The Instigator
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
MistahKurtz
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Abdulmutallab should be interrogated.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,113 times Debate No: 10605
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (5)

 

RoyLatham

Pro

[The first time this was posted it was taken by a troll who posted nonsense. I'll post it again without restricting who can take it. At worst, we'll get to kill another troll or two.]

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is the 23-year-old Nigerian man charged in the botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 252 landing in Detroit. He "told investigators that he was given the bomb by operatives of al Qaeda in Yemen." http://online.wsj.com... A well-dressed man assisted him in getting on the plane in Amsterdam without a passport. http://www.mlive.com...

The explosive used in the bomb he carried was PETN, which is not easily made or purchased. He did not know how to properly detonate the bomb, which is why the plot failed. That makes it likely he had worked with others in preparing the attempted destruction of the aircraft.

Abdulmutallab was provided a lawyer a public expense and apparently afforded all the rights given to citizens charged with ordinary crimes. http://www.deccanherald.com... Accordingly, he may choose to volunteer statements, but he has the right to refuse to talk to investigators from the FBI, CIA, or other government agencies having responsibility for national security.

Some have speculated that Abdulmutallab was a test case as part of a larger plot involving many terrorists. He established that security measures were easily evaded. Whether there is a larger plot or not is speculation, but it is a reasonable possibility that makes the disclosure of information from Abdulmutallab time critical. National security, in any case, depends upon tracking down his methods and accomplices. Therefore, he should be treated as an enemy combatant and not afforded the rights of a citizen charged with an ordinary crime.

Those opposed to waterboarding claim that ordinary interrogation techniques are just as effective as enhanced interrogation techniques. OK, we should test that with Abdulmutallab. He should be promptly interrogated by the FBI or CIA.

This should be done whether or not he is ultimately tried by military tribunal. There is no interest in getting him to confess. There is already plenty of evidence to convict him in any court. The objective is to obtain information on his methods and accomplices.

There is some possibility that he is currently being interrogated, but with the appearances of his having been given Miranda rights. If so, that does not affect the debate. If he is being interrogated, then the resolution claims that is the correct thing to do.

National security demands that terrorists be interrogated, not protected from inquiries.
MistahKurtz

Con

I thank my opponent for posting the debate and I assure him that I am no troll and I do not, nor have I ever, lived under a bridge.

Let me begin by saying that torture, even under the most dire or extreme situations, is never just. My opponent's cost-benefit analysis of the situation is remarkably short-sighted. Assuming that Abdulmutallab has credible and unique information, and assuming that he is willing to provide it (stipulations that should not be taken lightly, as I'll expand upon later) there are grave and considerable ramifications if we were to allow the torture of this man. Forgive me if I dive too much into the generalities, as I promise to talk specifically of Abdulmutallab's case in the following rounds, but it must be recognize that if he is tortured, then credence and justification is lended to torture as a whole, which cannot be allowed.

I will break my debate into three sections;

-The logistical shortcomings of torture, or, 'Don't taze me bro!'
-The international backlash, or, 'The Bush effect'
-The moral and legal arguments against torture, or, 'The Geneva Convention and basic human rights.'

---

I. While conventional wisdom tells us that inflicting pain on one implicated in crime will draw information about that person and their associates. Interrogators, however, tell us a different story, such as former FBI agent Ali Soufan who stated that torture was "ineffective, slow and unreliable and, as a result, harmful to our efforts to defeat al-Qaida." and went on to account that, "we got actionable intelligence from [Abu Zubaydah] in the first hour of interrogating him" which was -before- he was waterboarded. [1] This opinion was later expressed by Lt. General Jeff Kimmons when talking about the banning of enhanced interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, saying,

"No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years, hard years, tell us that. And moreover, any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress, under—through the use of abusive techniques would be of questionable credibility. And additionally, it would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. And we can't afford to go there." [2]

Furthermore, a Georgetown study reported that "Torture does not yield reliable information and actually backfires in intelligence interrogations. This was the conclusion of seven research psychologists and four recently retired, senior U.S. Army interrogators" [3]

These ideas resonate historically, as well, from Hitler's Germany to Midevil France, the evidence shows that torture was ineffective and generally a waste of time and a distraction from the much more fruitful practice of evidence gathering. Even using methods that would make a normal person spill their guts (literally and figuratively), sometimes as few 3% of the prisoners actually gave any information at all. [4]

Quentin Tarintino's Reservoir Dogs sums this up in layman's terms;

"If you ------- beat this ----- long enough, he'll tell you he started the ------ Chicago fire, now that don't necessarily make it ------ so! "

You get the idea.

