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Beladonna
The Army has filed a criminal assault charge against an American officer who coerced an Iraqi into providing information that foiled a planned attack on U.S. soldiers.

Lt. Col. Allen B. West says he did not physically abuse the detainee, but used psychological pressure by twice firing his service weapon away from the Iraqi. After the shots were fired, the detainee, an Iraqi police officer, gave up the information on a planned attack around the northern Iraqi town of Saba al Boor.

Army files charge in combat tactic

This soldier was days away from retiring with full benefits.

The Lt. Col. is being given two choices: resign short of gaining retirement benefits or face court-martial.

Do you believe this soldier should be punished for his actions?
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NiteGuy
QUOTE(Beladonna @ Nov 8 2003, 09:36 AM)
The Army has filed a criminal assault charge against an American officer who coerced an Iraqi into providing information that foiled a planned attack on U.S. soldiers.

Lt. Col. Allen B. West says he did not physically abuse the detainee, but used psychological pressure by twice firing his service weapon away from the Iraqi. After the shots were fired, the detainee, an Iraqi police officer, gave up the information on a planned attack around the northern Iraqi town of Saba al Boor.

Army files charge in combat tactic

This soldier was days away from retiring with full benefits.

The Lt. Col. is being given two choices:  resign short of gaining retirement benefits or face court-martial.

Do you believe this soldier should be punished for his actions?

Yes, I do believe he should be punished.

Yes, he was able to gain information that could have hurt his troops, but there are laws and military regulations that say how the information is to be obtained. Physical or psychological coersion of the type described is expressly prohibited.

Here is what he said in an email concerning the charges, taken from the article:
QUOTE
"I asked for soldiers to accompany me and told them we had to gather information and that it could get ugly,"

QUOTE
He said his soldiers "physically aggress[ed]" the prisoner. A subsequent investigation resulted in nonjudicial punishment for them in the form of fines.

After the physical "aggress" failed, Col. West says he brandished his pistol.
"I did use my 9 mm weapon to threaten him and fired it twice."


He says that he didn't physically abuse the prisoner, but physically "agressed" the prisoner? What's the difference between agress and abuse? Bruises but no broken bones? How do you physically make contact with someone in a threatening manner, without assaulting him?

In addition, Col. West admits, in his own words that he brandished his weapon, threatened him, and fired off two rounds. How did the detainee know that the next round fired wouldn't have been away from him, but in him?

How do we establish a rule of law in this country, that the people there will respect, and that we want them to emulate, if this is what they are going to experience? And then, to just let the perpetrator off with no real consequence? He says at the end of the article, that he is willing to pay a "fine". For threatening to kill a man?

No, if we are going to set an example for how Iraqis are supposed to deal with threats in a democratic, rule of law nation, they need to see that there are punishments for violating the law, even if you are attempting to bring law and order to the country. This man was setting the wrong example.
Mrs. Pigpen
Yes, he should be punished. Unless there were extenuating conditions, he behaved disgracefully.
Aquilla
I don't think this situation is quite as cut and dried as it might appear based on what people in this thread are saying.

There are most certainly extenuating or mitigating circumstances here. First of all, the individual being detained was, by our definitions and by the Geneva Convention an "illegal combatant". He was not wearing the uniform of the enemy even though he obviously was the enemy. In a sense, he was a spy. Had Col West simply asked him if he knew anything and the guy said no and West let him walk, then suffered an attack later on that killed his men, Col. West might be brought up on charges of dereliction of duty. The key to his defense might very well lie in the term from the UCMJ "unlawful force" and a good defense attorney might question whether this was unlawful given the circumstances.

In any case, I'm comfortable allowing the military justice system handle this, it's a fair system and if it gets out of Article 32, Col. West will get a fair trial. I think that's how we set examples for the Iraqis.
GoAmerica
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Nov 8 2003, 10:18 AM)
Yes, he should be punished. Unless there were extenuating conditions, he behaved disgracefully.

I agree with you. We are suppose to be the good guys who follow the rules of war unlike our opponents. We need to leave a good impression on Iraqis when we leave.

But i still think we need to remember that this guy prevented an attack on our troops.
Dontreadonme
He did nothing wrong IMO. He made a conditional threat to a suspected terrorist, and saved lives of his men.
So he fired a weapon near the suspect....oh boo-hoo, did he wet himself?
Physically aggressing a prisoner means taking him down and subduing him for capture. Just like we have been doing to suspects all along....just like every other nation's army....just like police.

Lt. Col. West's duty is to his men.....'mission first, men always'.......nit to the self esteem or pride of someone who indeed turned out to be a terrorist, insurgent, or guerilla...whatever the PC term is today.
Platypus
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 8 2003, 07:46 PM)
Lt. Col. West's duty is to his men.....'mission first, men always'.......nit to the self esteem or pride of someone who indeed turned out to be a terrorist, insurgent, or guerilla...whatever the PC term is today.

