May 28, 2011

Allen West's Past Rears Its Ugly Head

I would take these gentlemen over and let them get shot at a few times and maybe they’d have a different opinion.” - Allen West, referring to Ron Paul and other Congress members who supported ending US involvement in Afghanistan.
Allen West firmly believes that the best way to resolve an argument is to subject your opponent to gunfire. Before you turn away and suggest that this statement is merely hyperbole, there are some facts you may want to consider.

When West made the above statement, he was responding to the recent bi-partisan effort in Congress to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. West, a former Lt. Colonel in the Army is no stranger to the effects of persuasion at gunpoint. His military career ended in infamy after he fired his sidearm at an unarmed Iraqi policeman suspected of being involved in an assassination plot..

The National Review in 2003, ran a piece defending West and suggesting (correctly) that his commanding officer should not have been given leniency if West himself was given none (West was fined $5,000 dollars and got to keep his pension). But the details, even though presented by the NRO in the best possible light for West, should give anyone serious misgivings about allowing West any access to authority in government or elsewhere.

Sometime in October of 2002, while stationed in Iraq, West was told by fellow soldiers that they had captured an Iraqi police officer who wouldn’t cooperate. West and his unit took over the interrogation, which for some time did not yield any better results than did the two women interrogators who preceded him.

Two of West’s men beat the policeman while West looked on, but could not get him to reveal any details of his alleged involvement or reveal the names of others who may have been involved. When it was clear that the beating wasn’t having any effect, West finally stepped in and took matters into his own hands.

Drawing his sidearm, he pointed it at the suspect and demanded that he talk. This didn’t have any positive effect so he dragged the suspect outside, making him kneel down on the ground. He then threatened the man two more times before finally discharging his sidearm within a foot of the man’s ear.

Convinced that West was serious, the man started giving out information, though it is unclear that this information was anything other than nonsense designed to appease West and his men. West’s supporters claim that after the incident, attacks against the base ceased and that West’s actions had “saved” his fellow soldiers. The Army hasn't released any specific details that support this claim.

Some months later, when Army brass discovered the incident, West was forced to face a hearing and finally sent back to Fort Hood where he retired after 20 years of service.

History would suggest West would rather his ideological opponents be unarmed. For this reason, West has no business being anywhere near the halls of power. Calling him heroic is not even remotely appropriate.

Over the years West has shown absolutely no remorse for his actions. In interviews and at his hearing(pdf) he claimed that under similar circumstances he'd do it again. Contrary to the NRO's puff piece, West did not inform his superiors of any of the details other than a vague "I discharged my firearm", statement. He also told his subordinates that details were to be kept a secret, according the the testimony of soldiers interviewed.

With enablers like the neoconservative National Review and World Net Daily, why should he feel any remorse?

West’s behavior and his most recent outburst suggests he’s a sociopath. Yet, with the help of an enabling media, he’s been able to craft himself folk-hero status and a seat in Congress.

There are even calls for West to put his hat in the ring for the Presidency. It apparently does not concern anyone that this would give him command of not only the world’s largest military force, but also the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. This is exactly the sort of person they prefer to have in charge of the military.

If that doesn’t scare you, then you have far more courage than Allen West.

UPDATE: (A facebook friend pointed me at some very good information)

The New York Times - THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: INTERROGATIONS; How Colonel Risked His Career By Menacing Detainee and Lost

"Indeed, it is possible that the abusive interrogation might never have come to light if a sergeant in another battalion had not subsequently written a letter of complaint about the ''command climate'' under Colonel West's superior officer. In that letter, the sergeant mentioned almost as an aside, according to Mr. Puckett, that Colonel West had interrogated a detainee using a pistol. An investigation was set in motion."
From the Army Report:
Q: After the incident, did LTC (West) tell you not to tell anyone about the incident?

A: Yes, after he was finished talking to Col. (West) we headed back to our living quarters. He then told us to keep this incident to ourselves and to people we trust. (CID Report: Page 22).

LT. COL. (West) said that this night stays with 2-20 and 2-20 only. We all gave a Hooah and continued to walk to our rooms. (CID report: Page 48 - See 4 of 11).

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