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GOP Defends Army Officer
NewsMax.com ^ | Monday, Dec. 1, 2003 | Jon E. Dougherty

Posted on 12/01/2003 5:40:49 AM PST by GigaDittos

Republican lawmakers are standing behind a lieutenant colonel who has been threatened by the Army with early retirement or criminal prosecution for his use of an unconventional interrogation technique. In a letter to acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee, Reps. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and John H. McHugh, R-N.Y., said they were "highly disturbed" the Pentagon was considering leveling criminal charges against Army Lt. Col. Allan West, Copley News Service reported.

The Army is considering charging West, an artillery unit commander, with aggravated assault, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, for his dramatic interrogation technique against an Iraqi policeman suspected of having ties to Saddam loyalist guerillas.

In an effort to produce faster results because of intelligence his unit was targeted for attack, West took charge of the interrogation of the Iraqi in the town of Saba al Boor, near Tikrit, Aug. 21. Warning subordinates the interrogation "could get ugly," he threatened to kill the Iraqi if he didn't talk, then fired his sidearm into the ground near the Iraqi's head.

The Iraqi policeman then began providing details of an impending attack upon American troops. The information also led to a series of arrests of Saddam loyalists.

West, who immediately reported the incident to his superiors, said he was the target of an assassination plot, and that soldiers in his unit had been attacked by guerillas linked to the policeman.

"I did not want to expose my soldiers to a possible attack," he told The Washington Times in an e-mail.

Hunter – chairman of the House Armed Services Committee – and McHugh, a member of the committee, said West's actions "were necessary to protect the lives and safety of his men."

Not Criminal

"To us, such actions if accurately reported do not appear to be those of a criminal," said the letter. The lawmakers asked Brownlee to " expeditiously provide us" details which led the unit's commanding general to begin a criminal investigation of West.

The lawmakers requested Brownlee "closely examine this matter and provide us with your assessment of facts and circumstances."

West has also garnered support from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., and Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., a member of the committee.

Supporters say the tactic, while unconventional, likely saved the lives of American troops. But military officials believe West violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and are considering charging him with aggravated assault.

Article 128 of the code states: "[Any military personnel] who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do...harm to another person, whether or not the attempt or offer is consummated, is guilty of assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

In his e-mail to the Times, West said he fired his 9 mm pistol twice, once "into the weapons clearing barrel outside the facility alone, and the next time I did it while having his head close to the barrel."

"I stood in between the firing and his person. I admit that what I did was not right, but it was done with the concern of the safety of my soldiers and myself," he wrote.

The Army has given West a choice, however – resign early and lose retirement benefits, or face charges which could range in penalties from no punishment to eight years in prison.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said he has the authority to intervene on West's behalf, but has so far refused. Retired Marine Lt. Col. Neal A. Puckett, West's attorney, has rejected an offer from the 4th Infantry Division's staff judge advocate for his client to resign and lose his benefits.

Puckett and West are currently at a forward base near Tikrit awaiting the results of an ongoing investigation.

At a preliminary hearing in Tikrit last week, West testified he also allowed two U.S. soldiers to beat the Iraqi policeman prior to firing his weapon because the Iraqi refused to provide information on the attack.


TOPICS: Front Page News; Government
KEYWORDS: alanwest; allenwest; bravery; colonelalanwest; colonelwest; courtmartial; ltcolallanwest; warcrimes; westforcongress; wildwildwest
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Regardless of the letter of the law, this man's intent was just and to do his duty to his men. The law was made for man, not man for the law.
1 posted on 12/01/2003 5:40:49 AM PST by GigaDittos
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To: GigaDittos
BTTT....this man, IMHO, did nothing wrong. We are at war, against terrorists, snipers, and evil men who observe no "proper rules" of engagement/customs of war.
2 posted on 12/01/2003 5:43:29 AM PST by nicmarlo
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To: GigaDittos
Regardless of the letter of the law, this man's intent was just and to do his duty to his men. The law was made for man, not man for the law.

Read the law cited carefully.

Article 128 of the code states: "[Any military personnel] who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do...harm to another person, whether or not the attempt or offer is consummated, is guilty of assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

He's admitted he never intended to do harm. I don't think he's even violated the 'letter of the law'. However, it doesn't help his case when he's out there in the media admitting he what he did 'was not right.'

