Thursday, March 7, 2013
Guantanamo, Executive Power, and Drone Strikes
In 2008, President Obama campaigned in part on his promise to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At the time, I was absolutely convinced that he was making a foolish mistake, and thus I could not vote for him.
I find it a bit amusing that nobody is holding him to his foolish comments. The United States simply does not have the legal structure to try these terrorists in the United States. If those horrible people could get their venue changed to have a trial in the United States, they would probably be released by our horribly inefficient court system.
The sad reality of mankind is that terror has been used around the world for thousands of years. Kings used terror to keep their subjects under control. Dictators use terror to keep their citizens under control. When poor countries want to strike back against oppression they use terror to get their revenge, thus we had all those Saudi men and an Egyptian make that attack on 9/11 in 2001. Saudi Arabia was controlled by a "Royal Family" that is not really royal, just like Iran was prior to their students attacking our embassy.) The United States was responsible for putting those regimes in power and restoring them to power (In the case of the Shah) and we even trained their Gestapo like police force to help keep them in power. The United States CIA was responsible for dictatorships in six other Arab countries. Those young men in those planes wanted to strike back at us for what they perceived as horrible acts against the Arab people. We know why they are so motivated.
Still terror is wrong, and we need to keep those people who are obviously prone to commit acts of terror against our country in confinement, away from our courts. Using Guantanamo which is a military base on leased land in Southern Cuba is one solution. Another would be to start defining the authority of the president as head of the Executive Branch of Government. We have little definition of his actual powers. Presidents have tried to do things that the Supreme Court has said "No!" to. Thus, we have had some definition in the past. We need a lot more definition of his power.
Those men are dangerous. They are trying to make war in whatever way they can, and they most likely will continue trying if we release them. Since they were/are engaged in acts of war, they should be tried in military courts, so Bush (No matter how much I hate that criminal) was right in holding them as combatants in a military stockade outside of the United States. They should stay there, for as long as we can use that facility. Another solution would be for the Federal Government to use federal land that is not part of any state (we do not want states claiming jurisdiction and believe me, some crazy Governor would probably make that claim. So out in the Pacific we have several islands that fit that bill. We might build a detention center there. Meanwhile we need to further define executive power. That definition can only come by Supreme Court decision or Constitutional Amendment.
Consider, I am a firm believer that any American who is consorting with the enemy in engaged in an active act of Treason against these United States. The President should have the authority to pick that man up for Trial in a military court and/or to use a drone or other means to permanently eliminate him and his conspirators if apprehending the treasonous individual is too difficult. (Why risk the waste of a hundred Marines or SEAL's lives to apprehend on traitor in a distant land?)
I have no problem with such a termination as long as it is outside of the United States (and our courts) and it is obvious that he or she is aiding our enemy. In that regard, we might need to set up an ongoing means of review by the Supreme Court or an organization set up by the Supreme Court to approve the termination of the traitor. This individual or individuals would be an overseer on such military matters. I would prefer that any individual appointed to such a position be a retired military officer, simply because there is a need for understanding of military procedure as regards use of weapons systems.
I suppose he, she or they could be overridden by Executive Order, but then we would have further definition of executive power by the Supreme Court in such a case. We have to honor the system of Checks and Balances, but we need to set up a special procedure for a topic like this that has never been defined. Acts of treason by Americans while overseas needs to be harshly dealt with. By their very action they are engaged in a treasonous act of warfare against our country. As an enemy combatant we have the right to terminate them with a military strike.