So the fact remains that according to specialists; torture simply does not yield results. It forces detainees to give false information, it steals time away from more productive activities and it seriously harms the physical and mental state of the prisoners, burning bridges for future (legal) interrogation.

[1] http://bit.ly...
[2] http://bit.ly...
[3] http://bit.ly...
[4] http://bit.ly...

---

II. Even if torture worked, which we've established it doesn't, then we must at least recognize what it would do to said country around the globe. The Western world is losing its stomach for torture which could compromise the mere ability of the United States to use enhanced interrogation techniques, not to mention a potential black-balling of foreign cooperation on terror investigations. Inter-European backlash is already taking place against those countries which aided U.S. efforts to kidnap and torture suspected terrorists, spearheaded by the Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, who have promised to suspend EU voting rights to any country implicated in operating the secret prisons that America relies so heavily on. [1]

While losing international cooperation on terror investigations is problematic, it is considerably more worrisome to be lending ammunition to those who seek to carry out attacks on American soil. Considering the release of some 250 detainees from Guantanamo Bay alone [2] one has to consider the impact they will have once being freed. If an innocent and moderate man was locked into Guantanamo Bay, exposed to the radical teachings and subsequently tortured by American forces, one can only expect that he will start to see reason behind the anti-American rhetoric. The practice of torture is unequivocally lending to recruiting efforts by the exact groups that the United States are trying to defeat. A study from the Jamestown group says, "Explicit references to accounts of torture in the region by al-Qaeda and other militants helps sustain the narrative that Muslims and Islam as a whole are under siege by a hostile U.S.-led campaign..." and concludes, "the current trajectory of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East will continue to serve as a battle cry for militants to take up arms against the United States..." [3]

[1] http://bit.ly...
[2] http://bit.ly...
[3] http://bit.ly...

---

III. Finally, the legal structure of the Western world must be taken into account. On one hand, if the American government cannot respect the laws that it enforces, why should anyone? If my son were killed by gang warfare, why would I be disallowed from torturing gang members to find his killer? Governments -must- respect the laws they enforce.

Furthermore, if the U.S. is fighting for nothing else overseas, is it not freedom? Is it not for the defense of the constitution that grants every person the right of trial by jury. This was not written into the constitution because the founding fathers were soft on crime, but rather because they certain unwavering beliefs about freedom. Just because one isn't an American citizen does not make them automatically guilty of a suspected crime, nor does it mean that they are unworthy of a fair trial.

The best case study of this is Richard Reid, the Al Queada-connected man who tried to commit a very similar act of terror. John Ascroft, former U.S. justice attorney, said of his confession by legal means, "Richard Colvin Reid pled guilty to all counts in the indictment for attempting to ignite a bomb on American Airlines Flight 63, and to murder 197 passengers and crew. Today is a victory for justice and for the citizens who are vigilant in the pursuit of justice." [1]

Furthermore, even though Mr. Reid was not caught before he tried to carry out his attack, he was under heavy surveillance that provided many other suspected terrorists, all without the use of torture. [2] What's more is that he cited the systemic use of torture by the U.S. government and its proxies as a justification for his failed attack. The report goes on to say, "Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi...is handed over to US authorities...Two FBI agents from New York are tasked with interrogating him...[one] spends more than 80 hours with al-Libi discussing religion and prayer in an effort to establish a close bond. It works, and al-Libi opens up...giving him information about Zacarias Moussaoui and...Richard Reid... But despite this progress, he will soon be transferred to Egypt and tortured there into making some false confessions"

[1] http://bit.ly...
[2] http://bit.ly...

Unfortunately, due to the word limit, I will leave my arguments there. I look forward to my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 1
RoyLatham

Pro

Since Con completely misunderstood the resolution, I'm not exactly sure how to proceed with the debate. Since there are two more rounds for Con, I'll press the current resolution.

The resolution does not call for torturing or waterboarding Abdulmutallab, it calls for interrogating him.

in�ter�ro�gate: to question formally and systematically http://www.merriam-webster.com...

In a debate, words take their ordinary dictionary definition unless an exception is deliberately made. Sometimes there are multiple meanings of a word, but only one definition is applicable to this debate. The only other definition of "interrogate" pertains to radio transponders.

