Boumediene

Fred Thompson
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Posted: Jun 22, 2008 7:36 PM

Our Democratic friends are once again scrambling to defend Senator Obama’s latest national security gaffe.

Obama supports the recent Supreme Court majority opinion in the Boumediene decision, which extended for the first time habeas corpus rights to foreign enemy combatants held abroad. The Senator went even further than the Court and said that accused terrorists should be tried in American courts as was Omar Abdel Rahman, “the blind sheik”, who masterminded the first World Trade Center bombing.

Last week, in a call with reporters and bloggers, I pointed out Obama’s folly. The Rahman case demonstrates some of the main reasons why we should not treat enemy combatants as ordinary criminal defendants. Such proceedings potentially compromise results, sources and methods of intelligence gathering. In the course of prosecuting Rahman, the government was compelled to turn over a list of un-indicted co-conspirators to the defendant. That list included the name of Osama bin Laden. We later learned that within ten days a copy of that list reached bin Laden in Khartoum, letting him know that his connection to that case had been discovered.

My comments apparently caused the DNC to send out an A.P.B. for anything that might help their candidate out of this problem. Their “Googling” efforts revealed the fact that last year I pointed out that bin Laden would have to be given due process when he is apprehended.

Given that our Democrat friends apparently don’t understand what “due process” means for enemy combatants, they probably thought they had found a silver bullet for their candidate. For them, my statement supports Obama’s argument for terrorist trials in United States courts.

Of course, it doesn’t. Under several centuries of British and U.S. law, enemy combatants, especially those who are foreign combatants, do not have the same rights as American citizens. This does not mean that they cannot be given certain rights. In 2005, under the Detainee Treatment Act, Congress provided enemy combatants arrested and held abroad with certain procedural rights, such as the right to detention hearings where they may call and cross examine witnesses, etc. It was the due process to which all such prisoners were entitled at the time of my statement last year.

This is a far cry from a trial in a United States court, which Senator Obama would grant them.