Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 04:50 PM
There’s an interesting discussion going on in the comment thread over at McArdle’s blog (I know, her again?) regarding Obama’s order to suspend all trials for personnel held at Guantanamo. If you ignore your normal ideological trolls (Obama is a communist! Bush is a fascist! You're a scum sucking traitor who hates America if you disagree with me!) there are actually some decent points raised.

In particular, I’m concerned about the idea that detainees could be tried in regular federal court – that seems like a completely inappropriate venue to me. Ideally they should be tried under a system that very closely resembles the UCMJ – the same protections that our own soldiers receive. If you look at the current effort, the misconduct has been done by the civilian political hacks Bush put in place. Those really making a difference have been the uniformed attorneys – the defense lawyers asking the hard questions and fighting the system on behalf of their clients, and the prosecutors such as Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld who have resigned in protest when they were directed to make prosecutions they felt were unfair. Of course, those getting the glory are the ACLU and the big name firms that have "donated" their time as a way to latch on to all the free PR.

At the end of the day, who better to try a soldier than a fellow soldier? Does anyone honestly believe that a civilian jury, who has never known the horror and confusion of combat, can draw the fine lines on what behavior is and is not acceptable? The idea here should be to set up a trial system that is robust and can be applied to future conflicts, not one that is simply convenient to apply to the current problem at hand. Can you imagine the Nuremburg trials occurring in federal court? Of course not.
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