So apparently among the “worst of the worst” being held at Guantanamo is Osama bin Laden’s driver. Now, can see the law enforcement rationale behind arresting this guy- he probably had some information on where to find bin Laden. Seven years ago. Best of all, he is being charged for providing material support for terrorism, a crime that didn’t exist where he committed it, when he committed it. But the larger issue at hand is the right of a people to defend themselves from aggression.
Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he “throwing a grenade that killed a U/S/ Special Forces soldier during a 2002 firefight.” He is being prosecuted for war crimes, according to the AP.
Really? Why? Because he is Canadian fighting in Afghanistan? That sounds like Canada’s problem to me; potentially he could be charged with Treason I suppose. But since when is it a criminal offense to throw a grenade during a firefight? From militants in Afghanistan to Insurgents in Iraq, people fighting without uniforms because their armed forces have been destroyed are being labeled criminals and, in the case of Afghanistan, facing criminal trials.
The treatment of prisoners of war is a serious issue, as is their treatment as prisoners of war. By expanding our ability to charge as criminals those who challenge our authority to install governments in foreign countries, we are effectively saying that as soon as we destroy the formal branches of a nations’ government, easy enough to do with our air power, no one has a right to resist us, and if they try they will not be treated as POWs but as criminals.
John McCain suffered immoral treatment in Vietnam, and he should be admired for building a successful life after his release and not being destroyed by the experience. However, he is also lucky that he was from the United States, the nation that defines when tactics in war are legal and which are not. Despite being part of an organization responsible for thousands of innocent deaths (an inevitable consequence of mass bombing), he was still considered a POW. If the Vietnamese had applied our logic regarding war crimes, he would have probably faced trial and execution.
On of the guiding principles of a professional military is the ability to recognize that your enemies have rights even when they are on the wrong side of a war. We need to make a distinction between those who are fighting our soldiers, who when captured should be treated as POWs, and those who under the guise of fighting occupation in fact kill innocent civilians, who are terrorists and should be treated as such.