is similar to the injustice and damages the victims and families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks have felt. These men, who have helped, abetted, or conducted terrorist activities are enemies of the United States and, as such, should be tried accordingly. And political, emotional and financial red tape should not stand in the way of them being brought to justice.

In a recent article in the United Kingdoms Telegraph News Magazine, a suspected terrorist named Binyam Mohamed, along with others, may be receiving compensation after claiming security services tortured them. The effort to compensate the suspected terrorists comes in an effort to restore Britains leadership in the world. Try wrapping your head around that.

Why do I think the terrorists are winning?

Chris Markham writes a weekly column for

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