Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday, 22 April 2004

'Enemy Combatants' and 'Prisoners of War'

InstaPundit links to a post by Volokh on this matter. InstaPundit is, apparently, a lawyer; I don't know if this is the case also for Volokh.

Rarely have I read such disingenuous and bare-faced rubbish.

Those held as 'prisoners of war', from both sides, during World War II were held under a status that is recognised and protected under international law. The term 'enemy combatant' is unknown to international law and was a term coined by the current US administration to seek to justify its illegal (in my estimation) detention, for an idenfinite period and without charge, of over 600 people at its base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and a couple of people in the continental US in the State of South Carolina.

Let's not try to confuse the matter further than it already is by spurious arguments about 'habeas corpus'. I understand the US Supreme Court is currently looking at the validity of the detention by the US administration of some of the persons both at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and in the continental US in the State of South Carolina. That is the proper venue, at least in the US, for this argument. So far as the rest of the world is concerned it will be most instructive to see in coming weeks and months just how much justice there is in the way the US exercises its undoubted power - there is absolutely no doubt the US can do pretty much as it pleases, but that doesn't mean to say that even close allies such as the UK must accept in silence what is being done; our government has made strenuous efforts on behalf of its citizens held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and has been at least partially successful so far in having some of them released and repatriated back to the UK where, after brief periods of interrogation, all were released without charge, there being no basis in law for their continued detention.

Finally, the notion that a particular course of action might be inconvenient because it might snarl up a legal system (the postulated idea that large numbers of so-called spurious writs of habeas corpus might be lodged as a combative tactic) is surely irrelevant if one, just for a moment, accepts that we are both (the US and the UK) supposed to be countries where the rule of law applies and applies fairly to all, without fear or favour. Matters of 'convenience' surely have no place in a discussion on 'justice'. That's the kind of perverted logic that had the US locking up some thousands of US citizens during WWII for no reason other than that they were of Japanese ethnic descent, an occurrence that much later was the subject of a formal apology by the US government.

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