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Does Endorsement of Military Tribunals Insult Bush?


As FFF friends and supporters know, we have taken a firm stand against President Bush’s military tribunals. See, for example, “Military Tribunals: Another Step Away from Our Principles” by Jacob G. Hornberger and “Emergencies, Military Tribunals, and the Constitution” by Jacob G. Hornberger. In a recent conversation I had with Sheldon Richman, he raised an interesting question: Why are the president’s supporters not instead calling for the summary execution of terrorists and totally dispensing with the idea of military tribunals? The process that the president has set up (without the approval of Congress) is that he makes the initial determination as to whether a person is a terrorist, and then that determination triggers a trial before a military tribunal. But as everyone knows, the president is a good, honest, and conscientious man. Before determining whether a person is a terrorist, he will closely examine all the evidence and will arrive at a good-faith conclusion as to whether the person is a terrorist or not. Why would the president’s supporters want a military tribunal second-guessing his determination? Don’t they trust the president to make the right decision? Surely they wouldn’t suggest that President Bush would falsely accuse an innocent person of terrorism, would they? What happens if there’s a “runaway” military tribunal — one that decides that the president has wrongfully accused an innocent person of terrorism? Wouldn’t that humiliate, demean, and insult the president in the eyes of the world? Why would the president’s supporters want to put him in that position? Who do they trust to make the better and wiser decision — our democratically elected president or a military tribunal composed of soldiers? If they trust their president more than military officials, then why are they calling for military tribunals instead of summary execution of people that our president has determined to be terrorists? For our part here at FFF, we’ll continue calling for the executive branch, including the president, to do the accusing and prosecuting, and the judicial branch, including juries, to do the judging. just as our Founders envisioned when they brought the federal government into existence with the Constitution.

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    Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.