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Lt. Col. Allen West to Appear on ‘What’s The Buzz?’

westLieutenant Colonel Allen West will be the guest on today's edition of the 'What's the Buzz?' radio program, hosted by GOP Chairman Lenny Curry and Committeewoman Cindy Graves. The show airs every Thursday at 5pm on ABC 1320 WBOB, following Glenn Beck.

West retired after 20 years with the U.S. Army in 2004. He then returned to Afghanistan as an advisor to the Afghan army, an assignment he finished in November 2007.

During his Army career, Col. West was honored many times, earning a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals (one with Valor), and a Valorous Unit Award. He received his valor award as a Captain in Desert Shield/Storm, was the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year in 1993, and was a Distinguished Honor Graduate III Corps Assault School.

West is now running an uphill race for U.S. Congress in Florida's 22nd District as a Republican against incumbent Democratic Congressman Ron Klein.  The district includes portions of Palm Beach and Broward Counties.

Today's program will feature a discussion of foreign and miliary affairs with a focus on the current situation in Iran, an area Col West is quite familiar with. 

Listeners are invited to call in with questions to 904-854-1320.

98 Responses »

  1. I was very impressed with Col. West. We need more leaders like him in the Republican Party!

  2. I look forward to hearing a replay of the entire interview, but I was disappointed with Col. Allen West's remarks that we cannot win the "hearts and minds" of our current enemies. His advocacy of what we did early in the Iraq War indicates that West does not appreciate that the 2007 surge worked. (West retired from the Army in 2004, before the surge.)
    West either does not appreciate the damage done by early misconduct in the war, or he does not appreciate the improvement that counterinsurgency accomplished in Iraq. Our troops do have to treat prisoners and civilians with respect, or our troops endanger themselves.
    I believe Gen. David H. Petraeus had a good idea, and Col. West has several bad ones.

  3. He also happened to have fired a 9mm pistol at the head of an iraqi police officer in an attempt to get information from him.

    He was charged with violating articles 128 (assault) and 134 (general article) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and was in danger of receiving an 11 year prison sentence, dishonorable discharge and losing his retirement benefits. West was processed through an Article 32 hearing in November 2003, where he admitted wrongdoing, was fined $5,000 over two months for misconduct and assault.

  4. "He also happened to have fired a 9mm pistol at the head of an iraqi police officer in an attempt to get information from him. "

    If it got the information there are two issues to consider: 1. Did he get the information . 2. Did it save American or Iraqi civillian lives? I suspect the answer to both is "yes".
    That generates another couple of questions:
    1. Does this not prove that (what some would call) torture DOES generate valuable information, does it not?
    2.If he didn't shoot the guy, no harm no foul.

    Sounds like an effective military leader to me. Some of you people need to stop being such, well there's isn't a polite way to say it.

    • Clearly his superiors didnt think that, Jim. If he was court martialed, he was clearly going up against an explicit order. Not the kind of man I would call a hero.

    • The questions you raise, like West's own statements, seem to bypass the lessons and the effects of the surge. If the surge "worked," doesn't that prove that treating people with respect reduces American casualties? In other words, improving the treatment of suspects saved the lives of Americans and Iraqis.

      Google Gen. Petraeus's May 10, 2007 letter to all US personnel serving in Iraq. Petraeus wrote, "Some may argue that we would be more effective if we sanctioned torture or other expedient methods to obtain information from the enemy. They would be wrong. Beyond the basic fact that such actions are illegal, history shows that they also are frequently neither useful nor necessary. Certainly, extreme physical action can make someone 'talk;' however, what the individual says may be of questionable value."

      Read more: http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2007/May/20070515102433eaifas0.8173639.html#ixzz0TGHljqUx

  5. I'm all for scaring the puddin out of terrorists to get life-saving information from them.

    • That is totally the wrong approach. If an interrogator or a guard walked into a cell with that attitude, he sets himself up to do something that would embarrass his country and endanger his comrades.

      Experienced military interrogator retired Army Colonel Stuart Herrington wrote, "In interrogation centers I ran, we called prisoners 'guests'.... We strove to undermine a prisoner's belief system, which we knew instructed him that Americans are unschooled infidels who would bully him and resort to intimidation, threats and brutality."

      In his opinion piece for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Herrington insisted that the "so called ticking time bomb scenario is a Hollywood construct that I never encountered in my 30-year career."

      Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07294/826876-35.stm#ixzz0TGJX4tTj

      • In spite of the opinion of Col. Herrington. Col. Wests' approach did save American, and civilian lives. Geneva allows for this.

      • Jim, what is your proof that his approach saved American or civilian lives? Do you think that he would have been charged if that had been the case?

        Or are you not referring to this specific case but his approach in general?

  6. Of course you wouldn't. You hand out on Jax out Loud. We will have to agree to disagree on this one: in spite of what this mans superiors thought.
    I seem to remember Patton had trouble with his superiors. Something about refusing to coddle a coward. . .
    If I remember my history correctly, Americans stood with him- much to the chagrin of those "superiors".

    • Jim, Patton was not actually brought up on charges. It was a different time in a different war. We are not fighting a conventional line war against Germans. Furthermore, Patton didn't "refuse to coddle a coward" he assaulted a kid with dysentery and malaria while in a hospital bed. He then assaulted s kid with shell shock. Patton was a warrior and a great general, but his conduct was still unbecoming. I was hasty in my initial criticism of Col West, but I would like to more of the nature of the charges. Article 32 hearings don't happen every day and he did end up admitting some wrongdoing. But you are correct, one mistake does not negate a career of service.

      I listened to him in snippets on Whats the Buzz, it was al right, but I didnt find anything particularly compelling about him. He wasnt saying anything earth shattering and I could have got the same thing from pretty much any schmo running for Congress..

