LTC Allen B. West
4th Infantry Division, Iraq
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Sign the Petition on behalf of LTC West
Note: The petition, hosted by The Patriot Post, garnered 148,176 signatures back in 2003 when this was current news.
Editor's note: Norman Turner, Lt. Col. USAF Ret., served two tours in Vietnam as a fighter pilot. 335 combat missions, including 100 over North Vietnam. Silver Star, 4 DFCs. Later criminal trial attorney and trial court judge (Riverside, CA, Superior Court). Mr. Turner's excellent essay and analysis affords us the unique perspectives of both flag officer (same rank as the embattled Col. West) and of a trial judge. His essay is as qualified as it is appreciated -- extremely. Mr. Turner now resides in Florida.
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THE LEGAL LYNCHING OF LT. COL. WEST
By Norman Turner
In an incredible decision by the hierarchy of the United States Army, Lt. Col. Allen B. West, a battalion commander with the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq, is facing the specter of being sent to federal prison for up to 8 years and losing his military retirement for an act of combat expediency that undoubtedly saved the lives of men and women in his unit.
Operating with his unit in the dangerous Sunni Triangle region near Tikrit, Col. West became aware of a planned ambush and possible assassination attempt against him and the troops of his battalion. Through information provided by an informer he discovered that a policeman in the area had been involved in prior attacks on Americans.
Col. West personally conducted part of the interrogation of the prisoner. The captive was not tortured, nor injured but he was frightened. A pistol was fired twice in an ultimately successful effort to convince him to reveal what he knew about a planned ambush. The man was never in danger of being injured but he was certainly scared. The people he was used to dealing with, Muslim terrorists, did not bluff about such things.
There was no attempt by Col. West to hide his actions. He did not deny what had happened and accepted responsibility for his acts. "My intent was to scare this individual," he stated, "and keep my soldiers out of a potential ambush. There were no further attacks from that town."
Two other terrorists were apprehended as a result of the information provided by the detained Iraqi. One of them was the father of the man interrogated by Col. West for his Saddam Fedayeen affiliation. Col. West has been charged by the staff judge advocate of the 4th Infantry Division of communicating a threat and aggravated assault under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
This criminal action by the hierarchy of the Army would be ludicrous if it were not so tragic to Col. West and his family, not to mention the morale of our troops in combat. To deny a combat field commander reasonable and effective, non-injurious methods to interrogate a terrorist in a death-threatening situation is insane. The man was not even a prisoner of war.
Almost as crazy as having such a policy in the first place is the lack of judgment by the generals above Lt. Col. West who could have refrained from pursuing this butt covering legal action. These bureaucratic ticket punchers are the sort of officers that this country could well do without.
The insidious odor of political correctness permeates this case. Apparently it is better in the minds of those presently at the top of the Army food chain to sacrifice the 19-year career, and possibly the freedom, of a dedicated operational commander than to face possible criticism by loony leftist, blame-America, bleeding hearts.
On a recent talk show a young Navy JAG (read "lawyer") who had clearly never encountered even a whiff of cordite, defended the policy of kid glove treatment for all detained prisoners, including criminal terrorists by stating that "we wouldn't want OUR service people treated this way if they were captured."
This comment is so absurd as to induce a gag reflex. Not since World War II - and before the adoption of the Geneva Convention standard of POW treatment - has a captured American soldier been accorded any semblance of humane treatment. It isn't about to start in Iraq either.
Some at the top of the military leadership crowd need to be retrained with the common sense idea that the lives of American youths are more important than the social sensitivities of terrorists. At a time when the toll of body bags quietly but surely is mounting, someone had better get the message that America won't tolerate such nonsense much longer.
The generals now bringing this action would presumably have patted the prisoner on the back and released him. Leading safely from the rear, they would have "bitten the bullet" and sadly written letters to the families of the soldiers slain as a result.
Someone needs to be removed from the U. S. Army all right, but that individual isn't Lt. Col. West. America is watching this disgraceful event.
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