Letter writer Charles Magruder (9/27/06), in responding to James Taranto's WSJ article on Gitmo, says: "Our enemies must be delighted with our agonizing over the rights of non-combatant terrorists" (Sept 23-24, 06).
We should not be agonizing -- we should be applying correct definitions, rather than engaging in hot-headed intentional confusions of the terms in order to deny rights.
This writer sums up of our country's confusion -- our confabulation of the terms "(non-) combatant" and "terrorist". A combatant is a soldier. If captured, he is a POW, and accorded the rights of the Geneva Convention. If one is a terrorist, then he is adjudicated by the rule of law, as he is a criminal.
Magruder's confusion is needless -- if one is a terrorist (=criminal), then by definition, one is not a combatant, even is one uses the word "army", as in Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), let's say. SLA members were terrorists, not combatants, and so were subjected to criminal proceedings.
The 9-11 attackers were terrorists, not combatants. There should be no confusion over rights accorded, if we use terms correctly. We have laws so that life can be simpler, and ambiguity removed, much as possible.
Of course, if we disallow this confusing conflation of terms, then our preemptive invasion of Iraq, and subsequent prisoner abuses, become that much less defensible.
Labels: terrorist vs. POW