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Taliban fighters prisoners of war?



Hank Greely is a Professor of Law at Stanford, and therefore his legal opinions should be taken very seriously. He writes: "I do not understand on what grounds the U.S. government takes the position that captured soldiers of the Taliban government are not prisoners of war. I assume I know why. I say this without knowing whether that status would make any difference in their current treatment, but it has astonished me that the Administration, which has declared us "at war," though without specifying with whom, and which has first bombed and then invaded Afghanistan, has decided that the soldiers it has captured, whether "regular" troops or militia, are not prisoners of war. Perhaps someone else can explain the legal rationale for this position. I assume the reason for the position is that it frees us from having to confer upon them some rights that might be inconvenient. But, of course, if law, domestic or international, was never inconvenient, it would scarce merit its name. Maybe only a lawyer can be upset by this, but I am. I would welcome an explanation for the legal rationale and would particularly welcome a plausible one.

I found was an article supporting my position from yesterday's Washington Times, a quite conservative newspaper. (The headline, presumably written by an editor, not by the reporter, is referring to al Quaeda members; the story strongly supports the position that Taliban soldiers, even militia soldiers, should be prisoners of war.) The URL for the article is http://www.washtimes.com/world/20020117-88342601.htm."

Ronald Hilton - 1/18/02


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