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Jewish World Review
Dec. 24, 2009
/ 7 Teves 5770
War Is Hell, Not Litigation
The editor of the venerable conservative weekly Human
Events is causing an admirable ruckus. Jed Babbin, once deputy
undersecretary of defense in the administration of George H.W. Bush and
now the editor of the oldest conservative periodical in the land, is
petitioning Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to dismiss charges against
three SEALs for reputedly causing discomfort to one of the most wanted
terrorists in Iraq during his capture last September. Babbin now has
more than 90,000 petitioners. Count me in.
The SEALs Julio Huertas, Jonathan Keefe and Matthew McCabe are
members of SEAL Team 10. Their platoon captured one Ahmed Hashim Abed
during a nocturnal raid on or about Sept. 1 in Iraq. Abed is suspected
of being the mastermind of the March 2004 ambush in Fallujah of four
Blackwater security guards, which by hindsight was not such a good idea
on Abed's part. In a wild firefight, his brutes killed the Blackwater
contractors, all retired commandos, when they drove into an ambush. Then
they desecrated the bodies, dragging them through the streets and
hanging two from a bridge for the world to see. That ostentatious
display of barbarism caught the attention of the U.S. military, making
it, of a sudden, aware that Iraq was becoming dangerously unstable, with
violence potentially spiraling out of control. The atrocity was, as
military commentator Rowan Scarborough has observed, a wake-up call that
did not turn out well for the brutes.
Precisely what happened to Abed that September night is unclear. But he
claims one of the SEALs, McCabe, punched him in the stomach, causing him
to bleed from the lip odd symptoms, no? Presumably, we shall get all
the details during the SEALs' court-martial trials, which are scheduled
to begin next month. Yet are these trials really necessary? The other
two SEALs are charged with participating in a cover-up. I think it is by
now pretty well-established that terrorists do not always tell the
truth, and they can be unruly when fallen upon in the dark of night in
what they had thitherto considered secure hiding places.
Moreover, al-Qaida provides them with a training manual. According to
Chapter 18 of a manual released by the Justice Department, al-Qaida's
finest are encouraged to complain of torture and lesser acts of
mistreatment at the hands of their captors. Possibly they even hire
publicists. Thus, we have come to the point that members of one of our
most elite special operations forces are going to be court-martialed for
causing Abed a bloody lip during his capture.
The travesty could have been averted had the SEALs settled for a lesser
charge. That seems to be what the commanding general in charge, Maj.
Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, expected after conferring with Army lawyers.
Yes, Army lawyers are almost as influential in the execution of this war
on terror as our finest special ops forces. Yet these SEALs entered
military service with the highest ambitions. They want, according to
Babbin, to become members of the SEALs' most elite team. If they had
settled for the "non-judicial punishment" under Article 15 of the
Uniform Code of Military Justice that was dangled before them, their
chances of serving our country at a higher level of combat would have
So now these warriors, who regularly faced a barbaric foe to defend our
country, will face courts-martial and possible ruin. Gen. Cleveland had
it in his power to tell lower-level commanders simply to lecture these
soldiers on avoiding bloody lips in the future, but he set a process in
motion that is destructive to these men and to the morale of our finest
fighters in the war on terror. Secretary Gates can end this abuse of
power by simply doing what Cleveland failed to do. Send these men back
to their officers to be chewed out.
I hope Gates will follow this course. He is an honorable and intelligent
man. I have known him since his boss at the CIA, then-CIA Director Bill
Casey, introduced him to me more than two decades ago and told me that
with Gates' talent and good sense, he was destined to do great good for
our country. These SEALs have done great good, too. Let us get them back
to work and get these courts-martial canceled. The guy who should be
appearing in the dock is Ahmed Hashim Abed, whose lip has doubtless
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© 2008, Creators Syndicate