3 posted on 12/01/2003 5:46:53 AM PST by ClintonBeGone
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To: GigaDittos; 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub; LindaSOG
I'm glad to see the GOP support for Lt. Col. West! I believe he is an Army officer who warrants our praise, not charges. ("Unconventional interrogation technique," my Aunt Fanny! His methods don't sound "unconventional" to me; they sound "effective"!)

Ping
4 posted on 12/01/2003 5:50:07 AM PST by Fawnn (Official Canteen wOOhOO Consultant ... and www.CookingWithPam.com person)
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To: ClintonBeGone
..admitting he what he did 'was not right.'

Agreed...critical error on his part.

In an effort to be totally above board he has shot himself in the foot making it even harder for his superiors to find a way out for him.

All that aside, the fact is what he did 'was right' and would not violate any of my rules of engagement for wartime actions.

5 posted on 12/01/2003 5:55:49 AM PST by evad (Most politicians lie, cheat and steal. It's all they know to do and they won't stop...EVER!)
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To: GigaDittos
LT. Colonel West BUMP
6 posted on 12/01/2003 5:56:39 AM PST by mattdono (Big Arnie: "Crush the democrats, drive them before you, and hear the lamentations of the scumbags.")
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To: ClintonBeGone; Ispy4u; Pukin Dog
He's admitted he never intended to do harm.

Actually, at his Article 32 hearing, he did.

7 posted on 12/01/2003 5:57:58 AM PST by Poohbah ("Beware the fury of a patient man" -- John Dryden)
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To: GigaDittos
..the tactic, while unconventional, likely saved the lives of American troops. But military officials believe West violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Does anyone know if the UCMJ covers 'rules of engagement' in wartime??

Where do rules of engagement come from?

8 posted on 12/01/2003 6:05:48 AM PST by evad (Most politicians lie, cheat and steal. It's all they know to do and they won't stop...EVER!)
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To: GigaDittos
I always have a problem with professional politicians preaching about morality and ethics.
9 posted on 12/01/2003 6:06:22 AM PST by verity
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To: evad; Ispy4u; Pukin Dog
Does anyone know if the UCMJ covers 'rules of engagement' in wartime??

Yes, it does.

Where do rules of engagement come from?

They are imposed by senior echelons--brigade, division, corps, theater commander, and so on. In other words, LTC West was violating orders from those above him in the chain of command.

10 posted on 12/01/2003 6:10:28 AM PST by Poohbah ("Beware the fury of a patient man" -- John Dryden)
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To: Poohbah
Thanks for the ping.

People can bend the words of article 128 but it still points back to admission of guilt for assault. Whatever happens to LTC West will center on that and "other" stuff from the command climate investigation.
11 posted on 12/01/2003 6:14:17 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: evad
UCMJ covers every action, of every member of the military, at all times. There are no exceptions!

And BTW ROE come from lawful orders of West's superiors. He failed to follow orders as well as comitting assault.
12 posted on 12/01/2003 6:16:15 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
Still, its a shame to junk the guy's career over this.
13 posted on 12/01/2003 6:19:09 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: GigaDittos
Sorry, I cannot accept that this individual should be court martial for getting information which resulted in saving his troops. This is one rare exception where the end does justify the means. If it means making one Iraqie terrorist pee his pants to save the lifes for our troops then I'm all for it. I think this is a good case for a presidential pardon and a promotion.
14 posted on 12/01/2003 6:21:26 AM PST by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD
I think this is a good case for a presidential pardon

Only a thanksgiving turkey can be pardoned without first having been found guilty.

15 posted on 12/01/2003 6:29:34 AM PST by verity
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To: GigaDittos
"Article 128 of the code states: "[Any military personnel] who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do...harm to another person, whether or not the attempt or offer is consummated, is guilty of assault and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

Then West is innocent: he clearly made no "attempt" to harm that Iraqi @sswipe.

16 posted on 12/01/2003 6:34:45 AM PST by Redbob
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To: HarleyD
There is a problem inherent here. If a colonel-grade commander does this, what message is being sent to Private Snuffy in A Battery? These charges were brought by a fine division commander. Basically, the problem is that there is a very thin line between an army and an armed mob. By definition West set an ugly precedent for his command.
17 posted on 12/01/2003 6:34:59 AM PST by basque69
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To: Poohbah
Actually, at his Article 32 hearing, he did.

