Attorney General Alberto Gonzales addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee this week, and what he said should have everyone who believes in justice up in arms. Due to the recent Hamdan ruling by the Supreme Court, the Bush Administration has been forced to come up with a new plan of action for the "enemy combatants" held in Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Gonzales went before the committee to explain that plan, and what he outlined, while not surprising coming from this administration would be a huge mistake both in the cause of curtailing terrorism and in upholding the values of this country.
US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the US government could “indefinitely” hold foreign ‘enemy combatants’ at sites like the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“We can detain any combatants for the duration of the hostilities”, said Gonzales, speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee.”
“If we choose to try them, that’s great. If we don’t choose to try them, we can continue to hold them,” he said.
Do these people even think about what they are doing to the world? How does this fit in with any kind of ethical system? Hearsay? Allowing evidence obtained under duress? Not even allowing the accused to hear the evidence against them? Allowing the Secretary of Defense to place any crime he wants (at will, no less) under military jurisdiction? But don’t worry anyone, “the attorney general gave assurances that no US citizen would face these courts.” Well what happens the next time an American citizen commits an act of terrorism? Does anyone really trust this government not to take that tiny step and apply these rules to Americans? Even if that never happens, the fact that they recognize that these methods should not be used against American citizens, condemns them even further in my eyes. What is right is right. Justice does not recognize citizenship. There must be somewhat different sets of rules covering citizens and non-citizens, but they should both be built upon the same foundation of Justice.
What we are doing is not built on justice. It is built on fear and the arrogance that our own feelings of safety trump over the world’s rights. It is built on greed and an imperialistic lust for power. It is a foundation that must not be allowed to stand. No son or daughter of Liberty can look at how our government treats its alleged enemies with anything less than outrage.
I do not advocate letting these people go. I am not on their side. But if there is a case against them, then it must be heard, and as much as is possible, it must be heard in public. If they are tried in secret or continue to be held without trial, then we may as well wrap it up people. We may as well tear up that social contract we call the United States of America because we will have failed. We will have failed all the men and women who have fought and died to bring our country to this point, we will have failed ourselves, and most of all, Americans, we will have failed our children who will never know what it means to grow up in a country that does more than give speeches about the principles of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We must not fail.