All well and good, but how many towns would we bomb in retaliation if someone made one of our soldiers so much as sneeze? We condemn terrorism because it's a violation of the very same rules of war that make this an offense, and it's a good thing that your superior officers seem to recognize that as a problem.
Dontreadonme
QUOTE
All well and good, but how many towns would we bomb in retaliation if someone made one of our soldiers so much as sneeze?

This from the person who calls out members for using strawmen?

There's a huge difference between conveying a conditional threat, that was clearly never intended to be carried out, and resorting to illegal procedures.
I won't deny that he could easily be convicted of this charge, but I would do the same in that situation. My men's lives comes waaay before the unsoiled undergarments of those who would kill them.
moif
This is tough and I'm glad I don't have to pass judgement on this man.

Given the information available, I'd say that if Lt Col West did indeed break the law, then he should be punished for it... however, on the other hand, if his actions saved his men, then I am confused as to whether or not he did the right thing...

In his shoe's what would I have done?
I think perhaps I also would have broken the law if it meant saving the lives of my men... but I would also accept the responsibility of my actions, and answer honorably and truthfully to the court in the hope of a lenient sentence.

I also think that if I were one of Lt Col Wests men, I would speak up on his behalf, even to the point of accepting a share in the responsibility.

I hope they do not take away this man's pension.
Platypus
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 8 2003, 08:22 PM)
There's a huge difference between conveying a conditional threat, that was clearly never intended to be carried out, and resorting to illegal procedures.

There's a huge difference between trying to justify what happened, and lying about what happened. How, exactly, would it have been clear that the threat would not be carried out? If it was so clear, how did it serve to intimidate the Iraqi into cooperating? Seems to me that what's clear to you was not the least bit clear to him, and his interpretation of the threat is probably just a bit more relevant.

I agree with moif that what Lt. Col. West did might in some sense have been the right thing, but sometimes that's not enough. It's a shame that people sometimes people have to choose between the right thing and the safe thing, and that sometimes it's necessary to punish people who are caught on the horns of such a dilemma to serve a higher purpose, but it does happen. Maybe West's actions saved his unit...but then maybe the attack would have failed for other reasons and his unit didn't need saving. Many Iraqis surrendered or refused to fight in this war because they had faith that they would be well treated by their captors. How many more US (and Iraqi) lives might have been lost were it not for faith? How many might be lost in the next war if we allow that faith to be undermined, by failing to enforce the policies that lead to it? These rules exist for good reasons, both moral and practical, and our forces are bound by them. Perhaps you know more than I do about what a court martial means, and can explain what it means for a soldier to defy one's judgement. I'd love it if you would share that knowledge with us.
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Beladonna
QUOTE(Platypus @ Nov 8 2003, 09:02 PM)
I agree with moif that what Lt. Col. West did might in some sense have been the right thing, but sometimes that's not enough.  It's a shame that people sometimes people have to choose between the right thing and the safe thing, and that sometimes it's necessary to punish people who are caught on the horns of such a dilemma to serve a higher purpose, but it does happen.  Maybe West's actions saved his unit...but then maybe the attack would have failed for other reasons and his unit didn't need saving.

Would you apply this same logic to the 9/11 attacks? If we had someone in custody who knew what was going to happen that day, someone who could have given us information to thwart the attacks and save the lives of those people, would you want the person who extracted the information punished just because they brushed the line of proper protocol?
Platypus
QUOTE(Beladonna @ Nov 8 2003, 09:18 PM)
Would you apply this same logic to the 9/11 attacks?  If we had someone in custody who knew what was going to happen that day, someone who could have given us information to thwart the attacks and save the lives of those people, would you want the person who extracted the information punished just because they brushed the line of proper protocol?

Well sure, let's take a stroll down that slippery slope, shall we? Let's say, for the sake of making the example an honest one, that we did not actually know at the time whether the report was real, or how useful the information would be. After all, it's easy to see such significance in hindsight but quite a bit more difficult at the time. I'd say that the person who used improper means to extract such information should indeed be punished. Maybe that's tragic, but there it is. If they were certain that their actions could save so many lives - which of course they couldn't be - then maybe they'd deserve condemnation for trying to avoid the punishment. It's a can't-win situation. When there are strong moral reasons for two (or more) mutually exclusive actions, philosophers call it a dilemma. I hope I'm never caught in one so serious. I'd like to think that I'd do the right thing despite the cost, but I definitely do not expect the entire human condition to change so that there is none.

