Monday, August 09, 2010

Like a twisted Disney cartoon...

Now playing: The Littlest Terrorist, starring Omar Khadr.

Okay, a couple things about the charges as listed in the CNN piece kinda bother me:
...charged with terrorist acts for al Qaeda and the killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier.
First, define "terrorist acts" for me, please. What exactly did this guy supposedly do? Don't get me wrong: If you run away from home to go play Jihadi Joe, I've got no beef with keeping you locked up for the duration. You don't repatriate POW's til the shooting stops. If Canada wanted to hang him for being a traitor, I'd say extradite him, but I'm not sure we can count on the Canucks to do the right thing here.

My second and bigger problem is he is alleged to have killed the U.S. soldier with a grenade during a firefight on the battlefield in Afghanistan. If that's a "crime" now, we've got a bunch of 80-y.o. Japanese and German men we need to get to arresting. This is setting the same kind of dangerous precedent we set with the Vae Victis trials at Nuremburg.

It's hard to have a neat and clean war against opponents in mufti on a foreign battlefield. The traditional reward for fighting out of uniform was a drumhead trial, a blindfold and a cigarette, (although we probably wouldn't use the cigarette these days because they cause cancer.) Perhaps, in the long run, that'd still be the best way to do it. And if the situation doesn't warrant that treatment, then maybe it doesn't warrant being there in the first place.

20 comments:

staghounds said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Davis

Anonymous said...

The administration is treating the terrorists as criminals rather than enemy combatants. If we were at war with a country, we could hold that nation state responsible for the actions of it's fighters. Since no recognized political entity with national borders is fighting us, we can never conquer the enemy. We will have, instead, an endless "crime" problem, Like the war on drugs.
Perhaps the best action would be to hold every nation responsible for the actions of it's citizens and declare war on every nation which has terrorists who attack us.

Flight-ER-Doc said...

What Khadr deserves is a cigarette, a blindfold, and a dawn appointment with six rifles.

But the argument is that since he wasn't a member of an armed force, he committed murder by killing the medic with a grenade

ParatrooperJJ said...

He is an unlawful combatant, that is why he is being charged. Had his organization followed the laws of war, he would have had full Geneva Convention protections.

Kristopher said...

Ya know ... during WWII, both sides simply shot anyone waging war without a uniform of some kind on.

Anonymous said...

Hang the lawyer too.

Gerry

Revolver Rob said...

Had his organization followed the laws of war

I'm pretty sure where I came from the laws of men were to be followed and men generally agreed that all was fair in love and war. At least until those peacenik loving hippies got involved with their Geneva thing.

That's the trouble with this and other "civilized" countries. We govern ourselves according to laws, war law, criminal law, civil law, contractional law, patent law, copyright law, environmental law. Nobody goes to law school and learns anymore that in some places at some time, laws don't apply anymore. There has to be someone to make, enforce, and judiciate over those laws.

A war zone is not a place for law, it is a place for war. If we are going to play Johnny the International Keystone Cop, I suggest as Tam, we pull ourselves out of this farce. There are plenty of other law breakers out there we can persecute...err prosecute. I can name off half a dozen tin-pot despots that we should be more actively pursuing...if we're going to play the cops and robbers game.

Frankly, I'm about sick of the lack of dedication in this country to wage war. When are we going to learn that a show of force only works if we actually use force? Showing up with tanks, bombs, and airplanes, but creating ridiculously complicated "rules of engagement" (more legality creeping into our war zone) and political correctness to the PC max, is not a war going to make.

-Rob

staghounds said...

1. Sorry, here you go.

2. "Perhaps the best action would be to hold every nation responsible for the actions of it's citizens and declare war on every nation which has terrorists who attack us." Then we ought to getafter the United States of America, whose citizens kill about 15,000 Americans every year.

3. "I'm pretty sure where I came from the laws of men were to be followed and men generally agreed that all was fair in love and war. At least until those peacenik loving hippies got involved with their Geneva thing."

Where do you come from, the neolithic age? The Greeks and Romans had rules of war.

It's all very well to talk about "lack of dedication". America, by and large, doesn't care about these useless wars and never has. And our generals and politicians have chosen the only kind of war we can lose as the one to fight.

As you rightly point out, it's not a war at all.

it's an act of self-aggrandizing madness on the part of those generals and politicians.

dave said...

