President Bush's decision to consider establishing military tribunals to prosecute accused terrorists has set off a major debate on civil liberties in the United States. Supporters argue that such a measure is a constitutional necessity to address terrorism of an unprecedented scope. Opponents claim that the tribunals would undermine the rule of law and deprive defendants of the protection provided for in the American system of justice. My research and personnel experience on the subject has found the tribunals to be in direct accordance of what the President of the United States his charged to do.
It's the duty of the President to ensure the safety of all citizens. The tide of war has changed dramatically within the past twenty years with our enemies becoming more and more invisible. As the country as changed throughout history, this latest change on how we deal with our enemies is just another positive step in the right direction. The tribunal rules do not violate established criminal justice procedures because it does not target crimes usually prosecuted by the civil criminal justice system. A military tribunal or military commission is a court-like forum that is created within the military to try a person accused of crimes. It is authorized by the U.
S. Constitution and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), which is a federal law (Title 10, United States Code, Chapter 47) passed by Congress. The great majority of the UCMJ is devoted to the rules concerning the trial of U. S. service personnel by court-martial. Article 21, UCMJ, however, provides authority to convene other military tribunals.
Some individuals in the military could argue that members are held to a different criminal justice system than civilians. Most crimes not prosecuted by civil systems like adultery are prosecuted in the military and can lead to jail time. You will never here complainants because members of the military understand they are held to a higher standard than their civilian counterparts. With higher standards there is always a higher cost to pay when you violate them. A military tribunal is essentially a court-martial, or a military trial, during a time of war.
The rules of evidence that are in the civilian criminal trials do not apply. The tribunal ordered by Bush would target non-U. S. citizens suspected by the White House to be terrorists.
The issue most people have with this is the burden of proof. Individuals can be placed in detention centers for undetermined periods of time without and hard evidence they have committed a crime. U. S.
citizens who fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan would be exempt from prosecution under President Bush's military tribunal order. Military tribunals have been held in the U. S. since the Revolutionary War, and the U. S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 1942, that they do not violate the U.
S. Constitution. The Bush administration pledged that if the president convenes a military tribunal, it would provide a full and fair trial to the accused. The understanding has to be that we are not dealing with neighborhood criminals. Our criminal justice system is not set up for mass waves of people from countries that do not claim them wanting to kill us. Prosecuting them in a civil court and sending them to federal prison does not make sense.
We already have a overwhelming problem with controlling our current prison system. I don't think it would be wise to place seasoned killers in with bitter prisoners to possibly bread more terrorists. In comparing a military tribunal to a court-martial or civilian court there are many differences which would lead outsiders to believe there are unfair practices in the system. A federal trial is generally open to the public, while a military tribunal may be closed. Advocates of the tribunal process say such a setting denies a public forum to the accused. A tribunal may be held in a different country, in a territory such as Guam or even on a U.
S. naval ship. Greater security can be imposed over what information is disclosed in a military tribunal as compared with a federal prosecution. Like a court-martial, a military tribunal will be composed of military members, ostensibly only officer members and usually no fewer than five, the minimum number that can sit for a general court-martial. Unlike a federal prosecution, a person tried by a military tribunal does not have the right to a jury trial. A tribunal's finding of guilt or imposition of the death penalty does not have to be unanimous.
In the case of a five-member panel, four of the members could vote guilty and impose the death penalty. The last and the most controversial element of the tribunal systems is a death penalty can be imposed immediately The president signed the order establishing the tribunals on November 13. Officials have maintained that the perpetrators of the September 11, attacks and others suspected of terrorism should be not be tried in U. S. federal courts due to the extraordinary security situation in the United States.
The trials could be held in the United States or in other countries. Proponents of the tribunals argue they are necessary to protect potential American jurors from the danger of retribution they might incur for passing judgment on terrorists, and to shield the government from the necessity of revealing classified information. The president's power to convene a military tribunal comes from the authority he wields as Commander-In-Chief, under Article 2 of the U. S. Constitution. It is distinct from Congress' power to enact laws that govern the land and naval forces.
The Supreme Court has consistently upheld the use of tribunals. Military jurisdiction over tribunals comes from the Constitution and international law. International law includes the law of war. The 'Manual for Courts-Martial,' which governs trial by court-martial, refers to tribunals as 'commissions. The manual provides that, subject to any applicable rule of international law or to any regulations prescribed by the president, military commissions shall be guided by the appropriate principles of law and rules of procedure and evidence prescribed for courts-martial. The United Nations only requires that military tribunals be fundamentally fair.
That law further specifies the minimum requirements to be fundamentally fair, all of which are detailed in President Bush's November 13 order. Bush's order provides that tribunals can only try non-U. S. citizens involved in international terrorism. The Supreme Court has ruled that military tribunals cannot try United States citizens if civilian courts are open. Members of the al Qaeda organization are not considered prisoners of war, and therefore, do not have protection under the Geneva Conventions.
Instead, al Qaeda terrorists are, under international law, considered illegal combatants, and are subject to trial by military tribunals. The United Nations has established criminal tribunals to try illegal combatants in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The critics suggest that the constitutional standards of our criminal justice system should be applied in a military proceeding for war criminals, but that makes little sense. Many of these critics earlier called for a military response to terrorism. Now they want to demilitarize it. The decision President Bush mad is the correct one and is proven with the response by Americans.
More than fifty percent of American support tribunals and the war on terrorism. We have to learn that these people want to kill us not steal out televisions. This is a war and in war sometime we have to adjust when our enemies throw curve balls at us. In effect, what the critics of military tribunals would have the President do is turn enemy belligerents over to civilian law enforcement authorities for prosecution. To do so, however, would not only be unprecedented, but would set a horrifically bad precedent.
I support the tribunals and believe it does not violate established criminal justice procedures in place in the United States. We as a country have to accept the necessary changes to ensure the survival of our culture and way of life. REFERANCEDraft of Tribunal Rules Would Require Public Trials, Death-Penalty Unanimity By Jess Brain. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.
Y. : Dec 28, 2001. pg. A. 18 web.