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June 16, 2005

Treating Terrorists With Dignity and Respect and Other Tactical Mistakes

Powerline:

Below, John writes: "The mildness with which terrorist detainees have been treated stands as an imperishable monument to the greatness of the American spirit and the moderation of the Bush administration." I agree, but can't help wondering whether, spiritual greatness and moderation aside, it would be better policy to treat terrorist detainees less mildly.

Meanwhile, the Senate hearing on Gitmo that C-SPAN has been re-broadcasting tonight stands as a monument to the wisdom of al Qaeda, which advises its terrorists to complain, if captured, about torture and mistreatment in order, presumably, to take advantage of folks like many members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Democratic members, and several Republicans as well, can't seem to accept the notion that detainees captured while fighting Americans during our campaign against al Qaeda and the Taliban deserve anything less than the full blown due process we accord our citizens, including access to federal court. Never mind that ordinary prisoners of war captured by us on the battle field during, say, World War II, never received such "due process." Why should we be more solicitous of unlawful combatants than we were of legitimate soldiers who abided by the rules of war?

The fig leaf for all this concern with the rights of probable terrorists is the claim that not treating them better hurts us in the war against terror. When I turned off the television in disgust to write this, some professor at NYU law school was asserting that mantra. The proposition that what happens at Gitmo impedes our ability to fight terrorism appears to be an a priori one, untested by empirical inquiry, and derived entirely from a desire to advance a civil liberties agenda and/or attack the Bush administration.

Is there evidence that anyone ever became a terrorist because we treat prisioners too harshly? Does it make any sense to suppose that someone prepared to take up arms against the U.S. will abandon that quest if only we provide prisioners with access to federal district court?

...

If these folks want to assert the primacy of civil liberties for suspected terrorists, that's fine. But don't insult our intelligence by claiming that there are no trade-offs between defending those liberties and thwarting terrorists.

Lotta bolding there. It's all good.

On Brit Hume yesterday, Bill Samuelson (I think) posed a question: To what political end are these Democrats driving? Do they really imagine that the American public is clamoring for better treatment of self-made monsters who have vowed to slaughter innocent Americans, Jews, and "non-righteous" Muslims?

What are they thinking?

If you say they're taking a principled stance, I'll laugh at you.

They are playing to the worst segment of their constituensty, the fire-breathers, the professional protestors, the San Francisco Democrats, the America-haters.

This is around 10 or 15% of the electorate, tops.

Yes, these guys will donate money when they hear this sort of nonsense and venom, but at what cost?

Are they aware the 2006 midterms will be held in America, as usual, and not in the tonier & more bohemian arrondisements of Paris?

Update: A lot of liberals ask the following questions:

1) Why are their no trials for these fuckers?

2) When will they be released?

Here are the answers, which have been patiently explained to you a THOUSAND TIMES, but maybe one more time will be helpful to your comprehension.

1) There are no trials because trials are costly things which reveal a lot of confidential information to the enemy. But, more importantly, one does not typically "try" soldiers caught during wartime. Soldiers are imprisoned without trial during wartime -- see, that's what happens when you get captured but not killed by the enemy. You are imprisoned. Hence the term, "Prisoner of War."

Most soldiers are never tried as criminals, because most soldiers are NOT criminals. And yet they remain in military prisons throughout the duration of the war.

The thing is, we COULD try many of these plainly unlawful combatants as criminals -- if we chose to do so. Or, we can simply continuing holding them as enemies captured on the battlefield, as has been done since time immemorial.

The fact that we COULD try them as criminals does not OBLIGATE us to do so. And the fact that we largely pass on trying them as criminals does not obligate us to simply release them-- the same as we didn't just release Nazi soldiers during WWII who had committed no crime until the war was actually over.

2, which leads us to when we will release them. We will release them when the war is over, or until we decide to do so, if we want to release them sooner for some reason. Again, the rules of war say you can hold enemy prisioners until the cessation of hostilities. Hostilities have not ceased; ergo, we will hold them until they do.

Liberals will whine that this could be a very long period of imprisonment. So fucking what? Our POW's were tortured in Hanoi for eight or more years in some cases. It sucks, but not all wars are short affairs, and to some extent captured enemy combatants are at the mercy of their leadership, who can arrange for their release, the moment they surrender and sign an armistice.

Does that answer these questions, finally?

Oh, and... Liberals are fond of saying three things repeatedly:

1) We haven't won in Afghanistan. The Taliban is still killing, and the "warlords" control the country and assist the Taliban.

2) Al Qaeda remains a threat and Bush has done little or nothing to reduce that threat.

3) The war in Iraq is going worse than ever. We're losing.

Okay. Let's take you at your word.

Given the fact that by your own admission that not only is the Global War on Terrorism not over, but we are actually losing this war, why the fuck are you constantly agitating to release enemy combatants so that they may rejoin their allies and kill more of our soldiers and citizens?

One Last Point: Liberals seem to have a curious position here.

Were these lawful combatants -- good soldiers, legal soldiers, honorable soldiers who'd just been captured as part of war -- they could of course not object to holding them for the duration of the war, as that would just be ridiculous. They know damn well we didn't just release good, honorable Nazi and Japanese soldiers until the war was over. (And neither did those countries release our boys, except for hardship cases and in prisoner exchanges.)

So... the weird thing is:

They are insisting we treat unlawful combatants and actual terrorists BETTER than we'd treat lawful soldiers.

Lawful soldiers stay imprisoned until an armistice. Illegal combatants and mass-murderers get trials, and if you can't convict them of an actual crime, they go free.

Why shouldn't we extend that same benefit to lawful soldiers? We could NEVER convict them of a crime (having not committed one, or even having been alleged to have committed one) and thus they would go free two or three months after capture.

To join their former army, of course. And kill Americans.


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posted by Ace at 04:22 PM

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