Since you've already started us down that path, though, let's take a few more steps. How about Joe Terrorist? He thinks that the only way to save his people from oppression is to blow up a cafe where soldiers hang out. Sure, there will be "collateral damage" but Joe thinks the good outweighs the bad and the ends justify the means. In what essential or qualitative way is Lt. Col. West's action morally different than Joe's? What meaningful distinction can we make that allows us to praise one decision and condemn the other?
GoAmerica
There is a difference betweren a threatening shot and a shot to a leg or arm, so to allow the terrorist to wallow in pain for a while to decide if he should give up his buddies or not. But this soldier did not shoot him in the leg or arm, so i see no reason to actually punish him. He broke no laws
Corvus
In principle, I disagree with the tactics used, which set a poor example of what most of the world perceives as a shining military, even if they don't exactly agree with the monkeys in Washington who command them.

In practice, down on the ground where lives are at stake, I can only say that, placed in a similar position, I would have employed a the same tactic to prevent the deaths of my comrades. I can sympathise with this soldier who is, first and foremost, a man.

With these two conflicting views, I have to say that law is law, and I will agree with whatever the court decides. There are protocols and they must be followed.
Platypus
QUOTE(GoAmerica @ Nov 8 2003, 10:55 PM)
There is a difference betweren a threatening shot and a shot to a leg or arm, so to allow the terrorist to wallow in pain for a while to decide if he should give up his buddies or not. But this soldier did not shoot him in the leg or arm, so i see no reason to actually punish him. He broke no laws

Apparently the 4th infantry division's staff judge advocate disagrees on that last point. From the referenced story:

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Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice describes assault in these terms: "Any person subject to this chapter who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do bodily 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."


Another little tidbit from that story sheds some light on who Lt. Col. West was trying to save:

QUOTE
An informant reported that there was an assassination plot against Col. West, an artillery officer working with the local governing council in Saba al Boor.  On Aug. 16, guerrillas attacked members of the colonel's unit who were on their way to Saba al Boor.


It's not clear that West was trying to save, or did save, anyone but himself. In fact, it's not even clear that he saved himself. Rumors are everywhere, and his unit should have been on high alert anyway after the Aug. 16 attack. His violation of military protocol might have served no tactical purpose whatsoever. These certainly don't seem like the sort of extenuating circumstances that would justify turning a blind eye. I'm not saying I'd do any better, but it sounds like he got scared and overreacted, and now he's being held to account for it.
Dontreadonme
QUOTE
His violation of military protocol might have served no tactical purpose whatsoever.

And what constitutes a tactical purpose to you? I can't for the life of me, understand how you think he was scared and overreacted. Battalion Commanders are chosen for their qualities to lead calmly and soundly under pressure. If he overreacted, we would be reading about a far different outcome than what we are today.
It's real easy to be an armchair general in the comfort of your own home. The Army, and indirectly, we the people bequeath a certain amount responsibility upon military commanders in the field. The responsibility to make life and death decisions without benefit of a popular vote or congressional quorum. Lt. Col. West saw a danger, acted in the best interest of his unit, and for now at least, the danger has been averted.

QUOTE
"I have never denied what happened and have always been brutally honest," said Col. West. "I accept responsibility for the episode, but my intent was to scare this individual and keep my soldiers out of a potential ambush. There were no further attacks from that town. We further apprehended two other conspirators (a third fled town) and found out one of the conspirators was the father of a man we had detained for his Saddam Fedeyeen affiliation.
    "[The Iraqi policeman] and his accomplices were a threat to our soldiers and the method was not right, but why should I lose 20 years of service or be forced into prison for protecting my men?"
    Col. West's plight has struck a chord with military advocates. They complain the Army has put soldiers in a deadly environment, yet forced them to play by strict rules of conduct while their terrorist enemies do not.
    Said Elaine Donnelly, head of the Center for Military Readiness: "Excuse me while I go to look up Marquis of Queensberry. No wonder we haven't gotten any information on Hussein's present location from all of those 'deck of cards' people we have captured. Has the Army lost its institutional mind? Or maybe they have forgotten that a state of war exists in Iraq."


Instead of reading this and pontificating on the loss of a good officer, we could be reading in the headlines about another 10 soldiers ambushed near Saba al Boor. More body bags.
Pardon me while I place the lives of Americans over the emotional well being of the enemy.
Mrs. Pigpen
I confess I posted my first reply without reading the article. ermm.gif I apologize for that, and my statement was wrong. I think there are certainly extenuating circumstances here. The rules of engagement call for absolute right to self defense...including anticipatory self defense under compelling conditions (hostile intent is one). The Col should maintain the right to act in the best interest of his troops in a guerilla warfare environment which puts their lives at risk.

I think the JAG that believes he should be court martialed needs a new job policing the streets of Iraq.
Platypus
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 9 2003, 09:00 AM)
And what constitutes a tactical purpose to you?


