LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bush tribunal plan appalling
As a veteran of 26 years of service in the US Navy, I am appalled at
President Bush's plan to use Military Tribunals to try people his
administration labels as terrorists. I believe he is appealing to our
emotions resulting from the tragedy of September 11th to cover a
misguided, ill conceived, and unnecessary abrogation of our civil
rights and constitutionally guaranteed legal procedures that too many
Americans have fought and died to protect.
My first objection is his attempt to use President Franklin
Roosevelt's WWII precedent as justification for this policy.
President Bush is ignoring one huge difference between the current
circumstances and those faced by FDR.
FDR had a Congressional declaration of war to support his use of
tribunals. President Bush does not!
My second objection is his attempt to give his plan legitimacy by
claiming it contains "implementations" of the current Uniform Code of
Military Justice. This is just not true. As pointed out by columnist
William Safire in his column on 11/28, The UCMJ "demands a public
trial, proof beyond reasonable doubt, an accused's voice in the
selection of juries and right to choose counsel, unanimity in death
sentencing and above all appellate review by civilians confirmed by
the Senate." None of these guarantees are contained in President
Bush's decree setting up his military tribunals.
My third objection is the that, in setting up these military
tribunals, the Bush administration is giving up any moral high ground
the US might have in dealing with countries like the Peoples Republic
of China as we work to get them to improve their position on human
rights. I ask those of you that may support these military tribunals,
what is the difference between the Communist leaders of China trying
the students they called the "terrorists of Tianamen Square" in their
secret military courts and the Bush administration's plans to try the
al-Qaida terrorists in their secret military tribunals? Have
President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft lost faith in the US
legal system; the very system that guarantees our civil liberties and
sets us apart from most other countries in the world?
I urge all of you who value our constitutionally guaranteed rights to
write to your Congressional representatives and ask them to oppose
President Bush's misguided plan. In troubled times like these, we
need presidential leadership consistent with our constitution, not
"royal" decrees that ignore our core values.
Alan C. Miller
Capt, USN (Ret)
Run dates: 2001-11-28 - 2001-12-12