Welcome to Our Courts, Terrorists

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jun 12, 2008 12:04 PM
If anyone needed a clear understanding of just why judges matter, today's Supreme Court decision bestowing habeas corpus rights on terrorists at Guantanamo is a perfect example.

First, imagine giving the same procedural protections afforded to American citizens to Nazi war prisoners in the midst of World War II -- imagine if they had been able to challenge their "detention" as prisoners of war as the conflict raged . . . even if we were holding them, say, in Lichtenstein.

Now understand that the people at Guantanamo have even less status under international law than the Nazis would have had, because under the Geneva Conventions, they're not even titled to the same protections that real prisoners of war -- wearing a uniform, part of a nation-state -- are entitled to.

Yet because of Supreme Court fiat (in a 5-4 decision), they're to receive the panoply of protections reserved for American citizens.  In other words, Osama bin Laden would be entitled to the same rights to challenge his detention as, say, a man accused of burglary here in L.A.

Such decisions do nothing to protect us.  They simply offer terrorists a way to exploit American legalities in order to find a way to return to the battlefield to attack our soldiers -- and civilians (because, for them, everwhere is a battlefield . . . including the streets of Manhattan).

To the extent the Democrats laud this decision as a great triumph, it's fair to ask them: Whose personal liberty -- and security -- are you most worried about?  American citizens' -- or accused terrorists'?