So what possible moral justification exists for incentivizing these illegal acts by bestowing on captured terrorists the privilege of the full and comprehensive due process protections of a civilian trial? A prisoner of war captured in uniform would not enjoy such protections. Does the Left not understand that imposing such burdens on our justice system leads not to respect from our enemies but to contempt and exploitation? Does the Left not understand that the enemy’s use of civilian disguise makes it infinitely more difficult to identify combatants and therefore dramatically raises the civilian death toll (as well as the difficulty of prosecution)?

Further, does the Left not understand that civilian trials (together with the consequent evidentiary requirements) would require our soldiers to act, essentially, as detectives in the middle of a shooting war? That the evidence-collection process itself will cost the lives of young soldiers sent to interrogate witnesses and gather forensic evidence? Or that the disclosure of information sources during ongoing military operations compromises those sources and impairs our ability to obtain further intelligence?

I’ve heard the anti-war Left talk about our “moral authority” as they argue for trying war criminals in U.S. District courts. But whom does this grand moral gesture impress? The enemy? Most certainly not. The besieged civilian populations who live in fear of jihadist rule? Definitely not. Instead (as I’ve seen with my own eyes), they shake their heads at our rules, puzzled at the shackles we place on ourselves while their lives are on the line and their futures are at stake. The moral gesture is designed primarily to impress those not in the line of fire, those whose lives are not at stake—a transnational leftist elite that risks little yet demands so very much from our men and women in uniform.