Monday, November 16, 2009

Filtering the Red Mist of Rage

Social networking sites often present unscientifically executed polls among their users. A recent poll on Facebook asked, “Is it a good idea for a 9/11 terrorist to be tried in a CIVILIAN court in NY?” A friend of mine whom I’ve known since we were each in middle school, vehemently replied:

“Absolutely not!!! What kind of society have we become. [sic] They attacked us. It was not a civil act. It was an act of war. There are International laws for that. If a terrorist declares war on us by attacking our land and gets captured; [sic] they are prisoners of war and should be treated accordingly. It is not a matter for the ACLU or any other organization that deals with civil matters. We have become weak in the last 50 or so years. sure [sic] we have the weapons but, the social mind set has become to [sic] timid to do what is needed. Of course that does not mean that everyone is like that. I blame our elected officials, all of them, for where we are going. Many great societies have fallen because the leaders became weak and military resources spread too thin. National pride in this country still exists but, there is a cancer in the land. We have become so use [sic] to demanding our civil rights that we now want to extend them to our enemies. Too many people want war to be nice. It is WAR not a time of peace. Maybe if we were in the same situation our parents were during WWII where everything was rationed and we in this country would have to suffer because we are at war, people would wake up and see that our country is in danger of going into oblivion like so many before us. Treat a terrorist like an enemy from another country because, [sic] he is. He has NO American rights. I leave this question. How would Hitler, Romel, or any of the Nazi leaders be treated today if captured by us in war?”

It’s very distressing to see displays of deep misunderstanding on how the Constitution of the United States and its described rules of law work. A distracting difficulty is our recent history of government wilfully and impetuously ignoring rule of law in service of bravado and hubris which ended undermining the very goals those breaches of law were supposed to realize. It has been established and documented that these breaches of legal procedure and precedent not only violated the perpetrators’ oaths of office, but poisoned the use of any information gathered in these incidents from legal admissibility in trial court, whether military or civilian. Because of tainted evidence alone, there are ample reasons, specifically beyond the issue of jurisdiction, which make use of the Southern Division of New York Federal Court the best place to hold these initial trials.

That notwithstanding, jurisdiction still trumps all other arguments.

The United States is a land governed by the rule of law. Our Founding Fathers designed the Constitution based on fairness and egalitarian rule: All Men Are Created Equal, and equal protection under the law. Those tenets, with the various articles and amendments, are the law of the land. One need not be a citizen to be governed by these laws, whether law abiding, miscreant, criminal, seditious, or traitorous. Equal protection under the law applies to everybody, citizen or not, regardless of behaviour, who fall under the jurisdiction of the Constitution of the United States.

No true patriot would undermine the Constitution of the United States. Recent official lapses in this ethic have damaged the United States internally, causing Constitutional Crises to a scale unprecedented in American History. These diversions from the hard and fast rule of law have also globally damaged our credibility and prestige. These perpetrators of sedition and traitorous treachery have yet to answer in court due to their former official positions. Perhaps they’ll never be made to answer for their behaviour. Failure to bring them to task undermines further the stature of America’s rule of law both internally and internationally and portends repetition at all of our peril. Most importantly, it remains for our nation to return to our roots and observe once again the ethics and mores prescribed by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution of the United States. Rule of law and egalitarian status for all inhabitants, citizen or not, is what makes our nation great.

The people who perpetrated the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center are criminals by any metric. It is established that they were supported and commanded by nongovernmental sources, even though those sources were established, in turn, by American tax dollars as well as aided and abetted by foreign governments. The fact remains they were neither then nor currently a part of any established government. As such, their attacks on American soil were acts of terrorism, but not, by any factual or applicable definition, acts of war. The organization which commands them is unable to declare war on America by any definition enumerated in the Constitution of the United States. Therefore, any justice administered upon the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks must be applied through the civilian justice system. It is immaterial that the United States Armed Forces have been brought to bear on Al Qaeda and their sobriquets abroad. The use of the military is appropriate as the entity provided for the common defence in the Constitution. The military keeps order internationally and defends American interests abroad. Internally, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the various regional, state, county, and municipal agencies keep order and defend sovereign interests internally, as proscribed in the Constitution. What remains is that the individuals world wide who are part of the many terrorist factions, working individually or in concert, remain civilian entities and are to be meted justice solely by the civilian Department of Justice. This is the law of the land as delineated by the Constitution of the United States.

Administration of justice toward these criminals by military courts martial is contrary to the law of the land and would further undermine the authority and sovereignty of the Constitution of the United States. No amount of emotional reaction, however justified (and I wholeheartedly agree strong outrage is appropriate toward these issues), changes the appropriate application of American rule of law. To act contrary to anything delineated by the Constitution is seditious (in that it undermines the authority of the Constitution), treasonous (as it acts against the integrity and defence of the Constitution), and is inherently un-American. No amount of emotional outrage changes these facts. To ignore this reasoning, to undermine the rule of law, is to undermine the Constitution upon which our nation draws its strength; It is to reduce us to the level of those who seek to destroy us, and they win.

I had Mrs. Graff for Civics in my junior year at Brownsville High School. That’s where I learned these principals first in a comprehensive manner. What I learned there has guided me in my political philosophy and decisions ever since. What guides you?