Torture an Iraqi? Do not pass go, pay 5000!

A lovely decision that should really help our efforts to gain supporters and friends in the Iraqi community.

In testimony at an Article 32 hearing – the military’s version of a grand jury or preliminary hearing – West said the policeman, Yahya Jhrodi Hamoody, was not cooperating with interrogators, so he watched four of his soldiers from the 220th Field Artillery Battalion beat the detainee on the head and body.

West said he also threatened to kill Hamoody. Military prosecutors say West followed up on that threat by taking the suspect outside, put him on the ground near a weapons clearing barrel and fired his 9 mm pistol into the barrel.

Reading the entire article, I can understand why West did it. He was gathering information about a possible attack on him personally and his troops. The tactics actually worked, the Iraqi cracked and gave helpful information, at least according to the story. In his shoes I might be tempted to use similar tactics short of permanently injuring the guy.

That being said, this type of situation begs the question, “What the fuck are we doing in Iraq?” If West isn’t in Iraq, he’s not torturing some guy for information about a troop attack that couldn’t happen if we weren’t there.


I read the entire article but I failed to find the reference to the US law that says torture is ok if it potentially saves US soldiers’ lives. If you’d be kind enough to point that out to me I’d be grateful.

I think that this sort of thing happens more often than people think. When it’s your own safety at stake, the niceties of conventions tend to get thrown out the window.
What would your response to this dilemma be, Kalle? Follow the rules and risk yours and your men’s lives? Bear in mind that the other side doesn’t have these moral issues to deal with. I’m glad that I’ll never be in the position to make this decision.

I can fully understand why West did it, but that is not what this is about. When it came to the attention of the proper authorities what West had done he should have been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They did not do this, de facto accepting torture as an interrogation technique as long as the results are good, and that is an incredibly dangerous policy.

Okay, torture is bad, and we should be above that. No doubt.

But this guy was part of a plan to attack and kill a large group of soldiers. Had he not been part of a plan to attack and kill a large group of soldiers, he’d not have been beaten to get the information out of him.

What’s with all the sympathy for terrorists and murderers? Don’t wanna get tortured? Don’t hang out with terrorists. This guy was plotting to kill a bunch of soldiers and you’re aghast that he was beaten.

[size=1](“But what about all those falsely arrested?” You’re right. Let’s stop prosecuting criminals and capturing terrorists, because there’s always the chance you could capture an innocent guy.)[/size]

It has not that much to do with sympathy as it has to do with defending our way of life :D
Or rather, there are certain ideals that our nations are built upon, and indeed separates us from those the US at the moment claim to fight against. To let go of these principles in the interest of… well, anything, really, is not something to take lightly and in my mind should not be tolerated. Trying to neutralize[1] the action that has been taken might make people feel better, but I believe it is dangerous to society as a whole when accepted by that society.

[size=1](There is a middle road in this, you know, it’s called “due process”. Defenders of Human Rights are keen on it.)[/size]

[1] Sykes, Gresham and Matza, David. (1957). Techniques of Neutralization: A Theory of Delinquency. American Sociological Review. 22(6). 664-670

It’s torture and that’s a crime, IMO.

U.S. troops do not torture their captives. This guy was a Lt. Col. and he sure as hell knew that. He just decided that he didn’t care. The MG above him that didn’t reject the hearing’s recommendation of summary punishment should be in jail too.

What Anders said. This has nothing to do with sympathy for terrorists and rebels, but it has everything to do with protecting the core values of our society. If you want to protect democracy you cannot do that by accepting the values of it’s enemies because that will corrupt society from within.

Torturing people based on mere suspicion that they may have information, in plain violation of standing laws, should not be tolerated. West broke the law, plain and simple, he knew what he did was against the rules and he should be in jail for that. Or do you have a problem with laws being enforced?

Hardly. He should be tried for this. And I’m not defending his actions, just saying I don’t pity his “victim.”

I can see how it happened. If you and your men were in imminent danger of fatal attack, can you honestly say you’d risk death to hold up societal values rather than making even extreme efforts to save your own neck and the necks of those around you, if it seemed the only option?

Being on the firing line isn’t like sitting in a debate. Danger can make you do things you’d normally find abhorrent.

But that’s hardly an excuse, Denny. Very few people who do terrible things do it just for kicks; they do it because they feel like their back is against the wall and this is their only way to get things done. When terrorists do that, you’re ready to hang them–and so am I. But when Col. West does it, you’re giving him a free pass.

I agree with you that he’s not morally equivalent to a terrorist. But it’s wrong to say that he should be able to beat someone and threaten to summarily execute them just because he’s under stress and pressure. If the US doesn’t want to risk its troops, it can stay out of Iraq. If we go in, it has to be with the understanding that we’re going to take the high road, even though it means a lot more casualties for us. I know that sucks and it’s terrible for the men in combat, but that’s what they signed on for. This is America, not 1940’s Japan.

I think if I was West, I’d have done the same… I wouldn’t be proud of it, but I’d consider jail time, dishonorable discharge and a fine as worth it if I saved the lives of my men.

The oath of commission pretty much says that’s your job. Seriously, you can sympathize with his chosen course of action, but you just absolutely 100% cannot justify it.

What would you think if you killed him and he turned out to be totally innocent, not knowing a thing?

What would you think if you killed him and he turned out to be totally innocent, not knowing a thing?[/quote]

I have no idea what point your question poses given that without specific intent to kill, that isn’t a possibility that comes into play.

Flipside, if he hadn’t been beaten, kept his mouth shut, the convoy was assaulted and it was later determined that he did have knowledge about the planned attack?

I think firing a gun next to his head carries a bit of risk of death.


The commander violated the UCMJ. This is open and shut.

Don’t listen to me, listen to Bob Barr.

“I do not believe we ought to as a nation take the step for the very first time of condoning these sorts of interrogation techniques,” he said. “The hallmark of American life has always been we set a higher standard. We don’t operate the way our enemies do, and I don’t see anything here that would lead me to believe that we ought to go down that slippery slope now after two and a quarter centuries of operating in another way.”

And reading above, I just want to clarify that I do think that what the guy did was wrong and not what Americans should be doing. I was aghast when we took the captured Al Queada lieutanant to a “third-party” country for interrogation, obviously so we could use techniques not legal in US domains.

I think it was wrong that we did it, and that we should be above it. I’m just saying that I can see how the guy could be driven to do it, and that I don’t feel sorry for the guy who was beaten…

Fair enough.