Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meghan McCain Gets It (Mostly) Right

Sean Hannity, unshockingly, gets it wrong

With the question of whether or not Guantanamo Bay detainees should have their rights respected hanging thick in the air, FOX News' Sean Hannity invited Meghan McCain, amongst a panel of other commentators, on his show to discuss the issue.

Hannity -- along with most of the panel -- is stringently opposed to "granting" the rights of Guantanamo detainees.

"They declared war on us and we're fighting a war and we know there is about 60-some odd detainees that have gone back to the battlefield. Why for the first time ever would we give rights to enemy combatants?" Hannity asked.

"What competent person thinks this is a good idea?" McCain asked. "Literally when I think of my brother and his people and his platoon, the people I know over there fighting for this so we can let them go so they can attack us again? It's insane."

McCain is right and wrong about this.

When, as the segment itself alluded to, the Guantanamo detainees accused of helping plan the 9/11 attacks admit their role in the plot and insist they're proud of it, it's pretty clear what they will do if they're released free and clear from Guantanamo Bay.

However, the topic of discussion wasn't merely about the notion that these men could be released. It was also about whether or not those detained should have any rights.

Since the United States began taking prisoners in the War on Terror, the "enemy combatant" designation has been used liberally as an excuse to avoid designating them as criminals or as prisoners of war.

If charged as criminals, those detained at Guantanamo Bay would be subject to Habeus Corpus and would enjoy a collection of civil rights that would rule out the treatment they've received at Camp X-Ray, including torture.

If declared to be prisoners of war, these detainees would be subject to the full range of rights laid out under the Geneva Conventions. Once again, torture would have been strictly forbidden.

Now, mercifully, the Obama administration is putting an end to the designation of Guantanamo detainees as "enemy combatants".

Wether as criminals charged under US law or as prisoners of war, these individuals will finally enjoy the rights mandated under law -- be it domestic or international -- and will finally be subject to some manner of justice worthy of the name.

As previously mentioned, one of these rights is the right to not be subjected to torture -- something that Hannity apparently thinks is acceptable even as a Christian.

McCain, for her own part, disagrees.

"I think it's what separates us from the terrorists," McCain explained. "My father could never lift me up as a child because he can't move his arm. He can't ride a bike because he can't bend his knee because he was tortured. I think he knows better."

There's also a serious issue at stake in pretending that the United States would be "giving" these individuals rights. In fact, the rights of these individuals are established within both US and international law.

Although McCain's approach to the issue of rights leaves much to be desired, her denunciation of torture is as effective, prescient and welcome is any. With the issue of how Guantanamo Bay detainees should be designated soon to be resolved, the voice of anyone with an understanding of the nature of torture is dearly needed.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry to intrude, P., but you have been fickied.

    Take it in the right spirit, come on over and join the fun.


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