John McCain is trying to paint Barack Obama into a corner regarding the question of whether Osama bin Laden deserves due process if or when U.S forces capture him. Leaving aside the fact that McCain’s good buddies Bush and Cheney haven’t been able to capture him for seven years despite their “best” efforts, perhaps the question of whether Osama deserves due process should be preceded by capturing him.
In attempting to turn Obama into the typical bleeding heart Democrat on national security issues, McCain has painted himself into a very deep, dark corner. In a message entitled I Will Deliver Justice (yeah, just like Bush has done), he writes:
…After enthusiastically embracing the Supreme Court decision granting habeas in U.S. civilian courts to dangerous terrorist detainees, he is now running away from the consequences of that decision and what it would mean if Osama bin Laden were captured. Senator Obama refuses to clarify whether he believes habeas should be granted to Osama bin Laden, and instead cites the precedent of the Nuremburg [sic] war trials…There was no habeas at Nuremburg [sic] and there should be no habeas for Osama bin Laden.
…Let me be clear, under my administration Osama bin Laden will either be killed on the battlefield or executed.
How can a president of the United States guarantee that someone will be executed before he has been tried or even apprehended? I’ve never heard to such a thing before. Hasn’t McCain heard of a mere formality called judicial due process? Or have we gotten to he point where we can dispense with that too as we have with so many of our other civil liberties?
This statement sounds like an open invitation to those who might capture Bin Laden to execute him summarily. That would be handy because then there would be none of those messy legal proceedings in which he could string out the execution McCain so desperately seeks.
In McCain’s message we have a perfect crystallization of the different outlooks of the two candidates. Obama believes in justice. McCain believes in vengeance. In my Jewish religion, vengeance is reserved for the Lord. I’d prefer to keep it that way. Osama Bin Laden deserves justice when and if he is caught; not vengeance.
Vengeance is what Bin Laden has wrought on the world on behalf of imagined Muslim grievances against the west. Why should we embrace his twisted code in meting out punishment to him? What message will that send to the rest of the world and, in particular, his followers and potential supporters? Don’t we want them to think that we live by a code that is fair, consistent, and civilized? Or do we want them to think that we are as bloodthirsty as the jihadists?
Hat tip to Sol Salbe and the Lowy Institute blog, The Interpreter.