Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Why Not Shoot Them?"

Happily for us all, Kevin Williamson has proposed a good solution to the Gitmo problem:

But the usual framing of the question — keep them in Gitmo or send them to some federal Supermax — presents a false choice that ignores a seldom discussed option for dealing with these prisoners.

I refer, of course, to the relatively straightforward expedient of shooting them.

The prisoners held at Gitmo are, for the most part, what is known under international law as “francs-tireurs,” non-uniformed militiamen who conduct sabotage and terrorism operations against occupation forces. Under Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions, fighters eligible for the protections extended to prisoners of war are obliged to meet several criteria, including the wearing of uniforms or fixed insignia and — here’s the rub for the Islamic State et al. — conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. Non-uniformed militiamen and insurgents sawing the heads off of Wall Street Journal reporters do not qualify for Geneva Convention protections. They are, under the applicable international law, subject to summary execution, as are captured spies, terrorists, and the like.

So: Why not shoot them? 


Ares Olympus said...

Yes sure, it's the standard solution. I'm sure China and Russia will approve. They're surely asking why we've not done this already. Then we'll stop bugging them about the human rights violations.

But it is a little confused. I'm not aware any of the 91 prisoners have anything to do with IS or ISIS or ISIL. And in fact they've not been convicted of any crimes whatsoever.

So the first step is a trial. But that's a problem, because if we admit we've been keeping people prisoners without evidence or trial, we'd be saying we're no longer better than the rest of the world. American exceptionalism would be ruined.

So we're stuck being cowards in all ways.

Maybe President Trump will restore America's greatness and execute people without trial. What's the worst that could happen?

Sam L. said...

What I was taught about the Geneva conventions is that they only apply to those observing those rules. Any one or any forces NOT so observing, may be shot. Out of hand. They have no right to expect otherwise.

Phil in Englewood said...

Obama can just kill them all with drones, a simple solution that he's been very busily applying all over the world. As a bonus, not a single organ of the propaganda media would dare criticize him. Gitmo would be solved and drop completely off the radar, and Obama would be hailed as a great leader for closing it. He might even get another Nobel Peace Prize.

Anonymous said...

When one justifies killing at one end of life then it becomes easier to kill at the other end of life. The more able we are in justifying killing whenever it suits us the easier it becomes to see killing as a solution. Obama has had no trouble killing Americans and the collateral damage that comes from utilizing drones.
It is interesting that one can remember a time when both the Left and Right railed agains't assassination, et al, but now we seem to take it as a given if done to serve our needs. My how we have come to not value others who may or should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

priss rules said...

Just shoot the prisoners?

Won't do much for US image.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

My problem with Gitmo is, and always has been, the problem that Williamson points to. Enemy terrorist combatants are a disorganized political militia, regardless of what movement they are aligned with. Their grievances against the United States are international... they amount to irregular forces of a stateless or non-state movement. They aren't subject to Geneva Conventions because they are not affiliated with a nation-state. They don't wear uniforms because they are not regular armies. Their tactics are political statements meant to garner maximum publicity and thus terrorize a nation. They are terrorists... by definition.

So this matter cannot be solved in nation-state means. This is not a criminal matter, because there is no civil authority. Nations have a right to defend themselves from non-state actors. If non-state actors are protected by a nation-state, then that nation-state is responsible for the non-state actors' foreign escapades, as giving them sanctuary implies agreement or complicity with their ends. No nation came to Al-Qaeda or ISIS's aid. So they're a band of assassins, murderers, rogues, thieves, pirates, etc. that means they are an international menace with no allegiance but to their ideological movement.

The Obama drone attacks are not a problem in this regard, for all the reasons outlined above. Yet this ais not domestic law enforcement issue, anymore than German or Japanese POWs fell under domestic civil jurisdiction in World War II. That was a war between state actors, with clear lines of engagement amidst a formal declaration of war. Ultimately, we sign treaties and enter into laws of war (e.g., the Geneva Conventions) because they serve our interests. We play by the rules, so you play by the rules. We honor humane treatment of nation-state combatants. Yet non-state actors attack the nation-state, but have no nation of their own to defend.

