Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair told senators today that it was a mistake for authorities to give the accused bomber in the attempted Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound airliner a reading of his Miranda right to an attorney without consulting Blair's office, the Homeland Security secretary and other officials.Well, that puts the fox in the hen house, so to speak.
Admiral Blair was talking about the HIG, the "...high-value interrogation group, an elite team made up of experts from the CIA, FBI and other agencies. The team was created to replace the CIA interrogation program that President Obama disbanded."
We have still not figured out who fits in what slot. I have in the past said that our current understanding of the US Constitution needs to be expanded, so that civilians who, in any form, or to any degree, come under US control, anywhere in the world, should be given the full protection of the Constitution. For me that includes not handing them over to some other government to be tortured.♠
On the other hand, combatants should go into Prisoner of War Camps and should be subject to interrogation as per the Laws of Armed Conflict. They get no habeas corpus rights. Picked up while engaged in war against the United States, they get put away for the duration. The Red Cross gets to check up on them to make sure they are not being mistreated. On the other hand, they get no special privileges. If our guys and gals eat MREs, they have no rights to anything better.
The hard part is those who don't qualify as soldiers, for instance, conducting acts of war while in civilian cloths. As someone noted this morning, General George Washington hanged British Major John André, who was behind our lines in civilian cloths and carrying information about our defenses at West Point (before it became a four year prison for Army Cadets).
I am not advocating we follow the approach of the Continentals, who tried the Major and found:
"Major André, Adjutant-General to the British army, ought to be considered as a Spy from the enemy, and that agreeable to the law and usage of nations, it is their opinion, he ought to suffer death."But, folks conducting acts of war (like blowing up airliners) and doing it in civilian cloths, are not mere civilians, but are neither "civilians" nor "soldiers", but are "illegal combatants". Because I am a soft hearted person and wish to adhere to the rule of law, I say we designate them honorary combatants and treat them as prisoners of war, even when captured on US soil. Aside from the potential loss of intelligence♥ we risk unseemly disruptions of our courts, as with Dr Aafia Siddiqui, who yesterday disrupted her trial in Federal Court.
The trial of Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT- and Brandeis-trained neuroscientist accused of trying to shoot American agents in Afghanistan, opened yesterday with unusual courtroom drama: Siddiqui shouted that the first witness was “lying’’ and used the public forum of the trial to reiterate her accusations that she was tortured in a secret prison - accusations the US government repeatedly has called baseless.Her actions took place in Afghanistan, but she is being tried as a civilian here in the US. Why? Why not treat her as an illegal combatant, which she is?
Regards — Cliff
♠ I would note that in this I differ with Senator Elect Scott Brown and it is on me to articulate my view to him in some form of communication, since I doubt he reads my blog.
♥ While the other approach only provies more work for lawyers, thus raising their earnings overall.