Prolongued detentions and fanaticism on the left

May 24, 2009

Rachel Maddow is incensed at Obama’s proposed prolonged detention policy.  Says it’s even worse than Bush’s, that it is unprecedented.  I fear in the rush to undo Bush’s disaster, liberals are going too far.

First off, let’s remind ourselves that we are talking about prisoners of war, not U.S. citizens, and they have absolutely no rights under our bill of rights or our constitution.

Now, setting aside the immediate realities of Guantanamo (that some detainees now are un-prosecutable, and that should we set them free they will most surely attack us), the fact is that something unprecedented IS needed, because the world has changed and we face very different threats:

We used to have conventional wars, against states that could be invaded and/or contained.  Prisoners, captured in the battle field, would be held until a truce or surrender signed, and all threats defused.

But in the new world of asymmetric conflicts the enemy can be a handful of individuals, operating across any number of friendly and unfriendly states, potentially able to inflict widespread damage.

So how do we treat enemy prisoners during a long, creeping struggle, when evidence may be no more than having received bomb training?   And at the same time how do we make sure we don’t end up picking up people indiscriminately?  I don’t know, but I’m very very encouraged by Obama’s speech:

In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man.  If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight.

Maddow even goes as far as likening the policy to Minority Report’s Precrime Unit.  Please Rachel, this is war: We don’t wait for an enemy soldier to kill one of ours and then charge them with murder.  The mere fact that they are on the battlefield holding a weapon is enough to take them (and keep them) prisoner.

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