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Treating Terrorists As They Should Be Treated

Found an interesting assortment of articles today. Thought I’d toss them out there for y’all to ruminate on.

The first was suggesting that elevating the status of terrorist from criminals (that they are) to unlawful combatants (which the W, Rove and Co suggests they are), to soldiers (which some people think they are) is really the wrong direction. We should treat them like the criminals they are:

Treating terrorists as combatants is a mistake for two reasons. First, it dignifies criminality by according terrorist killers the status of soldiers. Under the law of war, military service members receive several privileges. They are permitted to kill the enemy and are immune from prosecution for doing so. They must, however, carefully distinguish between combatant and civilian and ensure that harm to civilians is limited.

Critics have rightly pointed out that traditional categories of combatant and civilian are muddled in a struggle against terrorists. In a traditional war, combatants and civilians are relatively easy to distinguish. The 9/11 hijackers, by contrast, dressed in ordinary clothes and hid their weapons. They acted not as citizens of Saudi Arabia, an ally of America, but as members of Al Qaeda, a shadowy transnationa l network. And their prime targets were innocent civilians.

By treating such terrorists as combatants, however, we accord them a mark of respect and dignify their acts. And we undercut our own efforts against them in the process. Al Qaeda represents no state, nor does it carry out any of a state’s responsibili ties for the welfare of its citizens. Labeling its members as combatants elevates its cause and gives Al Qaeda an undeserved status.

Good point. The W, Rove and Co has been a witting mouthpiece, oft trumpeting the Al Qaeda message for political gain for too long. It’s time to squash them like the criminals they are and not do them any favors by elevating their status to anything more.

Another article begs us to ask us the question as to what has happened to the W’s “surge?” Moreover, why is it that more people have to die for W’s failed democracy and “freedom spreading” experiment?

The size of the U.S. force in Iraq has reached nearly 162,000 troops, the largest American presence at any point during the 52 months of the war, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

The increase is the result of the regular replacement of troops and does not represent an additional buildup, said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman.

“There is no change to the level of effort and the combat power that we are projecting into Iraq,” Whitman said.

Officials reported Tuesday that five more U.S. troops had been killed in Iraq, bringing the total this month to 21, and putting the military on pace to see more than 100 deaths in August. Three of the soldiers were killed Saturday by a roadside bomb south of Baghdad. The two others died Sunday in Baghdad in mortar or rocket attacks. The British military also announced that a British soldier was shot and killed Monday in the southern city of Basra.

When does a “surge” not constitute a surge? Answer: When it’s run by the W, Rove and Co. I don’t understand the W’s strategy at all. Do you?

Well, and to be fair and balanced like Fox News, here’s a take on the FISA legislation by some people who clearly have an agenda. It was writing by

David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey are partners in a Washington law firm and served in the Justice Department under presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

They think that FISA goes too far in protecting the rights of Americans. Have a look:

It’s true that the foreign targets’ U.S. corresponden ts may be overheard in the surveillance process, just as innocent people are overheard in conversation s with court-ordere d surveillance targets. No one can reasonably expect that they would not be unintentiona lly overheard in the course of a lawful surveillance of others. A “reasonable expectation of privacy” is the key here.

Our privacy is compromised daily by government and nongovernmen t actors. This is the price of living in a modern society. The real question is how to strike the balance between permissible and impermissibl e invasions of privacy, and what expectations may be reasonable. Americans may, for example, be subject to physical search without a warrant or judicial oversight whenever they leave or enter the United States. The same should apply to electronic communicatio ns coming into or going out of the United States; they should not be subject to a more stringent rule.

The real problem with the FISA amendments isn’t about civil liberties at all. It is that they allow an unprecedente d and constitution ally problematic review of the executive branch’s foreign intelligence activities by the FISA court.

Really, if you say so. Right. And why do you think this?

In the last few weeks, however, actions by the FISA court — requiring the NSA to obtain court orders before intercepting purely foreign communicatio ns that simply pass through switches physically located in the United States — have dramatically reduced the NSA’s intelligence “take.” As a result, the government was not getting much of the information it needed to “connect the dots” and frustrate future terrorist attacks.

