''These guys are terrorists who would sooner cut your head off than follow Geneva! They don't deserve a trial!'' Does this sound like a likely conservative answer to complaints about abuse of prisoners in American custody?
In some cases this is absolutely true, some of the people we have in custody ARE terrorists. The question is, which of the people we are holding ARE terrorists; which are even insurgents at all? Without using any of the accepted processes such as hearings, legal framework or due process, the determination of who is a ''terrorist'' is just a government employee applying a LABEL.
Most people don't trust government employees to reliably write out traffic tickets without being able to appeal and argue them. Why on earth would a real American think we can throw away our American values based on a LABEL applied by some poor soldier in the middle of a war?
''Trust, but verify'' was a saying by someone sometimes considered a conservative: Ronald Reagan. What about a new saying for conservatives, ''Mistrust, but verify''? It's the process of actually making people prove the LABELS applied to people are accurate that separates a prison run by a proud democratic country and a gulag or hell hole prison run by Saddam and Sons.
If we don't make the vital distinction between right and wrong, between justice and terrorism, then we are just fighting for territory, not for ideals. We can't put people away forever just before because George Bush tells us these people are bad. We don't need to trust these prisoners, but we do need to get to the truth of whether they really ARE guilty or dangerous.
Mistrust, but verify...