Monday, September 10, 2007

Due Process for Bin Laden

You won't hear me complaining: I can't think of a better contrast between the rule of law America represents and the theocratic despotism Bin Laden wishes to install than to hold a massive, public trial explicating all his crimes. And now I have a major Presidential contender backing me up: Fred Thompson.

Steve Benen gets snarky on all the right-wing pundits who called for Howard Dean's head when he said the same thing in 2004. And perhaps he's right. But credit where credit is due: this is not likely to be a popular position amongst the right-wing base, and I'm not sure I see an angle for Thompson taking it. Which means I give him credit for taking the right position whilst in the line of political fire.

Not too much credit, mind you:
Later, a Thompson spokesman explained that Thompson meant "the same rules ought to apply to him as to everyone at Guantanamo Bay, and there ought to be due process thru a special military court or commission."

"For anyone to suggest that we shouldn't squeeze out every last bit of intelligence information has absolutely no understanding how to fight a long term global war on terrorism," spokesman Todd Harris said. "It would be very dangerous for the long-term security of our country to not try to milk bin Laden for every ounce of information he has."

I'm especially concerned that "milk", in this context, is fraught with implications. And the "rules" we apply to other Guantanamo detainees aren't exactly that much to shout at. But hopefully, some reforms will be pushed through, and even saying the words "due process" next to "Bin Laden" is a step up from most Republicans. It's not like I disagree that high-value intelligent assets like Bin Laden require different sort of treatment than a common-criminal--I just don't think that these differences justify chucking all of the rule of law out a ninth story window. And, in some small way, perhaps Thompson doesn't either. So, minor kudos all the same (or perhaps my expectations are too low?).

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