Liberals want Miranda warnings for enemy combatants

James Taranto:

Was it wishful thinking? On Thursday the Associated Press reported that, according to sources it did not name, "the Bush administration is nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility and move the terror suspects there to military prisons elsewhere." The White House quickly denied the rumor, and, for good measure, on Friday the Pentagon announced that Guantanamo had admitted its first new detainee in months: Haroon al-Afghani, a commander from the al Qaeda-affiliated terror group Hezb-i-Islami.

The AP's impatience to write the final chapter of the Guantanamo story is of a piece with the way news organizations generally have told the story. Although the Supreme Court has granted some rights to detainees, it has been remarkably restrained in doing so. But journalists have falsely portrayed Guantanamo as an affront to the Constitution and international law.

Perhaps the most striking example was the New York Times's coverage of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which the court decided a year ago this week. "The decision was such a sweeping and categorical defeat for the administration that it left human rights lawyers who have pressed this and other cases on behalf of Guantanamo detainees almost speechless with surprise and delight, using words like 'fantastic,' 'amazing' and 'remarkable,' " correspondent Linda Greenhouse exulted. She opined that there was "no doubt" the ruling represented "a historic event, a defining moment," and likened it to U.S. v. Nixon, the 1974 case in which the court unanimously ordered the president to turn over the Watergate tapes.

Nixon resigned 15 days after that decision. A year after Hamdan, it is safe to say that its impact has been rather less dramatic. While the court, by a vote of 5-3, did hand Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's personal driver and bodyguard, a victory on key points, Ms. Greenhouse's purple prose belied the narrow grounds on which it did so. Less than four months after Hamdan, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, which effectively undid the ruling. Congress had this power because the Supreme Court has not extended a single constitutional right to alien enemy combatants.

It is hard to find a single liberal who has come out and said that enemy combatants are entitled to a Miranda warning, but hat is a logical consequence of the policy they are pursuing with respect to the detainees at Gitmo and elsewhere. It is when you apply Miranda to KSM and other al Qaeda terrorist leaders that you see how ridiculous their posture is. Giving KSM Miranda instead of water boarding would have led to more innocents being murdered by terrorist. That may be acceptable to liberals, but it is not to the families of the innocent or to more rationale Americans.

The chief prosecutor at Gitmo sets the record straight on the facilities where the detainees are held.


The makeshift detention center known as Camp X-Ray closed in early 2002 after just four months of use. Now it is overgrown with weeds and serves as home to iguanas. Yet last week ABC News published a photo online of Camp X-Ray as if it were in use, five years after its closing.

The media has never really caught up with the reality of Gitmo. Those same pictures show up regularly in many publications when the terrorist rights groups publish their uninformed reports on the facility.


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