Really, and how do you know this? Is there more leaking going on by the W, Rove and Co? Really, how the bleep can we trust these authors? They are lawyers after all…and they did work for republicans.   I think Reagan is turning over in his grave right now vomiting his last diner over this crazy “trust us because we said so” brand of logic to squeeze the rights of the people.

This goes back to my identificati on of the fatal flaw of the W, Rove and Co, which you should have read yesterday.

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16 Responses to “Treating Terrorists As They Should Be Treated”

  1. OpinionJourn al’s James Taranto led off his “Best of the Web Today” with the Clark piece, calling it silly and vapid. I’ll add to that: Clark is truly clueless. As Taranto notes, Clark attempts to portray the idea that a combatant, even “unlawful combatants”, are the rhetorical equivalent of soldiers, and giving terrorists a better name than what he believes they truly are, mere criminals. However, Clark is portraying a lack of understandin g of the legal implications of calling Al Qaeda and other terrorists “unlawful combatants” and that they are not equivalent to being soldiers. Soldiers get a whole host of rights and protections in order to do their duty. Criminals, at least in this country, aren’t criminals until it is proven that they have committed a crime, meaning there has to be a crime first. But when 19 members of one group murder 3000 for the political reasons espoused by that group, and are backed up by a government that is giving them safe haven and perhaps financial and operational support, this isn’t criminality, it’s terrorism and war and needs to be fought militarily. Clark’s use of the Ali al-Marri case is a non sequiter since his is the only case of its kind, where an attempt to call a legal resident an “unlawful combatant”, to be held in a military prison (not Gitmo) subject to a tribunal, was rejected by a panel (3 judges) of the 4th Circuit (the administrati on may file a motion to have the entire 4th Circuit hear the case). In fact, al Marri’s brother was captured in Pakistan not long after 9/11, turned over to U.S. authorities, and resides in Gitmo to this day. Clark ends by saying it is the fault of the Bush administrati on for taking what most Americans know as the correct approach to terrorism, especially since he completely ignores those governments that back the terrorists and attempts to say these terrorists are lone wolves. As we’ve seen with Hamas, Hezbollah, the Sadr terrorists, and Al Qaeda, they aren’t lone wolves as all of them have received some kind of backing by the governments of Afghanistan  (under the Taliban), Iraq (when Saddam Hussein ruled it), Iran, and Syria (and I don’t completely rule out Saudi Arabia, nor Pakistan; plus, Sudan is in the mix as well). Clark is espousing the eight years of nothing under Bill Clinton that allowed all of this to come to fruition after he left office.

  2. To answer this question after the quote regarding FISA and how the NSA was being required to get warrants for purely foreign communicatio ns through a domestic switch or router:

    Really, and how do you know this?

    Ask Congress. They voted on the updated FISA bill based on this information, and they had to have gotten it from somewhere (maybe even Rivkin and Casey). What’s amazing to me is that you would actually ask this question. FISA was passed in 1978 when technology was vastly different then than now. The section on electronic surveillance without a court order was updated in 2004 to change “Director of Central Intelligence ” to “Director of National Intelligence ” (that’s it), and hadn’t been updated before then since 1979. There were no fiber-optics . The use of IP networks (which use switches and routers, including remote switches and routers; the phone doesn’t have to be that close to the network, and can be piggy-backed from one network to another) was very limited and not available to the general public. Email and cell phones were unknown. A law written when a physical attachment to a phone was needed to overhear conversation s is out of date when the technology changes, and must be updated. FISA has, for six months.

  3. This question:

    Another article begs us to ask us the question as to what has happened to the W’s “surge?”

    is shown later to be answered thusly:

    When does a “surge” not constitute a surge? Answer: When it’s run by the W, Rove and Co.

    The answer that no “surge” occurred is based solely on part of this one article. What isn’t shown is that in February, there were 138,000 American troops in Iraq. There are now 162,000 American troops in Iraq now. Having 162,000 American troops in Iraq now is more than having 138,000 American troops in Iraq in February is an increase, a surge. Petraeus was confirmed unanimously as a full general (4-star) by the Senate after explaining his plan to increase the numbers of troops by 5 brigades in order to implement his counterinsur gency plan, currently being executed. And since he has taken over in Iraq, the numbers of American troops in Iraq has increased. That is what has happened to the W’s “surge”.

