Foreign Prisons in the War on Terror

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Something really intelligent from government. The kind of thing that says, "Wow. Somebody actually thought about this!" Of course it's Condoleeza Rice we're talking about, so that explains a lot. Rice Says Intel Thwarted Attacks in Europe. Which is true, but it's really an article on prisoners held overseas, beyond reach of United States Courts, the friendliest place on the planet to enemies of civilization.

Given the continual attempts by various groups to get enemy combatants tried in our courts, is anybody with a basic grasp of realpolitik surprised that the obvious step (keeping prisoners beyond jurisdiction of our courts) is being taken? Is this not intelligent?

Now this is being fought in the battleground of public opinion on grounds of fear of torture. It may even be a justified fear. But information obtained by torture is notoriously unreliable, and if there is one nation in this world that I trust not to torture just for the hell of it, it is the United States. The only realistic value in torture would be if we were not only breaking them physically, spiritually, and mentally, but also making certain that said fact becomes known - indeed, that the results would be intentionally disseminated to the terrorist community and it's supporters. "Here is Abdul, formerly one of your top commanders. Watch him doing X to the Koran and licking it off, the pathetic scum." Since the terrorist community and its supporters, who understand our fussiness in such things perfectly well, have not passed this on to us, it hasn't reached them. If it hasn't reached them, it's either because our folks on this job are hopelessly incompetent (which they are not) or it's not happening.

So what's the real issue behind the torture issue? Very simple: If they are brought to the United States, their supporters in the ranks of our Chomsky brigades and other "America is Eeevil!" theoretical members of our society will attempt every trick in their repertoire to have them brought to civil trial. It is well within the bounds of possibility that they would succeed. Should they succeed, and the government would have to make a choice: Betray our informants in order to produce evidence, or fail to produce evidence. The result: Terrorist A, captured in accordance with the laws of war, walks free, and next week or next month blows up a busload of school children. We've had multiple instances of this with terrorists released from Guantanamo (it's about twenty minutes in).

Given this, the intelligent thing to do is keep them where the "useful idiot" US Court system cannot reach them. Where there is no right of habeas corpus. I can even see ways to let International Red Cross/Red Crescent know about and monitor them (living up to our obligations) without compromising the activity. Indeed, the fact that the Red Cross/Red Crescent knows is probably how it came out in the media.

Am I happy about this? Hell no! But I'm less happy about the fact that we're fighting a war, during which the options often come down to "These are all awful, but they are the only choices we have. Option Q is the least awful, so we'll do that." And I'm less happy still that these people we're holding want to blow us all to smithereens for the dreadful crime of not being in compliance with their brand of Islamic belief.

And to those who want it otherwise, the reason it has come to this is very simply that those leading this country are not certain that the courts will not pre-empt what has always been (by both international treaty and long practice) a purely military exercise. The US courts have been besieged by those who would ally themselves with these people who are soldiers or officers of those who have sworn to be our enemies. It is only a matter of time until some judge with an axe to grind gives in and orders a trial, with all of the enemies propaganda making all the hay they can over this issue, and the very real possibility that the government cannot convict according to US criminal rules. Well, that was never intended - not by our founders, not by international treaty and practice, not by anybody rational - to be the venue that those accused of being enemy soldiers needed to face. But by attempting to make it so, those who are attempting it are motivating those in charge of prosecuting this war to keep these people beyond the reach of US Courts. That the President is doing so is not only intelligent, but correct. This is not a matter for our criminal courts, and the anytime our courts ordered one of these people released, and said detainee then proceded, as many who have been released from Guantanamo have done, to strike again - particularly civilian targets - those truly would be deaths that could be laid at the President's feet. He has acted wisely, intelligently, and correctly to prevent this from happening.


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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on December 5, 2005 12:07 PM.

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