Ron Paul is Wrong on Military Tribunals and the Rights of Terrorists

In the May 5th GOP presidential debate in South Carolina, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) addressed several issues related to the war on terrorism. The Congressman said:

“I think secret prisons…keeping people there for years and years without due process is not a characteristic of a republic that believes in freedom. It’s just not the process. It’s more typical of an authoritarian government to have secret prisons, so I don’t think it serves our purpose.
“We have tried nearly 300 suspects in civilian courts, and hundreds have been convicted and put away. So why are we afraid of openness? Why do we have to move in the direction of giving up the right of habeas corpus? Why shouldn’t we treat people the way we think we might be treated under dire circumstances? We do not need secret prisons, nor do we need the torture that goes on in secret military prisons.”

The U.S. Congress determined that a civilian trial for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his two co-conspirators would cost over $100 million because of security concerns and the impact on area businesses, and they refused to provided funds for the trials. James Hyde writing in the Examiner disagreed with Rep. Paul’s observations by noting:
“Attorney General Eric Holder has gone out of his way to divert terrorists from military tribunals and into our criminal courtrooms. He’s even gone so far as to have enemy combatants captured on the battlefield read their Miranda rights. Because they are not captured in this country, how can enemy combatants possibly be granted the protections of the U.S. Constitution? It’s inconceivable, and yet they are.
“The proper legal jurisdiction for those who take up arms against us or are captured on foreign soil for planning or participating in terrorist acts should be a military tribunal. But that’s not how Obama and Eric Holder see it, and apparently Ron Paul agrees with them. Paul asks why re we afraid of openness?

  • “First, classified documents that may be critical to getting a conviction may not be able to be placed into evidence in a criminal trial because they contain information that compromises national security. But, if they are not used, a high value enemy combatant could walk.
  • “Second, the rules of evidence and the closed nature of the military tribunals allow for the use of those documents without the worry of public exposure.
  • “Third, if bin Laden had been captured, under Holder’s arbitrary and twisted view, all of the material collected at his hideout would be inadmissible in civil court because it was obtained without a search warrant, even though it was found in Pakistan.
  • “Finally, juries are always wild cards comprising people with different ideological beliefs, especially if they are secretly Muslim terrorist sympathizers. Anyone harboring such beliefs could well set a dangerous terrorist free, to assume otherwise is dangerous in the extreme.
  • “Case in point: Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a terrorist tried in criminal court, had been charged with hundreds of counts of murder for the African embassy bombings. Despite solid evidence against him, the jury acquitted him of every single murder count, and found him guilty of only one far lesser charge. Holder rolled the dice on that case and almost lost. Had that terrorist walked, the country would have been rightly outraged.”
  • “Further to the criminal jurisdiction viewpoint, Paul mentioned “due process” and “habeas corpus,” both of which are indigenous to our criminal courts, not military tribunals, per se. And, Paul’s neo-biblical claim that we should treat our enemies as we would want to be treated by them is both ingenuous and illogical. The Islamic combatants’ rules of engagement mandate that they take no prisoners, so concerns about how our captured soldiers might be treated are moot.
    And those few people who have been captured, including non-combatant journalist Daniel Pearl, have experienced Muslim extremist compassion first hand by losing their heads. As such, the “treat-others-as-we-want-to-be-treated” concept makes Paul deliriously gullible; it’s a viewpoint that demonstrates an alarming lack of understanding about how this enemy thinks. That is horrifically troublesome coming from an alleged conservative and a man who would be president.”
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