Wall Street Journal Response: Rand Paul Replies on Combatants
The Journal wants those of us who believe in the Bill of Rights to shut up about civil liberties in the wake of the Boston bombings ("Enemy Combatants in Boston," Review & Outlook, April 22). Like children in the schoolyard you chant: "See, look at these bombers, they don't deserve trials or lawyers!"
But the Journal wants to gloat about a case where the evidence has already been paraded across every television in America. Most of us have seen enough of the tragedy in Boston that I doubt anyone can conceive that a jury will find Dzhokhar Tsarnaev innocent in a court of law.
I have never claimed that there won't be special exceptions to the rules, especially in regard to acts of terror. What I have opposed are those who want so many exceptions that there are no longer any rules-where the Constitution and the Bill of Rights become null and void, especially as part of a war with no discernible end and no geographical limits.
What the Journal ignores are the difficult cases where guilt or innocence can be more elusive. What if the evidence is not very clear? What if the suspect is an American college student, perhaps an Arab-American, whose parents have been here for three generations? Does that person have the right to a trial? Yes.
Because some terrorists will battle us here at home doesn't mean we want the laws of war or martial law at home. The Bill of Rights still needs to reign supreme. Our soldiers have sacrificed life and limb for our Constitution-it seems the least we can do is defend them in the homeland.