When we capture terrorists fighting against us on the battlefield, our inquiry -- preferably to be adjudicated by military tribunals -- should be to determine whether they are enemy combatants of the United States. If so, we should hold them -- as we always have -- for the duration of the war, because the purpose of the detention is not punishment, but national security -- to keep them from returning to the battlefield (or the streets of America, for that matter) and killing us.
Indeed, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld reminded us in a separate interview on Fox, that of the prisoners we have released from Gitmo, we've "already found 12 of them back on the battlefield trying to kill innocent men, women and children." Isn't it manifestly worse, in the context of war, to risk allowing the guilty to go free so any one of them could come back and kill 50 innocent people?
Secretary Rumsfeld also provided compelling answers to other liberal criticisms. Here's a brief summary: 1) the "insurgents" in Iraq are not idealists with a vision or revolutionaries fighting some tyrannical regime, but enemies of the Iraqi people trying to destroy their newly elected democratic government; 2) our troop levels in Iraq are being driven by the military commanders in the field, who are trying to achieve a delicate balance between a level of troops sufficient to engage the enemy and train Iraqi security forces versus that number that would make us an easier target at greater risk, and could also alienate the Iraqi people against America (as occupiers); 3) our commitment to this war can't be governed by polls; 4) we have a policy against torture and inhumane treatment of enemy prisoners, and all known violators of the policy have been punished, but holding prisoners for the duration of the war does not constitute torture; and 5) regardless of the opinions of armchair civilian "generals" at home, including politicians, the three leading commanders on the ground have testified strongly that we are not in a quagmire in Iraq."
No matter. Liberals will continue to call it a quagmire, characterizing it as a contained revolutionary war and not part of the war on terror, and undermine our cause there -- such as recklessly demanding that we telegraph our withdrawal date. And they will continue to say we are torturing war prisoners.
Can you imagine the implications for our national security and world freedom if they were in charge and their criticisms were converted into policy? Karl Rove obviously can, and he deserves praise for calling a spade a spade.