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. [SNIP]
A military source said an Article 32 hearing has been scheduled in Iraq that could lead to the Army court-martialing Col. West and sending him to prison for a maximum term of eight years. [SNIP]
Col. West, 42, says he pressured the Iraqi after taking into account the dangerous environment and the risk to his soldiers' lives. [SNIP]
"I did use my 9 mm weapon to threaten him and fired it twice. Once I fired into the weapons clearing barrel outside the facility alone, and the next time I did it while having his head close to the barrel. I fired away from him. I stood in between the firing and his person.
"I admit that what I did was not right but it was done with the concern of the safety of my soldiers and myself." [SNIP]
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.[SNIP]
Col. West said the gunshots spurred the Iraqi to provide the location of the planned sniper attack and the names of three guerrilla fighters.This may be valid courts-martial fodder:
"I asked for soldiers to accompany me and told them we had to gather information and that it could get ugly," Col. West said in his e-mail.
He said his soldiers "physically aggress[ed]" the prisoner. A subsequent investigation resulted in nonjudicial punishment for them in the form of fines.Is that why LTC West is being tried?
Hmmm. I’m reminded of that old adage, “better to be tried by twelve than be carried by six.” Which is worse; a questionable tactic that arguably saved the lives of oneself and one’s troops or being dead? I wonder if these Army officials would prefer it if LTC West and his men were in their graves right now.
(Thanks to too many bloggers to mention)