Donald Trump said it would be “fine” to try Americans accused of terrorism at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So what’s all the fuss?
What would the mainstream media and liberal pundits say if Trump said he would instead hunt down all suspected terrorists with drones and kill them without trial, even Americans? What could they say? President Barack Obama does that casually, even without comment now.
The way I see it, Trump is light years ahead of Obama when it comes to constitutional protection of the rights of suspected terrorists, and even further ahead on protecting U.S. citizens against released bad guys.
(AP Photo/Toronto Star, Michelle Shephard, Pool, File)
So far over 700 detainees have been released from Gitmo, most by President George W. Bush, but most of the “worst of the worst” by Barack Obama. Obama’s released detainees have also been more dangerous and ominous since the releases have come during a time of extreme global terrorism.
According to Human Rights First, more than 500 terrorists have been convicted in U.S. federal courts, but only 443 are still in U.S. federal prison. Where are the other 60-plus convicted terrorists?
Barack Obama’s handling of terrorism in general has been a disaster, with the establishment and proliferation of the Islamic State, foreign policy blunders at every turn, and his zealous pursuit of the closure of Gitmo; what’s not to like if you’re a terrorist?
Trump on the other hand has said since he got in the race for President that he would keep Gitmo open, and even “fill it up.” And now, with the statement about trying U.S. citizens in military commissions at Gitmo, he has upped the ante.
The question is: would trying U.S. citizens in a military commission be legal?
The current Military Commissions Act (2009) was updated by Obama and his team from Bush’s 2006 version. The 2006 version more resembled the original MCA in that it afforded fewer rights to the accused, more in line with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which holds the standards under which U.S. military personnel are tried.
The philosophy is that in time of war the enemy should not be afforded any more rights at trial than would our own soldiers. That makes sense, and still gives unlawful combatants (those who do not follow the Law of War or Geneva Conventions) more rights than they are entitled to.
The 2009 MCA created by Obama gives non-citizen unlawful enemy combatants virtually the SAME rights as you or I would enjoy in a federal court of law. That is outrageous! Yet, no one ever mentions it.
Currently, there are a handful of accused war criminals being tried at Guantanamo Bay, among them Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. If the trial were going any slower it would be going backwards, almost entirely because of the extra-legal privileges afforded by none other than Barack Hussein Obama in the 2009 MCA.
If Donald Trump were to become president he could legally change the Military Commissions Act and revert it back to its original bare bones. Captured suspected terrorists (unlawful combatants in the Global War on Terror) would get not one ounce of more of extra-legal privilege than a U.S. soldier would get were they to be court martialed. And what’s wrong with that?
As for U.S. citizens tried at Military Commission? Is there precedent? Is it Constitutional?
Why, yes, and yes.
During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus for U.S. citizens accused of spying. Espionage and sabotage by Southern agents during the War was a huge problem and threatened to severely hurt the Union efforts to keep the United States together.
The “Suspension Clause” in the Constitution gives the president the authority to suspend habeas corpus in times of “insurrection” or “invasion.” It is a practical and reasonable clause.
But in 2016, and because of the Global War on Terror, if there is a way to use laws to our advantage why not use them? This practice of the Obama administration of projecting a kinder, gentler U.S.A. is killing us. The President’s philosophy of a “zero footprint” and a “don’t get shot” rules of engagement is putting our troops at risk.
It is past time to practice the best defense: a good offense.
Part of that attack has got to come with a practical and reasonable approach in how to handle terrorists, foreign and domestic. There can be no quarter given and no release for the enemy while terrorism is still a threat.
The Law of Land Warfare and the Geneva Conventions allow even lawful combatant POW’s to be held without trial until the end of hostilities. Why then are suspected and known enemies being released wholesale? Why aren’t we capturing and interrogating known and suspected terrorists, American or not, rather than hunting them down and killing them?
Donald Trump may be many things, but he’s no fool. He thinks clearly and practically. He has no politically correct filter. And if he is elected, these qualities may end up saving our lives and ending terrorism forever.
Donald Trump displays sheep dog ethics. He doesn’t care who or what threatens the flock. Whatever threatens the flock is bad and must be dealt with.
Until all terrorists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must defend ourselves. I believe Donald Trump understands this and would see to it with all available means.
Montgomery Granger is a three-times mobilized U.S. Army major (Ret.) and author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior."Amazon, Blog, Facebook, Twitter: @mjgranger1
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