ZAHN: The president will be meeting with his National Security team this morning to talk about, well, the apparent discord here. Give us a preview of what this discussion might entail. When you have Secretary of State Powell saying, "Let's abide by the Geneva Convention," and then folks on the other side, we are told, saying "Wait a minute. If we hold them to that kind of status, then all they'll be required to give us is their name, rank and file number."Emphasis added. BTW, this interview has been discussed several places on the web (video here), although not so much in the mainstream domain in the age of Obama. There was this, regards the former counsel for Johnny Taliban (discussed in the Holder interview):
HOLDER: Yes, it seems to me this is an argument that is really consequential. One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.
It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohammed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not.
And yet, I understand what Secretary Powell is concerned about, and that is we're going to be fighting this war with people who are special forces, not people who are generally in uniform. And if unfortunately they somehow become detained, we would want them to be treated in an appropriate way consistent with the Geneva Convention.
The most prominent is perhaps Assistant Attorney General Tony West, who previously represented "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh.Nobody should be saying a lawyer who does pro-bono (or paid) work for accused terrorists is unpatriotic or unfit to serve but on the flip side, sometimes people donate to causes near to their hearts. Was Lynne Stewart patriotic? How many lawyers would jump to defend accused Neo-Nazis? Was John Adams doing the same when he defended Red Coats accused in the Boston massacre, even though we were still a British colony at the time and the Red Coats were no comparison to fanatical Islamist terrorists?
The issue cuts to the very heart of our democracy--stand firm by a constitution in the age of WMDs and suicide fanatics, or hand the commander-in-chief too much power in an effort to save the lives of citizens? It's not an easy call. Holder's flip-floppy answers belie that nature--if it were simple someone would have done it long ago. It's certainly simple to demagogue, 8 1/2 years after 9/11. Hmm, 8 1/2 years--that rings a bell.