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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2005
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EDITORIAL

World's view of America as beacon of justice diminished

Truth and justice were once synonymous with the American way. But the free world no longer views the United States as a defender of human rights.

On Monday, the European Union's top justice official vowed to suspend the voting rights of any of its 25 member nations found to have operated clandestine prisons where the CIA is alleged to have hidden and interrogated terror suspects.

EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini justified the threat to suspend voting rights of cooperating nations by citing stipulations in the EU treaty that the bloc is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

Curious how the world's view of the United States has changed. For more than a century it considered us the leader in promoting those same principles. The president of the United States used to be synonymous with "the leader of the free world."

But in just a few short years, as the White House has adopted policies endorsing indefinite detention of terror suspects without charges or representation and authorizing torture as a means to elicit information, America is no longer seen as a beacon of justice.

Terrorists don't walk around with the word tattooed on their foreheads. Nor are all members of a certain religion, ethnicity or cultural background terrorists. Justice demands that we try terror suspects in a court of law with competent legal counsel. They should be punished if found guilty or, if innocent, be set free.

Those who point to the events of 9/11 to justify our human rights violations argue in circles. They claim that we must violate others' rights to justice and liberty in order to secure our own. It is a fallacious appeal to emotion that reaches the false conclusion that, unless we deal with terror abroad in inhumane and unjust ways, terror at home is the only possible result.

Is the homeland still worth defending if we have to resort to barbaric practices?

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