Editorial - The Laws of War
War and conflict have been a reality of human endeavor since the earliest days of human society. Like other aspect of human behavior, concepts of truth, honor, integrity and respect were born in our standards of behavior during war. This has led to the establishment of many universal truths regarding warfare, not to mention laws of the United States and other nations. Making war is the business of the military, not the Justice Department. Yes, on a larger scale I recognize that the role of government is to provide justice for its people, but in a governmental system like ours which is supposed to have a separation of powers, the "fourth house" of government is what has gotten out of hand.
American society had been established in Judeo-Christian principals of law and much of our common wisdom grows from basic tenets taught by the likes of Jesus, Hillel and earlier Rabbinic teachers of law. Even our social definitions of sanity are based on these principals. It has proven obvious to us that Islamic Jihad is set of rules in war that is self serving to say the least. The protections of Islamic law only apply to the subjects of Islam, while the enemies of Islam (us infidels) are to be treated with any contempt at the whim of the Jihad.
Enter the current war between Islamic extremism and the western world. This did not begin with the various Al Queda attacks on the US, and may not end with them, but at some point, we have to decide who and what defines us as a nation. The situation of John Walker Lindh is evidence that such standards of law and behavior in our society are being addressed at the whim of people who have overstepped their roles in what we are supposed to represent.
There is no dispute that John Walker Lindh has become involved with radical Islam prior to the attacks of Sept 11, 2001. There is little dispute that he had any foreknowledge or involvement in the attacks. What is evident is that he was in Afghanistan at the outset of the war, and had apparently served as a low ranking fighter in the Taliban Army.
Traditionally, US law states (at least it says inside my passport) that joining a foreign army is grounds for forfeiture of citizenship in the US. It looks to me that when "Johnny Jihad" left the US, he had little or no intention of coming back as a participating citizen, and the moment he took up arms in a foreign power, his citizenship ended. This, however, did not end his rights under recognized laws of war. The US had every right to try and kill him up to the moment of surrender, at which time, normal rules of treatment of enemy POWs begins. This prosecution of him under US law as a citizen being "held to answer" is a joke and nothing more than clear evidence that the Justice department should stay out of the business of war. The question at hand "is this Kangaroo court trial a demonstration of the Justice System being able to do what they want when they want, or an actual legal prosecution under applicable law?"
The Taliban was obviously the epitome of a bad government which deserved to be destroyed. Heck, maybe even their supporters and sympathizers bombed too. Al Queda (or however you want to spell it) is obviously a collection of folks who most Americans, including myself, would like to eliminate from the food chain. To paraphrase a common liberal bumper sticker, there are times we don't argue who is right, we go to war and that decides who will be left.
Now, I would challenge anyone to look at the picture to the right and tell me that this is normal treatment of a POW. John Walker Lindh had his own motivations for joining the Taliban, but the bottom line appears he is nothing more than the equivalent to a simple low ranking enlisted man in a third world army. It is my belief that such treatment of this enemy POW, especially an obviously low ranking foot soldier is detrimental to the principals of honor that we are defending. What is more detrimental to this country is the idea that the Justice Department asserting jurisdiction over individual soldiers of a foreign army for normal conduct during war. Put that in the face of the fact that the US military wants US soldiers to be immune from prosecution in the world court. Why is this being touted as an issue? Because it is one of many steps toward a world government that can pursue and punish just about anyone for anything. No longer would the US have foreign policy, but end up as just another cog in a world police system. Obviously, the "hypocrisy" of the "US" stance on the world court will result in a "compromise" in which the American justice system is "allowed" to prosecute "terrorists" like John Walker Lindh and others.
This exercise in the Hegelian dialectic in engineered to condition the masses for a world police system and society where national interests (and a national army) become subservient to a police state. The spinmeisters will tell us that is a byproduct of civilian control of the military but the reality is that aspect of the American system is not what is in our constitution or should be in anybody else's. Re-interpeting this concept to place police authority over military power is a dangerous step toward a police state.
The attack on the USS Cole was a more or less conventional attack by an enemy that had fairly openly declared war against the US. International Islam has declared war against the US, so why this BS about making it a Justice Department issue and not applying normal laws of war which allow for hunting and killing enemy personnel? No, this "bone" of watching the 'trial' of any enemy soldier is not something that replaces the age old concept of fighting and winning wars on matter of principal or national pride.
An enemy POW is to be treated according to the laws and regulations on the rules of war. The mishandled interrogation of this particular enemy POW is what led partly to the prison camp uprising, but anyone with any intelligence and knowledge of war knows that military prisoners are expected to attempt escape as a matter of duty. It will no doubt that it will be argued that John Lindh "could, would or might" engage in terrorist activity, but under the rules and laws of war, what he actually did was fight up front as a conventional solder. There is no evidence that he had used any status as an American to take undue advantage of any strategic or tactical situations or stage any unconventional attacks.
We may make up strategies and tactics as we go along, but everyone with any knowledge of war knows that exploratory prosecution is no place for new law and this is a very clear example of a Justice Department that is winging it as they go along. The consequences for the more loyal Americans, or anybody for that matter, is where are the limits to this thing? If our established standards of law don't determine the behavior of our justice department, then what does? FYI, a bunch of elites sitting around a private table "conferencing" on what is law then implementing their decisions simply because they have the power to is neither Democracy or Republicanism, it is something else and that something is not what the founders of this country fought for and established.
BACK TO INDEX