Remember when Attorney General Eric Holder proposed trying 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other foreign terrorists in New York federal court? The AG eventually backed down in the face of bipartisan opposition, but not before initially guaranteeing a conviction, as if the world's leading democratic republic were just another petty tyranny where the courts exist to deliver preordained results.
Despite this setback, it now appears as if Holder somehow found time amidst running guns to Mexican drug lords to export his vision of a more terrorist-friendly jurisprudence directly to the Afghan battlefield--perhaps one reason why President Obama's 2009 "war of necessity" is lately starting to resemble 1973 Vietnam.
Matt Bissonnette's No Easy Day has received a great deal of attention for its account of the death and capture of Osama Bin Laden. However, on this eve of a presidential debate focusing on foreign policy, I am struck by the former SEAL Team Six operator's account of the 2011 changes to the rules of engagement governing the conduct of our combat troops deployed to Afghanistan:
For years, we had been sneaking into compounds, catching fighters by surprise.
On the last deployment, we were slapped with a new requirement to call them out. After surrounding a building, an interpreter had to get on a bullhorn and yell for the fighters to come out with their hands raised. It was similar to what police did in the United States. After the fighters came out, we cleared the house. If we found guns, we arrested the fighters, only to see them go free a few months later. Often we recaptured the same guy multiple times during a single deployment.
It felt like we were fighting the war with one hand and filling out paperwork with the other. When we brought back detainees, there was an additional two or three hours of paperwork. The first question to the detainee at the base was always, "Were you abused?" An affirmative answer meant an investigation and more paperwork.
And the enemy had figured out the rules.
Their tactics evolved as fast as ours. On my earlier deployments, they stood and fought. On more recent deployments, they started hiding their weapons, knowing we couldn't shoot them if they weren't armed. The fighters knew the rules of engagement and figured they'd just work their way through the system and be back to their village in a few days.
As of Friday, 2,012 US soldiers have died in Afghanistan and a further 17,790 have been wounded. Yet, under Obama administration policy, those defending our freedom abroad now have less discretion in engaging illegal enemy combatants in Jalalabad than federal agents executing no-knock warrants in Utah.
We now authorize domestic police to stage some 70-80,000 military-style no-knock raids each year against criminal suspects, while soldiers in a foreign war-zone must first announce themselves to Taliban fighters. How in the world did common sense become reversed?