Read'em their rights, or hold as prisoner of war

I generally don't comment a whole lot on terrorism policy; it's not an area of expertise for me.  But I am so tired of this Republican bullshit about how the Christmas day underpants bomber should not have been read his Miranda rights by the FBI in the course of interrogation.  Here is the Miranda warning given to every alleged criminal - from a serial killer to a shoplifter.
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?
Never mind that this particular attacker did talk and is talking.  The argument goes that you can't give terrorists these same warning, because for some reason, terrorists in US custody should not be given the rights of a criminal defendant because we really, really hate them.  Wait, no, that's not it.  We don't want to give them the rights of a common criminal because this isn't a matter of law enforcement.  This is war.  And they are enemies of the United States in a war.  I see.  So I presume our Republican chickenhawks are fine with holding them as prisoners of war, following the Geneva Conventions, in which case,
Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention protects captured military personnel, some guerrilla fighters and certain civilians. It applies from the moment a prisoner is captured until he or she is released or repatriated. One of the main provisions of the convention makes it illegal to torture prisoners and states that a prisoner can only be required to give their name, date of birth, rank and service number (if applicable).
Which, also, essentially Mirandizes them.  No, say the Republicans, and some Democrats.  They are "enemy combatants," who don't have any rights and can be waterboarded.

Sure.  That makes perfect sense, if your goal is to take out your anger on them instead of preventing the next attack on the United States.  If you want them to cooperate, however, introduce them to something they have not seen: the rule of law.  Those who have information on the next attack are not going to cough it all up if you simply don't read them their rights.  Everyone in custody should be read their rights.  Because everyone should be equal in the eyes of the law.  Our legal system is capable of breaking the most hardened criminals, including terrorists.  You can ask me, should we read Osama Bin Laden his Miranda rights if we pick him up in the mountains of Pakistan?  Yes, he should be.  Then he should be given a lawyer - yes, let's let him "lawyer up."  Then let's try him, convict him, and let him meet his maker.  Let him meet American justice.  What are you afraid of - that our Justice Department is too incompetent to convict him?  Alternatively, try him as a war criminal in Hague.  But if we are to live in a society governed by law, we must rein in our urge to simply take out back and shoot even the most heinous of terrorists.

We are Americans.  America is not easy, and it doesn't lend to your lowest common instincts.  If you want your rights to mean anything, everyone else must have them too.  If we want to keep our claim to the Statue of Liberty, we have to do the hard things and the right things - not the easy things.

It all stems from this weird notion: they shouldn't have the same rights I do under criminal law or even laws of war!  Guess what, Sherlock.  Yes, they should.


Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.