In Foreign Policy Address, Trump Invites Ambiguity

In a what was to be a succinct foreign policy address delivered in Youngstown, O.H., Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump described a plan to combat “Radical Islamic Terrorism,” but invited ambiguity in regard to resuming President George W. Bush’s controversial system of military trials for so-called “enemy combatants” captured overseas.

In a summation of recent terrorism, Trump invoked shootings in: Chattanooga, T.N., Ft. Hood, T.X., San Bernardino, C.A., Orlando, F.L., and subsequent loss of life in France, Germany and Belgium. To contend with the increase in violence, Trump called for a policy of “extreme vetting” of new immigrants and issuing an open call for new alliances, including a Commission on Radical Islam.

“The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization,” according to Trump.

He also pledged—in direct contrast to the existing policy of President Barack Obama—to keep the United States military prison at Guantánamo Bay open and place a “renewed emphasis on human intelligence.” Additionally, he remarked that “foreign combatants will be tried in military commissions.”

In an interview with the Miami Herald from Aug. 11, Trump mentioned he would be “fine” with American citizens accused of terrorism being tried by military tribunal at Guantánamo Bay. Under current Federal law, it is illegal to try American citizens before military tribunal and doing such would be in direct violation the 6th Amendment. However, under unusual circumstances, the Federal Government has suspended certain civil liberties.  Back on Feb. 23, Trump said the military prison would remain open and he would like to  “load it up with bad dudes.”

However, in no less than five cases, the Supreme Court directly refuted President Bush’s detainment policy of those who allegedly provided aid to Al-Qaeda. Essentially, the Bush Administration sought to hide Guantánamo detainees  away from federal courts and enact their own “justice” according to an arbitrary timeline. If the Bush detainment plan had continued unchecked, those detained could have been held indefinitely and without access to any protection granted in the U.S. Constitution.

In Hamdan (2006) and Bourmediene (2008), the Supreme Court directly rendered the Military Commissions used to try suspects and the restrictions against habeas corpus rights of foreign terrorism suspects unconstitutional. These Commissions had no legal authority to try those suspected, since all authority for adjudication rests with the Judiciary. However, the largest case in this series granted entitlement of habeas corpus writs to all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, not just American citizens as determined in Hamdi (2004).

At minimum, bringing back the Bush-era commission policy would degenerate back to a period when torture was redefined to mean “Organ Failure” and rendition sites were in frequency use. However, at maximum if the policy were to be implemented, the Constitutional protections would be thrown to the wayside, especially for American citizens. There would be no right to a public trial without delay; yet, most blatantly there would be a double standard. One set of laws of those accused of terrorism and those not—in stark violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Trump concluded with: “This is my pledge to the American people: as your President I will be your greatest champion. I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people.”

A statement in direct conflict with certain guaranteed protections.

 

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