Moreover, if there was anything unclear about the definition, my opening statement makes it clear: "Accordingly, he may choose to volunteer statements, but he has the right to refuse to talk to investigators from the FBI, CIA, or other government agencies having responsibility for national security." My only reference to waterboarding was to stipulate it shouldn't be done in this case: "Those opposed to waterboarding claim that ordinary interrogation techniques are just as effective as enhanced interrogation techniques. OK, we should test that with Abdulmutallab. He should be promptly interrogated by the FBI or CIA."

There is a progression of approaches for handling fanatics devoted to killing us:

1. Torture the whiz out of them, Spanish Inquisition style.

2. Use enhanced interrogation techniques, of which waterboarding is the most extreme.

3. Threaten to deprive them of milk and cookies before bedtime.

4. Ask them questions, i.e., plain interrogation

5. Make sure they are not asked any questions, and keep them lawyered up so we never learn a thing. If he starts to say something, his lawyer will tell him to shut up.

6. Send them home with our apologies and a fresh load of explosives

Currently we are at level 5 in this system, no doubt moving towards 6. The debate resolution proposes that we go to level 4. In order to do that, captured terrorists must be treated as enemy combatants, not as domestic criminals. This was the policy at GITMO. Roughly a thousand terrorists were captured and every one of them was interrogated. All but three of them provided the information sought without waterboarding. The remaining three cracked under waterboarding. Some of the 99.7% who talked without waterboarding were subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques like sleep deprivation. Still, it's reasonable to suppose that a fair percentage will provide info when questioned. Some claim that 100% will spill the beans under ordinary questioning. I suppose that religious fanatics include talkative types. So the resolution proposes declaring Mr. A to be an enemy combatant and then making polite inquiries of him.

"Enemy combatant" is defined under the Geneva Conventions. It is a guy who wants to kill you in the name of a cause, but who doesn't wear a uniform, carry papers, or obey the ordinary rules of warfare. To my knowledge, the declaring of GITMO detainees to be enemy combatants has not been overthrown by the Courts. Obama has said that if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is found to be innocent at trial, he will not be released, he will be held as an enemy combatant. KSM may then be held until hostilities cease.

In World War II, there was a case of some saboteurs who landed near New York. One was a US citizen who had defected to the Nazi cause and was trained in Germany. The Supreme Court ruled that all could be treated as enemy combatants. The citizen was ruled to have de facto renounced citizenship when he received enemy training overseas. Mr. A is not a citizen, therefore he was in the the category of the Germans who sneaked in to US territory to blow something up. They were tried by military tribunal and executed.

So I am stipulating for this debate that Abdulmutallab ought not be tortured, waterboarded, or deprived of milk and cookies. I propose that he be questioned.

(I'd be pleased to do a waterboarding debate, but I'm not willing to abandon the current resolution. You may challenge me separately on that if you like.)
MistahKurtz

Con

My opponent seems to think I misunderstood the resolution, which is quite incorrect. Let me sum up the two points my opponent has made thus far;

1. Abdulmutallab should not be afforded a legal trial
2. Abdulmutallab should be interrogated by any means that results in information given, whether that be plain interrogation, or torture (waterboarding, etc.)

Since my opponent has not defined torture, and has seemed to chide me for not doing so, I'll provide the U.N. definition;

"...any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in, or incidental to, lawful sanctions." [1]

This, of course, includes waterboarding and just about every other twisted method my opponent has in mind.

My opponent has tried to soften his case and suggest that Abdulmutallab will only be asked questions, but two immediate faults arise with this; what happens when he doesn't talk and will he be given his Miranda rights, which my opponent has seem to decry thus far? If the first is true, then Abdulmutallab is tortured and a century of fighting for basic human rights is thrown away. If he is interrogated without his Miranda rights, then the justice system we have worked so hard to build and protect is nullified in one fell swoop. Heaven forbid he's ever actually tried after that, because any information received would be inadmissible.

But let's look directly at my opponent's case,

"Abdulmutallab was provided a lawyer a public expense and apparently afforded all the rights given to citizens charged with ordinary crimes ... Accordingly, he may choose to volunteer statements, but he has the right to refuse to talk to investigators from the FBI, CIA, or other government agencies having responsibility for national security."

