Monday, January 03, 2005


"U.S. Taking Fewer Prisoners in Afghanistan."

That AP headline sounds like we're finally getting tough with the Jihadis.

Too bad it's just wishful thinking:

KABUL, Afghanistan - The U.S. military is taking as few prisoners as possible in its campaign against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, partly to forestall more complaints about its conduct after at least eight prisoners died in custody, an American commander said Monday.
Rest of the story here.

Obviously, I don't want our prisoners to die in our custody, either if they're innocent OR guilty. I don't want them abused, and I certainly don't want them tortured. We're the good guys, we need to hold ourselves to the highest standard.

And we simply can't round up everyone just because we feel like it. The ill will generated by a clumsy policy would outweigh most benefits. There's a big place here for sensitivity.

That said, taking prisoners is a messy business. Especially against an enemy that does not take any prisoners of their own, unless, that is, they intend to saw off the prisoner's head for the entertainment of Al Jazeera's audience.

On the face of it, even many of the most basic POW/enemy combatant rules look inhumane. A bag over the head and hands bound to the feet don't look like a pleasant position to be in. But it's done for the safety of our troops, and I don't feel bad if Bobby Jihadi skins a knee or gets a hangnail. These aren't Simi Valley cops dealing with speeding motorists-- these are armed soldiers fighting bad guys who shoot back. They should be, must be judged by different standards.

The trouble is, of course, that many in the media care more than me. And, because of the excesses of those who violated the rules (either at Abu Ghraib, or in Afghanistan), our frontline soldiers are now reportedly demonstrating reluctance to take prisoners under the normal, completely legitimate rules.

No big deal, eh?

Prisoners are taken for two reasons: to deny them the ability to fight, and to provide useful intelligence. Every jihadi thrown back into the pond is one that can kill again. Or worse, it's the jihadi who could have told us where Osama Bin Laden was.

But nope, we're not going to take prisoners because plasti-cuffs look like cruel and unusual punishment to the likes of Chris Mathews.

We're not talking thumbscrews and car batteries, folks-- we're talking the normal functions of a military force. So much for supporting the troops, eh?

Boy, I'm really glad that both political parties are equally serious about winning the war and all. Nice to know there's no difference of opinion here, and we're all equally committed to fighting terrorism.

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