      However, I hope he wins (Ron Klein is horrible, just horrible).

  7. As we listen to the Buzz Thursday, what do you want to bet he gets more approbation than denigration?

  8. >The questions you raise, like West’s own statements, seem to bypass the lessons and the effects of the surge. If the surge “worked,” doesn’t that prove that treating people with respect reduces American casualties? In other words, improving the treatment of suspects saved the lives of Americans and Iraqis.

    No, I see treating civilians with the natural kindness that pours from America as the catalyst to winning the hearts of the indigenous. I see treating terorists with the least amount of respect as possible as a tool to make them fear us. Case in point; when the pictures of the female soldier walking a prisoner like a dog on a leash hit the international media. Al Qaeda experienced a significant drop in their volunteer numbers. Significant enough that liberal media buried in the back of their news papers.

    One can argue that we are members of the Geneva Convention, and that we should treat POWS' with humanity. I agree, but if we are using the Convention as our guide, should we not pull every prisoner out of detainment and execute them for not wearing a uniform while in battle? I'm sure we agree that's extreme.

    Now, if it's good to err on the side of compassion and disregard the Convention, then it's good to disregard the Convention to err on the side of effective safety for innocent civilians, and American troops.

    Colonel West is an American hero, and should be lauded as such.

  9. I disagree with the supposition that humiliation is something you can reserve for just one category of people, and the habit will taint how you treat others.

    Notice that, as troops entered Iraq in 2003-2004, they not only mistreated and humiliated detainees, they often were rough with civilians. Once you convince troops that kindness is the way to go with detainees, they can also lay off the civilian noncombatants. When Bush and Cheney defended harsh interrogation in 2002-2003, they were misleading the troops into thinking that rudeness saves lives.

    Remember, many of the detainees in Abu Ghraib were arrested for the same things people are arrested for anywhere, crimes like stealing cars. Even the conduct you think is excusable for "terrorists" was actually applied to other people. It was out of control, even when you wished it was focused.

    After 9/11, we did not just humiliate detainees (which was bad), we also humiliated international travelers. The British paper Telegraph surveyed British travelers and found them eager to visit Australia and even China, rather than visit the US and get processed like criminals on arrival.

    Once Americans were convinced that humiliation and gruffness "saves lives," they started dishing it out to everyone.

    • >Once Americans were convinced that humiliation and gruffness “saves lives,” they started dishing it out to everyone.

      Which counters your point that it isn't effective. Even the troops on the ground, by your explanation, disagree with you. I'm not convinced this was the paradigm.

      • Forgive my lack of clarity. Here is the time line as understand it:
        2001-2002: Bush and Cheney try to sell the American people on harsh interrogations. They make this argument in public. American personnel at home and abroad hear these claims.

        March 2003: The US and other nations invade Iraq. Some personnel, in the cities and in the prisons, beginning acting on the idea that mistreating people gets good information. Consequently, they provoke the anger of the people.

        2004: Col. West retires after doing something I consider un-praiseworthy.

        2005-2006: Col. H. R. McMaster brings a re-trained 3rd Armor Cavalry Regiment into Tell Afar. Before McMaster, the unit was notorious for prisoner abuse--one prisoner was even beaten to death. Under McMaster, however, they treat detainees well, survey them on how they are treated, and what complaints motivated them to join the insurgency.
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/15/AR2006021502586_2.html

        2006: Others are trying a different approach, like the Marines in Ramadi who knock on doors and ask to enter, rather than knocking down the doors. Antonio Castaneda wrote this report for the Associated Press. It was carried in the Florida Times-Union, but here is the item in FoxNews: http://www.foxnews.com/printer_friendly_wires/2006Jul02/0,4675,IraqSwitchingSignals,00.html

        2007: The Iraq war effort is handed over to military personnel who criticized much of what happened from 2003-2006. Gen. David H. Petraeus is appointed commander of US forces in Iraq. Petraeus makes Col. McMaster was one of his close advisers.
        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003565701_petraeus10.html

        May 2, 2007: Results of a Mental Health survey of marines and soldiers deployed to Iraq finds a high number of soldiers/marines believing that torture to save a fellow-soldier's life is somehow acceptable

        March 10, 2007: Petraeus issues an order saying personnel in Iraq should not believe in torture, or "other expedient methods" of interrogation.
        Petraeus's letter: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/other/petraeus_values-msg_torture070510.htm

        http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=45983

        There were always troops who opposed mistreating civilians and opposed mistreating detainees. Petraeus was able to make this a central theme of the effort in Iraq in 2007.

  10. In his 2004 book "Washington's Crossing," Brandies historian David Hackett Fischer wrote, "Even today, civilians not in uniform are forbidden to defend themselves against regular soldiers under the terms of the Hague Convention. Americans in 1776 rejected these rules. From the day of Lexington and Concord, men without uniforms believed that they had a natural right to take up arms in defense of their laws and liberties."

    David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), page 180.

  11. Morally, it does not matter if torture "saves lives." It is illegal--and wrong.

    You kidneys would save a life in Canton, Ohio and another life in Des Moines, Iowa. A mother with three young children who love and need her is needing a heart and double-lung transplant. All these people will die in 24 hours. Here's your tick time bomb: Let us say you have, or I have, their blood type.

    Ok, so you know that my death (before sunset) will save those lives. What does that give you the right to do?

  12. >Morally, it does not matter if torture “saves lives.” It is illegal–and wrong.

    And this is the crux of our disagreement.

    I repudiate your example and replace it with a real life scenario. You have a terrorist in your custody. You know he knows about a terrorist activity. One that you know is planned. Do you make him drop puddin in his pants to find out where and when the terrorist act is going to occur, or do you just excuse him because he has rights? I say make him drop the puddin.
    It's moral, it's effective (something the liberals deny, but this incident proved otherwise) and I'd bet the majority of Americans agree with the premise.
    In spite of the smelly drawers.