:( Another reason why one much remember their is a constitutional right to remain silent - even under the UCMJ.

18 posted on 12/01/2003 6:35:37 AM PST by ClintonBeGone
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To: evad
All that aside, the fact is what he did 'was right' and would not violate any of my rules of engagement for wartime actions.

Agreed. You make a good point. His best option is to win this in the court of public opinion. His admission makes it that much harder for his defenders in Congress.

19 posted on 12/01/2003 6:37:13 AM PST by ClintonBeGone
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To: evad
Does anyone know if the UCMJ covers 'rules of engagement' in wartime??

I'm sure it does, but maybe not in detail. What the UCMJ would do is say it's a violation to disobey a direct order. The rules of engagement would be contained in a direct order from someone in his chain of command. Therefore, disobeying those direct orders would be a violation of the UCMJ, in addition to any specific violation of the UCMJ like assault, battery, etc.

20 posted on 12/01/2003 6:40:39 AM PST by ClintonBeGone
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To: verity
"Only a thanksgiving turkey can be pardoned without first having been found guilty."

You forgot about President Nixon. Also known as "Precedent Nixon."

21 posted on 12/01/2003 6:42:27 AM PST by cookcounty
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To: GigaDittos
"At a preliminary hearing in Tikrit last week, West testified he also allowed two U.S. soldiers to beat the Iraqi policeman prior to firing his weapon because the Iraqi refused to provide information on the attack"

He's a goner, if this report is accurate.

22 posted on 12/01/2003 6:44:40 AM PST by cookcounty
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To: Calpernia
Ping.
23 posted on 12/01/2003 6:47:44 AM PST by MattinNJ (If someone says happy holidays to me, I say Merry Christmas to them.)
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To: Fawnn
"His methods don't sound "unconventional" to me; they sound "effective"!"

Extra-ordinary warfare demands extra-ordinary counter-measures. When dealing with kamikazes, there is only one rule: Do whatever it takes to survive.

24 posted on 12/01/2003 6:48:41 AM PST by Eastbound
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To: Eastbound
Thus spake Calley at My Lai!
25 posted on 12/01/2003 6:52:34 AM PST by basque69
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To: ClintonBeGone; Ispy4u; Poohbah
I'm sure it does, but maybe not in detail. What the UCMJ would do is say it's a violation to disobey a direct order

So we can assume that in this case there is some kind of directive from West's superiors in the ROE that covers the details of extracting information from a captive.

Could we also assume that this directive (if it exists) covers the extenuating circumstance in West's case, ie that his troops were in imminent danger?

26 posted on 12/01/2003 6:58:41 AM PST by evad (Most politicians lie, cheat and steal. It's all they know to do and they won't stop...EVER!)
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To: ClintonBeGone
Remember some of the quotes from our great WW II commanders..i.e..."Kill Japs..more Japs"..and "the "japanese language will be spoken only in Hell"..( paraphrasing from memory, sorry)..well today, if a US officer said the same thing using Muslim extremists, etc..he'd be Court martialed....go figure..
27 posted on 12/01/2003 6:58:41 AM PST by ken5050
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To: evad
admitting he what he did 'was not right.

Col. West seems to have finally remembered why he wears the Uniform. This is the first I have heard of him regaining military bearing since this incident came to light. Had he made his admission on the first day, BEFORE his troops turned him in, he might be in a much better position today. Instead he and his lawyer made sure that the matter would be a public one. What he did was WRONG, and I wish he had said so sooner, instead of wrapping himself in the flag, claiming to have saved lives that no one seems able to prove were at risk.

28 posted on 12/01/2003 6:59:30 AM PST by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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To: cookcounty
It is accurate, yet still incomplete.
29 posted on 12/01/2003 7:00:38 AM PST by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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To: evad
The rules of prisoner handling in the GWOT are that all detainees and captured nationals are to be treated as POWs until their status is determined by the appropriate authority. That authority being the SJA or JAG and MP/CID investigators.

You can make every claim in the book that what LTC West did was OK but just like everyone else in a US uniform, the treatment of POWs is a non compromising order.

