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August 2011

Cheney would waterboard 'em again

Dick Cheney's book is out and unsurprisingly he is unapologetic. He is quoted as saying that he has no regrets about waterboarding terrorists.

Asked in an NBC interview if he still embraces waterboarding, Cheney says, "I would strongly support using it again if circumstances arose where we had a high-value detainee and that was the only way we could get him to talk."

This is one of my favorite arguments to have with liberals as it offers a very simple calculus, do you value the personal comfort of terrorists higher than the lives of innocent civilians? Now the counter-arguments fly fast and furious, but in the end I believe they all boil down to a desire to feel morally superior to bad people. Fine, that is a nice desire but it becomes vanity when you raise it higher than a responsibility to protect innocents. And please spare me the argument that it doesn't work. If you waterboard someone with no knowledge of terror attacks, of course it won't work. If they do have such knowledge, then anything that can help you gain that knowledge ought to be considered. The folks we wet down told us things we didn't know and helped us stop attacks, period. It has even been reported that the first clue to the identity of the courier we eventually tracked to bin Laden came out of KSM's mouth after he got the treatment.

No one should want to waterboard another human being, it is an awful and terrifying procedure and its use should be a near last resort. but refusing to do it simply because you don't want to "sink to the level" of the bad guys is weakness masquerading as moral superiority. If you have an individual with knowledge of terrorist attacks planned for the future, which KSM did and told us he did, then it is a form of cowardice to claim you are too evolved or good a person to use force to compel him to tell you about them. I believe you would then be complicit in any deaths that would come in such attacks.

First I will stipulate that I do not believe that waterboarding is torture. It is a Jedi mind screw that convinces the animal brain that you are drowning, when in fact you are not, and it causes no permanent damage. It is also quite effective at breaking down resistance as a waterboardee admitted.

That regimen of harsh interrogation was used on KSM after another detainee, Abu Zubaydeh, was subjected to the same techniques. When he broke, he said that he and other members of al Qaeda were obligated to resist only until they could no longer do so, at which point it became permissible for them to yield. "Do this for all the brothers," he advised his interrogators.

So if you can get evil bastards to tell you what they know and avert the killings of innocents, how does letting those people die make you the better person? The answer is that it doesn't. It makes you someone who misplaces his own desire to feel morally superior above actual lives of other human beings. If it is proper and acceptable to shoot a man who is attempting to kill others, then why is it not acceptable and proper to pour water on someone with the same intentions? It should be and we unnecessarily handicap ourselves and endanger our citizens by failing to have this option when other methods fall short.

The British Council Rescue

This article in the Guardian describes the lack of coordination of the Afghan police and the elite commandos (eventually 20 Afghans and 5 New Zealand S.A.S. soldiers) that stormed the British Council HQ after it had been occupied. 

...The two women, one British and the other South African, have not yet been named although diplomatic sources said one of them had only arrived in Afghanistan 48 hours earlier to work on the British Council's educational and cultural programmes.

They were rushed to the tiny safe room, in a building in the centre of the compound, at 5.40am under covering fire from private guards on the roof of the compound after a vehicle packed with explosives ripped through the front gate.

It destroyed the double-layered "airlock" of concrete walls, metal gates and other defensive measures.

A second group of terrorists, armed with bombs and guns, stormed into the compound, overwhelming the guard force of Gurkhas and Afghans employed by G4S, the giant British security company.

In total 12 people, excluding the attackers, died during six hours of fierce fighting. One of the fatalities included Douglas Grant, 41, a New Zealand SAS commando who was part of the rescue team...

The fighting lasted hours, snipers, Gurkhas, NZ SAS, Afghan Commandos, all trying to dislodge the attackers (in suicide vests) from behind the bullet proof British Council defenses.  The suicide bombers knew the locations of the strong points and guard outposts...

Read the whole piece.

USAA's Advice on Preparing Cell Phones for Hurricanes/Disasters

Thought this was good advice for all of you in the path of Irene.

Prepare smartphones now for Hurricane Irene

Mobile devices can be lifelines following extreme weather  

SAN ANTONIO – Home and safety preparations for those in Hurricane Irene’s path should include making smartphones and other mobile devices storm-ready, according to financial services provider USAA.

“As soon as a hurricane or severe storm becomes a threat, boarding windows  and stocking food and water supplies are priority one,” says Elizabeth Gulick, executive director of Catastrophe Operations at USAA. “But taking a couple minutes to update your mobile devices with key information can provide an invaluable lifeline and peace of mind in its aftermath.”

Getting the Most from Your Mobile Device Before, During and After a Storm

Extreme weather can disrupt communication channels, making mobile devices essential tools to keep in touch with family as well as with response and recovery efforts.  USAA offers these tips to make your mobile device storm-ready:

  • Create a texting phone tree.
    Create a network of contacts so you can reach them quickly after any sort of extreme weather.  Texting may be the only available form of communication. 
  • Set up emergency text alerts.
    Access to television or radio could be limited. By setting up emergency text alerts with your city or insurer when available, you can increase the chance that you’ll stay connected wherever you are.
  • Utilize mobile banking apps.
    Many banks have developed mobile banking apps for smartphones that allow people to move money, pay bills and deposit checks from their phones. Having ready access to your funds can save a lot of headaches in the storm’s aftermath.
  • Take advantage of insurance apps.
    Some insurance companies, including USAA, allow their customers to file claims using their smartphones to quickly start the recovery process.
  • Download emergency service apps.
    Emergency service apps will allow you to access important resources, such as the American Red Cross.
  • Have a car phone charger and spare battery.
    If power is out for an extended period, your car can be a valuable source of energy.

