My apologies if this got covered last week (I’ve been out of town and still haven’t caught up), but thank you General Wesley Clark for hitting the nail on the head in this op-ed from last week:
“Treating terrorists as combatants is a mistake for two reasons. First, it dignifies criminality by according terrorist killers the status of soldiers…By treating such terrorists as combatants, 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 responsibilities for the welfare of its citizens. Labeling its members as combatants elevates its cause and gives Al Qaeda an undeserved status.
“For all these reasons, the more appropriate designation for terrorists is not “unlawful combatant” but the one long used by the United States: criminal.”
“The second major problem with the approach of the Bush administration is that it endangers our political traditions and our commitment to liberty, and further damages America’s legitimacy in the eyes of others. Almost 50 years ago, at the height of the cold war, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the “deeply rooted and ancient opposition in this country to the extension of military control over civilians.”
“A great danger in treating operatives for Al Qaeda as combatants is precisely that its members are not easily distinguished from the population at large. The government wields frightening power when it can designate who is, and who is not, subject to indefinite military detention.”
These people are not soldiers. They’re criminals. And if you don’t believe me, go ask General Wesley Clark.
Cross posted from AoF