Senator Orrin Hatch on the ‘National Defense Authorization Act’

United States Senator Orrin Hatch has responded to a correspondent setting out his own personal position on the ‘National Defense Authorization Act’.

Below is an analysis of it.

The letter below from Senator Orrin Hatch was received from a correspondent. The analysis presented here assumes it is genuine and has not been tampered with in any way, manner, shape or form. Unfortunately, from what can be ascertained about Senator Hatch, that assumption is almost certainly correct. The letter as published here consists of two screengrabs. The last paragraph of the first overlaps with the first paragraph of the second to demonstrate continuity.

Unsurprisingly, Senator Hatch has opinions on a wide variety of subjects, including intellectual property. He sets out his views on this particular subject here. Actually, he goes much further than that, and has suggested that people who dowload copyrighted material should have their computers smashed. Here is an amusing article about this. Perhaps somebody should tell him there is a positive alternative to copyright? Now, to an even more serious subject. The e-mail letter sent by Senator Hatch alluded to above is below:

A letter from Senator Orrin Hatch, part 1.

A letter from Senator Orrin Hatch, part 2.

No doubt civil libertarians and human rights lawyers will wish to comment on this in greater depth, but the following points should be noted.

The Senator refers to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as a terrorist and the mastermind of 9/11 – at least we can all agree now that it wasn’t Bin Laden – Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been in American military custody for years and has been subjected to prolonged and systematic torture. This has resulted in him confessing extensively to many crimes, including the murder of the American journalist Daniel Pearl in February 2002. The big problem with this latter confession is that Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh was convicted in Pakistan of Pearl’s murder.

It may well be that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is both one of the most dangerous and odious human beings on the face of this planet, but in spite of his confessions and all the other evidence against him – of which there appears to be plenty – he is still as yet only an alleged terrorist, and as the crimes against him are so heinous it should be taken for granted that he should receive the best possible defence if and when he is tried.

The Senator’s reference to the laws of war is quaint, but is one that is widely accepted by civilised nations. War is of course murder often on a massive scale. We can dress it up any way we want, but the objective or an inescapable consequence of the objective, is the death of human beings. And often their severe wounding/injury/mutilation. The phrase collateral damage has been used widely to describe this.

The phrase “laws of war” suggests there is both a right way and a wrong way to murder people. Putting on a uniform and bombing their cities is the right way. What though if one side is facing an enemy who is overwhelmingly superior? Let us scale this down. A man breaks into a house where a woman is living alone. She confronts him, he is big and muscular but unarmed, and announces his intention to rape her. What does she do? She could let him, but she has only his word that he will rape her and then leave. For all she knows, he may murder her, and anyway, she’s not in the mood for rape. She darts to the kitchen, struggles with the brute, and with an unfortunate (for him) blow, strikes his throat with a newly sharpened knife, severing his jugular vein, and he bleeds to death in seconds.

Would any police officer, any lawyer, any citizen with half a brain say she had acted unfairly or used a forbidden weapon?

Now apply this to a struggle between the Great Satan and some penny ante third rate dictatorship. If you were running such a country, you wouldn’t want to tangle with Uncle Sam, but if you had the war thrust on you, or if you saw your kinfolk being maimed and murdered at will by an overwhelmingly superior force, what would you do?

In the end, an eye for an eye leaves us all blind; it is obviously better not to fight wars at all, but let us not make stupid claims about unlawful combatants.

The rest of the Senator’s letter deals with fairly routine matters, but it is notable he points out that the President is opposed to the detention of American citizens without trial. If nothing else this appears to mean that if Ron Paul is not electable then a second term for Barack Obama may be the lesser of evils, and that is without mentioning the possibility of war with Iran.

[The above article was published originally on/in Digital Journal but was removed after 19 page views, primarily because of concerns over the apparent private nature of the correspondence. Shortly, a Google search turned up what I should have suspected – but didn’t – namely that this is actually a form letter. No doubt the Senator replied to several or even hundreds of communications from concerned citizens in precisely the same terms.]

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