Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution Hearings

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According to Power Line, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution held hearings yesterday on the legal, moral and national security consequences of "prolonged detention" of terrorist suspects.  Richard Klingler, who served in the Bush administration from 2005-2007, first in the Office of White House Counsel and then as General Counsel on the National Security staff, testified before the committee yesterday. 

The article at Power Line summarizes his testimony to the committee.  It is long and complicated and should be read in its entirety, but I will attempt to highlight it here.  Mr. Klingler stated:

"The lawfulness of ongoing detention of enemy combatants is clear and well-established. In short, such detention is a lawful incident of war, authorized whenever the exercise of war powers is proper. The Supreme Court has reached this conclusion for this specific conflict. The current Administration has correctly argued that "[l]ongstanding law-of-war principles recognize that the capture and detention of enemy forces are important incidents of war," that our enemies are not confined to fixed battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that Congress has through the AUMF authorized ongoing detention."

If detention is outsourced, prisoners would not be treated as well and might be released prematurely.  This has already happened with Guantanamo prisoners who have been caught or killed on the battlefield after their release.  The head of Al Qaeda in Yemen is a former Guantanamo inmate.

The article further points out:

"We should resist the return to pre-9/11 practice that exclusive reliance on criminal proceedings would reflect. We do not want to leave terrorists in the field, or send them there, simply because U.S. forces have not gathered evidence of past wrongdoing, admissible in court and provable "beyond a reasonable doubt." We want them off the battlefield sooner, and to stay off longer. As the President says, we need "tools. . .to allow us to prevent attacks.""

We have an obligation to protect our soldiers as much as possible from terrorist attacks, and to protect our civilian population from a repeat of anything like 9/11.  There is no easy answer to the problem of what to do with terrorists except to handle it thoughtfully and proceed with caution.

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This page contains a single entry by Granny G published on June 11, 2009 8:41 AM.

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