I have a piece up at the American Security Council Foundation's site that discusses the disconnect in our policies regarding how we deal with captured terrorists v. those we just vaporize out in the field.
Our counterterror policy is suffering from a self-inflicted case of schizophrenia. We cannot seem to decide whether we are fighting a war against an implacable enemy sworn to our destruction or policing the world to capture criminals who occasionally commit violent acts. Our current policies are an incoherent mix of both.Take the case of al Qaeda Christmas bomber Uma Farouk AbdulMutallab. After 9/11 Congress overwhelmingly passed an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which essentially put the United States at war with al Qaeda. This group trained him, equipped him with a bomb and sent him on his way. Their general incompetence saved us from having several hundred lives snuffed out above Detroit, but nonetheless they attempted an act of terrorist sabotage and murder. When the plane landed Abdulmutallab was detained and less than a day later read his rights and given a lawyer. He now awaits trial in civilian court
During World War II the Germans sent eight saboteurs to attack our wartime industries. They were caught, given short military trials and sentenced to death for violations of the Laws of War. They had no civilian lawyers and were treated as unlawful combatants. What makes the case of AbdulMutallab any different?