  13. Col. Stuart Herrington said he "never" encountered a ticking time bomb scenario in his 30-year career as an interrogator.

    So we disagree on numerous points. A) I don't believe that torture saves lives and B) I don't believe that it matters if it does.

    I do believe that it is a disgrace to the military that humiliates people at its mercy. Liberals are more likely to say torture is "never" justified (A Pew Research Center survey established this in 2004, and again in 2009).

    However, it is not "liberals" alone who reject torture. Whatever the political inclinations of individual FBI agents, the FBI was (and is) firmly against harsh or humiliating interrogations. FBI agents believe the techniques are both wrong and ineffective.

    Experienced FBI interrogators are indeed a "minority" of the US population, but their knowledge of the issue is particularly relevant, and makes their opinion all the more impressive.

    Dan Eggen Walter Pincus, "FBI, CIA Debate Significance of Terror Suspect," The Washington Post, 18 Dec. 2007:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/17/AR2007121702151.html

    Although the FBI is firmly against these techniques, the CIA is not firmly in support of them. Many agents and former agents believe these techniques are both illegal and ineffective.
    For instance, the former Chief of Counter-Terrorism at the CIA (1964-1991), Vincent Cannistraro insists these techniques do not save innocent lives (see 20:30 at the below video):
    http://www.snagfilms.com/films/watch/the_end_of_america/
    (Granted, I would have preferred a different title from "The End of America," maybe something like "Ten Steps to the End of America")

  14. To support you position you have to 1. show that Fishers opinions supercede the Geneva or Hague Conventions. 2. Or prove that Iraq and or Afghanistan were Participants of these Conventions. One interesting note is Hague aquieses to
    "revise the laws and general customs of war, either with the view of defining them more precisely, or of laying down certain limits for the purpose of modifying their severity as far as possible".
    Which means Hague voluntarilly become inferior to Geneva.

    If (pre-war) Afghanistan and/or Iraq were participants, then their combatants are require to wear uniforms. The failure to do so allows for execution on conviction. How many Al Qaida soldiers did we find in uniform? Every one that wasn't is liable for execution. Would this be your prefference?

    If they Iraq/Afghanistan) were not Geneva participants then article 4 says they have no claim to the conditions of the Convention:

    "Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons "
    Also, under Geneva, a person who is suspect of knowing of an operation that would endanger American and/or civilian lives can be subject to practices such as he did under Col. Wests authority.
    Article 5 of Geneva states:

    "Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State."

    Which means this practice that you repudiate, is actually allowable under the guidelines of Geneva. 5 futher says:

    "Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights"

    All this means West was within the boudaries set forth by the Convention, and the fact that his effort did produce the information to save American lives: he was justified by his actions- and Col. Herrington, at least in this instance, was wrong.

    • Lt. Col. Allen B. West was told the policeman was uncooperative, so he took a few of his men to the interrogation area to see for himself, where he found the prisoner being questioned by two female officers. They told him the man was belligerent, and wasn't giving them any information. West entered the room, sat across from the man, drew his pistol, and placed it in his lap. West told him he had come to either get information, or to kill him. The prisoner responded by smiling and saying, "I love you." West then had his men take the prisoner outside, where he again threatened the man, telling him that he would kill him on the count of five if he didn't tell what he knew. The prisoner refused, and West fired his pistol into the air.

      The interrogation continued. After about 20 more minutes of useless questioning, West grabbed the man, held him down near a box full of sand used to discharge jammed weapons, and said something like, "This is it. I'm going to count to five again, and if you don't give me what I want, I'm going to kill you." West held the man down, counted to five, and then fired his pistol into the discharging box about a foot from the Iraqi's head. He began talking. Over the next few minutes, the prisoner gave very specific information about the plot. He named the conspirators, gave times and dates of the assassination plan, and even described how attacks would be made.

      The local election was postponed, the ambushes were avoided

      Excerpts from the media report on this incident.

      • "Excerpts from the media report on this incident."

        You will have to be more specific. You could say _____ ______, a counter terrorism expert with __ experience ___ agency, told the Associated Press such & such. Then you would present a link to a recognizable news source, like the Times or the Post or Christian Science Monitor.

  15. See? "Torture" works.
    This type of interogation is allowed by Article 5 of the Geneva Convention:

    "Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State."

  16. I remember, after Hurricane Katrina, accusing President Bush of ignoring the plight of the people in New Orleans. When it finally came out that Bush was indeed anxious to help, but the La. Governor Kathleen Blanco (D) hesitated to allow the Feds help, (she was trying to make the situation work for her, politically- she even obcessed over which dress to wear on the National News).

    The administration explained it was illegal to act until the Governor gave permission. The Democrats tried to spin the situation "if you break a law to help people, no one is going to blame you". Insinuating that Bush should've sent the Feds in anyway (what they fail to mention is Bush threatened Blanco to hurry up or he would do just that).
    The point being first they want someone to break a law to help a people, then when someone does something they THINK should be against the law -to help a people- they look for the political advantage anyway.

    Even now, we see West didn't violate the Geneva Convention. What does the libs say? "I disagree". Fine; disagree, but the facts don't substantiate your position.

  17. J Davis wrote, "To support you position you have to....show that Fishers opinions supercede the Geneva or Hague Conventions."

    My intention was to demonstrate that your logic was applied to Americans by the British. Some Americans belonging to state militias did not have uniforms. In Dec. 1776, British commander General William Howe ordered that any American not "dressed like a Soldier" should be hanged without trial as an "Assassins."

