[Homestead] " rights" of terrorists who kill ALL their prisoners

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Feb 17 15:08:42 EST 2005

tvoivozhd---"rights" of terrorists are the same as they extend to their 
prisoners, i.e., none.


By Mortimer B. Zuckerman
New rules for a new age

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed / and everywhere the Ceremony of 
Innocence is drowned.


For several hundred years, the civilized world has been making up rules 
to govern the actions of states at war--states with identifiable flags, 
uniforms, and borders--regulating which weapons and military practices 
are acceptable and which are not. But today we know, to our bitter cost, 
that for the most part the enemies of civilization are not military 
branches of specific states; they are shadowy terrorist 
groups--Islamofascists committed to mass murder, their suicide attacks a 
message of uncompromising struggle unrestrained by fear of reprisal.

How far can the ceremonies of innocence be observed in protecting 
society from such madmen? Reporting for his first day on the job as 
attorney general, Alberto Gonzales told Justice Department employees 
that their priority was fighting terrorism but, he emphasized, in ways 
that are consistent with our values.

Excruciating choices between morality and expediency press daily on our 
nation's defenders. How are we to fight this new war against terrorists 
who do not fight in uniforms but dress up as civilians? They shoot from 
mosques, hospitals, and churches. They hide behind children. Which is 
more consistent with our values, shooting back in self-defense but 
risking the loss of innocent lives or refraining and seeing other 
innocents killed and maimed?

Ticking bombs. The Geneva Conventions say prisoners of war essentially 
cannot be interrogated but provide only their name, rank, and serial 
number. Are we therefore to honor our values by stopping with those 
questions when there's reason to believe that a detained suspect knows 
of an impending attack?

The answers are anything but easy.

Obviously, we cannot countenance wanton cruelty, but how much of an 
outrage is it if we use stress techniques, such as sleep deprivation, on 
someone with murder in his heart? Blowing up nightclubs, hijacking 
planes to fly into offices, planting bombs to blow up buses--surely such 
acts cannot earn those who would plan them the privilege of the 
protections of the Geneva Conventions, which were organized after World 
War II to protect civilians from states, not to protect states from 

The counterargument is that if we don't treat our prisoners with 
respect, America's uniformed services will pay the price when its 
members fall into enemy hands. But what happens when American soldiers 
or innocent civilians are captured by al Qaeda? When the terrorists 
seize hostages, what we see are the horrific videos of prisoners 
pleading for their lives, then having their heads hacked off while the 
murderers yell "Allahu akbar." Surely, these killers, when caught, have 
forfeited any presumption to be treated as prisoners of war.

Some suggest we can get around the challenge by solving the root causes 
of Islamic unrest. Americans in their ceremony of innocence always think 
that there are root causes, that there is an explanation for the 
inexplicable, an explanation for the privileged young men of the Arab 
Muslim world who would plot to kill themselves while murdering thousands 
of American civilians. We look for the usual suspects--poverty, 
injustice, exploitation, and frustration. But the data don't fit the 
model. The killers of 9/11 were, without exception, from families of 
privilege. Indeed, revolutionary violence has been a virtual monopoly of 
the relatively privileged and educated. A study of 18 revolutionary 
groups found that terrorists were, on average, more educated and less 
impoverished than their peer groups and that support for terrorism was 
not reduced by increases in education. Indeed, researchers Charles 
Russell and Bowman Miller found that the vast majority of those 
involved, as cadres or leaders, were quite well educated, with some two 
thirds having some university training and over two thirds coming from 
the middle or upper classes.

The West cannot solve this puzzle. Islamic unrest is produced in and by 
the Islamic world. It is Muslims who will have to find a solution. 
Skillful diplomacy might reduce some of the animosity, but there will 
always be fanatics whose hatred of the West cannot be satisfied by 

Browse through an archive of columns by Mortimer B. Zuckerman.

We cannot become a frightened society, crippled by political correctness 
and inhibited from doing what is necessary to protect ourselves. The 
litmus test should always be that the public is told what is being done 
in its name. A successful megaterrorist attack would have appalling 
consequences for our individual rights. In such a scenario, the pressure 
on the government to act would make the Patriot Act look as if it were 
written by the ACLU. The fight for our security is thus also a fight for 
liberal values and personal freedoms.

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