AUSTIN, April 20, 2013 - The always patriotic U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham says the Boston bombing “is Exhibit A of why the homeland is the battlefield.” In an interview with the Washington Post:
“It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is.” Referring to Boston, he observed, “Here is what we’re up against,” and added, “It sure would be nice to have a drone up there [to track the suspect.]” He also slammed the president’s policy of “leading from behind and criminalizing war.”
On Twitter, Graham suggested the Obama administration arbitrarily toss the court system and Constitution for “intelligence gathering purposes.” According to Graham, accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, should be held as an enemy combatant. This legal status has been mostly reserved for al Qaeda captured abroad or foreigners, such as those held without charge for the last decade in Guantanamo Bay’s military facility.
Senator Graham is a known proponent of military-style detention for American suspects merely accused of terrorism. During debates regarding indefinite detainment provisions in 2011, which effectively invalidated the Bill of Rights, he notoriously bellowed that Americans accused of a terrorist-related crime should be denied Due Process. “When they say I want a lawyer you say, “Shut up! You don’t get a lawyer”.
He was also a most vocal critic of Senator Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster designed to demand answers regarding the Obama administration’s domestic drone program. When the tide of public opinion turned against him, he stopped vocally defending the “homeland battlefield” ideology, but Graham never lets a crisis go to waste.
These statements are a lame attempt to justify the further militarization of the American justice system. While most Americans are content with disregarding this typical chickenhawk rhetoric, this narrative becomes increasingly more dangerous.
All Americans should be wary when congressional leaders like Graham attempt to justify 12th century-style military custody.
As journalist Tom Mullen rightly observed, “The Bill of Rights was already on life support before this tragedy. Before the dust settled after 9/11, the 4th Amendment had been nullified by the Patriot Act. The 5th and 6th Amendments were similarly abolished with the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the 2012 NDAA resolution, which contained a clause allowing the president to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil without due process of law.”
How much further can we move to invalidate our entire legal process? If we are at war with radical individuals and America is a battlefield, then why pretend we have laws? Why didn’t we just call in a few Apaches and dispatch the suspects promptly, as we do in war? Why bother with arrest and detainment, evidence or trial?