  18. Correction: "not dressed like Soldiers" (plural)

  19. And that has to do with Aghanistan and Iraq, how?

  20. I think we can agree that an edit option would be good.

  21. Iraqi policeman Yehiya Kadoori Hamoodi described how passing American soldiers asked him to join their patrol. He climbed on board their vehicle. They immediately pulled it over and, Hamoodi said, the soldiers began punching him in the face and demanding information on an assassination plot. He had no idea what they were talking about.

    Then the soldiers said the policeman better talk before Col. Allen West arrived to kill him.

    The New York Times reported, "Mr. Hamoodi said he felt relieved to hear the colonel was expected. He considered Colonel West to be ''calm, quiet, clever and sociable.' When the colonel first entered the interrogation room, Mr. Hamoodi said, he thought, 'Here is the man who will treat me fairly.'''

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/27/world/struggle-for-iraq-interrogations-colonel-risked-his-career-menacing-detainee.html?scp=1&sq=yehiya%20hamoodi&st=cse&pagewanted=3

    In 2008, Fox News carried a report by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, "The policeman, Yehiya Kadoori Hamoodi, told The New York Times almost a year later that he had blurted out meaningless information to West out of fear and pain. But West has said that after the confession, no further attacks were made against his battalion until the time he was relieved of duty two months later."
    The only "evidence" West could offer was that there were no ambushes for two months. That is not very strong evidence. It is by no means conclusive. For instance, it does not address what happened two months and a day later: This is not proof that the soldiers were "saved" from a "plot." You may find this suggestive, but I do not find it conclusive.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,326026,00.html

  22. J Davis writes, "I think we can agree that an edit option would be good."

    Amen to that!

  23. The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984, went into effect 1987): “ No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

    The United States signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture in 1988 and ratified it in 1994. The Convention forbids any act of severe suffering, "whether physical or mental," which is "intentionally inflicted” for a number of reasons, including “obtaining…information” from the victim or a “third party” (for instance, someone else who cares about the victim and would “confess” or present “information” to stop the person’s suffering).

  24. So you're backing away from Hague and Geneva? You concede the point?

    • Does not really matter, the United Nations Convention on Torture was the law of the land as soon as it was Ratified.

      • (side bar: I find an interesting point in this Convention that could actually stop abortion as birth control in America. Interesting. . . . and since liberals leans so heavily on this document, they will be required to accept the premise.)

        But I still need to know if Hague and Geneva are point to be conceded by my opponents. . .

      • correction "liberals lean so heavily"

        HEY AUSTIN! anyway to get an edit button? Some of us are OCD about our communication. . .

  25. We can explore that, but first we need to establish whether or not you can explain away Hague and Geneva. If you can't, then conceded the point and we'll look forward, (I already have my answer formulated). Before we move on, we need to close these two issues.

    Can you explain why Hague and Geneva allows West's actions and yet you refferenced them to say they concluded differently?

  26. hey austin, wheres my post?

    • United Nations says United States not bound by Torture Treaty because it failed to re-ratify the treaty after the change in 2002.

      One American tried to use the treaty to sue the United States and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights admitted: "On February 6th 2008 I received a letter from and the contents of that letter . . . astounded me. In short, it says that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights can not prosecute the United States of America for Human Rights violations under Article 22 because after the 2002 re-ratification of the [Torture] Treaty, the United States did not sign the new Treaty." What the U.S. >DID< sign was the Human Rights portion of that treaty; not the anti-torture portion: specifically.

      Here is the link for the signatures of the 2002 ratification:

      http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-9-b&chapter=4&lang=en

      • I usually refuse to follow links because I conside pasting a link and saying "there, go look at that and respond" as lazy, and unintelligent. The idea being that I'm now debating with whomever wrote whatever. This is different in that I'm proving the U.S. did not ratify the 2002 UN Torture Treaty and the lack of the U.S. signature on this link substantiates that position. But I will cut and paste the page if you insist. Here's a media refference to the fact (in disagreement, of course):

        http://www.commondreams.org/headlines02/1108-01.htm

        "We have concerns about a number of elements and over a 10-year negotiating period we have worked hard with the international community to fix the major problems," spokesman Richard Boucher said.

        He stressed that the United States "abhorred the despicable practice of torture" and would continue to be a leading advocate against it, but said Washington could not support the new treaty." This date was 11/8/02

        Now one can agree or disagree with the Bush Adminitration policy to not sign this treaty, but one cannot hold America to that treaty. Even the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights aknowledges that to be the situation.

        In fact, those who disagree with torture try to carry the U.S back to Geneva (Convention) as the basis for their opposition to situations like Col. West's incident. But as we've already established Geneva allows for this type of action, in this type of situation.

        Your response?

      • J Davis quoted a person who says "In short, it says that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights can not prosecute...violations under Article 22"

        I found a story connected to that quote. The man posts the letter he received (allegedly received) from the "Petitions Unit" of the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He misunderstood the letter he received.

        Article 22 of the Convention Against Torture is not about prosecutions, but petitions. Paragraph 1 establishes that a person within the jurisdiction of a signatory state. Article 22 provides that the committee will not receive petitions from a person unless the nation acknowledges the committee's right to receive petitions from people within its jurisdiction. It does not mean that the treaty is dead. It just means that this committee is available, for people in any state (nation) that lets the committee receive such petitions.

        The guy got a form letter. The High Commissioner of Human Rights did not say the Convention Against Torture is null.
        The form letter ("Dear Sir/Madam") says "the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights is not in a position to assist you in the matter you raise, for the reasons indicated" in the form. The form is from the "Petitions Unit."

        The form letter featured a search of options, with a box to check for the appropriate response for the recipient. In this case, the story says, the box indicates t"The Committee Against Torture cannot examine petitions...unless the State has made the declaration under Article 22 recognizing the Committee's competence to receive and consider petitions.___________ has not made the declaration."
        In the blank space, someone has stamped "USA."

