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Perhaps while the President was in Iraq he asked around about this story?
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.
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.
And by way of clarifying, Lt Col West is awaiting the decision of an Article 32 hearing; essentially a process to determine whether a court martial is warranted. He has not been court martialed (though things don't look good).
Thanks and I will go and sign the petitions. I know of too many field grades who are comfortable and got that way by well, never mind.
I am so glad you are staying on top of this. I like to think that the American Revolution would have been over in five minutes had the Founders and Colonists had the internet.
It is for occasions such as this that makes my yearly fee justifiable. He did not lack sound judgment, his so called higher ups did.
In the words of Alba, LET US TAKE OFF THE KID GLOVES.Posted by Cricket at November 29, 2003 04:17 AM
He beat the Iraqi up too, though. That makes a big difference than just firing a gun. I heard before this story, he let his driver and another G.I. beat him. So I wouldn't make any rush to judgements without the full and true story.Posted by Irreverent at November 29, 2003 10:42 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)