July 10, 2006 -- THE British military defines experience as the ability to recognize a mistake the second time you make it. By that standard, we should be very experienced in dealing with captured terrorists, since we've made the same mistake again and again.
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.
Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.
The oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions define legal combatants as those who visibly identify themselves by wearing uniforms or distinguishing insignia (the latter provision covers honorable partisans - but no badges or armbands, no protection). Those who wear civilian clothes to ambush soldiers or collect intelligence are assassins and spies - beyond the pale of law.
Traditionally, those who masquerade as civilians in order to kill legal combatants have been executed promptly, without trial. Severity, not sloppy leftist pandering, kept warfare within some decent bounds at least part of the time. But we have reached a point at which the rules apply only to us, while our enemies are permitted unrestricted freedom.
The present situation encourages our enemies to behave wantonly, while crippling our attempts to deal with terror. - NY Post (Read the whole thing)
This could only be a 1) Dry run, 2) TSA security test, 3) an attempt for attention by a crazy person. Right now we don't know, and that is exactly what our enemy is counting on.
The report states that a man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.
A search of the man's baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man's shoes and determined that the "entire soles of both shoes were gutted out."
No explosive material was detected, the report states. A police officer was summoned and questioned the man, examined his identification, shoes and the clock, then cleared him for travel, according to the report.
A TSA screener disagreed with the officer, saying "the shoes had been tampered with and there were all the components of (a bomb) except the explosive itself," the report says.
The officer retorted, "I thought y'all were trained in this stuff," TSA officials reported.
The report says the TSA screener notified Delta Airlines and talked again with the officer, who said he had been unable to check the passenger's criminal background because of computer problems. - Chron.com
24. The Chairperson of the Working Group and the Special Rapporteur note that, while United States Armed Forces continue to be engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan as well as in other countries, they are not currently engaged in an international armed conflict between two Parties to the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions. In the ongoing non-international armed conflicts involving United States forces, the lex specialis authorizing detention without respect for the guarantees set forth in article 9 of ICCPR therefore can no longer serve as basis for that detention.
Don't wait to hear that in the press.
Update: (11 July)
Willisms has a summary of the legalese of the Geneva Conventions and how this is acceptable under the rules:
Dealing With Captured Terrorists - Willisms
Kill, Don't Capture - NY Post
Likely Unintended Effect of Fighting for Rights for Terrorists - FFI - 26 Nov 05
Human Rights Groups Kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - FFI - 08 June 06
HPD, airport security at odds over incident - Chron.com