        This is the story of someone who complained of treatment in a county jail in Pennsylvania. He complained to a state attorney general, state representatives and (ten years later) someone told him he should contact the United Nations Commission on Torture.

      • Again, this doesn't nulify the fact that the United States recused itself from that treaty.

        Even if was a "form letter" the "form letter" states that the UN's position is the United States didn't re-ratify the newer version of the treaty: and is, in the UN opinion not obligated to the treaty. It is interesting information, however. . .

      • The article you post is not about the US refusal to "re-ratify" the treaty. The article describes the refusal of the United States to ratify an "Optional Protocol."

        This refusal to ratify this particular item meant that the United States was not considering itself a party to the "Optional Protocol." The story about the American's declined petition is a separate story and has nothing to do with the "Optional Protocol."

        The Optional Protocol, according to the story you posted, would establish inspections. The US refused to ratify the additional treaty because the inspections were not surprise inspections. IN other word, US did not want to pay for inspections of prisons around the world when those prisons know the inspector is coming and could (in theory) conceal unsanitary condition and temporarily relieve overcrowding, only to revert to poor treatment after the inspection.

        This story mentions nothing about "re-ratifying" the existing Convention. I noticed nothing mentioning that earlier Convention Against Torture was jeopardized, only that the "Optional Protocol" was not ratified.

    • it was too long: sorry.

  27. Backing away from Hague and Geneva? If I recall correctly, I did not bring up the Geneva Conventions. I had said I do not believe in torture.

    I did present a quote that mentioned the Hague convention, but it did so in a disapproving way: Of course people have the right to take up arms in defense their liberties, even if they are not soldiers in uniform. Americans were horrified when the British starting hanging American militiamen. Even if they had uniforms, militiamen sometimes were bayoneted in midnight attacks, stabbed to death after they surrendered.....

    You ask how that has anything to do with Iraq and Afghanistan. I would suggest that if you cannot sympathize with people at our mercy, at least sympathize with your own people when they killed for not wearing uniforms, when they were denied POW status by their captors (not until 1782 did Britain recognize American soldiers and sailors as prisoners of war).

    If we took offense at the mistreat of prisoners, don't other people have the right to take offense at it?

  28. You are stretching a point by saying the Geneva conventions specifically 'allow' certain interrogations. The Convention simply limits the scope of its protection. It does not "permit" anything.

  29. You write, "If he didn’t shoot the guy, no harm no foul."

    That cannot be right. He threatened a policeman's life. He threatened a policeman at gun point.

    • A policeman who associated and protected terrorist. Geneva Convention allows this. Re-read article 5, or was it 4?

      • Any policeman on your block has friends. Those friends may own guns. So that policeman on your block, or some of his friends, may own their own guns. So if an army invades, how are they going to see your cop-next-door?

    • Article 5 stipulates that even the saboteurs and those who pose a threat to an occupying power are still be "treated with humanity"

  30. J Davis says, "No, I see treating civilians with the natural kindness that pours from America as the catalyst to winning the hearts of the indigenous. I see treating terorists with the least amount of respect as possible as a tool to make them fear us."

    That is a repudiation of the surge. According to Gen. David H. Petraeus, "In everything we do, we must observe the standards and values that dictate that we treat noncombatants and detainees with dignity and respect."

    The surge involved treated prisoners kindly, not in ways that provoke fear.
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/other/petraeus_values-msg_torture070510.htm

    • Obviously, General Petraeus and I disagree. We've already settled that when I said I didn't mind scaring the puddin out of someone to save American lives.

      • We did address this, but my initial point is that the surge that started in 2007 was to correct the sort of bad conduct that was happening in 2004, that actually led to more American deaths. West retired in 2004. Thank you for openly saying you disagree with Petraeus. Some folks who defend harsh treatment genuinely believe they support the surge. Obvious, they cannot. Thank you

        You and I are working from a different premise. I would say that mistreating prisoners endangers American servicemen.

      • It is a difference in perspectives. I believe I support(ed) the surge. Surge meaning to press forward. I also think the US should look for opportunities to show kindness, and civility; I just don't think this was the appropriate time.

        As I've stated, my attempt has not to denigrate you, or your position: I think I understand it. I just disagree. Respectfully.

      • The term "surge" may mean any number of things. The change in policy was a switch to counterinsurgency warfare.

        This derives heavily from the doctrines of Mao Zedong. The civility to civilians and the civility to prisoners are branches of the same tree: You win over the people by respecting their needs, and you win over the prisoners through kind and respectful treatment.

        The troop "surge" (increase) was a misnomer, or sleight of hand: It called your attention to one thing. Yes, there was a troop increase, but what the troops were asked to do was completely different.

        Petraeus and many others worked on the joint Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual (the University of Chicago Press put it out in 2007 but it should also be online). I have read the chapter on detainees. It is thorough on respectful treatment, no matter what the legal status of the person in custody.

        I would have to compare it a bit to the Civil Rights movement: think of demonstrators who had people spitting on them and throwing things at them. They had an approach to evil that required love for the...less than loving. Dr. King did not want people joining marches until they had first attended classes where they got use to being insulted and even shoved around. They had to maintain their dignity despite provocation.

        I thank you for the love of enemies approach. You are on to something there. Thank you.

      • You "combat" an insurgency by treating prisoners well. This is also how insurgents can prevail. The Chinese Communists as an insurgent movement made incredible headway against the Nationalists by treating Nationalists soldiers like guests, releasing them with a little money, and sending them back with stories about how well treated they would all be if when they surrender!

        This also worked against the Japanese. Please consult the 1967 classic book, "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice," in which author David Galula remarks that several leading Communist in Japan after World War Two were former prisoners who were well-treated by the Chinese Communist during the war.

