Military tribunals on tap for alleged terrorists?
As the conflict in Afghanistan continues, and opposition forces tighten the noose around the neck of Osama bin Laden, administration officials here in the United States have begun to consider how to deal with individuals who may ultimately be charged with conspiring in the attacks of September 11th.
President Bush has found a solution to this problem that was most recently used in World War II.
In July 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order authorizing U.S. military officers to try and convict German civilians who had been captured while attempting to sabotage American war production. Ultimately, this order was reviewed and upheld by the justices of the Supreme Court.
Now, nearly fifty years later, the current president has issued a similar order for the creation of a military tribunal.
The new order would allow for the trial of individuals who either directly conspired with or provided aid and support to the attackers who destroyed the World Trade Center and severely damaged the Pentagon.
This order is restricted to foreigners who participated in these attacks.
Both the president and Attorney General John Ashcroft have stated on numerous occasions that the trail of evidence linking the current conspirators to the September 11th attacks is strong and convincing.
And while President Roosevelt's order identified a specific set of individuals, the wording in the current order would allow for the trial and conviction of a specific class of defendants in the event of any future tribunals.
As with any decision that carries such strong ramifications, objections to this plan have been raised. The primary complaints center on whether individuals involved prior to the beginning of hostilities in Afghanistan can be classified as combatants, and whether September 11th marked the official beginning of this current conflict.
There are certainly many questions yet to be answered before the tribunals ordered by the president take effect.
However, as stated by President Bush in the executive order, this is indeed an extraordinary time. The current emergency "constitutes an urgent and compelling government interest, and that issuance of this order is necessary to meet the emergency."
Christmas wishes to the
For many years, one of America's greatest traditions has been sharing the gifts and wishes of the Christmas season with the men and women of our armed forces stationed overseas.
This program, more commonly known as the "any service member" mail program, has always been tremendously successful. It has been a way to show these individuals that, even though they are far from home, they are very much in our thoughts and prayers.
Unfortunately, following the events of September 11th and the subsequent anthrax scare, the Department of Defense made the decision to discontinue this program in the interests of protecting both Americans here at home and our service members abroad.
However, to make up for the loss of this support system, the Defense Department has introduced a new web-based "any service member" mail program. Utilizing the resources of the internet, this program will allow families here in America to continue to share their good wishes with men and women spending the holidays overseas.
This new service is available through the Defense "Lifelines" website. To access this service and send holiday greetings to a member of the military, simply log on to www.lifelines2000.org and click on the "To: Any Service Member" link.
I know our men and women in uniform will enjoy hearing from the folks back home as much as we will enjoy contacting them to share the blessings of the season.
May God bless each of you and your families, our armed forces here and abroad, the president, and may God bless America.