I finally had opportunity to see this fine film by Robert Redford, the story of the trial of Mary Surratt. Surratt owned a boarding house where J. W. Booth and her son plotted the assassination of Lincoln. Her son escaped but she and the other alleged co-conspirators were tried before a military tribunal. The case against her in particular was fabricated but it didn't stop the tribunal, and the political forces behind it, from finding her guilty and sentencing her to hang with the others. It is a story of how law and the Constitution were suspended to provide an emotional release to the general public, since she was assumed guilty from the start.There was a line in the movie about how law must be suspended in a time of war, with the protagonist lamenting the tragic irony of such a statment.

The movie brought so many parallels to mind on the recent assassination of bin Laden. We saw that Obama outright lied in his speech to the nation about making the connection with bin Laden to 9/11. Bin Laden was never charged with that crime by the FBI because there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict him. Even in war the Geneva Convention requires that an unarmed combatant be given the right to surrender, and that he be given the right of a hearing by military tribunal if accused of war crimes. But again, so much of our own Constitution and of military code was suspended with the excuse that in a time of war it is necessary. And like with the movie, to also satisfy the blood lust of the people, to  make an example and public spectacle of the event merely to appease in the name of political expediency. In both cases, the irony is that wars were fought to preserve the rights of citizens and/or military combatants to be held to a higher standard, and yet we violate that same standard thereby tarnishing the soldiers that gave their lives fighting for such rights.

Views: 34

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Another issue in the movie is that shortly after this trial the US Supreme Court required that citizens be tried in civilian courts, not military tribunals. When John Surratt, her son, was eventually caught and brought to civilian court he was released after a mistrial in which 8 jurors voted not guilty. Yet his mother paid with her life for something that her son was accused of doing, and even that could not be proven.
Here are some other opinions about Geneva Convention violations with the bin Laden killing: link, link.
There are so many stories circulating about what 'really' happened in this incident (Osama, not Lincoln), that I honestly don't know what to believe.  My wife gets a Hindi language newspaper, and the headline story in it (which she translated for me) was that a bodyguard shot Osama to prevent his capture, and that the Obama administration lied about doing it themselves for primarily cathartic reasons.  And Joel Morrison, the author of SpinbitZ, is circulating videos and reports on Facebook that Osama died years ago and that the whole incident is trumped up.  This in addition to the rapidly changing story(ies) coming from the White House.  I think the material Morrison is circulating is mostly conspiracy theory nonsense, but the so-called 'real story' is still fluid enough to be rather confusing (and un-credible).  If the Hindi report is true, then there wouldn't be any Geneva Convention violations, but if it was, I'm not sure how Obama could now retract the official story and embrace that one and still save any semblance of 'face' here.
It's true that we don't know what is the true story and we likely never will for "national security" reasons. But taking the White House's statements as true is tantamount to international law violations. Which is of course ok, since we have the biggest guns and no one can bring us to trial, or at least enforce any sanctions if we were. See the movie though, a good one with many of the same issues.

From Roger Ebert's review of the film:

"I found it absorbing and relevant today. It is useful to reflect that it isn't 'her' constitutional rights that are being violated, but our own, because the Constitution must be seen to work equally for all or it loses its strength for everyone. The language and reasoning of Stanton [Secretary of War] echo with similar statements by Bush and Cheney in defense of the Patriot Act, and Reverdy Johnson in this reading would represent Obama, more a compromiser than an idealist."

Reply to Discussion

RSS

What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

Notice to Visitors

At the moment, this site is at full membership capacity and we are not admitting new members.  We are still getting new membership applications, however, so I am considering upgrading to the next level, which will allow for more members to join.  In the meantime, all discussions are open for viewing and we hope you will read and enjoy the content here.

© 2019   Created by Balder.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service