If I should ever be captured, I want no negotiation,
and if I should request a negotiation
from captivity they should consider that
a sign of duress
--Henry A. Kissinger
"Now, I give you fair warning," shouted the Queen,
stamping on the ground as she spoke;
"either you or your head must be off,
and that in about half no time! Take your choice!"
--Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
I'm a prisoner of your love
enraptured by the beauty
I'm a prisoner of your love
enslaved by the passion
--Prisoner of Your Love,
The police - investigations program Person of Interest recently featured a kidnapping scenario in which the victim was not blindfolded, yet perhaps intended for release, hence this comment on hooding in a capture scenario.
In criminal ventures, hoods and blindfolds are a good thing because this indicates the abducted has a chance of surviving the scenario. Criminals are inspired and motivated by financial gain, their primary goal. Criminals use violence to gain profit, and the achievement of the goal often obviates the need to murder the captive, who was a means to an end.
Terrorists do not use violence for simple profit in most scenarios, although they do rob banks and kidnap to finance their operations. Terrorists are usually (unless they are of the nihilistic stripe) in it for the long haul, so they must maximize the profit of each operation. When Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) robbed the Beirut Bank of the Middle East and made of with $400 million (1976), he achieved three goals: training, recruitment and financing.
However, unlike garden variety criminals, terrorists are more prone to violence for its own sake. These groups operate in a spectrum beyond criminality, and their operations are dictated primarily by dogma, with recruitment and financing merely being necessary adjutants to insure the group's longevity.
Unlike criminals, terrorists will keep a bag over your head to depersonalize the abductee so that when the time comes for execution, it is easier as the victim has been denied his humanity. This gesture makes the kill easier for the shooter.
It is strange but usually true (aside from the aberrations like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) that even terrorists find it hard to kill in an absolutely ruthless manner, like performing execution-style murders. This is a subtle yet valid concept. From the recent, "Mad, Bad, Sad: What's Really Happened to America's Soldiers",
"A couple of decades ago, Dave Grossman, a professor of psychology and former Army Ranger, wrote an eye-opening, bone-chilling book called On Killing. It begins with the premise that people have an inherent resistance to killing other people and goes on to examine how the military overcomes that inhibition."
So for criminals, blindfolding or bagging suggests the victim may survive, and the blinding is a means of preventing the criminal from being identified by the released victim. For terrorists, bagging is usually a means of depersonalization to make it easier for the executioner to kill the now-faceless victim.
So what does the United States do when it captures a suspected terrorist? We put his head in a bag.
What is the message?