The Financial Times reports
the White House on Tuesday confirmed that Gordon England, deputy defence secretary, sent a memorandum to senior defence officials and military officers last week, telling them that Common article III of the Geneva Convention — which prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners and requires certain basic legal rights at trial — would apply to all detainees held in US military custody.
The Administration is knuckling under to the Supreme Court’s preposterous application of Geneva Convention status in Hamdan.
As in Brown, the Hamdan decision takes a leap of faith in the legitimacy of particular justices’ self-righteous moral intuitions as a basis for overruling objective law, counting on the sentimentality of the general public to affirm politically over time the Court’s decision.
There is a difference, though. The Brown decision was made at a time when state segregation represented a strange anachronism, when the laws under scrutiny were nearly universally despised, when the legal fruit was already overripe and ready to drop off the vine of its own accord.
The principle of reciprocity in the laws and usages of war has considerably greater vitality and reason behind it than Jim Crow ever did. The entire point of the Geneva Convention is to encourage humane treatment of prisoners of war on the basis of reciprocity. Signing the Convention is a promise that, if you do not abuse our soldiers who fall into your hands, we will also spare yours.
Justice Stevens’ generosity in the awarding of honorable status, rights, and protections to illegal combatants really represents a fraudulent check written at the expense of American fighting men.
When Justice Stevens effeminately promises that illegal combatants, terrorists, murderers, and brigands will all be treated as honorable adversaries, attempting to preclude the American fighting man, exposed to the hazard of falling alive into the hands of a merciless and barbarous enemy, from punishing violations of the customs and usages of war, he goes far beyond his own legitimate perogative. The decision to spare this enemy’s life, or that, belongs to the man who bested him, not to some theorist and scribbler sitting in a marble building in the District of Columbia.
In WWII, my father served in the USMC on Guadalcanal. He told me that the Japanese had people able to speak English, and in the long tropical nights, the Japanese forces would amuse themselves by imitating the pleas for assistance of a wounded American lying helpless between the fighting lines. Naive young Marines often had to be restrained physically from climbing out their foxholes and dashing off into the night to the rescue of their miserable and suffering fellow Marine. Every now and then, an individual hero would break free, and go out there. They always found him the next day, crucified with Japanese bayonets to a palm tree, his reproductive organs cut off and stuffed insultingly in his mouth. The Marines on Guadalcanal consequently took no Japanese prisoners, except for the purpose of short and forcible interrogation.
In today’s absurd world, bourgeois lawyers, safe in the United States and far from the fighting (who know nothing of war) would interpose their own opinions and emotions between the just revenge of American fighting men and a cowardly and dishonorable enemy.
The answer to Justice Stevens is simple. US forces will need to be certain to take no illegal combatants alive.