  4. SteveIL, thank you for proving why the terrorists chose to strike when they did. Surely they knew, with the onset of the Bush administrati on, that Americans had become so stupid, so unhinged, that riling us up into a frenzy of stupidity was as easy as 19 guys and somepocket knives.

    There is no such a thing as un “enemy combatant” or “unlawful combatant.” Either you are a criminal or not. Period.

    JMJ

  5. Oh sure, Jersey. Great comeback. Don’t tell me; you’re really that moron Wesley Clark. You’re comment was about as unintelligen t as Clark’s op-ed.

  6. Steve,
    You do have a lot of spare time for hitting your head on a board, don’t you. There are so many holes in your argument. Let’s see, where to begin.

    Let’s start with your first assertion, that these 19 terrorists (which by the way had no connection whatsoever to Iraq) were “backed” by a government. Which one? Where’s your proof?

    When you give me a believable and credible answer to that one, I’ll move to the next.

  7. Let’s start with your first assertion, that these 19 terrorists (which by the way had no connection whatsoever to Iraq) were “backed” by a government. Which one? Where’s your proof?

    Ever hear of the Taliban, the Islamofascis t vermin that used to run Afghanistan?   Duh!!!

  8. Steve - Wham - you hit your head with another board. Why do you keep doing that? What’s your proof that the 19 folk who ran the planes into our buildings were connected to the Taliban?

    Just because you say it’s so doesn’t mean it’s so.

  9. Were they part of Al Qaeda? Yes. Were Al Qaeda in Afghanstan? Yes. Were Al Qaeda being supported by the Taliban who ran the government in Afghanistan?   Yes (the proof is that Al Qaeda were allowed to stay in Afghanistan while the Taliban ran the government of that country). What’s your proof that they weren’t? Saying it isn’t so doesn’t mean you are correct. I guess that board just whacked you. Why do you keep doing that?

  10. I”m still waiting for the proof - Are you sure that the 19 terrorists of 9/11 were part of Al Qaeda? Aside from the claims by these people and the AQ nut balls, where’ s the proof?

    Incidentally  , here’s another couple of boards to whack your head with: Where is your proof that Clinton is responsible for “allowing” the terrorists to hit us?

    What was it that the 19 folk you claim were supported by the taliban in Afghanistan that justify us being married to Iraq?

  11. I”m still waiting for the proof - Are you sure that the 19 terrorists of 9/11 were part of Al Qaeda? Aside from the claims by these people and the AQ nut balls, where’ s the proof?

    And I’m still waiting for the proof from you that they weren’t. Or are you a Truther?

    Incidentally   , here’s another couple of boards to whack your head with: Where is your proof that Clinton is responsible for “allowing the terrorists to hit us?

    8 years. No bin Laden. You could say the same for Bush, but at least he’s trying, even if it isn’t to your satisfaction . Clinton didn’t even try.

    What was it that the 19 folk you claim were supported by the taliban in Afghanistan that justify us being married to Iraq?

    In another post, I called you on your premise that Rumsfeld was still being paid as a SecDef, and I said it was nothing but a big joke. You came back with all kinds of meainingless platitudes saying otherwise, which I believe were just transparent attempts to justify a known (to you) non-existing issue. In a nutshell, I believed you were smart enough to know it was bullshit. Yet you continued droning on and on and now I have to wonder about the sequence of events and what is really going on. So, my answer to you is another question: does it matter what I would answer and would you actually understand it?

  12. Personally who cares who is a part of Al-Qaeda. Does it really matter. A terrorist is a terrorist. They all breed in the ME and they all share the same ideologies.
    That’s like saying if someone is part of a White Supremist group they should be left alone because they aren’t members of the KKK.

  13. Steve,
    You are comparing apples to oranges by bringing up Clinton in comparison to W. I thought you would aspire to a better comparative group for your heroes in charge.

    On the Rummy thing, I do believe that he’s still being retained by our government, but I don’t feel like doing the FOIA request to find out for sure. What has he been doing as of late, do you know? He may be retained but unpaid officially, but W’s private contracting rolls for people working under no-bid contracts are enormous.

