Redefining Warfare

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