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Members Of Congress, Web Sites Back Officer Who Faces Punishment In Iraq Interrogation Case (West)
European Stars and Stripes via Early Bird ^ | November 28, 2003 | Lisa Burgess

Posted on 11/28/2003 9:06:34 AM PST by Ispy4u

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army’s investigation of an officer accused of crossing the line in an attempt to get information from an Iraqi detainee is generating a grass-roots protest among some Americans who say the safety of troops trumps any temporary violation of interrogation rules.

Army Lt. Col. Allen B. West, who is assigned to the 4th Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, in Tikrit, Iraq, stands accused of actions that occurred Aug. 20, at a detainee holding site in Taji, Iraq.

Some members of Congress, meanwhile, are asking whether those rules may not be too strict in light of the all-out war on terror.

“We’re trying to bring democracy and a better way of life to [Iraq], and you don’t do that by employing terrorist tactics in reverse,” John M. McHugh, R-N.Y., said in a Tuesday telephone interview. “But how many American lives are we willing to trade for ideals?

“Maybe the days of putting someone in a comfortable chair and giving them a cigarette are over.”

In testimony during his Article 32 hearing last week, West, 42, said he had received information that Yahya Jhodri Hamoodi, an Iraqi policeman, was allegedly involved in a plot to attack him and his troops.

Article 32 investigations are pretrial proceedings that determine whether a servicemember should face court-martial.

West said he had Hamoodi brought in for questioning, but that the Iraqi would not cooperate, so West led him out of the detention facility to a weapons cleaning area, gave him to a count of five to talk, and then fired two shots near the detainee.

Hamoodi then gave information that led to the detention of additional suspects in the attack.

West said he immediately filed a report to his commanding officer, detailing the incident.

“I knew [my career] was over,” West said during the trial. “I know that the method that I used was not the right method … [but] to protect my soldiers, I’ll go to hell with a gasoline can in my hand.”

One month later, West was relieved of his command. A preliminary investigation by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division alleged that West’s actions were in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

With the Article 32 hearing concluded, the case “is now in the hands of the investigative officer,” Lt. Col. Jimmy Davis, according to Master Sgt. Robert Cargie, a spokesman for the 4th ID in Tikrit.

There are three “courses of action” Davis could recommend, Cargie said in a Monday telephone interview: dismiss the case; proceed with Article 15 charges, which are administrative, internal sanctions; or “continue to process to a court-martial.”

Davis will make his recommendation directly to the 4th ID’s commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, Cargie said.

West has been assigned administrative duties while awaiting the outcome of the investigation, Cargie said. He refused to discuss details of West’s case, citing the pending recommendation.

In a Monday e-mail from Iraq, West also declined to comment on specifics concerning his case.

“I never wanted a public event as such we have,” West wrote. “I will not open my voice until this is resolved and I stand in embrace with my wife and daughters, all that matters right now.”

He referred additional questions to his attorney, retired Marine Lt. Col. Neal Puckett, who is in Tikrit with West awaiting the outcome of the investigation. Puckett did not reply to e-mail and telephone messages seeking comment.

Public debate

West’s case has caught the attention of many Americans, including several who have e-mailed Stars and Stripes with their concerns.

Typical of those e-mails was this missive from retired Air Force member Roy S. Alba II of San Antonio:

“If the United States Army wants to improve morale they should promote LTC West way ahead of his peers,” Alba wrote. “Besides providing tardy justice to West it will also say to the enemy, ‘We’re taking the gloves off so don’t screw with us!’” wrote Alba.

Alba concluded: “Nice guys finish last!”

Angela West, West’s wife of 14 years, said in a Tuesday telephone interview that she has personally received “five or six thousand” letters and e-mails regarding her husband’s predicament, and that they have been running “almost 100 percent positive.”

“People are being very supportive of him, and I’m glad,” Angela West said. “It’s a huge support base, especially [responses from] the military.”

Grass-roots support for West appears to be largely driven by the Internet, where at least two dozen Web sites and chat rooms are tackling the controversy.