    Tos has a point. Who cares who these nut jobs are. What I’m suggesting by this post is that elevating their status to more than they are is harmful. In no way do I suggest we should just leave them alone. I think, in the words of Schortzkopf  (sp?), we need to hunt them down, rout them out, and squash them like the bugs they are….I sure wish Stormin’ Norman was in charge of the operation. At least he had good practical sense on how to execute a war.0

    one more question for you, Steve - The terrorists in Iraq: Who is their “state” sponsor and how do you tell them apart from the innocent Iraqi? What proof to you have for the former?

  14. Windspike, Clinton was a President who had to deal with bin Laden and Al Qaeda; Bush was a President who had to deal with bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Looks like apples to apples to me. I’m not sure where you’re getting the orange in there. I wish Stormin’ Norman were there too, provided Bush didn’t handcuff him like he has every other general running these operations (see, I can criticize Bush, and have done so repeatedly).   I think the disagreement is in what the terrorists are: you (and Clark) think calling terrorists “unlawful combatants” elevates their position compared to calling them criminals. It is the reverse that is true. If they are to be called criminals, then it must be proven that each and every one has committed a crime and must go through some kind of judicial process to be killed. The term “unlawful combatant” may sound nicer than “criminal”, but one so designated can be summarily killed or captured on foreign soil without legal ramification s for the killer. Plus, they don’t get any rights or protections  (except by those who are too “sensitive”) if captured, something guaranteed to POWs and lawful combatants in the Geneva Conventions  (even though so many of our soldiers have not been given this treatment when captured, even by those who have signed them; nobody in the North Vietnamese government was ever prosecuted for the torture they inflicted on our soldiers). As for the state sponsors of the terrorists in Iraq in my opinion I would include Iran, members of the Saudi royal family, Syria, some members of the royal families of some of the Gulf States; I think that’s good for starters. The State Department has a good list, and that’s evidence enough for me (and the rest of the world, except for the governments of the nations on the list). Should we take out the Saudi and Gulf States governments?   From the standpoint of the U.S. government, there are too many Republicans and Democrats in bed with them for this to occur, although they could pressure those governments to do something about it. Syria and Iran? I don’t believe it a good idea to strike Iran, especially not at this time. Syria, on the other hand, is a different story. I would do to Syria what we should have done to Iraq; tell the people who live in the cities they have 48 hours to evacuate them, then bomb the cities, military bases, and the infrastructu re into rubble, and keep doing this until they surrender. Few (if any) civilian casualties, no occupation, no democracy building. And they would have something other than terrorism to worry about, like rebuilding their country. If they want help from the U.S. afterwards, they can ask (like Germany and Japan did). This will also give the mad mullahs and AhmaHitlerja d something to think about, along with the Iranian people who are tired of them. See, to me, the idea of the rule of law as it relates to foreign policy only goes so far, especially when dealing with some of the vermin who run these countries.

  15. Steve,

    What makes you so sure that Clinton wasn’t already doing things you didn’t know about to try to eliminate OBL?

    I like your recent reply. Clarifies the thinking a bit and makes a whole lot of sense. I completely agree with you on your last sentence. Unfortunatel y, when Saddam was in power, he was able to keep the vermin in check, even at great cost to Iraqi civilians. Certainly there were less terrorists there with Saddam in charge than there are now. And these vermin don’t respond well to the rule of law, more than if you cut their hands off when they steal from you.

    I have one conundrum to pose for you: Why would the House of Saud be a State sponsors of terrorism in Iraq if they are pals with the Bush family (not to mention serve on the board of the Carlyle Group ( I think this is the case, but don’t know for sure)? More over, if it is true what you assert, and I don’t believe you are off base here, why would we send over Condi to orchestrate more arms deals for these people?

