« December 2005 | Main | February 2006 »

January 2006

Will Democrat Senators Use the Wounded Troops as political Cover?

You usually don't come here for commentary on the Supreme Court (right?).  While this post is related to Justice Alito's confirmation, that's not what this post is about.

Here's a case where Demorcatic Senators may use a visit to wounded troops at Walter Reed as political cover.  At first, I didn't pay attention to this event as I didn't think it would gain much traction (afterall, what kind of person would use troops like that?...especially, a US Senator?).  But it may yet happen...we'll see this afternoon who abstains from voting on Alito's confirmation and just happens to be at Walter Reed...

A few days ago, I received this from a reader - from Democrats.com:

...Original Post:

We need to stop George Bush from getting 60 Senators to end the filibuster on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

That means we must convince 41 Senators to either support a filibuster or stay away from the Senate on Monday, preferably by visiting maimed soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital.

Below is a list of 44 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 3 Republicans whose support is possible - the "Alito 48."...

Kathryn Jean Lopez at the Corner shares this today.

SECOND, call the "URGE ABSTENTION" Senators identified immediately below and do the same -- say that you hope they vote NO on cloture this afternoon but if they can't, urge them to ABSTAIN from the cloture vote by visiting wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Hospital at 4:30 p.m. Doing so will be just as good as a "no" vote but will give them political cover with their conservative voters back home. Again, call their DC AND District offices. And again, if their staff will commit to a position on cloture and/or abstention, please post a comment here.

Again, until some Senator actually abstains from the vote and visits troops will you know if they are truly using them or not.  We'll see in a few hours.

I sincerely hope that they do make a visit to our wounded soliders...tomorrow.


Gays in the Military - Andrew Sullivan and Time.com look in

Andrew Sullivan, formerly of the NY Times before his conscience kicked in, now a blogasaurus who got picked up by Time.com has taken notice of the debate we had about gays in the military. I posted a piece advocating removal of the ban against gays serving openly and a very useful discussion ensued.

If you're interested in hearing a frank, smart, honest discussion of the gays-in-the-military issue among actual soldiers, gay and straight, then click here. It's a fascinating debate - and suggests to me that a new consensus now exists within the military that the ban makes little to no sense any more.

I appreciate Andrew's shining his powerful light on this and I will post an update tomorrow regarding this.

It's now tomorrow, and I read back through much of the discussion reaching pretty much the same conclusion I did previously which I summed up:

"If I am lying by the road bleeding, I don't care if the medic coming to save me is gay. I just hope he is one of those buff gay guys who are always in the gym so he can throw me over his shoulder and get me out of there."

There are several reasons that President Bush should remove this ban, the first of which is it's flat out the right thing to do. Any rationale for the ban involves allowing irrational prejudices of one group to override the rights of another. There was a time when homophobia or homohateia was a big enough problem that readiness would have been affected, but we have evolved since then as a people. And honestly it's past the point where don't ask, don't tell is really needed, most of the folks who chimed in said that they knew who the gay people were in their units. Maybe the policy should just be "Don't ask, don't care".

But pure political expediency would be another great reason. The public supports ending the ban in fairly large numbers, and doing so in conjunction with a package of benefits and changes to reward those who have been doing the fighting over these past years would be a tremendous coup. Adding some funding to VA programs, job transition programs, and all around soldier care issues would go nicely with a cup of doing the right thing by ending a discriminatory policy. It also takes away the  cudgel of intolerance the left bashes the military and conservatives with, never a bad thing to hush your opposition.

Institutional discrimination is something very difficult to justify and requires impressive justification. There are few instances left other than race-based preferences for college admissions and this program for the military. We'll get to the wrongness of the college programs in due time, but I believe we can make the military truly representative of our country without hurting it and maybe even make it stronger.

                                                   - Uncle J


JAG Bans Legal Rounds - Sniper Punished - Part II

Army JAG Bans Legal Sniper Rounds is here (I included the original ruling on the specific round in question).

