The silence from the human rights groups is grotesque.

Two American soldiers are captured. Time for the insurgency to prove they can abide the Geneva Accords, or any standard of decency. Or time for them to prove they can confine their barbarity to simple aggressive interrogation techniques. Or time for them to prove that they are better than the hated Americans.

But none of that.

Instead, it's gouging out eyes, hacking off limbs, cutting off heads and booby-trapping the remains.

OK, let's say we already know about these people we're fighting. We can recall only a few days ago — the days immediately prior to killing Zarqawi — 17 heads were found in fruit boxes in the same area where these American soldiers were captured, tortured and slaughtered like farm animals. We already know how bad these people are we are fighting.

But where are the human rights groups who protest mistreatment such as feeding detainees Froot Loops, or denying them sleep or peace and quiet while we try to get information from them, or even go so far as to let a dog snarl at them or dunk their heads underwater for a few moments? These people are being tortured, the human rights groups howl.

What do they have to say about the head-cutters? Nothing.

Why? Is it because they are embarrassed at the behavior of the people they are defending?

That's probably it. Pure embarrassment. So they don't say a word. Let it be quickly forgotten, like poor Nick Berg whose head was removed and dangled before a camera.

The insurgents are trying to kill us. We worry about rules of engagement.

The insurgents infiltrate the Iraqi military and then ambush American troops they are patrolling with — that happened recently — but we put Marines in chains on the allegation they killed an Iraqi who wasn't an insurgent after all.

The people who are trying to kill us kill Iraqis wantonly to try to get to us. But the problem is the American Marine who returns fire, a building collapses and innocents are crushed?

The human rights crowd needs to speak up, and this time not about the Americans but for the Americans.

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