Now, I am all for going after terrorists and killing them, if we can, before they hit us. But it is sheer hypocrisy to say that we have the right to kill a terror suspect, even a U.S. citizen, so long as we do it thousands of miles away; but if we happen to capture someone red-handed -- or should I say red-underweared, in the case of would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab? -- we have to read them their Miranda rights or at least make sure they're not handled too roughly.
Maybe we are lucky we haven't caught Osama bin Laden yet. What exactly would the Obama administration do with him if they did? Would the administration partner with another country -- preferably one with fewer qualms about the methods it used to obtain information -- so that the Obama administration's hands could remain clean? And where would we put him? The administration has taken Guantanamo away as an option. We could leave him overseas in another country's prison, but how secure would such an arrangement be? And if we transported him back to the States, would we have taxpayer-funded lawyers ready on the tarmac to ensure his rights?
The administration needs some consistency in its policies. The priority must be protecting American lives. If that means killing terrorists overseas who have already killed Americans or helped others to, so be it. But if it's not immoral to kill someone suspected of terrorist acts, why is it worse to subject him to harsh interrogation techniques, especially if doing so might actually save additional American lives? And is it more humane to let captured Taliban leaders rot in a Pakistani prison or bring them to Guantanamo, where they'll get three square meals a day, plenty of sunshine and their own copies of the Koran?
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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