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HISTORICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK - "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Friday, September 15, 2006

MILITARY TRIBUNALS - THE SENATE IS LOSING IT AGAIN

The United States Senate and the House have been debating in Commitee, legislation that will place guidlines on the various survelience programs and setting the procedures for the military tribunals against terrorist detainees. One of the contentions between the Senate and House versions of the tribunal procedures is the handling of evidence and classified information both of evidence, intelligence gathering that garnered the evidence and covert agents that gathered the evidence. In the House version if the evidence against the terrorist compromises intelligence capabilities or the identity of the agent who garnered the evidence then the details of that evidence will not be available to the defense teams and the terrorist just the evidence that brings the charge against him. In the Senate version all protection of both agents and intelligence gathering are set aside and every detail is required to be given to the defense and the terrorist. The Senate version requires that not only all of the information about where, when , how and what means was used in gathering the evidence but the full identity and status of the covert agent who gathered the intelligence and all sources which contained the evidence. Revealing this much in detailed information to the defense and the terrorist not only compromises the agent and renders him useless as an agent because his identity and his sources must be revealed but the revelation of how he gathered the information compromises covert intelligence programs and contacts which not only endangers existing intelligence but destroys the capability of using a source or an avenue for intelligence gathering in the future. In the Senate version even if the evidence is part of an ongoing investigation all of the detail of that investigation is required to be revealed to the terrorist and his defense team. It staggers the imagination to think that members of The United States Senate who are supposed to be our most sophisticated elected body can design legislation that will destroy intelligence capabilities, reveal covert agents and thus cripple our intelligence abilities against an enemy in a time of war, or any other time for that matter. Additionally where is the media out burst about this intelligence violation ? The New York Times had no hesitation in revealing to the world US intelligence programs yet when the Senate is doing exactly the same thing they have no comment. Where is the outrage about the , "outing, " by Senate design of covert agents ? The media was quick to cry about the supposed , "outing , " of an agent, (Valerie Plame), who proved to not only be non-covert but whose revelation source, (Richard Armitage), had nothing to do with those, (Karl Rove and , "Scooter, " Libby), who the media went after with a vengence. Yet by design the Senate IS requiring the identification of covert agents be handed over to terrorists as part of their defense in the course of a military tribunal. Their have been many times in the past that I have accused the Senate of losing it collective mind but this particular incident pales in comparison to the past. I believe that during the course of the tribunals these terrorist though never concerned about the rights of those they killed or the rights of those killed by plans such as 9/11 that they created should have the right of a good defense as was evidenced in the benchmark of tribunals, the Nuremburg trials against Nazi war criminals. They should have access to the evidence that is being brought against them through indictments which will be given them. But that access should not contain details of the programs that gathered the evidence nor the indentity of agents and their sources who gained the evidence through intelligence gathereing. Even in a United States court of criminal law it is not required for law enforcement to reveal their sources nor their methods of gathering evidence. As long as the evidence in criminal court is gathered by legal means it is presentable in court. If the gathering of that evidence is questionable then it is thrown out before presented as evidence. Still the sources or means of gathering are not required to be revealed. But our glorious Senate is requiring that this , "right, " be given to terrorists and thus destroying intelligence abilities and agents identities. This Senate version still has to go before House and Senate commitees to come to a compromise between the two chamber versions. Let's hope the collective, "wisdom, " of the compromise committee has the scense to realize that though rights must be protected they should not allow the compromising and destruction of national security and those whose perform the task of protecting this nation.

Ken Taylor

13 Comments:

Blogger Rob said...

I don't understand why the Right wants to race to the bottom. The great thing about the U.S. is that we used to set the example for the world. The reason that there is bi-partisan criticism of the President's proposal is that it does not exclude such things as evidence gathered by torture and it does not allow those accused (and their attorneys) to see all of the evidence against them - this is in contracdiction to how the Nuremburg trials took place.

Senior military lawyers, Colin Powell, federal judges have all warned that the President's tribunal system is highly flawed, morally questionable, and likely illegal/unconstitutional. If the U.S. puts this system in place, our enemies could put captured U.S. soldiers on trial in sham tribunals and point to how the U.S. does things - and we would have no moral ground to stand on.

FYI, you are in error on one key point - a defendent facing any criminal charges in the U.S. is entitled to know all of his/her accusers (i.e., sources used by law enforcement) and the methods of gathering evidence.

10:20 AM, September 15, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

It might be useful to read Colin Powell's letter to John McCain on the subject:

http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2006/images/09/14/powell.article.pdf

Jack Vessey who is referenced in the letter was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Reagan, Powell's military credentials are well known, Republican Senators McCain, Warner, and Graham all have military experience as do a number of the Democratic senators on the Armed Services Committee.

