By Professor John Yoo
Suppose that the
To protect the
While the impulse behind the McCain amendment is worthy, it would not have prevented the abuses at
McCain's only real effect would be to limit the interrogation of al-Qaeda terrorists. They are not prisoners of war under Geneva, but a stateless network of religious extremists who do not obey the laws of war, who hide among peaceful populations, and who seek to launch surprise attacks on civilian targets. They have no armed forces to attack, no territory to defend, and no fear of killing themselves in their attacks.
Information is the primary weapon in this new conflict. Intelligence gathered from captured operatives may present the most effective means of stopping terrorist attacks. We should not deprive our military and intelligence agencies of the flexibility to prevent another attack, one perhaps using weapons of mass destruction, on an American city by a terrible and unprecedented enemy.
John Yoo, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, served in the Justice Department in 2001-03. He also is the author of Powers of War and Peace.
This item first appeared in the November 1, 2005 issue of USA Today.November 3, 2005