So short answer, yes he disobeyed a lawful order known to him and his subordinates regarding the treatment and handling of detainees and POWs.
30 posted on 12/01/2003 7:03:47 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: MoJo2001; B4Ranch; grizzfan; Flurry; MeeknMing; GladesGuru; ZULU; montag813; blackie; ...
Lt. Col. West Ping. I have some more emails from him I will forward after I get my morning mail out.
31 posted on 12/01/2003 7:04:41 AM PST by Calpernia (Innocence seldom utters outraged shrieks. Guilt does.)
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To: GigaDittos
Muslims are warriors...they arent bound by the leftist version of 'civilized warfare' (the kind where we use PC to destroy ourselves vs the enemy)

If firing a pistol "near" a terrorist who is involved in the ambushing of our troops is considered "unlawfull" then we had better change the freaking laws ASAP because as tools they are useless...they should apply to intra service violations but never the enemy...

And if you are going to punish Col West for this very minor means of extracting information...then you had better go back and try a million soldiers from Valley Forge to Vietnam for worse...and if doing what is harsh to the enemy to save our lives is wrong..
I dont wanna be right...

I have had the unsavory duty of working with field interogators once or twice...what Col. West did was minor...bush league...

To go after him will make every commander in the theater fear for his or her career and think twice about harming the enemy or taking the inititive without constant consulting higher higher
imo this will turn our fighting force into a micro managed disaster...of "leaders" who worry about their own tocuses more then the welfare of their troopies....
32 posted on 12/01/2003 7:07:22 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: Pukin Dog
Had he made his admission on the first day, BEFORE his troops turned him in,

As I have heard it, he "turned himself in" by writing a report on the incident and passing it up the chain of command.

33 posted on 12/01/2003 7:08:11 AM PST by jackbill
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To: MattinNJ
Thanks for the ping.
34 posted on 12/01/2003 7:08:52 AM PST by Calpernia (Innocence seldom utters outraged shrieks. Guilt does.)
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To: Calpernia
Thanks for the ping!
35 posted on 12/01/2003 7:10:22 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Calpernia
Okay thanks for the ping.
36 posted on 12/01/2003 7:14:05 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: verity
I think this is a good case for a presidential pardon

Only a thanksgiving turkey can be pardoned without first having been found guilty.

Actually, LTC West can be summoned to testify before congress, and may be granrted full immunity from prosecution if he believes his truthful testimony could be used against him in court or courts-martial.

And that possibility is under consideration by several congressmen.

-archy-/-

37 posted on 12/01/2003 7:18:28 AM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: basque69
Yes, war is hell.
38 posted on 12/01/2003 7:19:48 AM PST by Eastbound
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To: ken5050
Remember some of the quotes from our great WW II commanders..i.e..."Kill Japs..more Japs"..and "the "japanese language will be spoken only in Hell"..( paraphrasing from memory, sorry)..well today, if a US officer said the same thing using Muslim extremists, etc..he'd be Court martialed....go figure..

Back then, there weren't very many Americans, including political leaders and some in the military, hoping the US military forces in Iraq would be defeated and discredited so that their careers would prosper.

-archy-/-

39 posted on 12/01/2003 7:22:45 AM PST by archy (Angiloj! Mia kusenveturilo estas plena da angiloj!)
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To: Pukin Dog
Some interesting claims you made there Dog..
I'm personally not sure that he was 'turned in' or that his claims of troops in danger is unfounded. If you have actual source proof to the contrary I'd like to see it.

From what I know he passes my test for doing the right thing. Of course, I don't know everything and that's why we're having this discussion on this forum.

I am interested in what the actual 'law' says regarding this case because in the end, it isn't going to matter what you or I think...his case is going to be won or lost in two forums. One is the forum of public opinion where I think he will do well. The other is the legal forum which I'm not at all sure of.

40 posted on 12/01/2003 7:32:13 AM PST by evad (Most politicians lie, cheat and steal. It's all they know to do and they won't stop...EVER!)
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To: evad; Poohbah
So we can assume that in this case there is some kind of directive from West's superiors in the ROE that covers the details of extracting information from a captive.

