Walter E. Williams

Much ado in our country and Europe has been made about alleged mistreatment and torture of suspected terrorist prisoners. First, there were stories and hand-wringing over the treatment of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.
 
More recently, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., equated our military's treatment of captured Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorist suspects, held at Guantanamo Bay, with something that would have "been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings." That statement not only demonstrates ignorance of the horrors committed by the Nazis, Soviets and Pol Pot, but it supplied ammunition for people seeking to destroy us.

 Regardless of how we feel now about the treatment of terrorists, and suspected terrorists, I can envision a day when Americans will care less about interrogation techniques used in the quest to get intelligence about terrorists. That day will be when there's a chemical or biological attack in one of our cities that kills and injures tens of thousands of Americans. If that day ever comes, you can bet the rent money that the Dick Durbins, the Nancy Pelosis and others who've undermined and attacked our interrogation efforts, complaining about our not treating international cutthroats humanely, will blame the attack on President Bush. The last thing they'll do is blame themselves for sabotaging our efforts to get intelligence that might stymie terrorist plans.

 It's tempting to invoke the Geneva Convention protections that are afforded prisoners of war. Geneva Convention protections did apply to Iraqi soldiers captured during our war with Iraq, but they do not apply to terrorists or even soldiers who are out of uniform. In earlier times, when common sense prevailed and we had the will to defend ourselves, that fact was understood and appreciated.

 During World War II, German soldiers captured not wearing their own army's uniforms were lined up and shot. In 1942, a German submarine landed eight Nazi saboteurs on the beaches of New York and Florida. Two months after a secret military tribunal, convened by President Roosevelt, six of the eight were executed, even though they hadn't killed or bombed anyone -- just being here was enough.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Walter Williams' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.