The U.S. Hands the Terrorists a Big Win
Top counter-terrorism officials have said for years that indefinite detention increases terrorism.
As Huffington Post notes today, the indefinite detention bill passed by the Senate last week hands the terrorists a big win:
A measure that Congress will likely pass this week allowing indefinite detentions of Americans by the U.S. military will mark a significant loss in the war on terrorism, says a retired admiral who ran the Navy legal system.
To Ret. Adm. John Hutson, who was Judge Advocate General of the Navy from 1997 to 2000 and is dean emeritus of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, the idea that the United States is chipping away at one of its fundamental principles of civilian law enforcement is a win for terrorists.
“The enemy is just laughing over this, because they will have gotten another victory,” Hutson told The Huffington Post. “There’ll be one more victory. There won’t be any bloodshed or immediate bloodshed, there’s not a big explosion, except in a metaphorical sense, but it is a victory nonetheless for the enemy. And it’s a self-inflicted wound.”
Besides Hutson’s 28 years in the military justice system, he counted himself a conservative and Republican who “didn’t vote for a Democrat for dogcatcher” until he became worried about the direction of the country and backed Obama in 2008.
He thinks Obama should be very concerned about the detainee provisions, and explained why passage of them would be a victory for terrorists, who he argued cannot beat the United States on the battlefield. Instead, he said terrorists have to focus their attacks and violence on getting the United States to beat itself. And infringing on its own liberties is a step in that direction, he said.
“In this war, the enemy doesn’t have to win,” Hutson said. “They can cause us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise do, such as indefinite detentions, in the name of fighting a war,” he said, noting that the country has already subjected itself to invasive scrutiny that would not have been tolerated before Sept. 11, 2001.
In the case of the defense bill, the detention provisions would raise key questions about basic legal concepts that have long underpinned guarantees of freedom in America, including the habeas corpus right to contest being jailed and the Posse Comitatus Act passed after the Civil War to limit the military’s role in law enforcement.
“As it turns out, our enemies’ greatest weakness is that they are bereft of ideals,” he added. “If we can maintain our ideals, our sense of justice, in the face of this, we can win. What the enemy, what the terrorists want to do — because they know they can’t beat us militarily — [is] they can try to change us. They can cause us to become more like them, and for them, that’s victory.”
The reason why, he argues, is that if the United States cannot portray itself as the holder of loftier ideals, then it is much harder to convince the rest of the world to stay on its side — and it’s harder to fight wars because even allies are less cooperative.
“Who’s going to surrender to the United Sates if they think they’re going to be detained indefinitely without a trial? Is anybody going to give up?” he asked. “Who’s going to say, ‘You know, maybe the United States isn’t as bad as we think it is, and maybe it’s al Qaeda and the Taliban who are the bad guys, and I’m going to side with the good guys?'”
“It’s going to cost lives.” he said, “it’s going to cost a way of life.”
Instead of doing the things which could actually make us safer, virtually everything the Bush and Obama administrations have done actually increases the risk of terrorism in the long-run.
But that’s apparently dandy with our civilian leadership, because the so-called “war on terror” (which Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser calls “a mythical historical narrative”) was planned 20 years ago, and many in government consider terrorist strikes to be a “small price to pay for being a superpower”.