How about having a solid reason to believe that an action will influence outcome?

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Battalion Commanders are chosen for their qualities to lead calmly and soundly under pressure.


Ad verecundiam. Yes, they are chosen for those reasons. No, they are not perfect.

QUOTE
It's real easy to be an armchair general in the comfort of your own home.


In other words, people like me don't have a right to an opinion. OK then, I'll shut up and go read the rules instead. Maybe I'll find something interesting there.
Dontreadonme
QUOTE
How about having a solid reason to believe that an action will influence outcome?

Then I think that condition was met. There was a tactical purpose to the interrogation. Much like police profiling, military intelligence use sets of indicators to determine threat levels. Indicators led Lt. Col. West to apprehend the subject, and use the necessary techniques to bring about his confession.

QUOTE
In other words, people like me don't have a right to an opinion. OK then, I'll shut up and go read the rules instead. Maybe I'll find something interesting there.

Why would you want to put words into my mouth? I don't believe I've done that to you.
What I'm saying is that it's easy to stand by a moral code if nobody's life hangs in the balance of your decision, as it doesn't with the majority of us. I would rather lose some moral high ground if it means more of my men will get to go back home to their families and lives.
LT. Col. West may be court martialed, and may indeed be guilty of Article 128, but I support his decision, and I would lay odds that his men do too.
moif
I'd just like to point out that the rules of warfare, the Geneva convention and the USA's own codes of conduct, are not just the manifestation of unknowing civilians or arm chair generals.

Such laws arose from war themselves. They were created by soldiers for soldiers.

Would any of you reserve judgement on an Iraqi officer who acted as Lt Col West did? How did you feel when the Iraqi's filmed captured US service men and women in violation of the Geneva convention?

The Law is not fatherly advice or some casual guide line that we can ignore at our discretion.
It is the only thing which stands between us and chaos. I think it would be well to remember that when considering the actions of this officer.

He should have known what he was doing, when he was doing it, and based his actions upon that knowledge.

Also, the presumption that an officer in his stead should have been in full awareness of the crime he was comitting should be taken fully into account when judgement is passed.

If Lt Col West comitted the crime for which he is being investigated, then he should face punishment, regardless of his motives or the possible outcome of his actions.

Only the severity of his punishment should be nfluenced by these other factors.
Paladin Elspeth
I don't think Lt. Col. West should be punished. He has been removed from command; let the man retire and not threaten anyone anymore if that is the concern. If he must be punished, it should be tempered by the fact that he very likely saved lives by doing it.

There are far worse things to do in an interrogation than scare a person. There were lives in the balance, and it doesn't sound like there was a lot of time to wait for the Iraqi to give up the information.

It was effective, and the man was not physically harmed. That should account for something, especially since the man was an illegal combatant, and therefore more a spy than a soldier.

If what Lt. Col. West did was against the Geneva Convention, I was not aware of it. On its surface, however, it doesn't sound like it was that much out of line.
Platypus
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 9 2003, 10:06 AM)
QUOTE
In other words, people like me don't have a right to an opinion. OK then, I'll shut up and go read the rules instead. Maybe I'll find something interesting there.

Why would you want to put words into my mouth?


If that's not the message behind what you were saying, then what was the point - what was the relevance - of talking about armchair generals? I don't think it's at all unreasonable to suppose that you were trying to discredit or disqualify my opinion because I'm not in combat myself. I believe we've recently discussed the effect and acceptability of such belittling comments. I think I've raised some valid points - e.g. about the long-term consequences of implicitly condoning such behavior, or Beladonna's slippery slope - which have gone unaddressed in favor of character assassination.

QUOTE
What I'm saying is that it's easy to stand by a moral code if nobody's life hangs in the balance of your decision, as it doesn't with the majority of us. I would rather lose some moral high ground if it means more of my men will get to go back home to their families and lives.


Good for you. No, really, that's a commendable attitude. I'm not saying it's easy, I've said it sucks that people are put in such positions, but that's the reality. Is there reason to suppose that Lt. Col. West was not properly trained, that he wasn't aware of the rules of interrogation - whether or not he agreed with them - when he accepted his commission and command? Actually, maybe there is. He is, after all, an artillery officer, and there has definitely been a problem with putting too many such into roles for which they are not trained or equipped. Maybe he did the best he could, and it's unfair that he should be punished, but no more unfair than that hundreds of other soldiers have been killed or wounded because of bad orders. Those are the risks soldiers take, voluntarily in our country. I don't mean to be callous, but sometimes one must look beyond the immediate circumstance and think about the big picture. That's exactly why we have a civilian commander in chief, BTW, so that the decisions of people trained in the use of force and on the line of fire are balanced by those of people who see the bigger picture.

