And a Third Legal System: the Laws of War

Andrew Rosenthal, in the New York Times here and here writes about the pressure to treat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, [who I can’t resist calling ‘The Joker’] not as a criminal but as an ‘enemy combatant’, largely because that pesky Bill of Rights would not apply if he were not a criminal.  I thought the Geneva Convention did.  Oh well.  That was what that Guantanamo thing, the waterboarding, and all that was supposed to be about. McVeigh, of the Oklahoma bombings of 1995, or Jared Lee Loughner, the attempted killer of Gabriel Giffords, and James Holmes, the movie theater killer of Aurora, Colorado, were all tried under criminal law.  Rosenthal is quite right that Muslim criminals and such need to be tried under the same law as everybody else.  I would qualify this in one way, however.  I would not object to confidential surveillance of Muslim mosques.  This does not justify open discrimination against their religion in land use law or anything else!  If a lot of terrorists and criminals emerged out of the networks of my own denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, I would expect the government to be confidentially watching it too!


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