Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hi. S'up? Austin is still blazing hot, and at this point, I'm guessing that we'll more or less just be riding this heat wave out through September. Hope we get some rain, though. With the more intense heat arriving earlier this year, and given our watering restrictions, I don't think my grass is gonna last very long at this rate.
Jeez. Was I just blogging about my lawn?
Austin came in at number 8 on MSNBC's top ten places in the country to live. I wish the media would quit putting lists like this together (or quit putting austin on them) so people would quit moving here.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the 9/11 terror suspects on trial in military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay have the right to appeal their cases to U.S. to U.S. federal courts (i.e., civilian courts). I think that this is a good thing. I want to see terrorists convicted as much as the next guy, but I think that this whole military tribunal system that we have set up at the moment just doesn't feel legit (how's that for getting into some hyper technical legal mumbo jumbo?). It's hard to claim that these people are getting the same due process rights with the same civil liberty protections that anyone else would get when we've put them into a special court with different rules than anyone else is subject to (and I'm not crazy about the fact that the military or the justice deaprtment can route anyone that they deem fit into this whole different justice track just by labelling them an "enemy combatant"). It may end up being a harder job and more work, but we need to be able to show the world that these terror suspects got a fair, transparent trial if their convictions are to mean anything. If we're not going to follow the law and do these hearings by the book, then there's really no point in having a trial at all. Much of the world assumes that the U.S. is really just seeking revenge, not justice, for the 9/11 attacks, so if we're going to try to peruade people otherwise, we ought to be able to show that we followed the rule of law, and that the basic civil liberties of the detainees were protected during the course of securing their convictions.
To play the role of an utterly cynical, perhaps somewhat wicked pragmatist, I ask: if we're not going to bother adhering to due process and civil rights guidelines, then wouldn't we be probably be better off just having some of these detainees "disappear"? (I'm thinking some deep, dark, secret CIA prison somewhere) Better to leave our enemies wondering than to give them proof that we're not playing fair. I maybe shouldn't have typed those last couple of sentences, but I kind of think that if we're really going to be hard core about these things, we might as well go all the way. Half measures (and that's sort of what I think these military tribunals are- some sort of half-baked compromise between civil libertarians and people who think that these terror suspects are too dangerous to be processed through our traditional legal channels) only end up with the worst of both worlds (no one will think we're actually conducting fair hearings, AND we end up giving these guys a public soapbox and running the risk of acquittals- theoretically at least).
Anyway, I'm glad to see the Supreme Court stand up to the White House on this issue. It's good to see that even if our justices are pretty conservative, there's still a point (somewhere) where they're going to draw a line in the sand and protect the constitution.

I guess that's it for now. I didn't really cover a lot of new ground in talking about the Gitmo Trials, but with this new Supreme Court ruling coming down, it seemed like a worthwhile topic to readdress. It'll be interesting to see if they still go forward with these military tribunals.

2 comments:

The Pope said...

Steans--

If you want to stop people from moving to Austin, you could increase the violent crime rate.
One person CAN make a difference!

That might deter folks from re-locating.

Steanso said...

Well, spending my weekends sitting naked on the front lawns of homes that are for sale isn't working out, so...