Sunday, June 15, 2008

John Adams and Gitmo

I watched "John Adams" last night. I love historical movies. I love history. I love looking at old photographs and wondering what it was like to live "back then." I find the founding of this country a remarkable and miraculous event. I love this country with all my heart. All my heart.When I was in Washington D.C. recently I went to see the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The words are so faded one can hardly read it and it made me tear up. It did. Something so precious and we are letting it disappear. I went and bought copies in the gift shop so I could read it and my children could read it.

There are so many things I hate that we allow in our country, but I understand that freedom is what must be first. God will judge us each on how we used this freedom, but whether I like what we choose or not, I believe in the freedom to choose it (unless it infringes upon the rights of others, and that is always up for debate, isn't it?).

The argument we have been having over the recent Supreme Court decision on Guantanamo was brought to mind as I watched "John Adam." No doubt many of you would argue that Adams defended the very rule of law that you see abandoned at Guantanamo. I only wish lawyers now were as noble as Adams was then.

Let me preface the rest with saying that I come from a family of lawyers. I used to watch my father in trial when I was little. But what I learned was, that although my father was a good man, most lawyers were not. Justice has become a game where justice doesn't necessarily win. It has become a game where only winning matters. We all know that.

I suppose with many of my commenters our worldview differs in how and who we trust. I have known many lawyers and I have known many military men and women. It is the military that I trust. Lawyers don't risk much in becoming lawyers. But our military risk everything. It's not that I don't feel the military is perfect and that they don't ever make mistakes (see Abu Ghraib), but for the most part, I see it as the noblest of professions.

I listened to the talk shows this Sunday and I will honestly say that I understand where many of you are coming from. You, like John Adams, believe in a rule of law that must be followed, even in the cases of enemy combatants. And trust me, if I thought the rule of law would be, I would be with you. But it isn't about the rule of law anymore. I don't see much honor in being a lawyer, especially one that represents sensational figures, such as suspected terrorists at Gitmo (yes, I know with some lawyers there are exceptions). Many of you say that these lawyers take these cases pro bono, but we all know that many lawyers take sensational cases pro bono because they know that it will bring them more money down the line. I wish I believed differently.

Those held at Guantanamo have been determined to be a danger to the United States. The only difference many of us have is that you wish it to be determined, not by a military tribunal, but by lawyers and courts in the United States by the rights given to American citizens.

I saw a conservative (I can't remember who) who said that this ruling might be a good thing because the American people would get to see first hand how horrible and evil these men are.

Perhaps. Certainly we learned that with the first World Trade Center bomber. I would feel even more on your side if I thought your feelings weren't political in nature. In other words, if this were a Democratic administration , would you be feeling this way? It's like the waterboarding issue. Many Democratic Senators were well aware of waterboarding and we never heard a peep about it until it become politically expedient to condemn this administration for it.

In the end, we have gone further and further from the rule of law that John Adams so righteously defended. We use the law to our own end.

In the trial at the beginning of "John Adams" he depends on the honesty of men to win an unpopular trial against British soldiers.

This is the problem I have. I no longer believe in the honesty of men.

Not lawyers anyway.

Do I think we abandon the rule of law? No , of course not. I still believe in the rule of law. I only wish for the hearts of men to care about it as well.

Do I believe that enemy combatants of the United States deserve the same rights as U.S. citizens? No, you haven't convinced me. But I do understand why you feel the way you do. I wish we were all noble enough for us to agree.

Update: For a brief conservative view of why this Supreme Court decision is a disaster, go here.

Update II: The editors at NRO have more.