Witnesses, Rules of Evidence, and War

How is it that within days of a sarin gas attack in Syria that the United States had all the intelligence information in hand that gave incontrovertible proof that Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people?

Here we are more than a year after the attack on Benghazi and months after the IRS attacked conservative groups and we still don’t have the documents necessary to determine what really happened.

As an American citizen who’s going to have to pay for a war against Syria and foot the long-term costs of wounded and dead soldiers plus the blowback from Islamic radicals who will see our using cruise missiles to blow up fellow-Muslims as a reason to blow up some of our embassies around the world, I want to see the unadulterated evidence.

It’s staggering to think that we might have to trust evidence coming from Russia over our elected and appointed government officials:

“Russia says it has compiled a 100-page report detailing what it says is evidence that Syrian rebels, not forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, were behind a deadly sarin gas attack in an Aleppo suburb earlier this year.

“In a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website late Wednesday. Russia said the report had been delivered to the United Nations in July and includes detailed scientific analysis of samples that Russian technicians collected at the site of the alleged attack, Khan al Asal.”

There’s an interesting legal requirement in the Constitution that is often overlooked. Article 3, section 3 reads:

“No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

If it takes two witnesses to convict someone of treason, it seems to me that at least two witnesses should be required to attack another country where assuredly people are going to be killed by our military intervention.

I realize that a lot of people don’t like to appeal to the Bible for help in legal cases, but it has a lot of judicial wisdom that has been incorporated into our legal system. The requirement of two witnesses is one of them:

“On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” (Deut. 17:6).

Both the Old and New Testaments repeat the requirement (Num. 35:30; Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28). We should all be thankful for it, because without it, any charge of wrong doing could be made.

There is an additional safeguard regarding testimony: bearing false witness. If a false charge is made, the person who makes the false charge must suffer the punishment that would have been made to the original charge: Anything about which a person swears falsely “he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering” (Lev. 6:2–7).

Bashar al-Assad

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