Our image, terrorism to be on trial

Victor Nieto:

Victor Nieto:

Victor Nieto

The events that took place on Sept. 11 are still a prevalent focus for many U.S. citizens and will forever be juxtaposed with the current Bush Administration. So in maybe his most memorable and strident attacks on terror since the invasion of Iraq five years ago, President Bush has issued a military tribunal for numerous Al Qaeda-associated prisoners involved in those horrid attacks.

The six detainees in question are currently being held at the Guantanamo Bay Prison and speculation by the New York Times and MIT online suggests that Bush will be seeking the death penalty. The most infamous of those detainees being tried is the self-proclaimed “mastermind” behind Sept. 11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Now, here is where the controversy takes place. As many of you may be aware of, Mohammed was coerced into giving information to CIA interrogators by means of using torture techniques that violate the Geneva Convention laws against torture. However, the fervid contempt for Mohammed is shared among many Americans who want to see the former senior adviser to Osama bin Laden killed for his role in those tragic events. In any case justice must be served, but for whom?

I am in no way advocating amnesty for those abhorrently, soulless men but in my eyes a fair trial in this case is an absurd prospect. Upon being captured in March 2003, Mohammed was tortured into a confession using a technique called “water boarding,” which simulates the feeling of drowning.

He was then sent to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where, as reported by Pentagon investigations, he was being led around on a leash and forced to wear a bra, among other things. Now he will be judged in a military courtroom by military judges based on information that was illegally coerced from him by government agents.

If he, or any of the other detainees, is sentenced to death based on information gathered through their torture, the U.S. is, in essence, abdicating what little shred it has left of moral superiority in the world and in bold highlights stating that the Geneva Convention doesn’t apply to America.

Peter Davies, government professor, views the torture aspect in similar light. In his opinion, U.S. participation in such inhumane techniques would “act as a recruiting tool for our enemies,” and further the Al Qaeda movement and other groups that are hostile to the U.S.

Davies is, however, more optimistic about the possibility of these men receiving a fair trial but understands the skepticism of the general public when a high-profile case such as this will not be allowed for public hearing due to secretive information disclosed during the trial.

If this case goes to trial, it will be held in the coming months with an urgency for a conviction of death before the president leaves office in 2009 and in a way, will further pad his legacy as the vengeful architect against the forces of evil (Saddam Hussein, his sons, other Al Qaeda). If the next president already didn’t have his/her hands full with our foreign policies, the topic of torture should definitely keep him/her busy.

The best move for Bush in this situation may be to urge a death conviction, thereafter stepping in and sentencing the men to life in prison or back to their home country to then be convicted and sentenced to death. And, in a closing speech before he steps down formally, separate the country of the U.S. with the word of torture.

But what about those dissidents that pose the “what if” scenario of an H-Bomb under our feet ready to go off? That we only have 24 hours to turn it off and the person that knows where the bomb is will not give it up. Should torture not be implemented?

Well, the best way to answer that question would be to turn off the video games revolving around ticking time bombs and realize that such a proposition would not occur. As Davies put it, “this is real life and not an episode of ’24.'”

We must remember that moral virtue in this world is important and in large part it has been that standard that has helped the U.S. be admired by other countries rather than scorned upon. After the events of Sept. 11, most of the world supported us and mourned with us and our tragic loss. But that goodwill has dried up and it’s up to us to lead the moral crusade and steer back toward diplomacy while veering away from its current jingoism inclinations.

Victor Nieto can be reached at [email protected]