More hurricane preparedness tips can be found on USAA’s Disaster and Recovery Center at usaa.com/help.

For more information regarding USAA’s mobile services, download the free USAA Mobile App by visiting the Apple® App StoreTM or downloading the free USAA Mobile App for Android™ by visiting the Android Market. Additional information can be found on usaa.com.

Our own Laughing Wolf created a series of posts on preparedness that are worth your time:

Rational Preparedness, Part One

Rational Preapredness, Part Two

Preparedness Week, Room Kits

Preparedness Week, Car & Power

Preparedness Week, Bugging Out, Snivel Gear, & More

Preparedness Week, Packs, Cans, & Protection

Preparedness Week, Paperwork

Give a Little Angel a great big birthday hug

See this photo of Madysen Geist with her Daddy, SFC Brad Geist (after returning from a Kosovo tour in 2010), of the North Dakota National Guard?

Madysen 2

Well, unfortunately, Sgt. 1st Class Brad Geist, a NDNG Soldier who did tours in Iraq and Kosovo, died as the result of an accident last week. His daughter's 4th birthday is Oct. 2, and the nonprofit Soldiers Angels is leading an effort to make sure little Mady has the best birthday possible under the circumstances.


If you'd like to take part in a virtual birthday party for her, cards and gifts are being collected at the following address for delivery. 

Shelle Michaels
For Mady
547 S. 7th St. Suite 241
Bismarck, ND 58504

There is a Facebook page for the party too here.

USAF Combat Medic's Two Sides

USAF medic 447201_q75
Senior Airman John Fitzgerald, medic attached to Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, provides security for the team medic and Afghan doctors at the Mehtar Lam hospital Aug. 24. The PRT visited the hospital for the first time since arriving in July and used the visit to ensure they had enough supplies and medical personnel on the staff. The Mehtar Lam hospital is the largest medical facility in Laghman and also draws patients all the way from Nuristan, more than 50 kilometers north.  Photos by SSG Ryan Crane of PRT Laghman.


USAF Medic 2 447203_q75
Another photo of Senior Airman John Fitzgerald, medic attached to Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team, as he congratulates a local Afghan after he beat him in an arm wrestling competition at the Mehtar Lam hospital Aug. 24.

Into The Light: Robert T. "Zig" Hensley

Mad Mike sends the news that one of the good guys is gone:

Sometimes, appearances in my books are auctioned off for charity.  Sometimes, a friend or colleague tickles me in a certain way, and I ask if I can use them as a character.

            My friend Robert "Zig" Hensley appears in my new story "The Brute Force Approach" as a hull specialist.  Zig was a former Navy diver supporting the SEAL teams (he was always very careful to insist he wasn't a SEAL himself).  After a couple of injuries at depth, he was medically retired, and devoted his life to gunsmithing, good cigars and riding bikes.  We never actually met in person, this being the 21st Century.  We talked at length by phone and online about rifles, revolvers, military issues, shooting.  We'd make plans to meet at various 3-gun matches, but didn't quite manage to get our schedules to work.

            Then came the news that on his way back from a ride in Stone Mountain, someone had changed lanes in a panic and knocked him under a semi.  It was two days after the story was published.  Given the nature of the story, I almost wish I could rewrite part of it to give him an heroic death.

            However, he did read and comment on the story, a few days before I submitted the final draft for upload.  I'm glad he didn't miss it entirely.

The story is here

The obituary is here. Godspeed Zig.


Book Review: DARK WORLD - Into the shadows...

Our buddy over at Ranger Up, Kelly Crigger, can't sit still (this is a massive understatement). He's a publicist by day, a marketer by night, and an author somewhere in between. His latest venture is a journey into the paranormal with acclaimed TV show host, Zak Bagans, whom you may know from the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures.

Or you may not.

Either way, he likes to go into the dark places most of us would not want to and frankly, he can have them (I'll jump out of a perfectly good airplane or a USAF aircraft, but the paranormal is a whole different ball of wax). Dark World is the collection of memoirs of Bagans told through Crigger's eyes that takes us through his hundreds of ghost hunts and tries to find impartial answers to some of the basic questions of life after death.

DW Cover

It starts off innocent enough including ghost hunting tips and trivia, photos, personal philosophies and encounters with the paranormal (on and off camera), and then ends with an uber-creepy encounter with a demon and possession at one of the most haunted places on the planet. Like I said...he can have it.

With a chapter dedicated to the science of the afterlife, it's a good read if you've ever questioned what happens to us when the physical body dies. It's impartial so if you buy into the paranormal or don't, it's worth your time.  The fact that it's written by one of us (Crigger is a retired Army Officer) and is destined to hit the New York Times bestseller list when it's released on September 13th are good enough reasons to check it out (at the amazon link below, you can check out the preview and see/read for yourself).