My opponent here is certainly lamenting Abdulmutallab's basic rights. He is suggesting that non-U.S. citizens should not receive the same legal rights as Americans receive while inside the country, which is a ludicrous suggestion. It is common knowledge that if a foreign national commits a crime within the United States, they are tried within the United States with full legal rights intact. If I am accused of shoplifting in New York, considering I am a Canadian citizen, will I be denied a lawyer? Evidently not.

Furthermore, this sets up a hypocrisy in that the American government has always demanded the release of one its citizens when they are taken hostage in a foreign country. This is a case of American exceptionalism; it is acceptable for the American government to capture and detain whoever it pleases with no legal recourse, yet if any other country does the same, it is illegal. This sets a terrible precedent.

"Therefore, he should be treated as an enemy combatant and not afforded the rights of a citizen charged with an ordinary crime."

What my opponent is herein describing is synonymous with torture. If we look at the working definition of enemy combatant, this becomes immediately obvious,

(It should also be noted that the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant has been transformed by the Bush administration so that every associate or member of Al-Queada or any related terrorist group is deemed 'unlawful', removing their eligibility of being a POW, such a Nazi war criminals.)

"An 'enemy combatant' is an individual who, under the laws and customs of war, may be detained for the duration of an armed conflict. In the current conflict with al Qaida and the Taliban, the term includes a member, agent, or associate of al Qaida or the Taliban....Unlawful combatants do not receive POW status and do not receive the full protections of the Third Geneva Convention. " [2]

So we see that even if my opponent isn't directly advocating torture, he is advocating the same breach in human rights, so the point is moot. The act itself is just one heinous cog in the machine, it is the systematic removal of basic human rights. If it was unacceptable for the Vietcong, it should be unacceptable for the American government. We must not become what we are fighting.

So my opponent would like us to believe that he is merely advocating questioning Abdulmutallab, but it is not a black and white decision of asking him questions vs. not getting the information. As I have shown with the case of Mr. Reid, finding information legally is quite possible.

But let's look at the case for merely asking Abdulmutallab questions, sans lawyer.

First, it must be recognized that there is nothing Abdulmutallab will say that he won't say with his lawyer present. My opponent seems to think that if his lawyer is removed from the room, the answers will start flowing. And if they don't? You've already crossed the bridge of legal procedure, so you've screwed up any chance for a legal trial. Abdulmutallab must then absolutely be tried by tribunal, which is quick-fix if you ignoring someone's legal rights. I assume my opponent's next level is 4, which is secret military code for 'deprive them of food and water', which has be used in the past to forceful coerce answers from detainees, and is certainly a form of torture. So while my opponent seems to want to avoid torture, we see that by his reasoning, it is unavoidable.

Secondly, removing Abdulmutallab from the legal system removes the prospect of a legal confession. Assuming Abdulmutallab has an intellect over that of a first grader, it can be assumed that he knows he is going to lose his case. My opponent agrees with this, but seems to come a different conclusion. For my opponent, knowing that he will be convicted somehow justifies skipping the legal process and trying to extract information in illegal ways. This is an incorrect analysis. Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui, Saajid Badat and Mohammed Ajmal Amir [3], all convicted of terrorism, confessed to their parts in the crimes. Would my opponent have their convictions thrown out for the sake of 'interrogation'? What does he think can be accomplished? If anything, I would argue that those detainees are more likely to confess in a legal setting, because they know, A. they have a chance of a reduced sentence or an improved prison and B, if they are interrogated in violation of their Miranda rights, they can petition the U.S. government and their native governments for release because their rights are being infringed upon. Whether it works is irrelevant; it will give them a sense of hope and prolong their confession.

So, up until this point, I have heard no argument from my opponent in regards to why an illegal 'interrogation' is better than the legal aspect. He takes for granted that removing their rights will produce information, and he furthermore ignores that he is, by extension, arguing for waterboarding. If that is not the case, I would sure like to hear it as I imagine it would be a big relief for everyone reading the debate.

Thank you

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.cfr.org...
[3] http://blog.taragana.com...
Debate Round No. 2
RoyLatham

Pro

Con says, "Let me sum up the two points my opponent has made thus far; ... 1. Abdulmutallab should not be afforded a legal trial ... 2. Abdulmutallab should be interrogated by any means that results in information given, whether that be plain interrogation, or torture (waterboarding, etc.)"

