http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35191-2002Jan24.htmlCharles Krauthammer uses the term “jackals” to describe those individuals and government spokespersons who are screaming bloody murder about the treatment of the detainees at Camp X-Ray. Other than an odd choice of words (The Day of the Jackal, Carlos the Jackal, etc.) he makes a persuasive point:
“You join al Qaeda, you join an outlaw army. You explicitly violate — and thus forfeit the protection of — the Geneva Convention. Indeed, denying such murderers POW rights vindicates the Geneva Convention and encourages others to adhere to it, by reserving its protections for those who observe its strictures.”
The point is not, as some would have it, that the detainees have a better life in the warm tropics than they did in snowy Tora Bora. Nor is it that the shaving of their beards does not violate a Muslim faith that other Muslims have sought to distance themselves from. Nor is it more humane to keep them alive when in fact they caused the deaths of 3,000 innocent civilians. The point is a simple one: That the Geneva Convention clearly defines a prisoner of war as a captive who wears a uniform and insignia, carries weapons openly and fights on behalf of a state. Colin Powell, ever the diplomat, would like to put a fine point on this by urging President Bush to make clear that the US will stick to the Geneva Convention standards and practices but not declare the detainees to be POWs. This, in case US soldiers are captured some day in the future by enemy forces. However this seems to be the worst of both worlds as it leaves the US the final arbiter of just what part of the Geneva Convention it wants to observe, and when.