Letter: Bombers are criminals, not enemy combatants
Boston has reopened the debate over our rights and how best to defend our nation. Should the two animals who bombed the Boston Marathon be classified as enemy combatants or criminals? Should the younger bomber (refuse to use the name) have Miranda rights? Do our protections under the Constitution apply only to our citizens or to all who peacefully stand on our soil?
They are citizens and, as far as I know, we are not at war with them. This makes them mass murderers in my mind, similar to Newtown. The made-for-prime-time expression "War on Terrorism" lacks honesty and precision. Homeland Security was created to protect us from Islamic extremists, not school shooters, so let’s call it what it is so we can be more precise. They are not soldiers; they are fanatics. To glorify them as soldiers is not only an insult to real soldiers, but it is wrongfully stupid. Give mad dogs no more credit than they deserve … which is none.
So the "Assault on Islamic Fanatics" necessitated certain laws that allow authorities temporary suspension of people’s rights, allowing them a short period to glean info critical to Homeland Security. That said, Congressional leaders need to think when advocating declaring a U.S. citizen who apparently committed a heinous crime of terror against his fellow citizens on U.S. soil an enemy combatant. We would be better served if they kept their comments to themselves and not shared on Sunday morning talk shows, and this is why.
Rights are always on thin ice in this country. Ask gun owners. Current law provides an appropriate amount of time to question a terror suspect (by law, we all are innocent until proven otherwise) or even tap a suspect’s phone without warrant if terrorist acts are believed imminent. These laws infringe on a citizen’s rights, but have been determined necessary. Most, if not all Americans are willing to temporarily forgo these rights as long as due process and oversight, such as FISA courts, exist to protect the innocent.
By declaring someone an enemy combatant, Constitutional law is ignored and military tribunals rule. Think of U.S. citizens held without counsel for years, many never going to trial, just because someone just does not like you, your politics, your religion, or any other reason they like.
This happens every day somewhere in the world, sadly. Anytime you change the rules for a few, you run the risk of changing them for all. We are who we are because we decided long ago to lead by example, not by emotion. Miranda the criminals until we have a nation-state that is attacking us; then they can meet the real soldiers.