Monday, March 15, 2010


Law Professor Discovers Amazing Fact That Spies Don't Wear Uniforms

I would dismiss this dim bulb article as unworthy of response except for the facts that it's by a Georgetown Law School professor and it appeared in the Washington Post, both prestigious businesses. Here's the gist.

The CIA employs civilians, not military personnel. Some of our predator drones are piloted by CIA personnel. Predator drones armed with hellfire missiles are war weapons (We must therefore be actually at war with al Qaeda and the Taliban, but I don't think he ever actually admits that). Civilians who wage war are illegal combatants, as are those who wage war without wearing distinct uniforms. The CIA pilots of the drones are therefore illegal combatants. QED.

My first response is: No, duh. The CIA is America's center for foreign espionage--it's our spy shop. Spies don't wear uniforms because they don't want to get caught and executed for being a spy. Professor Solis is acting like he's figured out something new and clever; and someone at the Washington Post seemed to think this banality was newsworthy.

Wow, spies are illegal combatants. Who knew? Alert the media.

He also poses this logical fallacy:

Today, civilian participation in combat is still prohibited by two 1977 protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Although the United States has not ratified these protocols, we consider the prohibition to be customary law, binding on all nations.

Who's this 'we', Kemo Sabe? If the United States has rejected these protocols for 33 years, we (meaning the clear thinking American citizens) don't feel bound by treaty provisions we have not accepted. I guess that leaves the adjunct professor in a wrongheaded minority. But there's more.

And while the prosecution of CIA personnel is certainly not suggested,

Wait, I have to say something about that clause. He's not suggesting that WE prosecute our own spies for being spies helping with a war effort. He's thought about it, but he's not suggesting it, at this time. This guy is truly ignorant. We don't prosecute our own spies for doing their jobs spying on other people, even though we are aware that to be effective spies they can't wear distinctive uniforms (like, I guess, a black T-shirt with 'SPY' in big white letters on the back) and will necessarily be, therefore, illegal combatants. We think our spies are doing a good and necessary job for us, not commiting an indictable offense, a crime against humanity. It's the other side who prosecutes and executes our spies, if they catch them. Back to the article.

one wonders whether CIA civilians who are associated with armed drones appreciate their position in the law of armed conflict.

Sorry, I have to break in again. He wonders if our nation's spies know that they are spies who can be (and usually are) summarily executed if caught? Like Nathan Hale? I wonder if he's really as stupid as these sentences make him seem. Back to his big finish.

Their superiors surely do.

What is the point of this paragraph? To point out that we're doing something wrong by using spies to help in a war effort? To equate our spies with the illegal combatants (not spies) of al Qaeda and the Taliban? To send a message to the higher-ups at Langley that they are condoning illegal combat with the armed drone program? To put them on some sort of legal notice about wrong-doing?

I don't think my questions are unsupported by his writing.

I'm still in wonder that Georgetown University and the Washington Post can conspire to waste so much time, paper and ink.


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