Should persons who are declared to be “Enemy Combatants” be able to contest their detention before a judge?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are, of course, arguments for both sides of this issue.  I will provide an argument for each side and let you decide which argument makes more sense to you.

On the one hand, it seems clear that people who are named as enemy combatants should be able to bring their case before a judge.  The United States is a country that is based on the rule of law.  We do not believe in arbitrarily putting people in prison simply because a police officer says that they have committed a crime.  Therefore, we should not be in the business of putting foreigners in prison for indefinite periods just because our military says that they are enemy combatants.  This is contrary to the precepts on which our system of government is based.

On the other hand, we can argue that it is ridiculous to say that accused enemy combatants should have their day in an American court.  The most compelling reason for this is that it would be impossible to conduct a proper trial in the United States on this issue.  Imagine, for example, a man taken prisoner in Afghanistan.  If he were tried in the US, there is no way his lawyers (or the prosecutors, for that matter) would be able to call the witnesses they needed to determine the man’s guilt or innocence.  Our system of trials depends on witnesses being easily available to help provide evidence.  There is no way that this could happen with an enemy combatant from a lawless part of a foreign country.  For this reason, even if giving the accused a chance to defend himself would be the right thing to do, it is simply impractical.

Which of these arguments do you find more persuasive?