Originally Posted By: alicex4
According to the Pentagon's own report, 1 in 7 released detainees returned to terror....

What the report failed to consider is whether these people "returned" to terrorism. Many of them may not have been terrorists, but being held for years without legal recourse may have turned them into terrorists. The New York Times even issued a correction stating that according to the Pentagon report, the number should have been 1 in 20, not the 1 in 7 it originally reported (which apparently came from a Cheney speech). For more on the topic, see here and here.

So even if some people did "return" to terrorism, some people who were innocent may have been turned to terrorism by their indefinite detention at Guantanamo. That's the argument that Guantanamo and its absence of process has hurt more than it has helped by creating more net terrorists--and that's not counting the family, friends, and associates of the wrongly imprisoned. That's the danger of incarcerating people without giving them any real chance to challenge the justification of their confinement.

Finally, if one still supports incarcerating people without process, what's the implication? That we can hold hundreds of people without any legal process as long as there are a couple of dangerous ones in the mix? Thousands? How many people are we allowed to wrongly detain if one of them may be dangerous? And remember that the Bush administration said it could hold anyone declared an "enemy combatant," including US citizens, under the president's commander-in-chief authority; indeed, it's hard to see why such power would be restricted to foreigners.

I'm not going to ignore the risk that any system might allow dangerous people to go free. But I'm not going to ignore the fact that a lack of a system results in innocent people being deprived of their liberty. As I recall, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin, Madison, and the others could have lived very securely under the British, but they thought liberty was more important than their own security. And without rule of law, there is no liberty. Sometimes we have to put a little something on the line for principles we believe in. Otherwise, they're not principles, they're hobbies.

But aside from principles, there's always the self-intrest argument. Reprised from one of my earlier posts, from "A Man For All Seasons":

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Edited by Daniel (12/31/09 03:13 PM)
Edit Reason: fixed link