PARIS -- In many countries of Europe, former inmates of the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been relishing their freedom. In Spain, Denmark and Britain, recently released detainees have railed in public about their treatment at Guantanamo, winning sympathy from local politicians and newspapers. In Sweden, the government has agreed to help one Guantanamo veteran sue his American captors for damages.
Not so in France, where four prisoners from the U.S. naval base were arrested as soon as they arrived home in July, and haven't been heard from since. Under French law, they could remain locked up for as long as three years while authorities decide whether to put them on trial -- a legal limbo that their attorneys charge is not much different than what they faced at Guantanamo.
This is the same government that has been so vocal in criticizing the United States for holding Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo. In spite of their hypocrisy I actually admire their pragmatism. They are quite willing to defend their interests and the interests of their own citizens. Good for them.
The US government keeps those detainees in Guantanamo in order to keep them outside of the jurisdiction of US courts, the due process clause of the US constitution, other relevant clauses, and of course the court rulings which have legislated various other rights. This sort of tactic seems necessary for the US government when fighting asymmetric warfare.
The French make heavy use of ethnic profiling. How politically incorrect. And of course how admirable and productive.
France has embraced a law enforcement strategy that relies heavily on preemptive arrests, ethnic profiling and an efficient domestic intelligence-gathering network. French anti-terrorism prosecutors and investigators are among the most powerful in Europe, backed by laws that allow them to interrogate suspects for days without interference from defense attorneys.
The US government uses immigration law to preemptively lock up possible terrorists on immigration law violations since most terrorists in the US are not US citizens. But there are very likely many French citizens of Arab descent who are involved in terrorist activities. So the French government needs to be more blatant (and the French constitution apparently makes this easier to do) in how it runs roughshod over the rights of individuals in order to prevent terrorist attacks. Of course, if the threat becomes large enough in the United States (i.e. if terrorists manage to launch some new attacks that kill thousands of people) Guantanamo and immigration law violations will be seen as insufficient to deal with the threat. Then I predict some way will be found to get around constitutional rights of both US citizens and foreigners here legally.
Update: Also see my related posts Heather Mac Donald: Government Panel Opposes Google Searches By Spies and Privacy Concerns Block Response To Terrorist Threat.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2004 November 08 01:48 PM Terrorists Western Response|