  16. What makes you so sure that Clinton wasn’t already doing things you didn’t know about to try to eliminate OBL?

    First off, 9/11. The planning had been going on a long time, and there was all kinds of information for awhile that something was up. Which leads to number two, Richard Clarke and George Tenet. These Clinton holdovers in the Bush administrati on were disasters. As soon as they could, they bailed on responsibili ty. In both cases, each of them said to Bush how urgent it was to get bin Laden. Where were they when they were in the Clinton administrati on? And to be fair, why the hell did Bush keep these bums on, especially Tenet? As much as the 9/11 Commission whitewashed the Clinton’s responsibili ty for failing to protect the country, enough came out to know that Clarke and Tenet were a huge part of the problem, in my opinion. But again, I’m not absolving Bush either. He didn’t act enough early on, trying to be the “Education President” and so forth, and keeping these two in his administrati on. But, the final straw is Sandy “Burglar” Berger. What exactly did he steal? How important was it to the 9/11 Commission? And why didn’t the Bush DoJ push for much stronger charges than what he ended up convicted for? Which leads me to believe his being the National Security Adviser completely undermined national security.

    Certainly there were less terrorists there with Saddam in charge than there are now.

    Two problems with that: Iran and Kuwait. He had invaded two countries in his first 12 years in power. If Bush 41 hadn’t take a tough line with Hussein after the Kuwait invasion, I have no doubt that Saddam would have gone after Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Not only that, there was already a push in the internationa l community to lift sanctions off of Saddam, and either he or his sons would have been back at what they were doing before Kuwait. Plus, he was a sponsor of Hamas, so providing funds to Islamist radicals wasn’t too much of a problem for him; meaning, he wouldn’t have had a problem financing Al Qaeda from a distance, and don’t doubt it did happen, in my opinion. He was too dangerous to be allowed to keep power and left alive. I don’t think we should have gone into nation building mode until the Iraqis had been beaten enough into surrendering  , and calling for elections hasn’t seemed to help (look at what happened with Palestine and the push for elections there in too soon a period; Hamas got ended up with the majority in the Palestinian parliament; a push should have been made to get Abbas to destroy Hamas). But we are there now, things are a bit better, we have a general in there now who is being allowed to be tougher on both the Sunni and Shia terrorist gangs, and the political problems they are having are, if one looks at it objectively, not much different than what is going on here (maybe the Iraqi parliament took its cue to go on vacation from Congress).

    I have one conundrum to pose for you: Why would the House of Saud be a State sponsors of terrorism in Iraq if they are pals with the Bush family…?

    Not just the Bush family. Bill Clinton has a big stake with them too, as has Bob Dole. Anyway, I think I remember reading that the House of Saud contains about 5000 men in it. Not all are members of the government, and I would think that many are rogue members who, for whatever reason, are not being controlled enough by the family members in the Saudi government. Plus, there has been a lot of fighting within the family over the years (King Saud was overthrown by his brother Faisal in 1964, and King Faisal was assassinated by a nephew in 1975). Add the Wahhabi sect that they adhere to as part of the problem. Even though I don’t believe the government is overtly sponsoring terrorism, they do export their dangerous belief all over the world, and they must be getting something back from it. However, bin Laden is a deadly enemy of the Saudi government, as was Saddam Hussein, and his goal has been their overthrow. So it isn’t like they don’t fight Islamist extremism. But, they usually do it when it suits them, which is not enough for us, but not enough to piss us off too badly.

    More over, if it is true what you assert, and I don’t believe you are off base here, why would we send over Condi to orchestrate more arms deals for these people?

    This is when the reality of Realpolitik comes into play, distasteful as it is. I don’t like the idea either, but I read something very interesting the other day that made sense. Bad as the Saudis are, stopping them from being “friends of ours” would just lead them into the arms of Russia and China. Russia has been helping Iran get a nuclear reactor (although there have been problems between the two governments recently), even though the U.S. and the EU have come out against Iran getting nuclear power while the mad mullahs are in power. China, with their veto in the UN Security Council, has been the reason why it has proven extremely difficult to reign in the Sudanese government regarding Darfur, and the Chinese government doesn’t seem to give two shits about the genocide occurring there as long as they get their oil. If we abandon Saudi Arabia, there’s nothing stopping them from pursuing selling oil to either country, especially China. And then we still have the Wahhabi problem, but we wouldn’t be able to exert any “friendly” pressure on the Saudis. As distasteful as it is, getting them more arms may, and it is a slight may since I’m not convinced it’s that great an idea either, be the best option of a bad situation.

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