One of my coworkers was bemoaning the proposal to restore habeas corpus rights to the suspects in Guantanamo. I tried to get him to understand that the rule of law is dependent on treating everyone, friend or foe, as a human being with certain inalienable rights. That phrase may be in some document you’ve heard of but probably never read completely.
Anyway, I just don’t get it. There are so many people who seem to think that, just because someone has been apprehended and stored in the extra-national prison in Gitmo, they are automatically evil and their life is forfeit. Since when did accusation equal conviction? How can allowing them a day in court in any way weaken our national strength or safety?
Just as popular speech doesn’t need protection, but only the unpopular speech, so too do obviously innocent people not need their rights protected as strongly as the suspicious ones. Nobody would be able to get away with randomly throwing people into prison, one would hope. But, if the selection wasn’t random, but instead fit in with preconceived notions of what a bad guy looked like, or where a bad guy lived, or what religion a bad guy held…all bets are off. Making decisions based on emotion rather than on evidence and facts leads to a very slippery slope. Of course, maybe this is all a vast conspiracy, and someone has been looking at ways of converting a democracy into an authoritarian dictatorship. Hint: look in Austrian history in the 1930s, or Zimbabwe today.