Thursday, November 20, 2003

Update on West

An update on Col. Allen B. West.

A senior U.S. officer charged with threatening to kill an Iraqi detainee testified yesterday that he allowed soldiers to beat a suspect and that he fired a gun near the man's head, but not at him, to save his troops from harm.

His voice quivering with emotion, Lt. Col. Allen B. West said at a military hearing that he was seeking information about a purported plot to kill him and some of the 700 men he commanded and in which he thought the detainee, Yahya Jhodri Hamoody, was involved.

"I felt there was a threat to my soldiers. ... If it's about the life of my men, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can," said Col. West, who sat erect in the witness stand during cross-examination on the second day of a court-martial hearing.

"I love the Army," he said, fighting back tears.


Col. West threatened to kill the Iraqi, who was a policeman in the town of Saba al Boor, unless he talked. Col. West said the tactic worked in that the Iraqi provided the names of insurgents who planned attacks on his men.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said Col. West probably was more worthy of commendation than punishment and was trying to protect his soldiers.

"I think the message if we were to end up punishing someone for doing what it took to protect the soldiers entrusted to his command, it would be the wrong signal," Mr. Inhofe said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with top Army officials.

Cheers to Sen. James M. Inhofe for speaking the truth.


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