I’ve heard some bad things about Eric Holder, but I agree with this statement.
One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.
It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohamed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not.
Some on the left might say, “Do you think it right to hold people for years without a trial a a date for setting a trial? You see the problem with terrorism is that it can force you to lose things that define you as a nation.”
But I would counter: Prisoner of War should be applied to actors of a standing army within a nation-state. When we fought in Vietnam, prisoners of war were held under the Geneva convention. Why should terrorists have all the benefits of asymmetric warfare (not having territory to defend, acting outside the interests of any nation state that can be held accountable) without any of the drawbacks (not having a nation state supporting negotiations for prisoners through the UN)? I feel bad for the 17 year old who tossed a grenade in the wrong place at the wrong time (ok not too bad) but for Khalid Sheik Mohammed and those types I have 0 sympathy. What irritates me is the insinuation by the NY Times and others that they have rights under the Constitution.
The problem of following the rules of civilized nation states with regards to international, non-civilized prisoners is exemplified by the piracy problem in Somalia. British patrol ships that captured Somalis had to release the pirates to Kenyan courts, where they will probably get a slap on the wrist at best. And the piracy continues unabated.