Should we be capturing more terrorists?

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Or does being held in captivity fundamentally change a detainee’s moral status?
    When the enemy is on the battlefield, he has choices: He can hide better, fight harder, walk away, switch sides… In wartime, it’s no sin to kill a man actively trying to kill you.
    But when the enemy is in our hands, he is powerless and no longer a threat. There is no point to torture beyond torture – the declaration that we will crush men’s souls simply because we can.Report

    • I’d agree with this point. To my mind, it’s a bit like the different status of a bank robber while he’s committing the crime and when he’s in jail. In the field, you can use force, if necessary, that you can’t use once he’s been apprehended. In war, that force can be killing force, but I think that prisoners of war are considered to be powerless in a way they aren’t when on the battlefield. Admittedly, it’s a bit unclear, but I think what Thiessen is trying to do here is suggest that any attempts to set ethical standards during wartime are misguidedly naive. This has been the general argument since the beginning. I’m not fond of it because I’d rather not arrogate these powers to the state, especially given the open-ended nature of this particular conflict.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    Is this a test? GS noted the issue. In custody we have control so we have a responsibility to care for the people to take proper care. In a combat situation we don’t’ have control so we have different responsibilities and the other side has the ability to fight back. The moral status and our obligations completely changes when we are discussing prisoners or combatants.

    If anything it should be the use of drone strikes outside of direct combat that should be questioned. It is dubious at best to be killing people who are not engaged in combat operations against you based solely on usually sketchy intelligence.

    That said Theissen is just trying to find any avenue to attack the prez. Come on , we are killing to many bad guys??? WTF?Report

  3. Good post, Will. Thiessen’s failure to explain how the Obama Administration’s interrogation policies prevent us from caputring terrorists in the first place is simply bizarre, which is unfortunate because his other points regarding the problems with drone strikes are actually interesting and even correct.Report

  4. Avatar Scott says:

    “Why does the status of terrorists change so dramatically after they’ve been captured?”

    It changes b/c the US signed the Geneva Conventions and associated protocols.Report

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