In a New York Times op-ed, former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith suggests that President Obama stop putting accused terrorists on trial in civilian courts. He writes, “The Administration should instead embrace what has been the main mechanism for terrorist incapacitation since 9/11: military detention without charge or trial.” http:// www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/opinion/09goldsmith.html
I rarely find myself in agreement with a former Bush administration figure, but I fully endorse his concept. Why should people who kidnap, torture and sometimes murder people be subjected to the niceties of a trial by jury and other constitutional guarantees? I say lock ’em up and throw away the key, perhaps subjecting them to the same treatment they inflicted on others.
Let’s start with the 22 CIA agents who kidnapped Hassan Nasr, aka Abu Omar, from Milan in 2003 and transported him to Egypt where he was brutally tortured. Italian investigators used cell phone records and hotel receipts to pinpoint the people responsible for the kidnapping. In 2009 an Italian judge found them guilty in abstentia, a procedure Goldsmith would undoubtedly deem unnecessary. (http://www.theworld.org/2009/11/04/cia-agents- guilty-of-italy-kidnap/)
But indefinite detention of agents carrying out such terrorist actions is not enough. We need to find the financiers and architects of the crimes. So I urge President Obama to immediately detain former officials such as CIA chief George Tenet, Vice-President Dick Cheney and President Bush.
Of course, this would only be the beginning. The war against state-sponsored terrorism will be long and arduous, lasting perhaps several generations. So, rather than closing down Guantanamo, the Obama administration should expand it to accommodate the expected influx of U.S. officials.
Mr. Goldsmith and others who advocate overthrowing the basic guarantees of the U.S. Constitution beware: You might get your wish.
Freelance foreign correspondent Reese Erlich’s new book is “Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence and Empire.” He currently is on a national book tour. See www.reeseerlich.com. His blog appears on Tuesdays on The Real News.