Those claims with regard to my case are unsupported nonsense. I used the standard dictionary of "interrogation." which is "formal questioning." I said that Abdulmutallab could be a test case of whether simple formal questioning will yield information, and I said that he might well talk with no more than simple questioning, for reasons I gave.

I stated clearly that Abdulmutallab should be given a trial. In my opening statement I said, "[Interrogation] should be done whether or not he is ultimately tried by military tribunal. There is no interest in getting him to confess. There is already plenty of evidence to convict him in any court." Enemy combatants can still be tried in civilian criminal courts. That is what the current Administration is doing with KSM, even though the Administration continues his status as an enemy combatant. When KSM is tried in the criminal courts, any evidence gained through interrogation cannot be used against him, however a conviction can still be obtained if there is sufficient evidence aside from that.

Trial by military tribunal is perfectly legal. That was upheld by past and present Supreme Courts. I clearly assumed at the outset that he would be tried either by civilian courts or military tribunal. Either approach is legal.

Con gives no grounds for his assertions that I advocated torture or that I said he should not be given a legal trial. He did not cite any definition of "interrogation" that includes anything other than formal questioning. He gave no evidence that military tribunals were not legal trials. I cited the Supreme Court and both the Bush and Obama Administrations as agreeing that classification of terrorists as enemy combatants was legal. Con's misinterpretation of my case is a complete fabrication that is irrational and unjustified.

Con cites a definition of torture as "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental." The current limitation invoked by the Obama Administration is that terrorists should suffer "no discomfort." Common criminals are allowed to suffer some discomfort. However, I did not suggest that "no discomfort" standard be amended. The resolution calls for him to be interrogated, no more.

Con says, "If he is interrogated without his Miranda rights, then the justice system we have worked so hard to build and protect is nullified in one fell swoop. Heaven forbid he's ever actually tried after that, because any information received would be inadmissible." It is correct that anything he says would be inadmissible in civilian courts. There would be nothing to present in court other than the physical evidence that he had enough high explosives in his butt crack to take down an airliner, and that he tried to set it off. My bold claim is that nothing whatsoever beyond that is needed to convict him. He could, in any case, be held as an enemy combatant as is KSM.

"My opponent here is certainly lamenting Abdulmutallab's basic rights. He is suggesting that non-U.S. citizens should not receive the same legal rights as Americans receive while inside the country, which is a ludicrous suggestion." Con's error is failing to recognize the distinction between a criminal and an enemy combatant. About 500,000 prisoners were held within the borders of the United States during World War II, mostly German soldiers. None were afforded the legal rights given to criminals. During the Cold War, the US and Soviets would capture each others spies. Spies are enemy combatants. The most common Cold War practice was to quietly trade captives, not demand unconditional release. As cited, WWII saboteurs were ruled enemy combatants, not treated as common criminals. The "enemy combatant" classification has been established as legal, and the classification process had been upheld by the Supreme Court, and legality asserted by Congress and used by both Bush and Obama Administrations. If Abdulmutallab were a criminal, he ought to be given Miranda rights. He is not, he is an enemy combatant and ought to be in accordance with the laws that apply.

Under Court rulings and new legislation passed by Congress, Abdulmutallab can appeal to civilian courts his classification as an enemy combatant. (I think that is the correct procedure.) If such an appeal were successful, he could still be tried in civilian courts based upon witnesses and physical evidence.

"Furthermore, this sets up a hypocrisy in that the American government has always demanded the release of one its citizens when they are taken hostage in a foreign country." A "hostage" is an innocent civilian not an enemy combatant. Many US troops were captured by the Germans in WWII, there was no demand that they be given civilian trials or released. Even in Vietnam, the demand was that American captives be given the rights of POWs, greater than that of enemy combatants, not released. Con's claim is false and unsupported.

Con states, "Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui, Saajid Badat and Mohammed Ajmal Amir [3], all convicted of terrorism, confessed to their parts in the crimes. Would my opponent have their convictions thrown out for the sake of 'interrogation'? What does he think can be accomplished?" Quite clearly, what can be accomplished is protecting the United States from terrorist attacks. Abdulmutallab might tell us about the organizational structure behind the wave of homicide bomber attacks against airlines. We'd like to know how he as recruited, how he was given explosives, and who assisted him in boarding the plane in Amsterdam. His was the third failed attempt to bring down an airliner using explosives undetectable by ordinary screening. (X-raying shoes, incidentally, detects nothing.) We cannot assume future attempts will fail. Every bit of information helps stave off future attacks.