Hang the lawyer too.

The one who is not only just doing his job, but has been ordered to do that job by the very government prosecuting Khadr.

Yeah, I hate it when soldiers follow orders. Definitely need to string him up.

Revolver Rob said...

Where do you come from, the neolithic age?

No, Texas.

In all seriousness, there is a need for gentlemanly conduct in war, a need to establish a basic standard (and I honestly think the Geneva Accords are a great standard, I forgot my tongue in cheek smiley above). On the flipside, if your enemy has chosen to not play by the rules, then I deem it be an all is fair war. We are fighting an enemy that doesn't abide by any rules. Why are we?

Our laws of war are getting soldiers and civilians killed in a war zone. We should be conducting ourselves in such a way as to make it clear to our enemy we mean business. Or we simply must walk away, not a half ass in between.

I agree that generally Americans don't care about wars like this. A startling realization is that there are even some Americans who are cognizant, intelligent, humans now (albeit not yet of the age to vote but halfway there or more), who have a 1984 perspective, "We have always been at war with Oceania (Afghanistan-ia)."

Also, let me clarify my stance. The lack of dedication in this country to wage war is that, a lack of dedication. America, writ large, has not seen a war or conflict through to successful completion since Vietnam. The American public gives up on a war campaign and either does not continue to support the war or does not do anything to eliminate the politicians who continue it. A lack of dedication does not mean that American lacks a will to dominate an enemy, but rather we lack the will to do ANYTHING effective to bring an end to a conflict, once it has begun.

Frankly, I'm simply tired of these types of campaigns. If we are not going to go to war to win, lets not go to war at all. As every day progresses our politicians, our "leaders" make it more difficult for our troops to wage a successful war. They have no intention of seeing it through, yet they are continuing to let soldiers die in this conflict. Americans in general lack the fortitude necessary to face up against our political leaders and stop the madness.

-Rob

Anonymous said...

Dave said
"Yeah, I hate it when soldiers follow orders. Definitely need to string him up."

Dennis Edney, a Canadian lawyer working at Guantanamo, had argued that going without food during daylight hours -- one of the requirements of Ramadan -- would impede Khadr's ability to follow complicated charges and testimony.

I doubt Mr Edney is a soldier and was ordered by the US DOD to do anything.

I stand by my statement.

Gerry

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hang the lawyer: he is doing his job in the stupid systemt hat was set up. He may be an idiot by he's playing iunthe rules.

What I donlt understand is why these unlawful combatants ever left Afghanistan.

Seriously, traditionally they were shot right there after a brief field interrogation, or handed back to MP's who also shot them after a brief legal summary trial unless they showed intellgence potential.

Or I suppose they might have been handed over to civilian authorities as confesssed murderers 1st class, which in a war zone usually meant a REALLY Fast trial and getting shot/hung.

My only thing was that he was young when captured, and though there's no distinction for age in "illegal combatant" , I suppose children might be excused under some conditions, after getting a righteous spanking.

alath said...

< We are fighting an enemy that doesn't abide by any rules. Why are we? >

Because we do not model our behavior after that of the worst people in the world.

Will Brown said...

What seems most disturbing about the charge of killing with a grenade is that the "crime" occured during what can only be honestly described as an instance of mutual combat. Whatever immediate action(s) the SF medic was performing prior to his death, he was unquestionably an active participant in the battle Khadr is alleged to have illegally participated in. The actual accusation has more than a whiff of elastic standard to it, I think (as Tam appears to allude in her next to last paragraph). Let me illustrate from the opposite perspective.

Some time back now (last fall maybe?) there was a video clip widely posted on these webs of a (possibly British) soldier responding to a night attack in his skivvy drawers. As I uncomfortably recall, a particularly drafty design of boxer shorts actually are (or were, at least) "issue", but they don't rise to the level of "uniform" as the Geneva Accords (or any Chief Petty Officer in my experience) applies the word. If such be the case, should said un-uniformed soldier be the next after Khadr to enter the dock to defend a murder rap?

[Just for the record, I say "No!" for a whole host of reasons that mostly don't apply to the topic under discussion.]

