The death squads have a broader mission:It seems that the War on Terror may soon come to an end, as the Bush administration prepares to replace it with a War of Terror.[Iraq National Intelligence Service Director Muhammad Abdallah al-Shahwani] said most Iraqi people do not actively support the insurgents or provide them with material or logistical help, but at the same time they won't turn them in. One military source involved in the Pentagon debate agrees that this is the crux of the problem, and he suggests that new offensive operations are needed that would create a fear of aiding the insurgency. "The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving to the terrorists," he said. "From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation."The goal, in other words, is to terrorize the Sunni Arab civilian population. As the hawks and death squad enthusiasts at Stratagy Page explain (via Jim Henley) "Family members will be arrested and held hostage" which is okay because it's "a traditional Iraqi, and Middle Eastern, technique for getting fugitives to surrender." Of course, we've already been doing a good deal of that sort of thing, in violation of international law. Nevertheless, "in the past, only people who were obviously guilty were sought. But now, the known allies and kinfolk will be rounded up."
UPDATE: From Atrios:
Let's be clear, "death squads" are terrorists. Their goal is not simply to catch/kill suspected bad guys, but to frighten populations into submission. It's collective punishment of an entire population.That's right, we have reached the point in the Bush invasion of Iraq that is now necessary to reiterate that "death squads = terrorists."