Redefining Warfare

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Three
prisoners being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay committed
suicide under the noses of their high security keepers. How dare
they! Apparently they were not impressed with American military
hospitality and saw death as their only way out. As the Eagle’s
Hotel California warns, "You can checkout anytime you
like, but you can never leave."

Their
deaths were labeled, "an
act of warfare"
by Rear Admiral Harry Harris, Commander
of Joint Task Force Guantanamo. An act of warfare? The U.S. military
has been able to backslide on virtually every basic due process
and humanitarian consideration for the prisoners at Guantanamo precisely
because — according to the Administration — they are not prisoners
of war.

Yet
somehow these sneaky devils were able to commit an act of warfare
against the United States while being held as non-prisoners of war.
It was another Pearl Harbor, a 9-11. How could we anticipate or
defend against such an ingenious act of aggression against our nation?
If they have committed an act of warfare are their corpses now entitled
to treatment under the Geneva Convention? Are we now at war with
Saudi Arabia and Yemen because it was their nationals who committed
this heinous act of warfare against the United States?

This
Administration has hit rock bottom in its semantic shell game with
the American public. We have the right to attack anyone anywhere
in the world who we perceive as a potential threat. If they resist
us they will be labeled terrorists. We have the right to hold any
suspected terrorist in conditions of our choosing, without charges
and without access to the courts because they have engaged in acts
of terrorism not violations of the criminal law. We need not treat
terrorists according to any accepted conventions because they are
not military personnel.

If
they try to escape by taking their own lives, they will have committed
an act of war against us. They are terrorists if they take the lives
of others. Now, they are terrorists if they take their own lives
without taking the lives of others. Are we angry because they are
dead or because we did not get to kill them ourselves?

Maybe
we should order a preemptive air strike against the remaining prisoners
at Guantanamo to prevent the possibility of future acts of warfare
by them and to safeguard the republic.

June
14, 2006

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

John
M. Peters Archives

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