this smart op-ed for The News International. Excerpt:
In the two years that military courts were functioning and handing out death sentences, we didn’t get a sense that terrorists were now so scared of being hanged that they were refusing to blow themselves up. But more importantly, despite all power vested in intelligence and law-enforcement agencies by the new and revised laws, and the absolute power vested in military courts, people still kept going missing. What explains this conundrum? Was the original diagnosis wrong? Was it never about inadequate laws?
What is the real appeal of military courts? That they are effective and efficient? That military officers working as judges and prosecutors are not exposed and so not afraid? That cases are decided on time and the decisions are executed on time? Forget the structural problems with these courts with the military acting as police, investigator, judge and executioner. Does anyone know what kind of evidence is presented that leads to convictions? Are any witnesses presented? Are they cross-examined? Are the accused advised and defended by counsel?
The real appeal of military courts is that they don’t have to give reasons for what they do. The trials are not public and the rulings are not subject to scrutiny. No one hears the stories of the accused or why they did what they did. The decisions lead to no debate about right or wrong or whether these courts are striking the right balance between safety and efficiency while awarding death to citizens. They allow everyone not to address thorny moral and policy issues: undisturbed sources of extremism within society that support the supply-chain of terror.