19 Dec 2006

The Futility of Those Military Tribunals

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Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured a lead story about the Bush Administration’s failure to convict Omar Ahmed Khadr, a Toronto-born jihadi captured as an illegal combatant in Afghanistan in July of 2002, after he had thrown a grenade which fatally wounded Sgt. First Class Christopher Speer, a US medic.

Efforts to bring Mr. Khadr to trial via one of the Bush Administration’s controversial military tribunals has been dogged by litigation, and the prosecution has found it impossible to get intelligence agencies to open their secret files or to obtain testimony from the eyewitnesses, military personnel who are inaccessible because they’re serving during wartime at remote locations around the world.

The frustrated Army prosecutor Major Groharing nonetheless defended this preposterous and futile enterprize, arguing:

The difference between us and al Qaeda is that when we had him on the battlefield, we didn’t summarily execute him.

The Bush administration, and Major Groharing, are both crazy.

The attempt to deal, in peacetime and civilian fashion, via legal trials with attorneys, witnesses, and appeals to higher levels of the judiciary, is simply incompatible with the exigencies of war.

Mr. Khadr was an illegal combatant, bearing arms against the military forces of the United States. He violated the customs and usages of war by attacking a medic. He was never entitled to quarter. He should not have been made prisoner. He should not have received medical attention. He should merely have been summarily executed on the spot at the time.

Our cause being just, our conformity to the customs and usages of war, our not firing on medics are all quite sufficient to distinguish us from al Qaeda.”


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