Turn Terrorist Detainees Loose Here?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 19, 2008 | Go to article overview

Turn Terrorist Detainees Loose Here?


Byline: Andrew M. Grossman, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Importing terrorists hardly seems like a winning strategy to protect the nation's security. But that's what one federal judge says we have to do.

On Oct. 7, D.C. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina ruled that 17 Chinese Muslims captured fleeing terrorist training grounds in Afghanistan in late 2001 must be set free in the United States. His rationale: The detainees were not waging war on the United States, have never waged war on the United States, [and] were not training to wage war on the United States.

That's probably true. The detainees, ethnic Uighurs, were training to wage terrorist war on China. To that end, they studied weapons and paramilitary techniques alongside al Qaeda and other jihadi allies. So while they might not want to attack America, who is to say they wouldn't take a shot at China's embassy or its diplomats?

But if Judge Urbina had had his way, they would be loose in the Washington, D.C., area by now. Fortunately, the D.C. Circuit put a stay on his order so the government can make its case.

A couple points:

First, this is judicial activism, plain and simple. The political branches are responsible for overseeing entry into the United States. It's unprecedented for a judge to order the government to bring a foreigner on foreign soil into the United States and set him free, without respect to immigration law or anything else.

The judge's command was downright imperious: I do not expect that these Uighurs will be molested or bothered by any member of the United States government. I'm a federal judge, I've issued an order, and what it says it says and what it implies, it implies, and that's comity among the branches. Nothing will happen to these people until Thursday when this hearing convenes.

So interbranch comity, rules Judge Urbina, means doing what the judiciary says to do, law be damned.

Second, the case illustrates the need for a comprehensive detention policy to prevent terrorist activity. We don't have one now. Guantanamo is a stop-gap solution at best, and the Supreme Court has thrown its continued viability into question. What do we do with those who would wage war on the U.S. and our allies, but haven't done so yet? Congress has been unwilling to even ask the question so far. …

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