Most of the sites lean conservative or are devoted to military and veteran’s issues. At least two outlets, liberty.conservativepetitions.com/petitions.php and patriotpetitions.us/colwest/, have electronic petitions prepared they say will be sent to members of Congress, the Pentagon and White House.

On the liberty conservative petition site, opened Nov. 10, 640 people had registered their signatures as of Wednesday. There is no signature count associated with the patriotpetition site.

West also has champions in Congress, including McHugh, who is chairman of the House Armed Service’s Committee’s Subcommittee on Total Force, which has jurisdiction over military personnel matters, and House Armed Service Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

Hunter and McHugh have sent two letters to acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee, requesting copies of the CID report and the Article 32 hearing transcripts involving the West case.

“We’re looking for the facts,” McHugh said. “We’re not urging a specific outcome here, or suggesting that what [West] did is totally OK, [but] we are looking for justice.”

McHugh said he heard about West “six or eight weeks ago,” while listening to a talk radio show by conservative host G. Gordon Liddy.

Subsequently, “more than two dozen members [of the House] have come up to me to comment, complain about [West’s case] or demand some kind of action on it,” McHugh said, calling such numbers “surprising.”

“When you have that level of member concern, you try to respond to it,” McHugh said.

Senior Army officials at the Pentagon will not discuss the West case, spokesman Maj. Steve Stover said Monday, “because we want to avoid undue command influence” on the outcome of the hearing.

View from the Hill

It’s difficult to say whether the congressional interest will help or harm West, according to attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice in Washington.

“The value of congressional inquiries [into military justice cases] is not very clear,” Fidell said in a Monday telephone interview. “They often prove perfunctory, or worse yet, can backfire and harm the person that they are seeking to help,” because military officials resent the interference.

McHugh, however, said that while the West case “is obviously important for Colonel West, there are a number of larger, legitimate questions here” about the use of force in interrogations.

“We’re concerned about the longer-term implications,” McHugh said. “The challenge is that there are far too many detainees who don’t take us seriously.

“No one is saying we should engage in wholesale beatings and intimidation, but this is a new era,” he said. “The question we might ask ourselves is, within the bounds of humane treatment, should we be a little less strict” regarding the rules of interrogations?

Angela West agreed.

“There’s a bigger picture here,” she said. “We’re really not getting information from these guys (the Iraqis).”

“If [West’s] actions prevented four [soldiers’] lives from being lost, then I wish their families a great Thanksgiving,” Angela West said.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: allenwest; colwest; ltcwest; west; westforcongress; wildwildwest
Yet another article about LTC West.

Seems to me there is more emotion than truth driving the petitions.

I don't see how he can remain in the military without a total policy change regarding treatment of POWs and detainees.

1 posted on 11/28/2003 9:06:35 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u; Pukin Dog; Poohbah
pinging
2 posted on 11/28/2003 9:08:11 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
If you are correct, he petions for an immediate policy change is in order. He has done what any sane man would do & the policy is wrong-if we are willing to expose our troops to such acts. It may entail flushing the Geneva Conventions & we may be forced to rely upon fear of retaliation to protect out troops when they are captured. We would need to demonstrate that policy. I think it may be a proper path-but i am only a common citizen with no legal experience-not to mention international law.

"The War does indeed have many facets; http://aztlan.net/ Look at your enemy."
3 posted on 11/28/2003 9:35:07 AM PST by GatekeeperBookman ("The War does indeed have many facets; http://aztlan.net/ Look at your enemy." Listen to Tancredo)
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To: Ispy4u
Mona Charen asked 'what do you want, a Jessica Lynch military or an LTC West military?'

America today probably wants the former rather than the latter, as it doesn't clash with PC. PC is important. So far it is worth the lives of the number cops and service members and public killed since its implimentation.
4 posted on 11/28/2003 9:37:10 AM PST by TalBlack ("Tal, no song means anything without someone else...")
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To: TalBlack
West should receive a medal of honor.
5 posted on 11/28/2003 9:43:28 AM PST by katya8
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To: GatekeeperBookman
If a policy change went into effect immediately would that change the fact that LTC West still violated UCMJ? Would that make it ok?
6 posted on 11/28/2003 9:55:02 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: TalBlack
The charges against LTC West do not stem from what America wants, it centers around discipline.

