I Fought the Law, and the Terrorists Won

It would begin moving most of the Guantánamo detainees back into the time-tested procedures of the normal American legal system.

I couldn’t believe this when I saw James Taranto’s comments — but it’s true, the NY Times really did write this editorial. Remarkable…

Taranto clearly understands the law:

One persistent media myth about Guantanamo Bay is that it is a prison or a jail–that is to say, a criminal detention facility. This myth is seldom stated explicitly, but it shows up in reporters’ use of police-beat jargon: describing detainees as “suspected” or “alleged” terrorists; noting that most are “held without charge,” etc.

But in an editorial yesterday, the New York Times stated flatly that Guantanamo should be shut and the detainees either released or tried as civilians, under “the time-tested procedures of the normal American legal system.”

What the Times proposes to do is reward America’s enemies for abjuring conventional warfare in favor of the wanton murder of civilians. Legitimate prisoners of war do not enjoy the rights the Times wants to confer on Khalid Sheikh Mohammad & Co.; they can be held for the duration of armed conflict and need never be charged with a crime.

There’s also something a bit rich about an outfit like the Times complaining that Guantanamo is imperfect while extolling the civilian criminal justice system. If we weren’t so lazy, we’ll bet we could dig up plenty of Times editorials complaining that the justice system convicts the innocent, treats defendants disparately based on race, punishes some crimes too harshly, etc., etc. The Times admires the criminal justice system only insofar as it is more lenient than the military: Better, by this view, to prosecute criminals than to prosecute a war.

Over and over we observe the media concocting a false narrative frame — which then becomes accepted wisdom. See Lawfare for more background, including the federal appeals court ruling that prevents terrorism detainees from accessing the U.S. criminal court system.

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