by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[T]he usual framing of the question — keep them in Gitmo or send them to some federal Supermax — presents a false choice that ignores a seldom discussed option for dealing with these prisoners.
I refer, of course, to the relatively straightforward expedient of shooting them.
The prisoners held at Gitmo are, for the most part, what is known under international law as “francs-tireurs,” non-uniformed militiamen who conduct sabotage and terrorism operations against occupation forces. Under Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions, fighters eligible for the protections extended to prisoners of war are obliged to meet several criteria, including the wearing of uniforms or fixed insignia and — here’s the rub for the Islamic State et al. — conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war. Non-uniformed militiamen and insurgents sawing the heads off of Wall Street Journal reporters do not qualify for Geneva Convention protections. They are, under the applicable international law, subject to summary execution, as are captured spies, terrorists, and the like. …
… Both international law and careful moral consideration make room for summarily executing the prisoners at Gitmo. Perhaps you do not find that argument satisfactory. Perhaps something gnaws at your conscience when you consider the prospect of simply lining these men up and shooting them down. You can be confident that no such scruple infests the consciences of these men, who are part of a global undertaking that is positively giddy about the prospect of burning children alive and raping women to death to prove a point.
By way of comparison to what justice might actually bear, the conditions at Gitmo — three hot halal meals and a Koran — are indeed a powerful testament to American values, though not the sort of values that Barack Obama imagines. Gitmo may not exactly be the “resort” that its defenders sometimes joke that it is, but we could do worse — much worse — with these men and be entirely justified doing it.