The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

America’s Detainee

As America’s War on Terror progresses throughout the world, Americans on the home front are still debating over how suspected terrorists should be tried.

In early September, President Bush addressed the nation from the White House. According to the official transcript of this speech, which can be found on, Bush stated: “We have a right under the laws of war, and we have an obligation to the American people, to detain these enemies and stop them from rejoining the battle.”

President Bush is absolutely right, but the method which America should try these suspects has been fiercely debated. The reason for such a debate is that while these terrorists are indeed cold-blooded killers, some feel that they should be tried differently than those who are American citizens or those who commit crimes that are less severe. Torture became a major issue when the United Nations started to suspect the United States of using torture in order to get important information out of those who are detained in the naval base at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba.

Many terrorists would rather die or get the death penalty when on trial than give out information or spend time in prison. This behavior has also been seen in Osama bin Laden, who told his bodyguards after Sept. 11 to kill him if Americans came close to his hiding spot. Like bin Laden, these terrorists do not fear death.

The United States should be very careful when investigating terrorists and their cells since it cannot be certain that what terrorists say is the truth or if those detained are just decoys put in place of those really responsible. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups could be trying to slow down America’s reaction in the war on terror.

Torture may very well seem like the only alternative in order to get information that would save Americans. However, the United States should not condone torture toward any human being, which makes this a very sensitive issue for the United States government.

The government should allow more forceful methods of getting valid information out of suspected terrorists, especially since the current practices and procedures do not seem to be working.

In the speech, Bush also proposed the creation of military commissions that will be given the specific role of trying terrorist suspects. These trials will not use judicial review and therefore can only be used legally for non-U.S. citizens who are captured abroad. It still raises the question regarding how to treat terrorists who are living, working,, and citizens of the United States, who commit terrorist attacks that are just as catastrophic as those committed by non-U.S. citizens.

The best thing for the United States to do with all terrorists, including those who are American citizens, is to turn them over to the Hague in the Netherlands where the United Nations can put them on trial under the same laws set up as those that are currently under effect for war criminals that are currently on trial there. This way, the rights of suspected terrorists can be guaranteed under the Geneva Conventions. As a result of the Sept. 11 and other terrorist attacks committed against the United States at home and abroad, it may be impossible for terrorists to get a fair trial in United States. By putting all terrorists under UN supervision, the United States can also rest assured that terrorists are put to justice while the United Nations can be sure that their human rights are preserved.

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