QUOTE
LT. Col. West may be court martialed, and may indeed be guilty of Article 128, but I support his decision, and I would lay odds that his men do too.


You know what? I might too. It wouldn't take much to convince me that the circumstances were sufficient. I find the "he wasn't trained" argument almost compelling enough - far more so than anything you've put forth. I do have an open mind, you know, but I'm not going to accept "because he's an officer" or "you weren't there" as reasons.
Dontreadonme
Character assassination????? Platy, you are a worthy debater, but I can't figure out how you've come to the conclusion that you have been belittled. I'm sorry that so many on this board aren't towing the Platy line of how to properly debate. I made a general statement as to the ease of standing strongly by a rule of written law when one is not in any closely resembling situation, and you found a way to take it personally.

If this Iraqi had been physically harmed, or killed, I would be in front of the pack calling for his removal and punishment. But that didn't happen. No, West resorted to a tactic that not only worked, but comes no where close to the torture techniques employed by every nation or group we have been at war with in the 20th century.
Sometimes to be successful, you have to take the fight to the enemy, and even fight on his terms. In the arena of war, the rulebook is a guide, but can never be the absolute, it simply doesn't cover every situation.

Ahh... the bigger picture. Yes, it shouldn't matter how many soliders die as long as we can hold our heads high, and others countries can look at us and say "those poor suckers sure do have a healthy respect for the law"

QUOTE
I do have an open mind, you know, but I'm not going to accept "because he's an officer" or "you weren't there" as reasons.

Who has given those as reasons?
moif
DTM

QUOTE
Ahh... the bigger picture. Yes, it shouldn't matter how many soliders die as long as we can hold our heads high, and others countries can look at us and say "those poor suckers sure do have a healthy respect for the law"


I don't think any one said that, or even implied it.

And this point is completely besides the point. America is not the only nation that signed the Geneva convention, and there are also British officers currently being investigated for similar actions. We are all subject to this law. and standing by our convictions should not be a matter for debate simply because the accused is an American!

What does the law mean if we ignore it?
Platypus
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 9 2003, 01:18 PM)
I made a general statement as to the ease of standing strongly by a rule of written law when one is not in any closely resembling situation, and you found a way to take it personally.


Yeah, it was a real stretch. You couldn't possibly have meant it personally. I apologize for jumping to such a completely absurd conclusion.

QUOTE
Ahh... the bigger picture. Yes, it shouldn't matter how many soliders die as long as we can hold our heads high, and others countries can look at us and say "those poor suckers sure do have a healthy respect for the law"


That looks a lot like the "putting words in my mouth" that you recently claimed to abhor...and more substantive points continue to go unaddressed. Do you have an answer for my points/questions regarding long-term effects of undermining the Geneva Conventions, differences between Lt. Col. West and Joe Terrorist, or the issue of whether or not West was adequately trained in interrogation...or is it all meta-debate? The debate question, if you will recall, is not about debate tactics. It's about interrogation tactics, specifically whether West should be punished for his actions. What will it take for you to get back to that?
Dontreadonme
What country that we have warred against has abided by the Geneva Convention?
Is it even a useful document these days, especially in the war on terror, where our enemies don't even show basic humanity?
So, to answer your demand for response to your points, I don't think it undermines the tenants of the Convention at all.
As to your 'analogy' of Joe Terrorist, simple; Essentially that action is different, because Lt. Col. West didn't harm anybody! No collateral damage, no harm, no foul. If you can't see the moral difference between a terrorist attack and a questioning, I surely can't help you.
Lt. Col. West's means were proportionate to the threat his men faced.

I didn't realize you were in charge of this debate thread, my apologies.
QUOTE
It's about interrogation tactics, specifically whether West should be punished for his actions. What will it take for you to get back to that?

Your joking, right?
Each of my posts have dealt with the topic, unlike your last.
Eeyore
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 9 2003, 01:23 PM)
What country that we have warred against has abided by the Geneva Convention?
Is it even a useful document these days, especially in the war on terror, where our enemies don't even show basic humanity?

The Geneva Convention is a relevant document and the United States either chooses to stand by its agreements or pull out of them. We are subject to international law especially when we are waging war against "evil-doers" We have claimed the white hat in this war on terror and if we decide to adopt the techniques of terrorists to fight it then we are no better than they are. I was not in that room and neither was anyone else on this site that I am aware of. Just because someone doesn't hurt me does not mean they have not violated me when they pull out a weapon and threaten to shoot me. If what this american officer did was against international law, then he should be prosecuted for it. He can claim it saved lives and maybe he did. But I refuse to sign off on abandoning the rules of civilization as we try to save it.

