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Guantanamo detainees: What's next?Posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008, at 1:45 PM
What about those "detainees," accused by United States officials of being terrorists, populating Guantanamo Bay?
Should they just stay there forever, with no way to defend themselves even if they've been falsely accused? Or should the U.S. justice system apply to them, also?
Enough Supreme Court justices think so that they've voted 5-4 to allow trials. Some Bush administration representatives disagree, saying normal paths of justice don't apply to terrorists bent on destroying the U.S.
John McCain says the vote represents one of the saddest days in American history, and accuses election rival Barack Obama of being naive. Barack responds that Republicans use fear to sway voters and surrounded himself today with retired military and Bill Clinton-era (of course, they're Democrats) security personnel.
But enough of the politicking. What about the prisoners?
Are they threats to the United States? Should they be tortured and abused to obtain information, as Bush administration officials feel? Should the accused be barred from trials or even legal representation?
Or should America follow its traditional pattern of fair, but firm, treatment and "liberty and justice for all?"
Do we "walk softly and carry a big stick," as Theodore Roosevelt said -- or smack the rest of the world over the head with the stick as today's foreign policy sometimes seems to be?
I'm not sure of exactly how Guantanamo detainees should be handled.
But I'd like to see the United States project strength yet fairness whenever possible. We can protect ourselves against terrorism without stooping to the terrorists' level. Otherwise, we only hurt ourselves.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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