What I'm trying to illustrate, and I believe others here have differently proclaimed, is that our standard of "right conduct" ought to be consistent for all participants in any class of action being held up for judgement. If Khadr's crime is participating in combat out of uniform, charge him appropriately and get on with the thing. Disturbingly, that doesn't appear to be the course we're pursueing.

A very brave man died as a direct result of the actions deliberately undertaken by a despicable miscreant. While that doesn't seem to be in dispute, it doesn't make it "murder" either. As another equally brave man demonstrated for all the world to see one all-too-exciting night with the wind full up his kilt ... sans kilt!

dave said...

"At the same time, Khadr's Pentagon-appointed defense attorney, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson...."

Be more specific next time. Not that it really matters--everybody is entitled to a proper defense, if only so that we can be sure we're convicting the right person.

Bubblehead Les. said...

From what Staghounds posted, that Sam Davis kid seemed to be 17-18 (1842-1863) when the war started, and was in his early 20s when executed. Which sounds real close to the age of what, half the guys and gals in the Sandbox right now?

As to the "Laws of War", yeah there's a place for them. But since the Lawyers and the Politicians got ahold of "Club Gitmo", it's the U.S. Gooberment who is screwing up the "Laws of War", not Al Queda and the Taliban. They have only one simple rule: Kill the Americans and their Allies. If they can prove that the kid killed an American, I say execute him. But since the Supremes ruled last year that ANYONE under 18 can NOT face the death penalty, something tells me this kid will be spending Life in the Colorado Federal Pen. Hell, I don't think ANY of them will get the needle. But they can go on their merry way, killing a civilian Medical Aid team, or blowing up Girl's Schools, or remotely detonating I.E.D.s, while our guys and gals have to go through 20 pages of the "Rules of Engagement" before they can call in an airstrike.....

By the way, I spent my 18th birthday at Great Lakes Naval Training Center going through Boot Camp in October 1976. I could have shown up sooner, but I Delayed Entry so I could have the Summer off after graduating High School. I don't have too much sympathy for enemy teenage military types being in combat, considering the Number of "Nam Vets I served with who spent THEIR 18th Birthdays in the 'Nam, but I am a little old school.

Matt G said...

Neatly put, and your thoughts mirrored my own, Tam. I had thought that he was US-born, and thus a citizen, whom we could charge with treason?

Fine, charge him as an ununiform spy combatant, and shoot him.

staghounds said...

I posted Sam Davis- I could have as easily chosen Andrew Jackson, Joseph Barra, or the Ninos of Chapultepec to point out that young men will fight invaders. When we invade a place, it's a bit odd to call resistance "terrorism".

But not so odd that the Germans and Soviets didn't use the label first.

Odd paradox, isn't it? While we are in a traditional "war" with Afghanistan, Afghanistan isn't in a traditional war with us.

Powell doctrine.

Tam said...

Matt,

I dunno. I think we've lost the moral high ground for that. I would have no qualms with Canada hanging him as a traitor. I would have had no qualms with some pink-cheeked, fuzzy-chinned butterbar standing him up against the wall in Helmland province or wherever and reading his death sentence for fighting out of uniform in a quavering voice on the dawn of the morning after his capture. But having gone through all the legal mummery and the charade of international policing and making his actions a "crime" rather than an act of battlefield treachery or whatever, I've kinda lost any taste I have for executing him in my name.

Inbredredneck said...

Bubblehead Les.- not sayin' any of those guys lied about their ages, or maybe the Navy was different in its standards, but "they" (Army non-coms) told us that we couldn't be sent into combat unless we were at least 18. Also had to've made the rank of PFC, but once you'd reached E3 you could be busted back to buck private, as were a couple of guys in my company, and still go into the field.
We stopped for a break in a village near My Tho, and were soon surrounded by kids. One sat in a GI's lap and managed to work loose the pin in a grenade hangin' from the guy's harness. All of a sudden all the kids took off running and everybody hit the dirt as the guy tried to toss the thing away, but some of the shrapnel got him.
Would any of us have shot the kid if we'd had the presence of mind? Hell yes! We were all just wanting to save ourselves first, and to this day I couldn't give you much of a description of the kid 'cause we were used to so many of them showing up anywhere we stopped that we got kinda slack in paying attention to what they were doing.
If we're putting our guys in that kind of situation now, I hope they aren't feeling their hands are tied by some silly ROE. Let's get it done and get out.

Rob J