Any breach of the UCMJ stems from disciplinary shortcomings. PC has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

If the rules changed today, and what LTC West did was deemed ok, would he still be guilty of disciplinary shortcomings?
7 posted on 11/28/2003 10:01:48 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: katya8
For what? Total disregard for lawful orders?
8 posted on 11/28/2003 10:02:28 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
Only if your son or daughter were under his command-or if you cared a whit for the lives of US troops-in preferrence to savages. Of course, I do not mean to impune you-I realize you merely state the facts & pose the issues.

One minor fact-we are in war for our very existance-we fight to continue to have the privilage of living. I fully expect far worse than 911 AFTER the next November election. We are exposed:

"The War does indeed have many facets; http://aztlan.net/ Look at your enemy."
9 posted on 11/28/2003 10:20:09 AM PST by GatekeeperBookman ("The War does indeed have many facets; http://aztlan.net/ Look at your enemy." Listen to Tancredo)
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To: Ispy4u
bump
10 posted on 11/28/2003 12:15:07 PM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
If a policy change went into effect immediately would that change the fact that LTC West still violated UCMJ? Would that make it ok?

If he's called by Senators Inhofe and Warner to testify about Quislings and defeatist REMFs undermining the ability of our combat troops to protect their own lives, and he's given full community immunity from prosecution, I'd expect that would do it.

11 posted on 11/30/2003 1:19:15 PM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: katya8
West should receive a medal of honor.

Not so. He deserves the Soldiers Medal.

3-12. Soldier's Medal

a. The Soldier's Medal, section 3750, title 10, United States Code (10 USC 3750) was established by Act of Congress 2 July 1926.

b. The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The same degree of heroism is required as for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Awards will not be made solely on the basis of having saved a life.


12 posted on 11/30/2003 1:22:35 PM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: archy; Poohbah; Pukin Dog
Yep, our guys can't handle a coordinated ambush.

Oh, wait! I just heard the news it's 55 dead Fedayyeen - 5 wounded soldiers.

Oh yeah, West definitely without a doubt, no questions asked, saved lives! Of Iraqi insurgents!
13 posted on 12/01/2003 2:46:59 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
gOOD.
14 posted on 12/01/2003 3:24:27 AM PST by Quix (Choose this day whom U will serve: Shrillery & demonic goons or The King of Kings and Lord of Lords)
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To: Ispy4u
Yep, our guys can't handle a coordinated ambush.

Oh, wait! I just heard the news it's 55 dead Fedayyeen - 5 wounded soldiers.

Oh yeah, West definitely without a doubt, no questions asked, saved lives! Of Iraqi insurgents!

And meanwhile, during the month of November, more American troops were killed than in any of the previous months since President Bush declared the direct hostilities concluded, and we entered this occupation/ counterinsurgency phase of the campaign.

And why shouldn't Saddam's terrorists continue their attacks? After all, they have Americans like you making sure that other officers won't be taking effective measures against them, and otherwise giving them aid and comfort.

-archy-/-

15 posted on 12/01/2003 5:44:17 AM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: archy
And meanwhile, during the month of November, more American troops were killed than in any of the previous months since President Bush declared the direct hostilities concluded, and we entered this occupation/ counterinsurgency phase of the campaign.

I guess your point is we should just give up now since we lost 78 in November? No really Arch, what are you getting at? I guess that we shouldn't have even bothered to fight back against the ambush yesterday, after all because of this LTC West thing our 4th ID guys' morale is obvoiously broken. I posted the info about the ambush because whiners like you said that the morale of 4th ID would be crushed. Well for a crushed morale those guys kicked the livin crap out of the Fedayeen Saddam!

After all, they have Americans like you making sure that other officers won't be taking effective measures against them, and otherwise giving them aid and comfort.

I had almost forgotten why I offered before to give you a short class on the differences between officer and enlisted. Keep talking trash, you whiner!

16 posted on 12/01/2003 6:06:03 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: archy
The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Awards will not be made solely on the basis of having saved a life.

.

West fails to meet the criteria for the soldier's medal.

