July 13, 2006

Digging up Tet

For a Catholic, there's a two part test for an awful lot of things (not necessarily in this order).

1. is it legal
2. is it right

Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It! blog is currently doing a very bad job of applying that test to the point where I and a bunch of others are regularly censored if we provide alternative perspectives hinging on the question of whether certain military acts are wrong merely 99.999% of the time or 100% of the time. My own perspective is that a lot of strange things happen out in the field and it's essential to actually listen before judging. Below is the comment I would have posted. The Mark Shea post is regarding the famous street execution photo of a general shooting a captured VC.

The problem of this famous incident is that it's always about the emotion. For this to have been a righteous shooting, the VC would have had to:

1. have committed war crimes subject to the death penalty...
CHECK! According to commentary up above, he apparently killed a bunch of women and children and hid them in a ditch. You die for that, and justly so.

2. the situation would have had to have been fluid, threatening, and manpower would need to be too short to safely devote resources to guarding the prisoner until a more formal judicial hearing could be convened
CHECK! This execution/slaughter was done in the middle of the Tet Offensive when things were very confusing and a number of positions were barely holding under assault. Pulling people away from safeguarding innocents to keep this guy alive wasn't likely practical.

3. have been subject to some sort of judgment by a military officer acting in his capacity of a judicial officer.
BZZZT?? Did the general have the legal right to convene a drumhead court martial, judge the man, and immediately execute sentence according to the relevant law of the time? I really don't know. Since he was never judged for this very famous execution, I suspect that he did but am unsure.

Of significant importance for catholics, what are the details of due process that a prisoner of this type is due as a minimal baseline inherent in the natural law? Is a single judge (with no jury) trial inherently unjust? That would be rather sticky because a large number of trials in the US are conducted under exactly those circumstances. There is judicial review here, and obviously not there but you need to be exact as to what the procedural problem is and why they are inherently against the natural law.

Posted by TMLutas at July 13, 2006 05:47 PM