- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:


Justice delayed, justice denied

SYDNEY, Australia — If justice delayed is justice denied, Mamdouh Habib has been very poorly served by the U.S. over his long incarceration at the Guantanamo Bay camp for terror suspects.

And the Howard government’s disinterest in his circumstances reflects poorly on its commitment to assist citizens in trouble overseas, whatever their actions or opinions.

Irrespective of Habib’s views on the war on terror, he had a right to respond to allegations against him in a properly constituted court. But after being locked up for three years, the Americans have now decided there is insufficient evidence to hold him. The fact he is now being released demonstrates the U.S. government is not above the rule of law.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last July that terror suspects could not be left in legal limbo indefinitely. This will be no comfort for Habib, especially if his claims of torture while in Egyptian custody are true. But however bad his treatment, it was an infinite improvement on the fate of innocent prisoners of other Islamic fundamentalists who have been beheaded in Iraq. Habib’s safe release demonstrates Guantanamo Bay is no gulag without hope of release. The wheels of justice there may have turned too slow, but at least they turned.

Once home, Habib, like every other Australian, should be free to say and do whatever he likes, subject to the operation of the law. But even in freedom he will be watched. There seems little doubt that Habib has had contact with advocates of violence in the cause of Islam.

Daily Telegraph

A necessary evil

LONDON — If you were a law professor looking for a tricky legal problem, you couldn’t get much trickier than the position of the Guantanamo four, who will in all likelihood be released from police custody soon after they return here within a couple of weeks. …

The detention of the men for up to three years despite the lack of evidence would offend the basic laws of justice in peacetime. But, at a time of war — when these men were detained — it is the right of even the most impeccable of democracies to suspend those basic laws in the defense of its people.

Who would deny the right of the American government to have detained the September 11 bombers if they had been caught on Sept. 10 on the merest hint that they were up to no good?

The question then becomes: how long do you detain suspects when your nation is involved in an asymmetrical war on terrorism that, as President Bush has said, may well last for decades rather than years? Momentary suspension of the basic laws of justice is a necessary evil; permanent suspension is just straightforwardly evil.

Irish Times

God and the tsunami

DUBLIN — The deepest ethical, philosophical and theological questions are raised by the tsunami disaster in south Asia and the wonderful outpouring of global solidarity in response to it. How, ask many Christian and other religious believers and those who are skeptical of such faith, can a good and omniscient God have allowed it to happen?

Can the question of God’s existence be resolved simply by this assumed responsibility for natural or human events? Does humanity’s freedom of will to respond compassionately and with love to such disasters not provide the real test of this question? How does the flow of material aid and human empathy to the Indian Ocean countries and peoples affected measure up to that demanding task?

Rarely have questions like these been posed in as direct and challenging a way as over the weeks since the tsunami struck. It is one way of gauging how deeply people have been affected in a much more interdependent global setting. In Ireland and throughout the Christian world, the fact that the disaster coincided with the Christmas holiday greatly amplified the religious response and questioning to which it has given rise, as well as the human solidarity shown.

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