A reader sends the follow up from the Washington Times Inside the Ring (Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough):

Sniper punished
    The Army has cleared a sniper in Iraq of violating operational security rules in helping to educate a judge advocate general (military lawyer) about the legality of open-tip bullets used by snipers to shoot insurgents who are killing American and allied troops.
    However, the sniper, Sgt. Arthur J. Hushen, is continuing to face retaliation for blowing the whistle on an improper order for snipers to stop using the highly-effective M118LR ammunition in Iraq because it was thought to be an illegal hollow-point bullet. He was recently forced to move to a tent for "outcasts," said his wife, Sherry.
    Sgt. Hushen recounted in a statement how he challenged the 4th Infantry Division lawyer, a woman identified only as "Maj. Card," after he obtained information from an Internet sniper forum showing that the bullets had been judged legal for use for years.
    "Maj. Card stated that the hollow-point ammo was illegal," Sgt. Hushen wrote. "I informed her that there was a memo put out ... several years ago stating that hollow-tip had been deemed legal."
    Maj. Card replied that she had never heard of the memo, but after documentation was presented to her, she reversed course.
    "Maj. Card informed me that I was not a lawyer and she did not work for me," Sgt. Hushen said, noting that the lawyer then agreed that in her legal opinion the M118LR was legal and said she would send out an e-mail to the executive officers.
    It was after the exchange that Sgt. Hushen was accused of violating security rules for identifying his 4th Infantry Division unit on the Internet. However, he was cleared of that accusation after his statement.
    But he is continuing to be punished by senior enlisted and officers for raising the legal issues, we are told.
    "I needed the ammo to accomplish my sniper missions," he said. "I didn't quit when I was told the ammo was illegal because I knew it was not."
    Sgt. Hushen said he was punished by his platoon leader by being relieved from his sniper duties and removed as a team leader.
    "I no longer have anyone to lead and train. I believe that this is the worst punishment that could have happened," he said...


Israeli-Palestinian War? - Condi Rice Speech

I have wondered for decades what the reason behind the left's unflagging support for the collection of terrorist groups known as the Palestinians was. Is it anti-Semitism, is it pseudo-revolutionary BS ala Che? I don't know and I just can't find a logical path that leads me anywhere near support for the Palestinians.

The Israelis have plenty of marks against them, but there is a gaping chasm separating a peaceful democratic state of a few million  and the 100 million plus Arabs surrounding them who have collectively spent the entirety of Israel's existence trying to destroy it and kill all it's inhabitants. The hate speech that Condi_boots_1equates to the daily news in Palestine and the rest of the Arab world is so far beyond the pale that it stuns me to see the same crowd that loses it's mind if the word homo finds it's way into a discussion, hugging and loving those who call Jews dogs and pigs and call for their slaughter.    

My cluelessness regarding the cluelessness of the terrorist sympathizers who support the Palestinians aside, all the sugar-coating in the world doesn't change the fact that they just elected a terrorist group to run their little death camp. The question is what do we do now?

Free your mind, and your ass will follow (more or less) - En Vogue also Jr. in "Platoon"

I think this provides the ever popular moment of clarity to this whole debacle. I think we should immediately recognize the new Hamas-led government and should send Condi Rice over to shake hands with the terrorist in chief at his swearing in. I would have her then present them with a copy of the pact we have with Israel stating we will support them militarily if attacked by any of the bad guys in their neighborhood. As the puzzled look spread across the room she would blow a kiss before jetting off to Tel Aviv to meet with the Israelis. In a very public meeting she would then make the following statement.

"The US government is extremely pleased to note the further spread of democracy across the Middle East. This region has historically suffered incredible tyranny and oppression and now the light of freedom has been lit and is illuminating the lives of ever growing numbers of people. We have decided that we will honor the promises of Hamas to govern justly and become a peaceful member of the world community. We have immediately removed Hamas from the list of terrorist groups, and consequently we assume that any and all pledges or promises by them to "Drive the Jews into the Ocean" are hereby set aside. 

We support the decision of the Israeli government to fully use Jerusalem rather than Tel Aviv as it's capital and consequently we will be moving our embassy there immediately. We further salute the Israeli government's choice to withdraw from any and all settlements that are outside of the current plan for the extended security wall. This removes the only legitimate complaint from the Palestinians and should serve as the basis for a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel & Palestine. Given the unilateral gestures of good will made by the Israelis we challenge the Palestinians to do the right thing and recognize the right of Israel to exist and remove any and all references to it's destruction from official Palestinian government documents.

The spread of freedom through democracy is a novel concept, but one that has worked phenomenally for those who have stuck with it. It would be a great moment indeed if a terrorist group could take the popular mandate from their people and renounce it's illegitimate and heinous tactics becoming a force for good rather than evil. Congratulations to all the Palestinian people, we urge you to support your new government in it's efforts to create a peaceful and prosperous Palestine.

