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Professor Yoram Dinstein of Tel Aviv University wrote that volunteer human shields can be attacked because “civilian protection can be lost if the person who purports to benefit from it crosses a red line by directly participating in hostilities.” In blunt terms: “The bullet that kills him may lawfully have his name engraved on it.”

So there is also more than one view about human shields and treating captured terrorists, because, unlike the Ten Commandments, there is no single monolithic document etched in stone called “international law.”

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., whose firm defended terrorists and who has personally freed convicted Puerto Rican terrorists, feels terrorists should have the same rights as regular U.S. citizens involved in criminal cases, such as public civilian trials and the right to an attorney before answering questions.

Many other lawyers think that terrorists do not even merit the rights of prisoners of war, because they carried out operations while not in uniform and because they deliberately seek to hurt civilians. Many lawyers feel, therefore, that the Geneva Accords allows terrorists to be summarily tried and executed like saboteurs or spies.

Sadly, many “legal critiques” about fighting terrorism are not unbiased or scholarly opinions, but instead political views from nongovernmental organizations whose research budgets are dwarfed by their public relations budgets and political agendas.

True, wars — like most human acts — should be aimed at a just end and be fought with just means. This idea begins with the Bible’s injunction against cutting down fruit trees of a besieged city, and it continues through thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas and Maimonides.

It is going too far, though, when the media or prominent nongovernmental organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union or Amnesty International, say their legal teams will determine when “too much force is used,” when an artillery barrage is “just” or “proportional” and when it is “unjust” or “disproportional.”

Most of us nonlawyers realize that being a lawyer or running an nongovernmental organization does not make someone a great moral compass, or a great military strategist or tactician. We understand that war is hell best ended by defeating a hellish terrorist enemy quickly.

Michael Widlanski is the author of “Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat” (Threshold, 2012).