MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The Necro-Neologism of Lethal Legal Experts

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2022

As both the drone program and the opioid prescription debacle illustrate, when government agencies such as the Pentagon and the FDA have been captured by industry forces focused above all on maximizing profits, they will simply look the other way as the corpses pile up,

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-necro-neologism-of-lethal-legal-experts/

by Laurie Calhoun

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The power of language is magical to behold. Through the mere pronouncement of words, people can be persuaded to do what they would never have thought to do, left to their own devices. The playbook with the most success in this regard is that of war. When people are “informed” that they and their families are in mortal danger, they can and often will acquiesce to any and all policies which government authorities claim to be necessary in order to protect them.

Young people can be coaxed into killing complete strangers who never did anything personally to them. Citizens can be brainwashed to believe that suitably labeled persons can and indeed must be denied any and all human rights. When the stakes are claimed to be life and death, even apparently intelligent people can be goaded to accept that the mere possession of a divergent opinion is evil, and the expression of dissent a crime. The use of military weapons to execute obviously innocent, entirely innocuous civilians, including children, suddenly becomes permissible, so long as the victims have been labeled collateral damage. All any of this takes is to identify “the enemy” as evil.

In centuries past, “the laws of war” were said to require the humane treatment of enemy soldiers. They were diagnosed as suffering from “invincible ignorance,” misled and mistaken about the dispute said to necessitate recourse to war, but still acknowledged as persons capable of being courageous combatants who found themselves through historical fortuity on the wrong side. An enemy soldier was to be provided with the opportunity to lay down his weapon and surrender in order to save his own life. Disarmed or incapacitated soldiers were not to be executed by their captors, for they had already been neutralized and posed no more danger than unarmed civilians. Prisoners of war were to be treated as human beings, and when they were tortured or summarily executed, this constituted a war crime. Such “laws of war,” which form the basis of international agreements, including the Geneva Conventions, have needless to say often been flouted, but, in theory, they were to be upheld by civilized people.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, political leaders and government officials proclaimed that “everything changed.” The Bush administration legal team deployed linguistic innovation to issue in an entirely new era of warfare, wherein the “laws of war” would still be said to obtain, but they would be inapplicable to entire classes of human beings. Jihadist soldiers for radical Islamist causes were labeled unlawful enemy combatants, whose “unlawful” status was said to imply that they were protected by neither international norms such as the Geneva Conventions nor the laws of civil society.

Under this pretext, terrorist suspects were tortured while held captive at prisons in Guantánamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Baghram, in addition to many black sites around the world. Ever keen to cover their tracks, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) also flatly denied that they ever tortured anyone, by redefining as enhanced interrogation techniques the abusive practices inflicted on hundreds, if not thousands, of men in an effort to extract from them actionable intelligence. And just in case any of this “logic” was called into question by pesky human rights advocates, Bush administration officials also derided the Geneva Conventions as “quaint.”

See the rest here

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