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Dangers of denying fair trial

Letter to the Editor | Monday, January 26, 2009

With regard to Nathan Furtado’s Jan. 23 letter titled “Objectivity, please,” I agree with his main point that “objectivity is a cornerstone of journalistic integrity” and that The Observer should strive for it. However, I cannot agree with another, more subtle point made in his letter, in which he worries about “the dangers of providing unrepentant terrorists with civilian trials.”I cannot imagine that he has been reading objective journalism if he actually believes a statement like that. Under the Constitution, all citizens are granted the right of habeas corpus, which means the right to a fair trial. This was said by Thomas Jefferson to be “[one of the] essential principles of our government.” And yet, since the beginning of the “War on Terror,” we have denied this right to assumed enemy combatants. There is no proof needed to imprison these individuals and they do not have the right to an attorney or trial.Mr. Furtado, if you are so sure that everyone in Guantanamo Bay is guilty of terrorism, why are you unwilling to grant them a trial to which we as citizens have the right? Surely the courts will prove them guilty as well. The truth is that while a number of the prisoners in Gitmo are terrorists, others are not. Many are only guilty of being Arab and in the wrong place at the wrong time. I think it would be disingenuous for us to call America “the land of the free” if we were to continue to leave the freedom of these individuals up to the discretion of an anonymous few.”The dangers” that Furtado associates with extending our rights to those we hold captive in Cuba pale in comparison to the dangers that will arise if we do not, such as the risk of dishonoring the document that gives our country integrity and moral grounding. In his inaugural address, President Obama stated that “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals,” which he corroborated by signing the order to close Guantanamo Bay. I hope that Mr. Furtado may also see that those two objectives do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Lucy GegliosophomoreFarley HallJan. 23