If they have serious questions about the President's proposal, folks should listen.

10:47 AM, September 15, 2006  
Blogger Poison Pero said...

"If the U.S. puts this system in place, our enemies could put captured U.S. soldiers on trial in sham tribunals and point to how the U.S. does things - and we would have no moral ground to stand on." - Rob

I'd say this is much better than their current way of doing things: Beheadings, beatings, and forcing prisoners on tape to admit they've 'converted' to Islam and hate the U.S.

I served in the Air Force for 14 years, and never assumed our enemies would treat me well if captured......The Geneva Convention is a one-sided joke and every American troop knows it.

We treat our captives decently (comparatively), but the same has never been extended by our enemies........Not by the Germans, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese or our current enemies.

It's pretty safe to assume we will never be at war with an enemy who is willing to follow the rules of war......If a country were willing to follow these "rules" they wouldn't be a country we'd be at war with.

I really don't get it, and don't buy into any of the "moral" reasoning concerns. War is amoral at best, but I believe it is unfortunately necessary in some instances......During which time the goal must be victory and protecting the American people.

The only two war's we've ever lost/tied were Korea and Vietnam....Why did we lose them? We lost because we were unwililng to do what it took to win. If this is the case in this war, then we should pull out of the Middle East (and Europe and Asia for that matter), and just accept that we'll be hit by those who hate us from time to time.

I don't like this option at all....Maybe I'm in the minority though.

Heaven forbid we miss some information which would save us from an attack because we didn't want to push too hard.......This would be a much bigger crime than allowing our intelligence agencies to do their job.

Oh I forgot, this is why we got hit on 9/11.........Which will be peanuts compared to what our enemies hope to do in the future.

I'm sure all of this makes me a radical though.

2:48 PM, September 16, 2006  
Blogger MDConservative said...

Rob,
Saying that if we follow Geneva now, will mean our enemies will also follow it. That is just not true.

I don't remember terrorists signing the treaty, nor do I hear anything from Osama or others saying "ok, you treat us well and we will follow the laws of warfare.

If we were fighting a conventional enemy, of course Geneva applies... against terrorists, not so much.

11:11 AM, September 17, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

Yes, let's abandon our values and moral authority. Give the troops manuals on how to conduct homo-erotic torture sessions.

America should stand for something greater - no matter who or what the enemy is that we face.

The idea that we would convict a man/woman and sentence them to death without ever letting them know what they are charged with and what the evidence is being used against them. In addition, the "evidence" may have been obtained by torture. That is about an un-American an idea as I can think of. However, that is exactly what George Bush is proposing, and that is exactly why there is bi-partisan opposition.

1:01 PM, September 17, 2006  
Blogger Vern1966 said...

Being an American, to me, has always meant that all people, not just Americans, are entitled to certain unalienable rights, and that we as a nation should ensure those rights. You don't KNOW someone is a terrorist until you PROVE they are a terrorist, just as you don't KNOW someone is a criminal until you PROVE it. That is why we don't hold people without being charged, or deny counsel to them, or....um, wait a minute....

3:36 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Vern1966 said...

Poison pero makes a very salient point. Any opponent we engage in military conflict with has absolutely no use for the Geneva conventions. So in a sense they are arcane and useless. Those that argue that they protect our troops or that they help define who we are as an international power suffer from delusions. Horrors are perpetrated on all sides during war -- that is the nature of the beast. If there were no Geneva Conventions, I wonder, might there be a greater reluctance to go to war to begin with, if war were truly horrific?

But as I said before, it makes it appear very hypocritical to deny someone certain rights that we feel are unalienable simply because they are from another country.

4:01 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Rob said...

It is a sad day in America when the President of the United States argues forcefully that he should have the right to torture people.

Let's not mince words. Bush says he doesn't condone torture. If yoiu believe that you are in complete denial. We kidnap suspects off the streets around the world and then send them to countries that implement torture or to secret CIA prisons around the world. What do you think they are doing. If everything was on the up-and-up why not just bring them to the U.S.? It is pretty obvious.

7:54 PM, September 20, 2006  
Blogger Vern1966 said...

Someone wiser than I once said that the only difference between you and a terrorist, in regard to your rights in this country currently, is that George Bush doesn't think you are a terrorist. But you can be held without charges, without access to council, and tortured, simply because the executive branch thinks you might be.

Scary.

6:00 PM, September 25, 2006  
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