Why Obama’s Abandonment Of ‘Enemy Combatant’ Is So Wrong

Some analysts are claiming that this abandonment (dare I say, ‘cutting and running’) from the term, “enemy combatant” has practical consequences; others say it’s basically window dressing from a president who will outwardly make a cosmetic change to damn the Bush administration only to more or less continue the same policies.  I don’t claim to know who is more correct.  But I am gravely concerned about the direction in which we seem to be headed.

And I have reason to believe that Obama’s decision to change his terminology will lead to deeper, more fundamental consequences, as a Wall Street Journal article alludes to:

The term enemy combatant has been used for decades to define members of a military who engage in activities such as sabotage and espionage that occur outside normal combat. By defining Guantanamo detainees as enemy combatants, the Bush administration cleared the way for some to be tried in newly created offshore military commissions rather than in civilian courts.

The Obama administration, in abandoning the term, hinted at its likely policy on the detainees. Mr. Holder expressed doubt about the Bush military commissions during his confirmation hearings, and said civilian courts may be the best place to try such prisoners.

It is interesting to learn where the term “enemy combatant” came from.  It’s not just some phrase created out of thin air by “that fascist bastard George Bush to justify his warmongering.”  Rather, it comes out of the Geneva Convention.

The Geneva Conventions distinguish between lawful combatants, noncombatants, and unlawful combatants.

Basically, a lawful combatant must fall under a legitimate chain-of-command structure; must wear some form of recognizable and distinguishing uniform or emblem; must carry weaponry openly; and must fight according to internationally-recognized rules of warfare.

And one of the things the Geneva Convention was clearly intended to do was to encourage combatants to fight “lawfully,’ by employing those four characteristics.  If a nation’s combatants did in fact fight according to those characteristics, there were benefits.  How they were treated if captured was defined and regulated.  In other words, if combatants fought by internationally recognized standards, the benefits of the Geneva Convention applied to their soldiers.

The problem is, the Geneva Convention doesn’t say much about “unlawful combatants” are to be treated.  During World War Two, the Germans and the Japanese simply tended to line them up and shoot them after brutal interrogation sessions.

The United States is currently fighting a war – often by proxy – against enemies (yes, I said the word ‘enemy’ and I’m not going to take it back) who don’t follow ANY of the four rules that would place them under Geneva Convention protection.

And the Obama administration is saying, “Let’s protect them under the Geneva Convention anyway.”

Do you see the problem?  If we’re going to treat unlawful combatants the same way as lawful combatants, what is really the incentive for being a lawful combatant?  I hate to have to be the one to tell you, but by taking off a uniform, hiding weapons, and blending into the civilian population, you can do a lot more damage to the enemy – and have a much better chance of getting away following attacks.

It tends to be real hard on the civilians who get in the way; but it works GREAT for all those “unlawful combatants.”  They’re harder to catch, and they have a much easier time planning surprise attacks that will generate high casualties.

the commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked by such “unlawful combatants” was outraged:

“The decision by President Obama to shift responsibility of captured terrorists from the Department of Defense to the Department of Justice sets a dangerous precedent in the war on terror. Now, those forces responsible for military actions to capture terrorists will no longer have a say in how and where they are detained, or when and where they are transferred out of U.S. control. By this change the President is no longer consider the threat or the intelligence value of detainees.”

Retired Navy Cmdr. Kirk S. Lippold, former commanding officer of the USS Cole warship and senior military fellow at the lobby Military Families United

And Commander Lippold, all outrage notwithstanding, is correct in his facts: Obama IS – in stark departure from the Bush administration – treating these “undocumented protagonists” (via Hotair) as criminals who posses rights and privileges rather than as the very worst form of human cockroaches that they are.

Our soldiers are not trained police investigators.  They are neither trained to collect evidence nor do they operate in an environment where such a luxury is allowable.  And that’s on top of the problem of exposing secret intelligence capabilities that led to our forces capturing these terrorists in the first place.

The Obama policy is both insane and immoral.  It is insane because it rewards these terrorists by guaranteeing them status and treatment that they do not deserve – said treatment being reserved to those who have followed the rules of warfare – and eradicates any and all incentive to follow the rules of war.  And it is immoral because it cannot do anything other than undermine our soldiers’ operations and jeopardize their lives.

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