Therefore, if asked to render a decision on this, I would say these people are spies and saboteurs. Spies and saboteurs are executed. Firing squads may not be fashionable these days, but they are the best solution to the conundrum described above. Thusly, my answer would be yes, terminate the company at Gitmo, with no military honor or fanfare. We should announce our action to the world, and move on. I don't see any other option, save incarceration as mercy under the aegis of international human rights, or a penitentiary arrangement. That said, the Gitmo detainees are not penitent, and their coordinated non-state action means they have no respect for state actions or agreements. So they live in the ether of international law.

If people say such actions do not match our values, I'd like to know which values those are. Spies, saboteurs and pirates who inflict human casualties are deserving of death, because there is no other way to trust, rehabilitate or deal with them. It's all first-degree, it's totally lawless, uncivilized and intended to terrorize a target population. No country will take them. We can hold them in custody forever, which also carries consequences for civilization. Is it cruel? Is leaving them adrift in a rubber raft in the middle of the Pacific torture, or cruelty? I think so. So hang them, shoot them, or keep them alive until natural death. It seems sensible and humane, given the facts of who we're dealing with at Gitmo.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Williamson also brings up Catholic social teaching about capital punishment, and it is clear. A society has a moral right to defend itself. It is best for the dignity of the human person that life is preserved, so long as society is not immediately threatened. We have run Gitmo for almost 15 years now. The inmates are still alive. It's a long way from the homeland. We cannot guarantee they won't try to kill us if we set them free. We expose ourselves to danger if we treat this as a civil law enforcement matter and bring them on American soil. Obama is saying that keeping them at Gitmo -- with three hot meals a day and access to the Koran -- goes against our values. Therefore, he wants to close it down. Then what? Given the false choice Obama is offering, I say (not facetiously) that we execute them. It is the only sensible choice, given the alternatives Obama offers. We must protect our society.

If you find my suggestion to execute them distasteful, fine... then keep Gitmo open. If you don't want to keep Gitmo open, what are your alternatives? No countries will take these savages. Try them in U.S. courtrooms? Really? Warriors who are innocent until proven guilty? Defense lawyers slinging new slogans, like "If the jihadi garb does not fit you must acquit!" What happens if they are found "not guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt? Do you let them walk out of the courtroom? What if they're found "guilty?" Do you send them off to prison and put them in general population? Do you build a new prison for them? If yes, where? No state will want them. So, if you have no solution to this vexing problem, and you remain intransigent in your theoretical nirvana of cosmic Justice, I find YOUR position distasteful. Therefore, we are at an impasse, and the terrorists remain at Gitmo. I can live with that, but I think it's better -- and frankly, more humane -- for warriors to die by the sword than incarcerate them in lifelong detention camps... in extranational limbo.

Sam L. said...

Priss, killing them will impress the jihadists. That's image enhancement enough for me. Europe will say us nay (NAY, NAY, NAY), but the people of European nations will think "They know what they're doing now." Their "leaders" will condemn us, of course.

Ares Olympus said...

Phil in Englewood: Obama can just kill them all with drones

That is a very good point.

Or just like any other "prisoner escape" scenario, you open the jail doors, and say "We'll give you a 5 minute head start, and if you can manage to swim across 6000 miles of ocean before the sharks get you, you win, but if you stay on land, we'll hunt you down."

And best of all all the conservatives could say "Wow, its good thing we didn't bring these dangerous terrorists onto a prison on U.S. soil, who knows how many dirty bombs they were carrying in their pockets to kill innocent Americans."

OTOH, if Obama got his way, and they escaped in a maximum security prison in Colorado, he'd have a great chance to test out his drone attacks on U.S. Soil, and get us used to hunting down "bad guys" from a distance.

So there's upsides to Tyranny no matter what happens, if we can just make these people dangerous again, so we can kill them without a trial.