The outcry on this subject has been somewhat muted by the moderate approach used by the Bush administration in the John Walker case. (More moderation than he deserves, I might add.) As David Henninger has noted, the first thing to be said in defense of the use of military tribunals is that if nothing else they make it clear we are in a war. The sad part is that we would not need such tribunals in a judicial process that had not been undermined by the media climate of the past twenty years or so and the corruption of the criminal justice system by the morass of individual rights-based rules of evidence. The tribunals are needed as an option for the President and Secretary of Defense in order to avoid the “OJ syndrome” and to assure that due process doesn’t become a circus. As to the possible trial of Osama bin Laden or other high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders, ask yourself, could Hitler have been acquitted? Or, did the Nuremberg trials lack fairness or suppress rules of evidence? Should we extend Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to OBL? How about the Second Amendment? As usual, Thomas Sowell is on point when he asks, “How can anyone have rights within a framework that he rejects and is trying to destroy? Rights are not just abstractions plucked out of thin air………..At one time, all this would have been considered too obvious to require saying.” It is instructive of our times that many of our elites believe we need a “show” trial with American rules of evidence to demonstrate the legitimacy of our cause.
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