Holding [Dzhokhar] Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant is another matter. Yes, this was a crime of terror and its purpose was to kill people, not a conventional crime intended for profit. And yes, Tsarnaev might talk more freely without a lawyer present.
But we lose something when we throw aside the hard-fought restraints on government power. And history shows that any power claimed by one administration can be abused by the next.
The New York Times recently published an op-ed from a prisoner at Guantánamo who has been held as an enemy combatant for 11 years with no charges and no trial, force-fed to prevent his death from a hunger strike. It is a grotesque description of the price we pay for compromising our basic values.
And it’s not necessary. Tsarnaev faces a possible death sentence and can be pressured to talk while in the civilian system, as criminals are every day. So far, no evidence has emerged linking him or his brother to al Qaeda. As demented as these Boston crimes were, they did not present the kind of existential threat that would justify throwing overboard fundamental values.
I left the following comments:
"So far, no evidence has emerged linking him or his brother to al Qaeda. As demented as these Boston crimes were, they did not present the kind of existential threat that would justify throwing overboard fundamental values."
This is 180 degrees wrongheaded.
Fundamentally, the enemy we face is not al Qaeda or any organized group. It is an ideological movement unified by a particularly virulent, evil set of ideas; imperialistic, totalitarian Islam. Totalitarian Islam seeks world domination and subjugation under a Dark Age-style theocracy governed by Sharia law. It's main enemy is exactly what America stands for; a free society governed by a secular government operating under laws that recognize the individual's inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They consider this decadent.
By all accounts so far, the Boston Bombers were motivated by this ideology, and thus should be recognized as enemy combatants. It is futile to look for links to Al Qaeda or some other terrorist group. The link is ideological, which is what makes this movement especially dangerous. All that is needed is for the spiritual leaders to indoctrinate people with the movement's ideas, and then turn them loose on Americans. Iran has led this effort for decades. This appears to be the case in Boston.
If it is confirmed that the Boston bombers were motivated by Islamic imperialism, then they most certainly do represent the kind of existential threat that justifies and requires our government to treat them as enemy combatants--not because they hold certain ideas, but because they are acting on those ideas as part of an enemy movement bent on America's--and Western Civilization's--destruction. Treating members of totalitarian Islam as the enemies they are would not constitute throwing our ideals them overboard. This would be a highly moral action of self-defense; upholding and defending America and her fundamental values.
AP reports that, according to family members, "In the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, [Dzhokhar's brother] Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam." This "mysterious radical" is identified only as Misha.
Furthermore, according to AP, Dzhokhar's wife, Katherine Russell--to the surprise of people who knew her--also converted to Islam after meeting Dzhokhar. "[T]wo U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to publicly discuss the investigation, told The Associated Press that evidence suggests the brothers were motivated by a radical brand of Islam."
If this is true, then the Tsarnaev brothers did not act alone in any fundamental sense. They were part of a vast enemy movement.
The Star-Ledger is correct in its warning about the abuse of government power (however that stand may contradict its statist domestic economic agenda). But the protection of individual rights does not extend to an enemy whose goal is the destruction of America and its rule-of-objective-law principles. It is important to recognize that we face just such an enemy.
A Decade Later, the Same Solution
Winning the Unwinnable War, Elan Journo
Recognizing Radical Islam as Our Enemy, Ron Radosh