Getting back to the big picture for a second.
"The Dread Pirate Bin Ladin" argues that "thinking of terrorists as pirates can help win the war on terror."
What is needed now is a framework for an international crime of terrorism. The framework should be incorporated into the U.N. Convention on Terrorism and should call for including the crime in domestic criminal law and perhaps the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. This framework must recognize the unique threat that terrorists pose to nation-states, yet not grant them the legitimacy accorded to belligerent states. It must provide the foundation for a law that criminalizes not only terrorist acts but membership in a terrorist organization. It must define methods of punishment.State sponsored terrorism can also be neatly compared to privateering:
Coming up with such a framework would perhaps seem impossible, except that one already exists. Dusty and anachronistic, perhaps, but viable all the same. More than 2,000 years ago, Marcus Tullius Cicero defined pirates in Roman law as hostis humani generis, "enemies of the human race." From that day until now, pirates have held a unique status in the law as international criminals subject to universal jurisdiction—meaning that they may be captured wherever they are found, by any person who finds them. The ongoing war against pirates is the only known example of state vs. nonstate conflict until the advent of the war on terror, and its history is long and notable. More important, there are enormous potential benefits of applying this legal definition to contemporary terrorism.
The rise and fall of state-sponsored piracy bears chilling similarity to current state-sponsored terrorism. Many nations, including Libya, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, have sponsored terrorist organizations to wage war against the United States or other Western powers. In each case, the motivations have been virtually identical to those of [Queen] Elizabeth: harass the enemy, deplete its resources, terrify its citizens, frustrate its government, and remain above the fray.After hearing George Bush again talking about terrorist "safe-havens" this legal approach sounds like a great idea.
The Dread Pirate Bin Laden [Douglas R. Burgess Jr. |legalaffairs.org]
Schneier on Security