War is hell and this officer deserves a fair hearing that considers the circumstances, but if he broke the rules he needs to be held accountable.

I do not argue that Col West is a terrorist, but it appears he may be a criminal.
Paladin Elspeth
As a matter of fact, I find that Lt. Col. West's action was preferable to saying, We have your wife and children. You will see them when you give us the information you want.

Maybe that's out of line, but at least our soldiers did not terrorize the Iraqi's family or suggest that they were going to do that family harm.

It's an odd thing, these rules. It's okay to blow up someone, but once in your custody, you can't discharge a weapon near him to scare him into giving up information.

How is one side supposed to interrogate the other side under the Geneva Convention rules?
Eeyore
QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Nov 9 2003, 03:18 PM)

It's an odd thing, these rules.

The odd thing is that it isn't (if the charge is an accurate interpretation of the Geneva Convention) okay to do either thing. And we did not say they were irrelevant when we were trying to keep the Iraqis from putting POWs on tv or displaying the bodies of our dead.

If we refuse to abide by international law, we should let the world know and then started acting against these provisions. Then of course we couldn't tell any nations that they shouldn't be allowed to develop nuclear weapons or WMDs at that point either.

People have different rights when they are prisoners then when they are active combatants with the will and the ability to do us harm.
Paladin Elspeth
QUOTE
How is one side supposed to interrogate the other side under the Geneva Convention rules?


So what constitutes effective interrogation that doesn't violate the Geneva Convention rules??????? huh.gif

While I agree that we need to abide by the international rules, how in blazes are they supposed to get the information they need to avert casualties?
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Eeyore @ Nov 9 2003, 02:32 PM)


People have different rights when they are prisoners then when they are active combatants with the will and the ability to do us harm.

Illegal combatants (to include mercenaries and those guilty of perfidy) are not entitled to POW status. That is also a term of the Geneva convention. This man was not a POW, he was a detainee, and illegal combatant.

Incidentally, POWs are also entitled to tobbaco (from their captors) under the Geneva conventions. It's an interesting piece of work...Here's a link

Edited to add: Look under c for combatant status..illegals are addressed at the bottom for mercs, and then perfidy is later covered under the same article
Wong
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Nov 8 2003, 10:18 AM)
Yes, he should be punished. Unless there were extenuating conditions, he behaved disgracefully.

QUOTE(GoAmerica @ Nov 8 2003, 07:36 PM)
I agree with you. We are suppose to be the good guys who follow the rules of war unlike our opponents.  We need to leave a good impression on Iraqis when we leave.

But i still think we need to remember that this guy prevented an attack on our troops.


First of all, we are now in Iraq not because of our desire "to leave a good impression on Iraqis when we leave." We forced our way into Iraq to kick out its murderous dictator and establish instead democracy after our own fashion (though without ever asking the Iraqis whether they want it).

This kind of forced entry into a foreign country, even with the best of intentions, could hardly be tolerated by any nation, Iraqis included. So, some of them with the help of other Muslim nations did start and keep waging a guerrilla war against our armed forces.

Now, a crucial question pops up:

Do we who "are supposed to be the good guys" have to "follow the rules of war unlike our opponents"?

I think, we don't. Guerrilla wars are by definition unconventional and as such do not fall under the provisions of Geneva Conventions. Why then should we follow these Conventions while fighting those who brazenly break them? If we stick to the unrelated rules, we'll never carry the day, as I am afraid is going to happen.

Any war is a bloody business. It cannot be won if we care about our enemies more than we do about our guys' survival. And I agree that "we need to remember that this guy (Lt. Col. West) prevented an attack on our troops." And that is the bottom line. Anything else would be pure scholasticism.

GUERRE OUTRANCE!
GoAmerica
QUOTE(Paladin Elspeth @ Nov 9 2003, 03:46 PM)
QUOTE
How is one side supposed to interrogate the other side under the Geneva Convention rules?


So what constitutes effective interrogation that doesn't violate the Geneva Convention rules??? huh.gif

Wounding a prisoner to get him to talk is against the Geneva Convention. Shooting a gun next to him is not. So technically, he did not violate the geneva convention
Paladin Elspeth
QUOTE
Art. 37. Prohibition of Perfidy

1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy: (a) the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender; (cool.gif the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness; the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and (d) the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict. [emphasis mine]


Thank you for the link, Mrs. P. This does cast things in a different light.

(edited to try to get that dratted emoticon out of the quote--I can't get it out!!!)
Platypus
Could someone please explain the relevance of perfidy here? Is someone claiming that perfidy was involved in this incident?
NiteGuy
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 8 2003, 07:46 PM)
He did nothing wrong IMO. He made a conditional threat to a suspected terrorist, and saved lives of his men.
So he fired a weapon near the suspect....oh boo-hoo, did he wet himself?
Physically aggressing a prisoner means taking him down and subduing him for capture. Just like we have been doing to suspects all along....just like every other nation's army....just like police.

