What are we to do with the detainees?

I'm no fan of Rachel Maddow, though I admit to being sometimes titillated by her acerbic wit.

Recently however, she took a step to distinguish herself from the drooling disciples of Democrat despotism, and prove that she is, indeed, a principled constitutional liberal.

The occasion was a speech by the Chief Executive on Constitution Day, September 17th, in the hallowed halls of the National Archives within sight of the document written by our founders in 1787.

Take a minute to listen to what she says: www.youtube. com/watch?v=vbslm1h8xjI

Here is what the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution says:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

I would think that Guantanamo Bay would be a "place subject to their jurisdiction" wouldn't you?

So we've got all these "detainees" at Gitmo.

Bush didn't know what to do with them. Obama doesn't know what to do with them.

The apologists of the status quo talk about "prisoners of war" as though criminals who plot the murder of American citizens are somehow to be raised to the dignity of civilized enemies fighting for King and country.

Federal District Judge William Young got it exactly right when he sentenced Richard Reid. Here's what he said:

Now, let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mr. Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice.

You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether the officers of government do it or your attorney does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You are not--you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.

So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You're no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal."

You are no big deal.

"Detainees." I'd like to know who came up with that wimpy word. It sounds like you got stuck in a traffic jam.

I suppose that Nidal Hasan, who killed 12 people in Texas is now just another "detainee." He has been a guest of the army brass for more than three years.

If all these "detainees" have committed crimes, then let's get them convicted and punished.

The trials don't have to be in New York, but the jury sure as hell should be 12 good and true citizens of the Big Apple.

Try them at Gitmo, try them in Nebraska, try them on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

But if they are guilty, let's say so and treat them as criminals.

Thomas E. Brennan is a former chief justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and is the founder of Cooley Law School.

Published: Thu, Oct 25, 2012