Is Con really concerned that the physical evidence of high explosives in Abdulmutallab's butt crack cannot by itself bring a conviction? Will he claim it was a gift for his niece? Why does he think that the main hope of conviction lies in a completely voluntary confession done contrary to his lawyer's advice to say nothing? Moreover, even if there are highly improbable obscure circumstances where a conviction cannot be obtained, so long as Abdulmutallab is classified as enemy combatants they will not be freed. Neither Obama, Congress, or the Supreme Court has shown any inclination to abolish the enemy combat classification.

Con says, "So, up until this point, I have heard no argument from my opponent in regards to why an illegal 'interrogation' is better than the legal aspect." I have not argued that interrogation ought to be illegal. It is perfectly legal to interrogate enemy combatants. I challenge to Con to state that he had no idea I was arguing that interrogation is legal. How did he miss it?

Con goes on, "He takes for granted that removing their rights will produce information, and he furthermore ignores that he is, by extension, arguing for waterboarding." Unable to cope with what is actual proposed by the resolution, Con insists on inventing something else. I pointed to the GITMO data showing that about 99.7% of detainees talked without waterboarding, but only when interrogated. It's fair to argue about the 0.3% who didn't talk, but that not the subject here. I'm saying, OK, no waterboarding, let's go for the 99.7% that might be obtained with straight interrogation.

Abdulmutallab should be declared an enemy combatant and legally interrogated. If the Administration wants to try him in civilian courts, he can be convicted without using anything he might say.

The resolution is affirmed.
MistahKurtz

Con

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you; the propsition without a case. My opponent has brought forward a resolution with no clear definition, no conviction and that advocates nothing more than the status quo

What did he initially argue for? An interrogation. He alluded to a possibility of a trial, be it military or otherwise, and to the possibility of torture. Of course, once that was pointed out my opponent quickly backtracked and stated he simply wanted Mr. Abdulmutallab questioned, which then brings us t the question; what does he think they're doing with him at preset? They are certainly not offering him crumpets and tea.

But let's now, since my opponent has neglected to do it, define what we are talking about.

He claims that I do not understand the differentiation between criminal and enemy combatant or between civilian and military courts. I understand these distinctions quite well and I would assert that it is my opponent who is confused.

First, we must recognize where military tribunals are used. They are not merely a tool that we may employ whenever we feel like subverting civil liberties, rather, they are means of legally trying prisoners of war. This is immediately problematic, as we can see, because George Bush declared that Al Quedia forces are -not- prisoners of war but rather that they are a perverted definition of 'enemy combatant', so that he would not have to abide by the Geneva Convention. This, then, puts them in a legal limbo of human rights where they are barely considered people at all. My opponent was quite quick to bring up the example of German POWs, but he failed to recognize that those Nazis were given more rights than our current prisoners. I would argue that the Axis powers proved a much greater and more immediate threat to American lives than Al Queada, so why then were they afforded more rights than Mr. Abdulmutallab? Is Osama Bin Laden a more capable foe than Hitler? Hardly. So, then, my opponent wants Abdulmutallab treated as an enemy combatant, but he doesn't not want to afford the same rights to him as to previous POWs.

So we can see that it is not merely an option of military vs. civilian trial, because to try Abdulmutallab in a military setting, he must first be declared as one with no rights, which is not an option for a civilian trial. My opponent merely takes for granted that the United States can and should absolve him of every right instilled by international and federal law. If he merely a despicable murderer, much in line with the Oaklahoma city bombers, the Unabomber or Richard Reid, then he should be tried with the full extent of the law but if he is truely a soldier of Al Queada and trying him in a military setting is worth the surrendering of the American way of life, then so be it.

I, however, do not take such a decision as lightly as my opponent. Given historical fact, we know that the FBI/CIA likely already has extensive surveillance on Mr. Abdulmutallab, so what will get from him that we do not already know? Furthermore, how will we know if it's true? To focus too much on what he has to say vs. what he has done is not wise. Will the irrelevant evidence he may give us really supersede the basic fundamentals that the United States is founded on? Let's call it what it is; the proposed military tribunal, while legal under American law, is a gross violation of international law and human rights. It does nothing but obstruct legal efforts of American diplomacy and fuel the propaganda of the terrorists who seek to destroy order and justice in the West. I do not accept, nor has my opponent proven, that a military tribunal is worth it.