17 posted on 12/01/2003 6:14:50 AM PST by verity
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To: Ispy4u
It's a WAR - guns are going off all around. What next, special monitors to measure how far away every shot is? He didn't kill the hostage, didn't beat him, and in doing so saved American lives. Ltc. West should be commended!
18 posted on 12/01/2003 6:18:49 AM PST by 4CJ ('Scots vie 4 tavern juices' - anagram by paulklenk, 22 Nov 2003)
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
War in case you didn't know is where soldiers do their work. In peacetime, it's all training to go to war. Why is it then ok to say the things we have learned, practiced, and preached be forgotten. If we wanted to do that we could just hire mercenaries to do our dirty work.

Either this country want's professional soldiers who follow orders, or we want a military that makes it's own rules and does what ever it wants. The UCMJ is there to prevent the latter from happening.
19 posted on 12/01/2003 6:37:52 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: 4ConservativeJustices
Oh, I forgot. You are right LTC West didn't beat him. He ordered his subordinates to do that. For which they got NJP and fines.
20 posted on 12/01/2003 6:39:36 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
You are right LTC West didn't beat him.

He aint right. Time will tell.

21 posted on 12/01/2003 6:52:07 AM PST by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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To: Ispy4u
I guess your point is we should just give up now since we lost 78 in November?

Not at all. This could be the point at which we begin to take a real agressive stance, instead of just shooting back when fired upon. Of course if it's made clear that such aggressiveness will buy the officer commanding a set of charges and specifications, they'll back off, and sometime early next year, we'll note a hundred more Americans killed in a month to come.

No really Arch, what are you getting at? I guess that we shouldn't have even bothered to fight back against the ambush yesterday, after all because of this LTC West thing our 4th ID guys' morale is obvoiously broken.

I'm less concerned for the 4th ID than I am for reservists arriving in-country, and more of whom will be taking over in the next six months, at least. And in particular, for their junior officers, from many of whom I've heard sad and disturbing thoughts, if understandable ones.

I posted the info about the ambush because whiners like you said that the morale of 4th ID would be crushed. Well for a crushed morale those guys kicked the livin crap out of the Fedayeen Saddam!

When I'm called a whiner by someone hiding behind his desk in Maryland, I'm not particularly impressed. Tell us about the ambushes you've pulled off, not those of otyhers. BTW, it was 54 enemy hostile KIA. Or were you reading the press accounts instead of the 4th ID AAR?

After all, they have Americans like you making sure that other officers won't be taking effective measures against them, and otherwise giving them aid and comfort.

I had almost forgotten why I offered before to give you a short class on the differences between officer and enlisted. Keep talking trash, you whiner!

I don't need lessons on that, having spent my first tour, 1966-1970, as an enlisted man, initially as an eleven-echo tank crewman. But I particularly don't need lessons from a chairwarmer who couldn't hack it in a line unit in a combat arms MOS.

-archy-/-

22 posted on 12/01/2003 7:35:56 AM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: archy
Let's see arch. I'm still active, I've been in theater already this year. I was in Afghanistan last year. And you call me a chair warmer. Did you forget that I was 8 years Infantry or are you a has-been that has to disparage others service to make himself feel big?

What you don't know about Intel analysts cracks me up. You should not make assumptions about what someone does because of their MOS. The Army has an awful lot of "other jobs" for people that aren't necessarily apparent by their job title.

Anyway, I'm not going to get into a Peeing contest with a has-been. I know what I've done, and don't have to prove it to you. Even if you have done more than me in your career, that doesn't mean your comments hold water.

BTW those reservists arriving in country will do just fine. Their tours are 18 mos long with required 12 in country. What do you think they are going to do for the other 6? It won't be sitting on their duffs in garrison, I can promise you that. Some of it will be set aside for Demobilization, but the majority will be hell bent for leather training. They will be up to speed when they get there.

Anyway, here's to your moaning and whining about one LTC who can't maintain his self discipline. His story makes for a really good "no $H#T there we were" story, but in reality it costs us way more than any of us are willing to pay.
23 posted on 12/01/2003 7:53:39 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
Thanks for what you're doing, and very well said.
24 posted on 12/03/2003 8:26:13 AM PST by XJarhead
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