American Legion: Terrorist-rights ruling endangers U.S. military

The nation's leading veterans organization reacted immediately to Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that foreign terrorists have U.S. constitutional rights. The ruling came as the result of a challenge by detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who want hearings in U.S. civilian courts.

"To suggest that foreign terrorists, who have never set foot in this country and respect no civilized laws, should enjoy the same rights under our Constitution as U.S. citizens," American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser said of today's 5-4 ruling, "must make America's founding fathers turn over in their graves."

Conatser pointed out that The American Legion has sent delegations to monitor activities, including detainee hearings, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "Two American Legion past national commanders have visited Camp Delta. They found that the detainees were humanely treated, well-fed and provided with medical care that surpasses what many veterans receive. We currently have a distinguished Legionnaire viewing hearings down at Guantanamo. As the deputy commanding general of Guantanamo told our Washington Legislative Conference, if the situation were reversed, these terrorists would define mercy as a knife blade on the back of the neck instead of the front."

Chief Justice John Roberts dissented in the decision. He wrote that the United States enacted "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants." Justice Antonin Scalia joined the dissent, writing that the majority's decision "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

"The Supreme Court has made its ruling," Conatser said. "It seems that terrorists taken on foreign battlefields will now be entitled to lawyers at taxpayers' expense and all the other rights that American citizens enjoy. It would have been wonderful if the terrorists had treated Matt Maupin, the U.S. soldier captured and brutally murdered in Iraq, with the same respect. In fact, one of the men on trial, Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed is not only the alleged mastermind of 9/11 but is widely believed to have personally beheaded journalist Daniel Pearl."

Conatser said that The American Legion will look at various ways to protect America within the confines of the latest Supreme Court decision.

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American Legion Website  (Posted 6/12/08)