John McCain has attacked the Supreme Court’s decision on the rights of Guantanamo detainees as “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” His reaction gives me further reason not to support him. We’re in a war that was begun on a false basis. It has been propagated by means contrary to traditional Just War standards. In our lust for revenge against the 9-11 hijackers, we have gone after a nation innocent of involvement in that attack, diminished our own Constitutional freedoms, engaged in heinous acts of degradation and torture, and deprived prisoners of war of any rights guaranteed by international law.
King George has said the Guantanamo detainees are not prisoners of war, and so not subject to the Geneva Convention. He has said they shouldn’t be provided the rights of US law, either. They are a class of people he would deprive of all legal rights and protections.
Yet he also claimed that the reason we were attacked was because Osama bin Laden and his followers hate freedom, and what we represent. He said we need to spread freedom to the Middle East as a way to combat Islamic terrorism. If that is so, then we should have taken the moral high ground and gone out of our way to treat detainees right, to give them all benefit of the doubt, to give them all the protections guaranteed, by US law and the Geneva Convention, to treat their religion and their sexual mores with respect, to respect their human dignity. We should never have engaged mercenaries. We should never have approved CIA torture. We should have spent extra time teaching all military personnel about human dignity and human rights. We should have placed the most emphasis on winning the hearts and minds of the Arab World.
But George didn’t do it.
He chose instead to heap insults upon injuries.
Fortunately, we have a Supreme Court, and it is now beginning to review these misdeeds. Their rulings may show the peoples of the world that the American system is greater than any one presidential administration. But I fear it is too little, too late.