November 13, 2002

Don't Forget: We're At War

Don't Forget: We're At War

Maybe it's the sweeping recent Republican victory, or maybe it's the revelation that our old buddy, Osama bin Laden, may still be skulking around a cave somewhere still breathing, but I find myself more and more supporting the overall war on terror. Not so much the impending attack on Iraq, mind you, which is a thinly-veiled grab for oil no matter how much Washington spins it. But the war on terror, the covert war meant to expose and dispose of those cancerous terrorist cells, is a necessary part of today's world.

The war on terrorism will be won, not on a traditional battlefield, but through the sustained efforts of information gathering experts worldwide and the use of search and destroy tactics meant to wreak havoc with terror's command and supply structure. I fully support it, no matter how distasteful it may seem at first. I just kind of assumed that Americans understood that.

Alas, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune letters to the editor section has sported two opinions over the past couple of days that show just how mistaken I was.

The day justice died

Is anyone else appalled by the missile attack on the car full of suspected terrorists in Yemen last week? Even though the Bush administration calls it a military action, it was an assassination, plain and simple.

One of the basic tenets of our legal system is the belief in innocence until proven guilty. We just blew that principle out of the sky with a couple of well-aimed Hellfire missiles. So much for due process. Sept. 11 was a terrible day for our country, but we are certainly losing the moral high ground in our fight against Al-Qaida. We simply cannot execute people at will, no matter what we think they may have done. We cannot go down that road.

-- Melly Ailabouni, Farmington.

Okay, class, does anyone see the flaw in Melly's argument? Well, let me tell you what I think. In short, I think Melly needs a good beating with a reality club. Lacking that option, I guess I'll just spout off.

One reason that the car happened to explode so totally was because it was loaded with weapons, weapons to be used against Western interests. Myself, I'm pretty glad we fired those well-aimed Hellfire missiles. If it were up to Melly, she would have had the "suspected terrorists" detained and given a good talking to. Then, once the corrupt Yemeni system ensured that they would be set free in 24 hours on a "legal technicality," they would have hopped back in their car for a good, old-fashioned dance club bombing.

We reserve our American legal system for pukes that go on a Washington D.C. sniping spree, not for a carload of terrorists in Yemen. In fact, let's not call them terrorists, let's call them soldiers, enemy soldiers, who just happened to poke their heads out of the trench long enough for our trusty drone to atomize their worthless carcasses. So Melly want to call it an assassination? Fine, whatever. Just so long as we keep the assasinations coming.

I particularly like the line, Sept. 11 was a terrible day for our country, but we are certainly losing the moral high ground in our fight against Al-Qaida. Yes, I'm sure Osama bin Laden right now is sipping tea with his pinky up, saying, in a British accent, "Well, that drone attack was just bad form. We'd never do something so low. Now get out there, guys, and blow up a school."

Hey, Melly, just for the record, Al-Qaida targets everyone. You. Me. Rush Limbaugh (which isn't so bad, actually). They don't care if you're a soldier or a Peace Corps volunteer. They kill anyone and everyone. We targeted a carload of terrorist operatives (enemy soldiers) about to make a delivery, probably saving the lives of countless innocents. You want due process? Fine. Go tell that to every family member who lost a loved one during the Bali bombing and then come back and make the argument that terrorists should get their day in court.

A death march?

Last week KARE-TV (Ch. 11) showed Afghan prisoners being transported to Cuba -- bound, hooded and crowded into the hold of a transport plane. The image recalled the death marches and train transports of Jews during World War II. I write this on Veterans Day, thinking of the human-rights violations perpetrated on innocent people at that time.

Now it is our administration that may be responsible for such terrible deeds. Are we above all international laws? There have been no trials, but I suspect much abuse and torture in the cages.

-- Avis Allmaras CSJ, St. Paul.

You're right Avis, next time we'll be sure to buy first class tickets on United Airlines and keep the champagne flowing. Sheesh! How can one even equate Jewish persecution to the transport of prisoners of war? Jews were sent to be gassed, while Afghani fighters were sent to Cuba, where they were even allowed to pray daily. Oh, no, but they're hooded and bound! What are they? Animals? Well, yes. These are soldiers who, just days before, had sworn that their sole purpose in life was to kill Americans. I'd want to keep them bound and hooded too.

But, apparently Avis thinks it would be better to have them free to roam around the plane and make small talk with each other, and then maybe organize themselves and perhaps kill the American soldiers and take over the plane. Avis and Melly really need to get together and maybe, just maybe, they'll see how totally dumb they are.

Perhaps this fact is lost on Avis, but the folks crowded onto the cargo plane were actually the lucky ones. Chances are, they were pleased as punch to be bound and hooded and flown to Cuba. Why? Because, our allies, the Northern Alliance, weren't exactly interested in taking prisoners. No, they were more likely to stake the enemy to the ground, cut off their eyelids, and face them toward the sun. I'm betting they were pretty much screaming to have a hood at that point.

As a nation, I would have to say we're probably in the upper class when it comes to the treatment of our prisoners of war. Were the Afghani soldiers interrogated? Almost certainly, although I doubt they had their fingernails removed with a pliers. You'd be amazed at what can be drawn out of people through a little sleep deprivation, maybe a skipped meal here and there, and the possibility of never seeing home and family again. All three of those combined would have me singing like a canary.

In the end, these were men that shot at and schemed against American troops, and more than a few of them probably had a hand in helping get 9/11 off the ground, so to speak. You may want to make their lives all nice and cozy, but I certainly don't.

We're at war.

Posted by Ryan at November 13, 2002 04:23 PM
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