Incentivizing Terrorists

In what has got to be one of the most bizarrely absurd rationales given by any presidential administration in the history of the United States, attorney general Eric Holder said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be tried in a civilian court because he killed civilians.

Deliberately killing civilians – particularly thousands of them – is the most heinous form of warfare one can wage. Those who do so are the lowest of the low, the scummiest scum of the earth. There should be special, hard-hitting tribunals set up just to deal with these kinds of rodents, as there was after WWII to deal with the Nazis who killed civilian Jews.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, columnist William McGurn crystallized the folly of trying KSM in a U.S. civilian court. It sends the perverse message that “if you kill civilians on American soil you will have greater protections than if you attack our military overseas.”

We have institutions, particularly the Geneva Conventions, that aim to incentivize those who wage war to target soldiers and not civilians. McGurn quotes William Burck who says that the Obama administration’s decision “demolishes this principle to give Khalid Sheikh Mohammed even more legal protections than the Geneva Conventions provide a uniformed soldier fighting in a recognized war zone.”

With this single step, McGurn points out, the Obama administration is giving al Qaeda a huge incentive to kill more American civilians on American soil, rather than to attack soldiers overseas.

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