When I first heard the stories that have been circulating as to whether John McCain is eligible for the presidency due to not having been born on "American soil," it seemed to be a bit of a tempest in a teapot. Of course, Senator McCain is as American as anybody! His father was a military officer in the service of his country when the good senator was born at a Panama military base. But, if we expand on that thought of precisely what constitutes the national territory and, thus, the jurisdiction of the American legal system, it gives rise to other considerations.
At the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict, there arose the problem of how and where to confine those who were taken prisoner. The administration did not want to bring them to the United States and thus allow them the protections of the Constitution by treating them as common criminals. Therefore, they were taken to our military base at Guantanamo, Cuba, in which case it would be "legal" to abuse and torture them in the effort to collect strategic information as to the activities of the enemy.
Therein lies the connection and the conundrum. Are American military bases to be considered a part of the United States and thus inhabitants thereof considered to be in American territory and subject to the same protections of the Constitution and the legal rights provided to all persons "within the jurisdiction of the United States"? The "Military Tribunals" are now underway under conditions that would be neither legal nor tolerated in an American court since none of the rights accorded to defendants by the Constitution are accorded to the men being tried there.
Those defendants are "represented" by military attorneys who, in some cases, have had little or no contact with their "clients," are not being presented with the evidence against them, are limited in their ability to call defense witnesses and are precluded from the privilege of appealing any decision to higher courts. In short, those tribunals are nothing more than the kangaroo courts that are held in totalitarian nations all over the world. Are they legal under our Constitution or are they exempt due to their off-shore location?
This gives rise to the troubling questions: If Senator John McCain is a "natural-born" American citizen due to his birth on a military base of the United States in a foreign nation, then Guantanamo, being a U.S. military base should be governed by the Constitution of the United States and the military tribunals are as illegal as they would be if they were held in Cleveland. However, if the U.S. military courts in Guantanamo are legal under the Constitution, then John McCain cannot be deemed to be a "natural-born" citizen and is ineligible to run for the office of President.
Perhaps somebody should ask for an opinion of the Supreme Court. They're impartial and rule strictly according to the requirements of the Constitution...don't they?