        The Japanese, you will recall, were notorious for mistreating prisoners. They were especially notorious for decapitation. China and--in many cases--the United States were both kind to Japanese prisoners, had won the cooperation of many.

        The British "counterinsurgency" in North America in 1775-1783 was obviously not geared to win us over by kind treatment. Some British generals tried it, but many of their personnel were unwilling to try it.

      • I think we do treat our prisoners well. In fact the media tried to formulate a perception that we didn't until one Congressman invited them to sit down and eat the same food the prisoners (In Guantonimo) ate. it kind of squelched the whole issue.

        Now there were some violations happening in Afghanistan. But those responsible went to the stockade.

        We aren't talking about prison conditions, we're talking about an out of military uniform combattant who knew about a terrorist attack. We've already established that the Geneva Convention allows for the tactic that was taken. Therefore your disagreement is just an opinion. One you're welcome to have.

        But don't obfuscate the issue by this legal interrogation with wide-spread abuse. They aren't the same issues. The reality here is the Colonel used a method that didn't contradict the Geneva Convention. The method not only saved lives; it stopped all espionage attempts in that area while he was there.

        Bottom line: making them produce puddin in their pants is an effective method to get information, and stop terrorist attacks.

        The man is a national hero.

      • No, experienced military interrogators and FBI interrogators do not believe that mistreating or menacing people is effective.

        No, Col. West stayed in Iraq only two months after. It is more likely that mistreating an Iraqi would lead to more American casualties, and much less likely that it uncovered a plot.

        If people invaded your town and labeled a local fireman a "terrorist," to you he would still be Uncle Bob. Or your neighbor. Or a local fireman and public servant, even if you do not know him personally. You need the hostility this would generate if someone did this.

      • You need [to see] the hostility this would generate if someone did this.

      • It is not legal to threat people with guns--especially not an unarmed man. You cannot depict this as heroic. If you have a gun, and a bunch of friends with guns, and you threaten one dude who has no gun...that is as heroic as stealing cookies from a Girl Scout

      • By the way, it is wrong to steal cookies. I hope we can agree on that.

      • Here's where you seem to have gone wrong on the Convention:
        You quote the Convention as saying, “Where in occupied territory an individual protected person is detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying Power, such person shall, in those cases where absolute military security so requires, be regarded as having forfeited rights” You then propose, "All this means West was within the boudaries set forth...."

        Here is how that Article actually reads:
        “Where in occupied territory………such person shall…be regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention.
        “In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity, and in case of trial, shall not be deprived of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed by the present Convention. They shall also be granted the full rights and privileges of a protected person under the present Convention at the earliest date consistent with security of the State or Occupying Power, as the case may be.”

        The "treated with humanity" reference would completely preclude menacing them with a gun, or discharging it threateningly near them or anyone near them.

        Find that Article 5 quote in "Encyclopedia of Human Rights," edited by Edward H. Lawson and Mary Lou Bertucci

      • Mao advised that the Chinese should not insult the self-esteem of the Japanese, but we must try to comprehend it and channel it in a proper direction. Kind treatment of prisoners was one way.

        I am sorry I cannot join you in celebrating Col. West as an American hero. You want to celebrate an American hero who gets information on Al Qaeda: Ali Soufan.

        FBI agent Ali Soufan had an Al Qaeda terrorist in his custody. Abu Jandal was not talking, except to denounce America as evil. Why aren't you eating the cookies with your tea? Soufan asks. The terrorist answers--he is diabetic. So Ali Soufan goes and finds sugar free cookies for Abu Jandal.

        Stunned by the act of kindness, the terrorist talks. There is your American hero
        http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1901491,00.html

      • I disagree. While it appears you are looking for reasons to caastigate the Colonel, I'm looking for opprotunities to give him the benefit of the doubt. While your philisophical posture of "higher morality" is admirable, it's isn't practical.
        I see it as the difference between textbook combat, and real life combat.

        Let me explain. While I said "making a terrorists uncomfortable and getting information from him to save military and civilian lives (this terrorism plot was aimed at civilians) was morally acceptable because of the severe ramifications of not making him feel uncomfortable". You say "as a civilized nation, we must look past the expedient and illustrate the higher moral ground, no matter the cost".
        I think this is an accurate synopsis of our disagreement.

        Having said that, let me say that mine is a position of higher morality and idealism. Higher because it makes innocent life more valuable than the comfort of someone who would arbitrarily assault it. It steps out of the classroom of reality and meets real-life.

        Your position says "Everyones rights are equally important- even if balancing the right to duplicity in comfort is balance against the lives of uncounted multiple lives. In this case thousands. While philisophically, we would all agree, pratically; the recipe doesn't render the desired result, being justice.

        So much so, that the templette for humane warfare, (an oxymoron in itself) namely "Geneva" makes exception for just this type of scenario.

  31. IO think the biggest difference between our two perspectives is yours is one of exemplifying the "highest of ideals". That's an honorable position to take. I may be a bit terse, but I appreciate the effort to take the "higher ground". Mine is more of a pragmatic perspective. A "do whatcha gotta do" mentality. Had the Colonel broken a law (as the MP's did in the prison camps) I'd excoriate him for crossing that line. It's the difference between being a pragmatist and an idealist. Some of us consider ourselves to be pragmatic idealist!

    • Jim,
      Clearly someone thought he violated the UCMJ, you dont get sent to Art 32 for being a good boy.

      • Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justic (UCMJ) is an investgation, not a prosecution. It's appears to be tantamount to the civilian Grand Jury. The following link:

        http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/ucmj/blart-32.htm
        says:
        "(a) No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline.

        (b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation"

        My understanding is "convictions" come in the form of Article 15- without legl hearings and "Articles 77-134 are known as the "punitive articles," -- that is, specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial." (http://usmilitary.about.com/od/punitivearticles/a/mcm.htm)

        The quip "you can indict a ham sandwich" comes to mind. Did the Colonel recieve a conviction from 77-134?

      • Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justic (UCMJ) is an investgation, not a prosecution. It’s appears to be tantamount to the civilian Grand Jury. The following link:

        http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/ucmj/blart-32.htm
        says:
        “(a) No charge or specification may be referred to a general court-martial for trial until a through and impartial investigation of all the matters set forth therein has been made. This investigation shall include inquiry as to the truth of the matter set forth in the charges, consideration of the form of charges, and recommendation as to the disposition which should be made of the case in the interest of justice and discipline.

        (b) The accused shall be advised of the charges against him and of his right to be represented at that investigation”

        My understanding is “convictions” come in the form of Article 15- without legl hearings and “Articles 77-134 are known as the “punitive articles,” — that is, specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial.” (http://usmilitary.about.com/od/punitivearticles/a/mcm.htm)

        The quip “you can indict a ham sandwich” comes to mind. Did the Colonel recieve a conviction from 77-134?
        ..

      • Jim,
        I am very familiar with the Military Justice system. When politicians are brought before a grand jury investigation (which is the functional equivalent) do you assume they did something good?

        Article 32 hearings are serious business. It looks like he got a deal to avoid court martial here, but that does not make what he did any less wrong.

    • Benedict Arnold was an American hero. He helped Gen. Horatio Gates defeat the British Army at Saratoga in 1777. The American victory at Saratoga helped convince France we a had a fighting chance, and Saratoga helped prompt France to join our effort by declaring war on Britain.

      Earlier in 1777, Arnold led a force, as did Gen. David Wooster, to defend Danbury, Connecticut from a British raid. Wooster lost his life. Arnold and Wooster are heroes for their noble efforts to repel the invaders from Danbury.

      And before that, Arnold helped organize a makeshift flotilla on Lake Champlain against British forces coming through Canada.

      A hero can, nonetheless, do something to forfeit that status....at least, that is one theory

  32. When Gen. David H. Petraeus accepted command of US and Coalition forces in Ira

    • When Gen. David H. Pteraeus accepted command of Us and Coalition forces in Iraq in 2007, assembled a group of advisers the press called the Petraeus "brain trust" and military folks called "the Petraeus guys."

      Thomas Ricks reported for the Washington Post, "Essentially, the Army is turning the war over to its dissidents, who have criticized the way the service has operated there over the past three years, and letting them try to wage the war their way."

      The Petraeus brain trust included Col. H. R. McMaster, who led the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR) in winning the northwestern Iraqi city of Tell Afar from an insurgent group. Ricks says McMaster's efforts in 2005-2006 "provided one of the few bright spots for the U.S. military in Iraq" before 2007.
      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003565701_petraeus10.html (The Seattle Times also carried the Washington Post article)

      In this 2006 article, Ricks reports on McMaster's work once he accepted command of the 3rd ACR in June 2004. Before McMaster, the regiment had a horrible reputation, facing accusations of detainee abuse. One detainee was beaten to death, and one commander carried a bat he called an "Iraqi beater."

      McMaster retrained the unit in Colorado. He told each soldier under his command, "Every time you treat an Iraqi disrespectfully, you are working for the enemy."

      Ricks reported, "One of the keys to winning a counterinsurgency is to treat prisoners well. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment polled all detainees on how they were treated and interviewed some about their political views."
      The article is entitled "The Lessons of Counterinsurgency"
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/15/AR2006021502586_2.html

      Another person in the Petraeus brain trust was the Australian David Kilcullen, who explained the new approach in Iraq in an article for the "Small Wars Journal," dedicated to guerrilla warfare, or the study of insurgency and counterinsurgency.

      In the article, "Don't Confuse the 'Surge with the Strategy," Kilcullen explained, "Much discussion of the new Iraq strategy centers on the 'surge' to increase forces in-theater by 21,500 troops." Kilcullen warned that concentrating on the "surge" in troop numbers "misses what is actually new in the strategy – its population-centric approach."
      http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/01/dont-confuse-the-surge-with-th/

      According to Kilcullen, "The new strategy reflects counterinsurgency best practice as demonstrated over dozens of campaigns in the last several decades: enemy-centric approaches that focus on the enemy, assuming that killing insurgents is the key task, rarely succeed. Population-centric approaches, that center on protecting local people and gaining their support, succeed more often."

  33. If you keep calling a detainee or a suspect a "terrorist," you are only setting yourself up to commit atrocities.

    For this reason, expert interrogators try to think of their charges as "guests," even "honored guests."

  34. Direct quote from Geneva:
    "Art. 4. Persons protected by the Convention are those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.

    Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it. Nationals of a neutral State who find themselves in the territory of a belligerent State, and nationals of a co-belligerent State, shall not be regarded as protected persons while the State of which they are nationals has normal diplomatic representation in the State in whose hands they are.
    Art. 5 Where in the territory of a Party to the conflict, the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention as would, if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State.

    Which allows for the action that we are discussing. While your's is a classroom phlisophical view, it is not the practcal view of Geneva. A terrorists cannot operate within the confines of a nation without forfeiting his claim to comfort or consideration of comfort. "the latter is satisfied that an individual protected person is definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State, such individual person shall not be entitled to claim such rights and privileges under the present Convention"

    Why? "if exercised in the favour of such individual person, be prejudicial to the security of such State."
    There is prejudice to the security of the state: over the rights of those hostile to that security.

    Your grasing for straws, and your arguments aren't based in reality or practicality: neither is your attempt to misrepresent the treaty.

    • The "practical" advice of experience military interrogators says that disrespecting detainees is not a good way to get information. It is impractical to defend mistreating, threatening or humiliating someone you want favors from--favors like lifesaving information.

