McConnell wrong to criticize prosecution of terrorists in civilian courts

July 10, 2011

On Wednesday evening, I heard a good portion of Sen. Mitch McConnell's Senate address, in which he lambasted President Barack Obama for bringing terror suspects into the USA for trial and punishment in civilian courts and prisons, rather than trying them outside with military tribunals and incarcerating them at Guantanamo Bay ("US detains Somali target," July 6). While the good senator repeatedly warned that this practice poses a threat to domestic security and gives undue "privilege" to the suspects, I found myself feeling just a little bit proud of the president's direction in this case.

First, the suspects are brought here in handcuffs and chains and under constant guard, like any domestic suspect. They are kept under lock and key and full-time surveillance in American detention facilities like any other defendant, so I can't see how they pose any more threat to the people than U.S. citizens who are accused and/or convicted of the same crimes.

More importantly, I feel proud and relieved that someone in authority has chosen to hold the American people to a higher standard of behavior than that of our enemies, even in our treatment of those enemies. If we are giving foreign combatants "all the rights and privileges of American citizens" when we try and incarcerate them, then so be it. If we are to continue to think of ourselves as a "Christian" people, then we must treat our enemies as we would have our own people treated.

Otherwise, we surrender the most precious real estate in the country: the moral high ground.

Thad Paulhamus, Baltimore

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