Changes should alter
Stryker appraisals


The Stryker brigade approved for Hawaii may be equipped with helicopters and cannons not included in the Army's environmental report.

ADDITIONS could alter the effects the Stryker brigade that's to be based here will have on the state and should be included in environmental appraisals. If not, the Army stands vulnerable to protracted battles over the brigade that has already attracted opposition.

The announcement this week that a Stryker Brigade Combat Team will be stationed in Hawaii indicates the "enhanced" force will contain Comanche helicopters and 155 mm howitzers in addition to the 300 19-ton, eight-wheeled armored vehicles around which the unit is designed. The heightened aviation squadron and heavier fire support forces may not have significant effects, but could bring into question the validity of the Army's draft environmental impact statement.

Congressman Neil Abercrombie jubilantly proclaimed the Pentagon's approval of the brigade, touting the hundreds of millions of dollars the Army plans to spend on Oahu and the Big Island to accommodate the unit that will require acquisition of 1,400 acres to augment the 27,000 acres Schofield Barracks now occupies in Wahiawa and another 23,000 acres at the 108,890-acre Pohakuloa Training Area.

A spokeswoman told the Star-Bulletin's Gregg Kakesako that officials were still trying to sort out details the Pentagon did not provide, but that the Army would ensure environmental compliance.

The Army's newest Comanche attack helicopters apparently will replace Kiowas assigned to other Stryker brigades, so significant changes in effects aren't expected. The larger howitzers likely will be restricted to certain firing zones as would have the 105 mm cannons with which brigades generally are equipped.

Nonetheless, the draft assessment does not include the new equipment and with conflict already heightened after hearings on the environmental statement resulted in the arrests of seven people earlier in the year, the alterations could become a sticking point. Coupled with the continuing discord over the Army's training exercises in Makua Valley and the history of confrontation over Kahoolawe with the Navy, community dissent could expand.

The Army should do what it can to mitigate further contention, even if it means further hearings and an extension of its public comment period.


Rulings should cause
detention review


Two appeals courts have ruled against the Bush administration's practice of holding terror suspects outside the civilian court system.

CONGRESS enacted legislation in 1971 to prevent the recurrence of anything resembling the shameful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. A federal appeals court has affirmed that rule of law by ordering the government to afford the rights of all U.S. citizens to an American civilian who has been incarcerated in a military brig for the past 18 months, denied access to a lawyer and the civilian court system because he is accused of being an "enemy combatant" in the war against terrorism.

Jose Padilla, a Brooklyn-born convert to Islam accused of plotting to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb," should be charged and tried in federal court, with all the legal rights of other U.S. citizens. The Bush administration will have a more legitimate basis for appealing another appeals court ruling issued on the same day granting those rights to about 660 men being held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba who were captured overseas, mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Padilla is no paragon. A longtime gang member in Chicago, he has a lengthy criminal record, including a murder conviction in 1983. He moved to Egypt in 1998 and allegedly became associated with known members and leaders of al-Qaida who trained him in Pakistan on how to use explosives. He was arrested at the Chicago airport upon his return in May 2002.

But Padilla's rights should not be denied because of his sordid background or the government's claim to be protecting American intelligence. His case should be handled in the same way as those of other American citizens arrested on American soil. "Under any scenario, Padilla will be entitled to the constitutional protections extended to other citizens," a panel of the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision. The Supreme Court should uphold the ruling.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' 2-1 decision in San Francisco is more troubling. The Supreme Court ruled clearly in 1950 that enemy aliens detained overseas by the U.S. military have no standing in American civilian courts.

Attorneys for the Guantanamo detainees maintain that they should not be considered to be on foreign soil because the naval base, leased from Cuba, is under American control. The same can be said of any detention camp maintained abroad by the U.S. military. The high court should reject that argument and reverse the 9th Circuit decision.



Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

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