Well, 'engagement' implies one of the situations when you're allowed to fire your weapon. I doubt any provision of those rules allow one to fire a weapon in the situation described here. I see where you're going with this, but I don't think there is enough of what is called a 'causal' connection.

41 posted on 12/01/2003 7:37:22 AM PST by ClintonBeGone
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To: evad
Your test aint the one he swore to uphold, partner.

I'm afraid you and others will have to be patient regarding the documented story. The forum of Public Opinion has no business even knowing about the event in question. That they do, is due only another failure of Col. West.

Those of us working to find out about Capt. Scott Spiecher get a big kick out of you folks finding reason to cheer the illegal abuse of a POW. The facts will be public soon enough; the only reason I comment at all is only an attempt to prevent Freepers from feeling foolish when it does.

42 posted on 12/01/2003 7:38:55 AM PST by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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To: Pukin Dog
Capt. Spiecher and Lt.Col. West are fighting on the same side of the War. Won't it be a BETTER idea to start your own thread to raise people's awareness of what happened to Capt. Spiecher instead of attacking his comrades in arms? You are tearing apart everything Spiecher was fighting for.
43 posted on 12/01/2003 7:53:07 AM PST by Calpernia (Innocence seldom utters outraged shrieks. Guilt does.)
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To: Pukin Dog
"Your test aint the one he swore to uphold, partner. "
No argument there, pardnuh.

I'm afraid you and others will have to be patient regarding the documented story.
So, does that mean you have no proof to back up your claims?

The forum of Public Opinion has no business even knowing about the event in question.
Well, they do and that's a fact of life we'll have to deal with.

That they do, is due only another failure of Col. West.
Is this fact or another unsupported claim?

..the only reason I comment at all is only an attempt to prevent Freepers from feeling foolish when it does.
Heh heh..that's rich.
Thanks.

44 posted on 12/01/2003 7:55:10 AM PST by evad (Most politicians lie, cheat and steal. It's all they know to do and they won't stop...EVER!)
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To: Calpernia; Pukin Dog
I have to take issue with this one.

Pukin dog is trying to make it clear to all involved that the only chance a man like Capt. Spiecher has in enemy hands is due to our treatment of EPWs.

If the enemy thinks we condone even one speck of the harm they routinely exact on our POWs there will be no chance for survival. Heck, if we abuse EPWs then we have no moral ground to stand on.

Just the ever so slight chance that if someone holding Capt. Speicher has one ounce of respect for his life because of our actions, will give him and other POWs the strength and hope to press on and survive until their safe return. Once they lose that hope, what else do they have.

I think Pukin Dog's comments are very relevant and in no way an attack on commrades in arms. At least those who live up to the oath they took.
45 posted on 12/01/2003 8:01:56 AM PST by Ispy4u
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To: Ispy4u
I am well aware of what Dog thinks. We have chatted about that.

I still stand by my post.
46 posted on 12/01/2003 8:07:47 AM PST by Calpernia (Innocence seldom utters outraged shrieks. Guilt does.)
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To: Calpernia
Lt. Col. Allan West ~ Hero ~ Bump!
47 posted on 12/01/2003 8:21:52 AM PST by blackie
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To: Redbob; Ispy4u; Pukin Dog
Then West is innocent: he clearly made no "attempt" to harm that Iraqi @sswipe.

West's own statements at his Article 32 hearing contradict this statement.

48 posted on 12/01/2003 8:29:05 AM PST by Poohbah ("Beware the fury of a patient man" -- John Dryden)
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To: ClintonBeGone
Where is the Presidential pardon?
49 posted on 12/01/2003 8:32:42 AM PST by FirstPrinciple
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To: Calpernia
Thanks, Calpernia.

With his men under direct threat from an ambush from an enemy who would use babies as shields and shredders as tools of info extraction, shooting a gun past this enemy's head was a kindness.

Give the man a promotion. Our enemies don't care about the "rules of engagement" or the Geneva Convention ~ and while aspiring for international civility is a noble dream, it isn't reality.

If one of our Soldiers dies because an enemy who can't be trusted is given civilized treatment ~ the officer in charge of appeasement should be the one on trial, imho.

LTC West is a hero.

50 posted on 12/01/2003 8:33:30 AM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl ( "Our military is full of the finest people on the face of the earth." ~ Pres. Bush, Baghdad)
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