I missed this the first time I read it.

If physically agressing means to take down a person, and subdue him for capture, just like with any suspect, just what was it Col. West was doing again?

The "suspect" was already in custody by US forces. He was in a jail cell. he was already being interrogated by US investigators. But according to Col. West himself, the investigation wasn't going the way he liked, and it wasn't going as fast as he liked. So, in that case, what does "physically agressed" mean? And then to threaten to kill the guy, and fire two shots to show you are capable of it? That' wouldn't be tolerated anywhere in this or any other country where US citizens were involved.

The other point is, the suspect was a guy that we (presumably) recruited, cleared and trained to be a policeman in this area. Are we moving too fast in handing over weapons to people that may have been enemy soldiers, in the name of "stabilizing" the situation over there? If so, what are the consequences of rearming people who don't want us there, in the name of promoting as "good news" the fact that Iraqis are patroling their own? That may be the case, but if they use those weapons against us, it's gonna be that much harder and take that much longer.
GoAmerica
So in other words, the guy did not violate any rules, so there is no basis for punishment thumbsup.gif

The geneva conventions is effiecent but can be confusing at times.
NiteGuy
QUOTE(GoAmerica @ Nov 9 2003, 06:03 PM)
So in other words, the guy did not violate any rules, so there is no basis for punishment thumbsup.gif

The geneva conventions is effiecent but can be confusing at times.

No GoAmerica, that's not the case at all.

From the US Code of Military Justice:
Article 128 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice describes assault in these terms: "Any person subject to this chapter who attempts or offers with unlawful force or violence to do bodily 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 may not have violated the Geneva Conventions (and I don't know that for sure either) but he certainly broke US Military law. And for that, he does need to be punished, although I definately think that Courts Martial and 8 years in Prison is too much. So is losing his pension completely. Maybe bust him in rank a couple of steps, and then allow him to retire at the lower grade.
Mrs. Pigpen
QUOTE(Platypus @ Nov 9 2003, 03:37 PM)
Could someone please explain the relevance of perfidy here?  Is someone claiming that perfidy was involved in this incident?

Yes. This man was a policeman, ostensibly working with us to create and maintain some stability in Iraq. He was simultaneously conspiring with the enemy on attacks against our soldiers. That seems to satisfy the definition of perfidy.
Platypus
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Nov 9 2003, 07:24 PM)
QUOTE(Platypus @ Nov 9 2003, 03:37 PM)
Could someone please explain the relevance of perfidy here? Is someone claiming that perfidy was involved in this incident?

Yes. This man was a policeman, ostensibly working with us to create and maintain some stability in Iraq. He was simultaneously conspiring with the enemy on attacks against our soldiers. That seems to satisfy the definition of perfidy.

Then we finally have a compelling point. If he was indeed posing as a non-combatant (AFAIK, police are not automatically considered combatants) while actively aiding and abetting one side, then he was guilty of perfidy and the protections offered by the Geneva Conventions, UCMJ, etc. do not apply.

That's all it took. No "officers are perfect" or "armchair general" or "do whatever it takes" histrionics, no ducking questions or meta-debate, just a rational explanation of an overlooked fact which, when considered, leads to a different conclusion. Thank you. I concede the point that West should not be punished for doing what was, after all, the right thing.
NiteGuy
QUOTE(Platypus @ Nov 9 2003, 07:33 PM)
QUOTE(Mrs. Pigpen @ Nov 9 2003, 07:24 PM)
QUOTE(Platypus @ Nov 9 2003, 03:37 PM)
Could someone please explain the relevance of perfidy here? Is someone claiming that perfidy was involved in this incident?

Yes. This man was a policeman, ostensibly working with us to create and maintain some stability in Iraq. He was simultaneously conspiring with the enemy on attacks against our soldiers. That seems to satisfy the definition of perfidy.

Then we finally have a compelling point. If he was indeed posing as a non-combatant (AFAIK, police are not automatically considered combatants) while actively aiding and abetting one side, then we was guilty of perfidy and the protections offered by the Geneva Conventions, UCMJ, etc. do not apply.

That's all it took. No "officers are perfect" or "armchair general" or "do whatever it takes" *** NOTICE: THIS WORD IS AGAINST THE RULES. FAILURE TO REMOVE IT WILL RESULT IN A STRIKE. ***, no ducking questions or meta-debate, just a rational explanation of an overlooked fact whose inclusion leads to a different conclusion. Thank you. I concede the point and agree that West should not be punished for doing what was, after all, the right thing.

I missed the whole "perfidy" thing myself.

