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Thursday, December 02, 2004


King and Parliament big sky

King and Parlement big sky day 1
Originally uploaded by trevorsc.

Bea and I watched the Fifth Estate last night... nicely timed documentary on the efforts of European governments to deal with find terrorists (why do I think that word needs quotes around it all the time now?) and bring them to trial through the justice system, rather than just shooting them or detaining them indefinitely in Guantanamo. The point of the show was that suicide bombings and mass-murder plots are not the stuff of foreign policy for them, but domestic policy. These are countries with up to 6 million Muslims among their citizens. The radical fringe is a real threat to them. And the only way to keep off more disaffected Muslims from being recruited to radical groups is to demonstrate, day-to-day, that they can trust their governments to deal with them fairly. That anyone accused of a crime, terrorist-related or otherwise, lives in a place that respects their rights to a fair trial and due process.

The difficulty for many of the prosecutors trying to prove these difficult allegations of terrorist plotting grows from the reluctance of U.S. authorities to release prisoners ot stand trials as witnesses. Half the men behind these plots are held extrajudicially, with no apparent rights, in Guantanamo Bay. So not only can European lawyers not gain access to individuals who could unlock their cases, but their greatest "ally" in the "war on terrorism" is denying its detainees the basic rights that democracies uphold as fundamental to the legitimacy of their approach to governance and diplomacy. Basically, the U.S, is following Israel down the ugly and unpredictable path of extra-judicial reprisal that denies people of any sense of justice in the midst of armed struggle. No one has any moral ground to stand on in this scenario, other than to say, "we can do what we feel best for ourselves."

This, on the day when Bush comes to Canada to try to convince us that he's been right in his policies all along. The CBC called his visit a "charm offensive." They got it half right.

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