Taking no prisoners

News Hits has had it with the foreign news media, which seem intent on skewering our noble nation and its faultless leaders. Take the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which ran a story last week on its “The National” program that dared question how the United States is handling the war in Afghanistan.

According to news reports, our allies, the Northern Alliance, have in some cases executed surrendered pro-Taliban fighters — rather than take them as prisoners of war.

The CBC story suggested that comments made last month by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may have contributed to the alleged killings.

“We’re not in a position to have people surrender to us,” said Rumsfeld. “If people try to, we are declining. That is not what we’re there to do, is to begin accepting prisoners and impounding them in some way or making judgments. That’s for the Northern Alliance and that’s for their tribes in the South to make their own judgments on that.”

But Leslie Green, a legal expert on war crimes, told the CBC that the rules of armed conflict apply in the war against terrorism. “Prisoners are prisoners,” said Green. “If he has surrendered, you will not harm him. You certainly will not kill him.”

“I think Donald Rumsfeld somewhat overstepped the bounds of the rules as he should very well know them,” said Roy Gutman, Pulitzer prize-winning writer and co-editor of Crimes of War. “If, however, you massacre your prisoners, or mutilate them or mistreat them in a terrible way, the bitterness is going to be there for all time to come and there’s probably likely to be a rematch.”

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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