Friday, November 12, 2010

The Dead Also Rise

There was a guy who wrote a letter to the editor that said some pretty crazy things about justice. I responded, this is it. Also: This is me cannibalizing my other work, because I'm in Munich for the weekend and won't have the wherewithal to update today. Thus, here's something old, but something I think that's aged well.

It is my opinion that the Guantanamo Bay prison is not as comfortable as Mr. Coyne believes.

First and foremost: He says the U.S. Congress has reviewed the facility and deemed it fair. Given that Congress reviewed the evidence for the war in Iraq and found it sufficient, their approval does not satisfy me.

Second, whatever the formal religious accommodations are, they're undercut by the guards spraying urine on the Koran and sexually assaulting the prisoners, according to an internal U.S. military review and the FBI, respectively.

Third, the Red Cross has reviewed the detention center and is far less charitable than Mr. Coyne, specifically using the phrase "tantamount to torture." But ignoring the Red Cross, most striking is what the FBI (and the Department of Defense) allege about the facility: That the prisoners were shackled for 18 hours at a time and forced to urinate and defecate on themselves.

As for the idea that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be tried in a civilian court and kept in maximum security prisons like any other criminal, I say yes. The point is not to throw suspected terrorists in a gulag that resembles limbo or a relatively high circle of hell, but to expedite justice.

Apparently, the increased security supposedly needed for the trial will cost more money. In my eyes, the money is well spent. This is about the vindication of our justice system when the entire world is watching. This is what you spend money on, guys! And yes, the United States has a gaping maw of a deficit. At this point, another couple million is comparative pocket change.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed should be held in the super maximum security prison in Illinois. The building was created to detain the most dangerous criminals we can apprehend. The idea that it's going to make the prison or the surrounding communities a target is a bit late. The prison created to detain the most dangerous criminals we can apprehend is already built.

Mr. Coyne ends his letter throwing his support behind the execution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. I believe this to be unwise. Killing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed brings back no victims from the grave and gives our enemies another martyr and recruiting tool.

In short, I think Mr. Coyne is mistaking revenge for justice. Our criminal justice system makes tragic mistakes on a daily basis, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed doesn't have to be one of them. As much as it hurts, I believe this country ought to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed a better trial than he deserves, and, if at the end of it he is found guilty, then we let the rule of law decide what to do with him.

Revenge is cheap and quick. Justice is expensive and boring.

Thursday's Division St., for obvious reasons. If you don't like it at first, wait till you get to the part about crickets in the trees. It'll make you a believer.

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