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Military Tribunals in an Undeclared War

Re “Bush Order for Military Tribunals Gets Several Thumbs Down,” Nov. 15:

You quote Vice President Cheney, in support of military tribunals for terrorists: “The basic proposition here is that somebody who comes into the United States of America illegally, who conducts a terrorist operation killing thousands of innocent Americans, men, women and children, is not a lawful combatant.” They are not to be considered prisoners of war or American citizens, but no one cares to show why they cannot be considered criminals.

The British prime minister alleges evidence against Osama bin Laden, but the evidence apparently offers no basis for prosecution. Now the Taliban suggests an attack on the United States, so in effect Al Qaeda has more kamikaze support subsequent the war than it ever had, if any, before the war.

The administration is clearly afraid that the war is a failure. Otherwise, it would simply call a criminal a criminal and subject any suspects to the regular U.S. civilian courts.

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Philip W. Gregg

Venice

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Congress has not declared a war--only the administration has. And in doing so, the administration is taking an unfortunate event and using it as a platform to chisel away our civil liberties and to put fear in the hearts of all Americans (while not so coincidentally protecting its own oil interests in the Middle East--Afghan soil is necessary to build oil pipelines).

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The administration repeatedly reminds us that the “war on terrorism” is going to last a long time--giving the administration lots of time to take and abuse executive “power” to sign unconstitutional executive orders and Congress to follow like sheep to the slaughter.

Saying that the war will last a long time nonetheless implies that there is an end. Nothing is further from reality--terrorism is an ongoing human drama that requires constant vigilance and interdiction. Prevention is impossible. Bombing Afghanistan may feel right when our outrage and wounds are deepest, but it is wrong. There is no solution to acts motivated by greed, jealousy, zealotry, madness.

Stephany Yablow

Sherman Oaks

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