by Jacob G. Hornberger
I confess that I have trouble sometimes figuring out the nature and logic of the so-called war on terrorism. The following are what seem to be the principles of this “war”:
1. Since the “war on terrorism,” according to U.S. officials, is a real war, the president has all the powers of a military commander in a real war, and those powers, they say, are the same omnipotent powers that are wielded by military dictators. Thus, during the war on terrorism, the president wields the power to take people into custody, torture them, incarcerate them until the war is over, and even execute them, perhaps after some sort of kangaroo trial by military commission. Of course, all of these actions are carried out by the president’s agents in the military and CIA, all of whom are immune from a liability for their actions.
2. The war on terrorism is perpetual in nature, since there are countless terrorists around the world. The war will last at least through the lifetimes of everyone living today. There is a possibility, albeit remote, that it could come to an end in 100 years or so from now. Since under international law enemy prisoners of war can be held captive until hostilities are ended, that means that captives in this “war” can be held captive for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, if U.S. soldiers or other U.S. personnel are taken captive by enemy forces, such acts are considered to be terrorism and the terrorists are expected to release such captives immediately.
3. To wage the war on terrorism, the U.S. Empire wields the authority to attack, invade, and occupy any country on earth that might be harboring terrorists now or in the future or that might have harbored terrorists in the past. It also wields the authority to send its agents into any country in the world to kidnap people who are suspected of being terrorists and transport them to secret prisons for indefinite incarceration, torture, or execution. It can also rendition the prisoner to a friendly dictatorial regime for torture.
4. No foreign regime or foreign citizen is permitted to resist or oppose with force a U.S. invasion or occupation of their country. Anyone who resists the invasion or occupation will be taken captive but will not be treated as a standard prisoner of war. Instead, the resister, whether he wears a uniform or not, will be considered to be a terrorist, thereby being subjected to indefinite incarceration, torture, and possibly execution. The resister can also be prosecuted for terrorism before a kangaroo military tribunal. If, on the other hand, U.S. soldiers are taken captive, the captor must treat such soldiers under the principles of the Geneva Convention and must also release such soldiers immediately given that taking them captive is considered an act of terrorism. Agents of the CIA are not required to wear a uniform.
5. If any nation prosecutes any U.S. agent for kidnapping people within that nation, such judicial processes are null and void and will not be honored or complied with. On the other hand, if any foreign agent kidnaps people within the United States and renditions them to a foreign prison, that is considered an act of terrorism or possibly even an act of war.
6. The U.S. Empire has the authority to impose sanctions and embargoes on any foreign nation as part of the war on terrorism. On the other hand, no foreign nation has the authority to impose sanctions or embargoes against the United States; such an act is considered terrorism or possibly even an act of war.
7. No other country is permitted to wage the war on terrorism except under the strict auspices and control of the U.S. Empire. Any country whose government attempts to wage the war on terrorism independently of U.S. control, such as by kidnapping, renditioning, and torturing a person residing here in the United States or by a regime-change operation against a pro-U.S. foreign regime, will be considered a state sponsor of terrorism and be treated accordingly.
8. If the enemy attacks a civilian target, he will be prosecuted for terrorism. If the enemy attacks a military target, he will also be prosecuted for terrorism. On the other hand, the U.S. Empire will have the authority to attack both civilian and military targets as part of the war on terrorism, especially if suspected terrorists are cavorting with people who are not suspected of being terrorists.
9. Any person taken into custody in the war on terrorism will be subject to being prosecuted by a kangaroo military tribunal, one that will be empowered to ignore the processes and procedures that U.S. federal courts follow in terrorism prosecutions. There is no speedy trial requirement and defendants can be kept incarcerated for years before a trial is held. Evidence against the accused can be acquired by torture. Hearsay evidence can be used. Confessions can be extracted from the accused through torture. Trials can be held in secret.
10. When U.S. officials suspect someone of being a terrorist, they have the option of sending him down the federal court road or the kangaroo tribunal road to be prosecuted for terrorism. Even if a person is acquitted of terrorism in a federal court trial, however, the U.S. military and CIA are empowered to ignore the verdict of acquittal and take the person into custody as a terrorist.
This “war on terrorism” sure is a fascinating “war.” I wonder why they haven’t expanded its principles to the “war on drugs.”
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
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