Yes, in that case, I would say all bets are off. If this does go through military channels and he is convicted, can either Rumsfeld or Bush essentially "pardon" him and re-instate his benefits?
moif
If your all correct, and the case is so evident, then why is he being charged? ermm.gif
GoAmerica
QUOTE(NiteGuy @ Nov 9 2003, 05:55 PM)
He may not have violated the Geneva Conventions (and I don't know that for sure either) but he certainly broke US Military law.  And for that, he does need to be punished, although I definately think that Courts Martial and 8 years in Prison is too much.  So is losing his pension completely.  Maybe bust him in rank a couple of steps, and then allow him to retire at the lower grade.

Dishonorable discharge with half benefits is more like it. Don't bust him down to 2 ranks. Busting his rank down by 2 is severe as well.

NiteGuy:
QUOTE
If this does go through military channels and he is convicted, can either Rumsfeld or Bush essentially "pardon" him and re-instate his benefits?


He can be pardoned, but i don't think his benefits would be re-instated
Platypus
QUOTE(moif @ Nov 9 2003, 07:59 PM)
If your all correct, and the case is so evident, then why is he being charged?  ermm.gif

Two possible explanations come to mind. One is that the judge advocate knows something we don't. Another is that the judge advocate isn't perfect either. There is still a little bit of grey in the picture, particularly regarding the policeman's non/combatant status, but from what has been presented it sounds like he was guilty of perfidy and Lt. Col. West's actions were within prescribed limits for the treatment of a perfidious enemy.
Paladin
QUOTE(Dontreadonme @ Nov 9 2003, 12:46 AM)
He did nothing wrong IMO. He made a conditional threat to a suspected terrorist, and saved lives of his men.
So he fired a weapon near the suspect....oh boo-hoo, did he wet himself?
Physically aggressing a prisoner means taking him down and subduing him for capture. Just like we have been doing to suspects all along....just like every other nation's army....just like police.

Lt. Col. West's duty is to his men.....'mission first, men always'.......nit to the self esteem or pride of someone who indeed turned out to be a terrorist, insurgent, or guerilla...whatever the PC term is today.

Well said and I agree completely. Lt. Col West should be commended for his leadership and moral courage rather than facing possible jail time. He prevented the enemy from carrying out attacks against his unit, undoubtedly saving the lives of some of his men. After mission accomplishment the lives of his men were his highest priority. The Iraqi prisoner was also not physically harmed. What Lt. Col West did was illegal, but does that mean it was wrong? Sometimes what is right and what is legal do not see eye to eye, and in my opinion this is an example of it. At least he'll sleep at night with a clear conscience.
Aquilla
QUOTE(moif @ Nov 9 2003, 04:59 PM)
If your all correct, and the case is so evident, then why is he being charged?  ermm.gif

He is being charged because after reading his action report on the incident, his military superiors thought there might have been a problem with his actions and requested an investigation by the military legal arm, either the JAG or IG. Following their investigation, Lt Col West's commander can request an Article 32 hearing to determine if there is sufficient cause for a general court martial. If they find sufficient cause, then a court martial or trial will be held.

I brought up the Geneva convention way early in this thread merely to point out that the individual that was questioned did not fall under it's guidelines since he was clearly an illegal combatant, but that doesn't matter. What is important here, and not something that anyone here, other than possibly DTOM knows about(and if he told us he'd probably have to kill us smile.gif ) and that is what are the Rules of Engagement in this circumstance. The UCMJ uses the term "illegal action", but the legality of the action is determined by the ROE in force at the time. Personally speaking, if we have ROE that prohibit scaring the daylights out of terrorists, then we have a real problem with our ROE and they need to be changed.
Beladonna
I just heard a report from a journalist covering the hearing of Col West. The journalist reported that Col West gave a statement today and in it said, "He would go to hell carrying a gas can for his men."

The reporter then stated that behind him stood his guards - military soldiers carrying guns, emotion written on their faces, tears streaming down the cheeks of one. crying.gif

I wonder what this is doing to the morale of the soldiers. I wonder if this will make interrogators question whether they are pushing an enemy combatant too hard.

This hearing is about more than Col West. It's about how our soldiers will be allowed to interrogate those who wish to do us harm in a time of war.

I don't know what that decision should be. I just hope the right decision is made.
Beladonna
Update:

I heard this morning Col. West will not be court-martialed or lose his retirement. He will receive administrative discipline. As soon as the story breaks the wires I'll edit this post with a link.
GoAmerica
I found a link for this story

'Great news' for West in assault case

QUOTE
An Army hearing officer has recommended administrative punishment — but not a criminal court-martial — for Lt. Col. Allen B. West, who is charged with assault for firing a gun to scare a confession from an Iraqi detainee.
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