In our quest for justice, let’s not ignore the U.S. Constitution

By Saba Long

After the bomb blasts, the graphic photos of dismembered runners being carried to medics leaving behind a red-stained Boylston Street, and the subsequent manhunt for the two brothers who brazenly committed a grim act of terror, only one thought remains in the minds of the American public.

Bring Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to justice.

It has only taken a few days for our political leaders to find a way to divide a virtually unanimous public.  We want justice while it seems they want talking points.  The primary question at hand is should the United States treat Dzhokhar as an unlawful enemy combatant under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 or receive the legal rights granted a naturalized American citizen.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement which highlighted his views on the legal case for justice.

“I am disappointed that it appears this administration is once again relying on Miranda’s public safety exception to gather intelligence which only allows at best a 48-hour waiting period that may expire since the suspect has been critically wounded,” Chambliss stated. “This is not an ordinary criminal case, and a brief interrogation under that exception is wholly insufficient. Our courts, including the Supreme Court, allow detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects as enemy combatants, regardless of citizenship, and there is no reason to not follow that precedent here.”

To Chambliss, and others, Tsarnaev is an unlawful enemy combatant under the Military Commissions Act of 2006.  He need not receive any of the legal rights granted an American citizen.

Should we not err on the side of Constitutional holdings that say there are consequences for the government if we violate those rights?  We have essentially moved to a permanent war-time footing against terror threats.

One point both parties should be able to agree on is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an American who broke the law on American soil. Citizens have rights that the Constitution is serious about protecting.

If U.S. intelligence agencies piece together a narrative that shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his deceased brother worked with al Qaeda or another known enemy then he must undoubtedly be treated as a traitor.

Nationally elected leaders, the public and the media have been wrestling with this notion of justice since that fateful day in 2001. Many a time, the prevailing visceral, emotional reaction to terroristic threats and action has been of a “head on a platter” mentality, particularly when the initial reports link these incidents to the radical Islamist community.

Was this terrorism?

Yes, and so were the acts initiated by Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, Faisal Shahzad.

We  don’t have to ignore the 225 years of constitutional law to know what to do with a bad guy.

Saba Long is a communications and political professional who lives in downtown Atlanta. She serves as the senior council aide and communications liaison for Post 2 At-Large Atlanta City Councilman Aaron Watson. Most recently, Saba was the press secretary for MAVEN and Untie Atlanta -- the Metro Chamber’s education and advocacy campaigns in supportive of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Referendum. She has consulted with H.E.G. an analytics and evaluation firm where she lent strategic marketing and social media expertise to numerous political campaigns, including that of Fulton County Chairman John Eaves and the 2010 Clayton County transportation referendum. In 2009, Saba served as the deputy campaign manager for the campaign of City Council President Ceasar Mitchell. Previously, Saba was a Junior Account Executive at iFusion Marketing, where she lent fractional marketing strategy to various ATDC technology startups operating out of the Georgia Tech incubator, ATDC. For the past two years, Saba has presented on online marketing and politics to the incoming fellows of the Atlanta chapter of the New Leaders Council.

1 reply
  1. DW33 says:

    The Supreme Court has already ruled 2 US citizens as enemy combatants.  As long as there is a public safety exception, why not take some time and maybe get some information that could prevent another occurrence and loss of more innocent lives?Report

    Reply

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