But what my opponent would have us believe is that it is not a choice between civil and military trial, but of getting the information to save American lives vs. not having the information. This is a false choice. The truth is that Abdulmutallab is already being interrogated, and investigators are probing every possible lead to ensure that we receive every iota of evidence about his plan, contacts, method, etc. This is being done legally. He is being legally coerced to give information, much in the way any domestic terrorist would. To say that he is not worthy of rights is not a value judgment on the terrorist or the cause, but rather on the U.S. justice system.

Say, for example, that an Irish national with IRA connections were responsible for the plot. Would that terrorist be declared an enemy combatant and have his human rights waived? No. Why then, would my opponent have you believe that the rights of an Arab are lesser than that of a European. We know that the American justice system is capable of investigating and trying terrorists, so why then would we risk international backlash and the compromising of fundamental values? It is merely not worth it.

So we can clearly see that my opponent has no case. He is merely throwing terms around which translate to 'Abdulmuallab should be considered less than a human being.' While we are quick to agree with that from a moralistic standpoint, our rational selves should recognize the pitfalls of such vengeful actions. The truth is that the Western legal system is based on fact and logic, not on rash emotional decisions. We cannot set a precedent of off-the-cuff hatred, and we must not compromise our rational society for the hot-headed among us. We must proceed with caution because the decisions we make today will define our place in the world and our future legal precedents at home.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by MistahKurtz 7 years ago
MistahKurtz
I don't think I was misrepresenting your side. Did I extend it? Certainly, because you left me very little to debate. Your implications definitely led to the conclusion that terrorists should have rights ergo they may be tortured.

I never deliberately tried to skew your position.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
M, You might read the debate about that. No legal rights are infringed.

Do you thing it is OK to deliberately misrepresent your opponent's position? Could I have decided that you really wanted all terrorists to go free, and then repeated that claim as you denied it? I could claim that is what you really want even though you wouldn't say it. The question is whether misrepresentation of what is explicitly stated is within the bounds of permissible debate conduct? the argument in favor of misrepresentation is that voters get to decide how serious it was, but I think it is fundamentally bad conduct.
Posted by MistahKurtz 7 years ago
MistahKurtz
So then your case is not that he should be interrogated, but rather that he should have his lawyer removed and his legal rights infringed.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
M, No, the status quo is that Abdulmutallab is *not* being interrogated. On the news shows yesterday, Administration spokesmen said that in the future course of the criminal prosecution, there may be an opportunity for the government to offer a reduced sentence, or some other consideration, in return for information he might provide. But that is "may be" in the future. Abdulmutallab is currently lawyered up, not talking, and not being questioned.

The Administration is defending it's current course of action, so I assume there are grounds for oppositing the resolution as it is written.
Posted by MistahKurtz 7 years ago
MistahKurtz
I read the resolution, I just misunderstood what you were arguing.

Actually giving the definition would help, because in context 'interrogation' usually translates to 'enhanced interrogation' which translates to 'torture.']

So in the end, you were arguing that we ask him questions, which is arguing the status quo and thus means you lose. This left me to debate you on tribunals and interrogation, neither of which you were really talking about, so it was unavoidable to stray from the resolution.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
The resolution is "Abdulmutallab should be interrogated." It does not require further definition, because I used the ordinary dictionary definition of "interrogate". If Con didn't want to check the dictionary, I provided the definition in R2.

I hope Con actually didn't read the resolution or opening statement and was posturing throughout to cover up the fact that he didn't read it. Claiming that I had advocated illegal action is completely inexcusable bad conduct.
Posted by MistahKurtz 7 years ago
MistahKurtz
I did debate the resolution, just apparently not Con's definition of it (which he did not provide)
Posted by Xer 7 years ago
Xer
Arguments to Pro. Con didn't debate the resolution.
Posted by Nails 7 years ago
Nails
Arguments to PRO.
It seems that CON fundamentally misunderstood what PRO was proposing.

My vote might change after further perusal, but I doubt it. It seemed pretty clear that PRO's advocacy was simply that we question the man, but I never saw a compelling argument why we shouldn't.
Posted by MistahKurtz 7 years ago
MistahKurtz
Thanks for the debate, Roy. I apologize for taking it without properly understanding your case, but to be fair, it was ill-defined and the debate suffered as a result.
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