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What part of the following statement in the Declaration of Independence is unclear?
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;...
If you haven't read this brief document recently, go read it again. It won't take long.
I've been watching "KOPPEL on Discovery" -- a fantastic program focused on the balance of security and civil liberty. This point keeps being put forward by proponents of extra-national detention centers and other such mechanisms which exist solely for the purpose of denying the prisoners access to the civil rights and legal checks and balances they would have either as US Citizens or else as noncitizens who are on our soil.
This is a terrible fallacy and misplaces the argument entirely. There is no such basis under which to deny someone those rights. When someone is not on US soil, we may not be able to project or enforce our vision of basic human rights and legal protections, but that does not in any way mean we do not believe that all people are entitled to those rights. We did not believe, for example, that Lech Welesa or Nelson Mandela were exempt from those rights, even if in their struggles we were unable to directly aid them in the way we would if they were on our soil.
If a person in the employ or under the direction of the people of the United States as represented by our elected government is in the control of another human being, that human being should be treated as if they were a foreign national in one of our airports or embassies. Being in a foreign land does not exempt us from living under the tenets of our constitution and the freedoms we enjoy as a result.
As far as I am concerned, any act committed by a representative of the United States in another land on someone in their custody should be prosecutable under the same laws as if that act had taken place on our soil. Period.
We are doing more harm than good when we seek to circumvent the very thing which makes us most strong, most admired, and most envied.
"Let me give you a simple rule of thumb. If the government can do something, it will."
-- Ted Koppel, "Koppen on Discovery" September 10th, 2006
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