Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unlike Bush, Americans Still Believe in Constitution

We can hardly be the leaders of the free world if we insist on taking shortcuts when it comes to such things as due process or legal protection. It's been shown time and time again that the Bush Administration has rounded up people during the war on terrorism that were in the wrong place at the wrong time. By all means, if the evidence is there, terrorists should be subject to the full extent of the law but it should be absolutely clear that the United States does not do kangaroo courts. According to a recent survey by World Public Opinion, Americans want the rules to stay in place:
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Bush Administration plans to try hundreds of foreign detainees before special military commissions, Congress has begun to grapple with the tough issue of how to set legal standards for the treatment and trial of those detained in the worldwide war on terror.

Crucial to this debate is whether the American people support due-process and human rights for terrorism suspects. A new poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org shows that the U.S. public, whether Republican or Democrat, strongly supports such protections. Robust majorities said that detainees should have the right to not be held indefinitely without charges or a trial, to have a lawyer, to have their treatment monitored by the Red Cross, and to neither be tortured nor threatened with torture.

Americans also oppose the Bush Administration’s controversial policy of extraordinary renditions or sending detainees to countries known to interrogate prisoners under torture. Fifty-seven percent said military and intelligence agencies should not be allowed to carry out such secret transfers.

I've been unhappy that some Democratic politicians back away from some of these issues for fear that the public won't support them or because some quick poll seems to support the president when in fact not enough Americans understand the issue. When Democrats lead and explain the issues (and a number have done so), Americans will follow if the explanations are honest and reasonably clear. This is not rocket science. When even military lawyers have doubts about circumventing our own laws or the Geneva Conventions (which became our law when we signed the treaties), it's time for our nation's leaders to stand up to an indifferent president and his overly ambitious advisers.

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