Thomas Sowell

When you enter a boxing ring, you agree to abide by the rules of boxing. But when you are attacked from behind in a dark alley, you would be a fool to abide by the Marquis of Queensbury rules. If you do, you can end up being a dead fool.

Even with a nuclear Iran looming on the horizon and the prospect that its nuclear weapons will end up in the hands of international terrorists that it has been sponsoring for years, many in the media and in the government that is supposed to protect us have been preoccupied with whether we are being nice enough to the terrorists in our custody.

The issue has been brought to a head by the efforts of Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham to get us to apply the rules of the Geneva convention to cutthroats who respect no Geneva convention and are not covered by the Geneva convention.

If this was just a case of a handful of headstrong senators, who want us to play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules while we are being kicked in the groin and slashed with knives, that would be bad enough. But the issue of applying the Geneva convention to people who were never covered by the Geneva convention originated in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Article III, Section II of the Constitution gives Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts, and Congress has specifically taken away the jurisdiction of the courts in cases involving the detention of illegal combatants, such as terrorists, who are not -- repeat, not -- prisoners of war covered by the Geneva convention.

The Supreme Court ignored that law. Apparently everyone must obey the law except judges. Congress has the power to impeach judges, including Supreme Court justices, but apparently not the guts. Runaway judges are not going to stop until they get stopped.

In short, the clash between Senator McCain, et al., and the President of the United States is more than just another political clash. It is part of a far more general, and ultimately suicidal, confusion and hand-wringing in the face of mortal dangers.

The argument is made that we must respect the Geneva convention because, otherwise, our own soldiers will be at risk of mistreatment when they become prisoners of war.

Does any sane adult believe that the cutthroats we are dealing with will respect the Geneva convention? Or that our extension of Geneva convention rights to them will be seen as anything other than another sign of weakness and confusion that will encourage them in their terrorism?


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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