I presented the new Palestinian leadership with a copy of the mutual defense pact we have with Israel, I urge them to read it carefully as they now are one of the nation-states we would help Israel protect itself from if attacked. Our hope is that the newly democratic Hamas and other former terrorist groups will join in this tremendous opportunity and create a country where their children and grandchildren can grow up happily.

If for any reason this idyllic possibility is shattered by a terrorist attack on Israel, we will join in support of Israel as they repel an invasion, and obviously a casus belli would have been presented. In simpler terms it goes like this: If you or any of your Jew-hating friends blow up a single Israeli bus, we are going to stand by and giggle while the Israelis beat your new nation state like a wet dog in a dry house.

Please address any questions to [email protected]"

                                   - Uncle J


Godspeed Staff Sergeant McMullen - Part II

Godspeed Staff Sergeant Michael McMullen Part I

Thought I'd share these with you...

14700

A few Soldiers from the 243rd Engineer Company, Maryland Army National Guard, shed tears during a memorial service honoring Sgt. Michael J. McMullen Jan. 17.

14699

A troop places a coin on the memorial of Sgt. Michael J. McMullen as a token of farewell.

14701

Paying his final respects, a Soldier from the 243rd Engineer Company, Maryland Army National Guard, gives his final salute to Sgt. Michael J. McMullen.


Me and Douglas MacArthur Are Water Babies

Me and el generalisimo share a birthday today (as Uncle Jimbo decided to point out).  No fanfare this year, no pub crawls.  Today, I need to work on the milblog book a bit.  Have a coffee at Panera and get some things done.

So how does the Blackfive Birthday begin?

This morning, I slept in an extra hour.  My darling wife turns on the Today show on the bedroom TV.  Katie Couric is talking about a new phenomenon - beautiful women dating and marrying geeks.  Mrs. Blackfive seems very interested in this concept.  A few minutes of interviews (gigantic nerds and gorgeous women) are followed by the amazing investigative techniques of Couric to uncover the truth for this gutsy story...

My darling wife turns to me and sighs, "Yet another trend I've started..."

No respect, I tell ya!

Anyway, I need to send a big Happy Birthday! message to my mother-in-law.  We share today as well (and I'm only slightly younger than her)...she reads the blog.


Matty O' Blackfive's Birthday

OK Folks since I didn't know if Matt would post a B-Day abuse congratulations thread and the fool has yet to change the passwords to his site, I will.

A short 67 years ago Mama O'Blackfive gave birth to the man now reviled  revered across the internets and around the world. Have a Happy Birthday Matt my suggestion, have the kids help with the candles, maybe give Pinkfive a blow dryer.


Torture Case Update

I piped up yesterday in my outside voice about the light sentence given to a "convicted torturer" by my own words. While I was trying to be hyperbolic to drive home the point that hypocrisy in dealing with abuses greatly damages us in ways the trumped up cases only hint at, I feel I overstepped in calling him a torturer.

That is one of the words hijacked by the left and used to pummel the military and I tossed it out there same as they do. I have looked at most of the open source info and while it supports his conviction it does not support the claim I made of torturer. So I retract my previous BS statement and hereby state. What the Chief did was wrong and he should have known that, no matter which spineless pencil pushers may have approved it. I am not saying that rough techniques are always wrong, obviously, only that he had a responsibility to know the medical status of the prisoner.

Grim from Grim's Hall poked me back toward the path of righteousness

"I saw this case come out when it first hit the wires, and I had roughly the same reaction. But I remembered something important -- I remembered all the previous times that the media has gotten the details of these things flat wrong. So, rather than post an furious lashing of the Army, I decided to wait for a MilBlogger who knew the details to pony up.

You couldn't have asked for a better one. Captain Jason van Steenwyck of the COUNTERCOLUMN turns out to have known the CWO. He's posted about it here, here, and here."

I had read Jason's accounts and they did mitigate the circumstances somewhat, but this statement of his encapsulated the problem for me.

"Anyway, I knew and liked and respected Chief Welshofer, so I am saddened to see that this happened and that Chief Welshofer is responsible for this man's death.

I don't question Welshofer's motives. He wanted to win the war. He wanted to save American lives and Iraqi lives. He was willing to be the bad guy to make that happen.

