June 17, 2005 [LINK]

Dick Durbin on Gitmo

Lately I've been getting the creepy feeling that the barrage of criticism by Democrats over the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo is part of an orchestrated campaign to undermine the war effort. Recent comments on that controversy by Al Gore, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, et al. were too off-the-wall to be taken seriously, which is why I initially ignored Sen. Dick Durbin's comparison of the U.S. practices at "Gitmo" to totalitarian regimes. I suppose you could say I have a "nonsense filter" that insulates my brain from poisonous cacaphony. Durbin's words clearly gave aid and comfort to the enemy, and yet he refused to back down, complaining that he had been misinterpreted; see Washington Post. It is as thought those critics want to be brought up on charges. I dislike political polarization, but the effect of such words on a person like me who craves reasonable discourse is to intensify my loyalty to the side that is committed to winning the war. If the main objective of critics of U.S. war policy and conduct is make sure that American ideals and values are not unduly compromised in the name of security, the first step would be to exercise reason and restraint in their arguments, keeping things in proportion.

Indeed, there probably were abuses of some detainees, but no serious person would compare the overall level of treatment to that of the Nazis or the Soviets. This is a point that several bloggers have picked up on; see Mudville Gazette , via Instapundit. To imagine that the Pentagon is so blind to public relations to permit routine abuse or torture is just absurd. They are all too aware that this war will be won or lost as much on the plane of psychology and perceptions as on the physical battlefield. Most of the detainees are probably eating, sleeping, and being cared for better than they ever had before. One can only imagine how hard they must be laughing at all the suckers who are buying their bogus complaints. Speaking of which, Rush Limbaugh is "illustrating absurdity" of the accusations by peddling "official Club Gitmo" apparel and souvenirs. Get yours while they last!

In all seriousness, the detainees are in an unfortunate legal limbo of their own making. Virtually all of them were apprehended while they were with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, "caught red-handed" in a sense. As "illegal enemy combatants" they are covered neither by criminal law nor by the Geneva Convention which prescribes norms for treating captured soldiers of regular armies or organized militias. They may never be put on trial, as it is unlikely suitable witnesses could ever be found, and they may not be repatriated for several decades, depending on how the struggle between the Free World and its enemies goes. That is what is due to the terrorists who systematically violate international human rights norms on behalf of a global jihad, and then invoke civil rights rhetoric on habeas corpus, due process, etc. as a legal defense.