Tags: Why | Terrorist | Detainees | Are | Not | POWs

Why Terrorist Detainees Are Not POWs

Sunday, 10 February 2002 12:00 AM

Even so, in this unprecedented war Bush is applying the rules of the Geneva conventions to the Taliban soldiers who fought for the government of Afghanistan, a party to the conventions, but not to the al-Qaeda terrorists, not a party to the conventions.

Neither is classified as POW. Thereby, U.S. officials can interrogate them indefinitely and not have to release them when hostilities end.

Immediately after Bush's announcement, the whiners and bleeding hearts came out of the woodwork.

Elisa Massimino of the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights stated, "Believing in the Geneva convention principles and actually applying them are two different things. There is no in-between."

Then Amnesty International's Alistair Hodgett charged the president with "willful misinterpretation" of the Geneva conventions in his "arrogant policy of pick-and-choose with regard to the laws of war."

The president did not violate the Geneva conventions. He is doing his duty in this time of great peril to the American republic.

Said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, "This decision about detainees may be a precedent for the future." Certainly, this is a war like no other war in history. And our survival is threatened.

President Bush's decision not to classify the Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees as POWs is based on the explicit provisions of the Geneva conventions, as well as established legal and constitutional procedures and historical precedents.

Moreover, Bush has again showed the world that he doesn't make snap judgments, but instead consults, evaluates and decides – and does not back off.

The first Geneva convention was signed in 1864. New provisions were added in 1906, 1926, 1949 and 1979 – progressions for better treatment of POWs, from slavery, annihilation and ransom to humane treatment under international law.

The 1949 Geneva convention codified the international treaty to protect war victims and was apparently a consequence of the horrors and inhumanity of World War II, particularly the Nazi concentration camps and the Japanese Bataan Death March. The four Geneva conventions now in force are as follows:

They apply to all international conflicts, whether declared or not, and even if one of the nations is not a signatory to the conventions.

For POW status, the Geneva convention GPW requires that prisoners, or "detainees," meet the following criteria:

Specifically

Arguments are made by the bleeding hearts that fighters for the Taliban and al-Qaeda have commanders in Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar – a far stretch, as they, too, are unlawful combatants who disregard the laws of war.

Many of the terrorist detainees have threatened to kill their guards if they can get to them. Obviously, they are rabid savages, wild animals who, if released at the end of hostilities, would continue terrorist plots to murder Americans – and would do so at every opportunity. They should be tried as criminals.

Currently, they are treated humanely in all respects, with food, shelter, medical care, and Red Cross visits and commentary. Eventually, military tribunals will decide their disposition, because historically, these military courts have dealt justly with enemies and other unlawful combatants.

It should not be surprising that the New York Times rushed to the rescue. Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof boldly compares the 1993 capture of Army helicopter pilot Michael Durant by Somali warlords with the U.S. capture of the terrorists, arguing POW status because of the similarity of the cases.

Completely untrue. Durant was a uniformed lawful combatant, openly armed and operating as part of the U.S. Army, thereby meeting all criteria of lawful combatant and entitled to POW status under the Geneva conventions.

True, the Mogadishu warlords gave Durant POW status – but certainly that is no justification for POW status for the Muslim terrorists who assaulted the American homeland and who meet

The captured terrorist detainees qualify as unlawful combatants; they are not prisoners of war under any stretch of the Geneva conventions.

The justice they receive under the American system with military tribunals, it is safe to say – British, French and German prognosticators notwithstanding – will be fair, probably the best they've ever had, and the American homeland will have been protected — for the time being.

Capt. Evans' columns are distributed by the Americanism Educational League.

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Even so, in this unprecedented war Bush is applying the rules of the Geneva conventions to the Taliban soldiers who fought for the government of Afghanistan, a party to the conventions, but not to the al-Qaeda terrorists, not a party to the conventions. Neither is...
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2002-00-10
Sunday, 10 February 2002 12:00 AM
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