But your prisoners aren't supposed to wind up dead. That's not how the U.S. does business. We cannot tolerate that in any facility, from any rank."

My concern was the lack of any jail time and the common sense rejection of that by many good people. Looking at the case, we have a prisoner beaten (although not by us) , roughly interrogated (by us) and then dead. That screams for responsibility, and in this case the individual most responsible for the man's life was the Chief. I have softened my view of his actions, but not my view that he should serve jail time for this. Thanks to all who commented and provided info.

                                                         - Uncle J


Army lets convicted torturer skate

UPDATE: Bill Faith notes that the comments both here and at Winds of Change seem to provide some mitigating circumstances. I looked and still remain sad that zero jail time was involved. It does appear that many of the injuries suffered by he man came from the Iraqis prior to our interrogation, but the treatment he received at our hands was inexcusable. If he got a deal because he is rolling over on higher ups who authorized his actions, I will further revise my opinion. I just simply wish they had given him some time in jail to remind our troops, our country and the world that we are the good guys. We may waterboard you, but after you talk at least you get cake. Cake or death? (reference anyone?)

The Armed Liberal over at Winds of Change points out a sad state of affairs regarding the punishment of a bad guy who wore our uniform.

I've deflected the "we're torturing folks" meme by arguing that the people who did the bad things were being prosecuted and, where appropriate, convicted and punished.

Not so much, it appears.

A Chief Warrant officer who was brutally interrogating an Iraqi general - not a Geneva-convention-flaunting guerilla or terrorist - tied him up, stuffed him in a sleeping bag, sat on him, and killed him.

His punishment?

...instead of serving jail time and being forced from the military, Welshofer would receive a formal reprimand, forfeit $6,000 of his salary and spend 60 days restricted to his home, office and church.

I'm sorry, but that doesn't cut it.

AL is AC, Absolutely Correct. I have been vocal myself saying that we don't torture and any cases we unearth are dealt with appropriately. That should involve a trip to Ft. Leavenworth, and not for Staff college. I am unaware of any information about this case that mitigates his actions in any way that would justify the pathetic sentence he received. The military has taken far too much undeserved crap from partisans lying about what we have been up to, and we can't afford to cut any slack to bad operators. If anyone can school me as to why this guy should be chillin' at his hooch smokin' stogies and watching Desperate Housewives please do so. If not then sound off and let somebody hear that this is not what we want.

I don't know if there are appeal options for the prosecution, but we should let the Army and DOD overall know that this doesn't help anybody's cause except a convicted torturer. It would be a good bit of spin judo to take our convicted torturer and ship him off to Gitmo. That gave me a grin just thinking about it.

It's safe to say I have been foresquare in my support for the use of coercivce interrogation techniques, but I predicated that support on the belief that we do not sanction torture and it is punished when it happens. This yanks the rug right out from under many of the Army's advocates and feeds what was a disinformation machine a right stinking hypocrisy to pummel us with.

If you do the crime you gotta do the time. The G4 is fueled and ready, now boarding the bad apple rendition express non-stop to Gitmo, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr.

Step this way and get fitted for your orange jumpsuit, your choice of bible or Koran and an ocean view dog cage with a rock to lay down your little head. Don't worry we'll tie you up nice and snug in your sleeping bag  and take proper care of you, remember do unto others jagoff.

                                                          - Uncle J


RIP Joel Stein's career- Kudos Hugh Hewitt

I really enjoyed the 00 buck alternating with slugs I sent Joel Stein's way earlier today via the internets. It didn't truly satisfy until I had a chance to step back and remember just how insignificant this weed was, and exactly how much precision fire he had absorbed by the mightiest ranteurs online. Fun to be part of a barrel fish shoot like that.

Then Jpod, John Podhoretz of National Review, a formidable verbalizationist his-own-self alerted me to a reminder of why we have adults to rule the unruly, myself forefront. Hugh Hewitt had the little Stein twit on his show and he assassinated the ghost that lived where Stein's character should be. He did so without bombast, or vitriol, or belittlement. He did so like a wise elder showing a smart ass punk just how much of a smart ass punk he actually is. That's not my gig, not yet and maybe never, but it was feet of the master time to watch a man school a boy.

Class is in session, Professor HH puncturing punk ass pomposity

Transcript by Radioblogger