EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Rarely does a United States Supreme Court decision actually get me fairly excited, but today's decision making military tribunals at Guantánamo unconstitutional really perked my ears up when I first heard about it this afternoon on NPR's "All Things Considered."
Forget about all the legal justifications about its going against federal statute and a Geneva Convention provision. Look at it simply from a human rights standpoint. How would you feel if you were detained for having connections that you actually don't have, or doing something that you didn't actually do? Then imagine how you'd feel if you had no human rights to speak of as a prisoner, thus having almost no way to defend yourself. I can only imagine how nightmarish that could be, even for a fundamentalist prisoner who hates America and doesn't fear death.
That is why I've always been rather queasy about the terrorist-fighting policies that have been adopted by this Bush administration: secretly tapping into our private lives, holding prisoners without reason or human rights, etc. President George W. Bush justifies it, of course: we have to be aggressive to win the war on terror. Perhaps; history has shown presidents to suspend certain rights in time of war. But at the cost of compromising long-held American values like giving even prisoners with terrorist ties equal protection under the law? That gives me pause. It's not political---is it ever political with me?---it's simply humanistic.
Now that the highest court of the land has put a dent on one controversial facet of President Bush's "active" methods of crimefighting, it'll be interesting to see how the president and Congress responds. Maybe I'm being too idealistic, but there just has to be some other way to combat terrorism without becoming almost as ruthless ourselves.