• From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2006 19:40:05 -0700

Eric Yost wrote:

A truly outstanding Democrat President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, convened a military tribunal on July 2, 1942 that sentenced eight "enemy combatants" to death. Two had their sentences commuted, and six were executed on August 8, 1942 in Washington, D.C.

So to follow FDR's lead, we could bring them here, try them, and execute those convicted of being "enemy combatants."

The eight bungling German saboteurs who were tried before a military tribunal after their 'leader' had turned them in, were accused of being foreign spies (or agents, or saboteurs) and tried and convicted of that, not of being 'enemy combatants.' They had done nothing (had committed no acts of sabotage(, and Roosevelt's attorney general, Francis Biddle, warned him that no civilian court would sentence them to death. That's why they were tried by an ad hoc military tribunal.

Being an enemy combatant is not, as Eric would have it, a capital crime. It is a status, designated by the president, in order to _allow_ one so designated to be tried by a military tribunal. Thus one cannot be convicted of being an enemy combatant.

The German saboteurs in 1942 had at least _intended_ to be saboteurs, and this was an accurate description of who they were, and of what led to their being tried at all. They could equally well have been tried by a civilian court (they were, after all, 'apprehended' by the FBI), but Roosevelt, who clearly wanted them dead, insisted on trial by a military tribunal.

As things stand now, one who is designated an enemy combatant, can be tried only by a 'special tribunal,' in which various rules of evidence are suspended, and there is no right of habeus corpus.

Robert Paul
Reed College
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