The wife of Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry said yesterday
that suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay should be given prisoner of war status.
"They were captured while fighting a war," Teresa Heinz Kerry said at an informal discussion with minority activists in Seattle. "They should have the rights that other prisoners of war have had."
Yes, they were fighting a war. No, the Geneva Conventions do not apply to them. Being captured while fighting a war is not the sole criterion for the application of the Conventions. There are lots of reasons why they are not entitled to the protection of the Conventions. There is one reason that is more important than the others, however. They are not prisoners of war.
A quick check on Google:
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
The people being held at Guantanamo are not members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict or members of militias or volunteer corps forming a part of those armed forces.
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:
Please note that the requirement is that you have to meet all
of the conditions listed below.
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
I seriously doubt that anyone being held at at Guantanamo meets that condition.
Failure to meet this criteria alone would disqualify them for POW status. But let us continue.
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
This is a requirement that the supposed POWs be in uniform. They were not in uniform, so the prisoners don't meet that condition, either.
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
Most or all of the prisoners at Guantanamo concealed their weapons, so this condition isn't met, either.
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
Somehow I don't think that the "laws and customs of war" include driving a truck filled with explosives into a clearly marked Red Cross building and pushing the detonator, or the use of marked ambulances to transport weapons and personnel.
So, all in all, number 2 is out.
3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
These are hardly members of the regular armed forces, regardless of to whom or what they profess allegiance.
4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof, such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity card similar to the annexed model.
Nor are these guys civilians accompanying or supporting the regular armed forces.
And there are, of course, no identity cards.
5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more favourable treatment under any other provisions of international law.
No members of the Afghan merchant marine or crew members from civil airlines at Guantanamo, to my knowledge.
6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
This may be the one that Mrs. Kerry is talking about, although I don't know how "spontaneously" they took up arms to oppose us in Afghanistan and Iraq. Regardless of any spontaneity, note that they must carry arms openly (they don't) and respect the laws and customs of war (they don't).
So these guys simply aren't POWs within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions. You know, the ones Mrs. Kerry wants applied to them.
Heinz Kerry said that denying the detainees the protections of the Geneva Convention is "insulting, ignorant, and insensitive" to the rest of the world.
Great alliteration for the sound bite,but let's take a closer look at those one at a time.
How has keeping the prisoners in Guantanamo insulting? And if an insult has been hurled (other than the obvious insult to our intelligence involved in Mrs. Kerry's statements) exactly who has been insulted by keeping these guys at Guantanamo? Have the prisoners been insulted? Their relatives? Their societies? The people of the US? The world?
Sound bites are nice, especially alliterative ones. But I need a few specifics.
As previously noted, Mrs. Kerry appears to be completely unaware of the terms of the Conventions she wants applied to the prisoners. I'm pretty sure that combatants captured out of uniform can be summarily executed as spies according to the Geneva Conventions. And most (all?) of the prisoners at Guantanamo were not, by any stretch of the imagination, in any kind of uniform. But if I had to guess, I would say that summary execution is not exactly the outcome Ms. Kerry desires.
No, the only ignorance on display here is that of Mrs Kerry.
Let's see, now. We mustn't mustn't mustn't lock up people who not only want to kill us, but have done so in the past and promise to continue to do so in the future just as soon as they get the opportunity.
Because locking them up hurts their feelings.
Words fail me.
A spokeswoman for the Kerry campaign said Senator Kerry supports his wife's position that the detainees should be given basic protections such as the right to an attorney.
That's right, let's give them all lawyers and let them go to court. Then they can tie up commanders in the field with court sanctioned requests for information concerning the circumstances of their capture. Kerry (who, by the way, according to James Taranto, served in Vietnam) is touting his national security credentials every other hour. This is how he wants to conduct the war that was started on 9/11 by a vicious unprovoked attack on civilians that left 3000 dead? WITH GODDAM LAWYERS?
Sorry. Lost it there for a minute.
I am a lawyer. Since I am not a Moslem, nor will I ever become one, I am also one of the people these guys want to kill. My wife is also one of those uppity females they want to cage and cow. She (shudder) works and (double shudder) drives a car and (God help me!) leaves the house unaccompanied by a male member of my family and (the crowning insult) without a veil. Both of my children would also be killed by the people to whom Kerry wants to give lawyers . I am allowing my daughter to get a college education (insisting, actually). My daughter also drives and goes male-less and veil-less. My son ..., well let's just say my son would not have very much patience with these assholes. If it was up to them, he would almost certainly be dead.
I've lost count of the ways that my family and I have violated the rules that Islamist terrorists want to impose on me by force.
Lawyers just aren't going to get the job done. When the people on the other side are using guns and howitzers and rocket propelled grenades and shoulder mounted anti aircraft missles and roadside bombs, then only people with guns are going to get the job done.
And Kerry (not his wife, but Kerry) wants to use lawyers.
Ain't this a wunnerful country, where even complete idiots can run for President?
Update: Another reason they want to kill me is that I laughed like hell at this
(via Meryl Yourish