Friday, January 22, 2010

eyes open, pt. 2

An update to our earlier post about Guantánamo Bay.

The Times is reporting today that of the 200 men still being held outside any legal framework, about 50 of them will, uh, stay that way:

The Obama administration has decided to continue to imprison without trials nearly 50 detainees at the Guantánamo Bay military prison in Cuba because a high-level task force has concluded that they are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, an administration official said on Thursday.
I've always given moral absolutists a hard time, and it's led to the most heated arguments I've had in many a moon -- I think there are few things more dangerous than those who feel the world falls into clearly defined areas of right and wrong with no room for compromise: that's how wars and suicide bombings get started.

HOWEVER, I am a constitutional absolutist: I believe that our entire legal world MUST fall under that umbrella -- whether you're in the States, on Embassy grounds, coastal Cuba, or some CIA black site in a Polish forest. We're all within its jurisdiction, because that's the only way it works. You don't get to choose who's covered and who isn't -- because who makes that choice? And what happens when the list changes, which it invariably does? (That, by the way, is the inherent beauty of the system.)

We cannot arbitrarily decide that one group of people aren't subject to the rules because it would be too difficult to play by them. That is another journey to the same place that made it acceptable to fly two airliners filled with civilians into office buildings.

If we are right, they are wrong, and thus we need not treat them as we want to be treated (as in fact we, knowing our own weaknesses, stipulate we must be treated), the jig is up, and there is nothing left to defend.

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