Let the grand show begin.
I believe Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is facing a possible death penalty if convicted of murder, should be at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He should be awaiting a war crimes trial for his April 2013 bombing of Boston Marathon runners and spectators, which killed three and injured hundreds.
According to reports, Tsarnaev’s demeanor in his first court appearance was “impassive” and “awkward.” He was described as “smirking” and “yawning” during the proceedings, as if he were above it all, which infuriated family members of victims.
FILE - This file photo released Friday, April 19, 2013 by the FBI shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (AP Photo/FBI, File) AP Photo/FBI, File
Jury selection for the Tsarnaev trial lasted a month and opening arguments are slated to start.
In all likelihood, Tsarnaev will be convicted. The question will be whether or not he will be sentenced to death.
According to reports, jurors who admit they are against the death penalty were eliminated. That would leave, perhaps, some who feel the death penalty is the best way to deal with wanton murderers, and some who are on the fence about it. The tricky part is when you get someone who is trying to conceal his or her true feelings.
That is where the art and science of jury selection lies. High paid experts make their milk money at this critical phase, weeding out the liars and charlatans.
But, I digress. Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan’s background, possible training and indoctrination, all point to an Islamist militancy and terrorist thought process that any normal person would say is part of the Jihad against the United States and our allies (what they call "infidels").
For that reason, Tsarnaev should be held at Gitmo, where other unlawful combatant Islamists who want us dead are held (for now). Tsarnaev should not receive habeas corpus, a right given to citizens of the United States UNLESS it is declared suspended for “invasion” or “insurrection.”
President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus for U.S. citizens during the Civil War to help stem the tide of rampant southern spying in the north. Lincoln was vilified for it, but still exercised his Constitutional authority to do it.
In World War II, eight dry-foot German saboteurs were denied habeas corpus, tried and then convicted by a military commission. The Germans were caught carrying concealed weapons, explosives and plans to sabotage American industry. Two of them flipped on the other six, who were eventually executed by electric chair not more than five weeks after their capture.
By the way, the Germans had not hurt a fly. Didn’t get to shoot anyone, or blow anything up, just planned to do it, out of uniform. Guilty. Executed. Done.
A Boston Red Sox cap left at a makeshift memorial on the Boston Marathon route April 18, 2013 in Boston. No arrests have been made in connection with the twin bombings that are the worst attack in the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks. (Photo: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
The Law of War and Geneva Conventions were written to PROTECT innocent civilians and property in wartime, not to protect those who PRETEND to be civilians in order to murder them. Unlawful combatants therefore earn exactly ZERO extra-legal privileges, unless of course they are captured by the United States.
Today, several Gitmo detainees wait for their day in court, in a military commission, the rules for which were amended in 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and by President Barack Obama. The Military Commissions Act of 2009 allows virtually the SAME legal privileges for unlawful combatants accused of war crimes as I enjoyed in a Federal Court. An abomination.
Whatever Tsarnaev’s eventual fate, and I’m rooting for the death penalty if he is found guilty, our system of justice is in need of adjustment. The current trial by jury system, although special and quaint, leaves too much to the imagination, doesn’t seek the BEST potential jurors, and subordinates the judge to referee status. Real military commissions, or tribunals, give the evidence and facts to a three-judge panel, which is sworn to the ethics of judicial fairness. It is a purely professional examination of right and wrong, as the law demands it.
We are weakened and vulnerable in these days of Federal trials for suspected terrorists. Human Rights First claims nearly 500 terrorists have been convicted in U.S. Federal courts, but that there are only just over 300 convicted terrorists in Federal prisons.
My question is, where are the other nearly 200 convicted terrorists, in YOUR neighborhood?
These individuals are NOT common criminals and don’t DESERVE the rights and protections offered common criminals. They deserve nothing of the sort as unlawful combatants, and should always be declared invaders if they are non-citizens or perpetrators of insurrection if they are citizens.
All Islamists should be prosecuted and punished according to the Law of Land Warfare and Geneva Conventions. If there’s not enough evidence to prosecute they should be held at Gitmo at least “until the end of hostilities,” as per the Law of War and Geneva, just like over 400,000 lawful combatant German and Italian prisoners of war we held here without charge during World War II.
Nothing else makes sense or will help us win the War on Terror.
I am the author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior," and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1 - Blog
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