      You found a web site that claimed that saboteurs and others who posed threats to an occupying power are seen as " forfeited rights" That was an inaccurate quote of Article 5. A spy or saboteur is "regarded as having forfeited rights of communication under the present Convention." The very next sentence begins, "In each case, such persons shall nevertheless be treated with humanity....."

    • Sen. John McCain (Rep.-AZ) speaking in 2006 about the Supreme Court ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: "The Court also determined that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions applies to al-Qaida .... Some of my colleagues may disagree with the Court's decision, but once issued it became the law of the land."
      http://www.c-spanarchives.org/congress/?q=node/77531&id=7507806

  35. Maj. Jay Gallivan, stationed with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, referred to any detainee as the "customer."
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/15/AR2006021502586_2.html
    Col. Stuart Herrington said his interrogation centers considered prisoners their "guests."

    David Galula, a Frenchman who fell into the hands of Communist insurgents in China in 1947, says they kept him under watch the first day as if he were a prisoner (he was their captive) but for they only kept prisoner a week, and for the rest of his stay he was their "honored guest." See Galula's book "Counterinsurgency Warfare"

    Mao Zedong fought a civil war against the Chinese Nationalists and united with Nationalist to fight the Japanese, who tortured captives. Mao's "practical" experience was that treating prisoners well is the best way to "destroy" the enemy. You can find US Marine Samuel B. Griffith's translation of Mao's 1937 "On Guerrilla Warfare"

  36. AS you pontificate on kinder, gentler handling of terrorist, they continue to laugh at such navivete. The fact remains that kinder and gentler doesn't woo terrorists to us, it emboldens them against us. They mistake kindness for weakness until someone like Colonel West scare the puddin out of them, then they gain new respect for us. Do I want our enemies to fear us? Oh yeah- and I want to give them a reason to. I believe in safety through strength: a principle thats proven itself to be effective.

    While you look for ancedotes, the reality remains the same: terrorists don't play by philosophical rules: they play by real life opportunities. My assertions are correct, you've yet to refute them, and your replys have turned to emotional opinions. But I appreciate your desire to be honorable. W just disagree on what is and isn't honorable.

    • I think you are missing the point, Jim. You are correct, being nicer to terrorists does not make them like us.

      Not everyone at GTMO is a terrorist, not everyone in Abu Ghraib is a terrorist. Treating them like crap and holding them indefinitely makes the situation worse, not better.

  37. Mr. Davis,
    Here is what Al Qaeda makes fun of:
    In his 2002 "Letter to America," Osama bin Laden said, "You have claimed to be the vanguards of Human Rights, and your Ministry of Foreign affairs issues annual reports containing statistics of those countries that violate any Human Rights. However, all these things vanished when the Mujahideen hit you....
    "What happens in Guatanamo is a historical embarrassment to America and its values...."
    Remember, he is not just judging us by his standards, he is judging us by our standards, particularly when we used to denounce torture by dictatorships.
    http://www.photius.com/rogue_nations/guardian_021124.html

    Al Qaeda make fun of us for torture and mass arrest, which are evidence of panic and hypocrisy. Al Qaeda wants to depict us as arbitrary, hypocritical, immoral and perverse. In this 2002 message, bin Laden claims America is not fluent in the language of kindness and manners. Bin Laden does not mock kindness to prisoners in this message, or others I have seen from him.

    • I say let him keep laughing: and hiding.

      • The counterinsurgency approach of Gen. David H. Petraeus worked so well in Iraq, that Al Qaeda in Afghanistan started to imitate counterinsurgency doctrine's emphasis on respectful treatment of captives.

        In July 2009, Al Jazeera reported the discovering a new Al Qaeda handbook that emphasized reducing civilian casualties and also ordered, "Whenever any official, soldier, contractor or worker of the slave government is captured, these prisoners cannot be attacked or harmed."
        http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/07/200972775236982270.html

        You see, in 2007, Petraeus stepped in to save American lives and efforts in Iraq by imrpoving conduct that had become notorious in 2003-2006. For instance, I heard there was an American officer--an officer!--who actually threatened the imminent death of a captive to force him to talk!

  38. You've yet to disprove my premises, you've extended your, and others opinions. But so far, Colonel Wests' actions were within the boudaries of Geneva, and did indeed save live. The man is a hero.

    • You claimed that those threatening the security of an occupying power are not considered protected persons. Article 5, however, still provides that these people still have a right to humane treatment. Obviously, threatening him with a gun is not humane treatment.

      You consulted a web site that did not give you the full text of Article 5. Therefore, it was meant to mislead you.

  39. No, there is no proof that his actions saved lives. He claims that in the 2 months he remained in Iraq (he retired shortly after this controversy) that no ambushes hit his men. This is not proof that the policeman's information was correct. It could just as easily prove that there were no ambushes planned. Furthermore, West does not know the long term damage down by mistreating that police officer.

    You are going purely on the myth that "cruelty to suspects" equals "millions of saved lives." This myth itself presupposes an even more offensive fabrication, "if a man in uniform mistreats a captive, then that captive must be a really bad person!" There is no proof that this policeman was one of the bad guys.

  40. Try a different equation
    mistreated prisoners equals dead troops

    Why do you think people oppose the release of photographs showing prisoner abuse in multiple theaters of operation? These opponents of disclosure are going on the assumption that troops that mistreat detainees get shot at.

    According to this argument, prisoner abuse leads to more dead soldiers, not "saving" the lives of soldiers.

  41. David Rhode, on his captivity with the Taliban:

    "When I told them I was an innocent civilian who should be released, they responded that the United States had held and tortured Muslims in secret detention centers for years.... Why, they asked, should they treat me differently?"

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/world/asia/19hostage.html?pagewanted=4