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What to do with terrorists

Reader comment on item: Don't Put Terrorists on Trial

Submitted by Sigmund Derman (United States), Jul 14, 2014 at 09:30

It is not clear to me what you are actually proposing. I heartily agree that the Obama administration is failing to appreciate the full significance and enormity of the Islamist threat to this country and to the civilized world. But I wonder about how we might apply the idea of "the U.S. response to terrorist attacks on Americans citizens should be immediate and lethal" to an indvididual apprehended not in the act of terrorism itself but as the result of a lengthy chain of investigative work, similar to what is done to investigate a crime, about a year and one half after the attack was committed. Even immediately after a battle we don't do as ISIS does, chop off the heads of the opposing soldiers we have captured even though many of them probably have killed more Americans than were killed in Benghazi. We hold them as prisoners of war. We didn't do summary executions in WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea or any war that I know of (at least not as a policy---I am sure that summary executions occur from time to time in virtually all wars but they are generally against military policy). So it's not going to be "lethal", at least not if we have already captured him. It's going to be military imprisonment. That's OK with me and then the military justice system could sentence the individual to death. But the death sentence would be far from "immediate" and far from certain. How many Guantanamo prisoners were actually sentenced to death under the Bush administration? Were there any?

Especially now that we have him in custody, we can't just put a bullet in his head. I think we have to carry on with the trial because the process is started. If we are going to do something like that we can't really capture the individual at all. I think it would have to be done by a sniper or a drone. Perhaps that's what you are proposing for the future. That might work under the theory that this is a continuous war and a global battlefield in which there are no beginnings or ends to the battle. I personally would not have a great deal of trouble with that if legal experts OK'ed it. Interestingly, the Obama administration is actually doing that as well, including to American citizens. Why this individual was captured rather than killed I do not know. Perhaps someone thought that the intelligence to be garnered might be worth it. It's hard for me to second guess because I do not have information on what can be gained by interrogating him. I hope the whole process is worthwhile.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I am saying the Benghazi mission should have been treated as a battlefield, not a crime scene, and the attackers attacked in turn.

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