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Monday, December 21, 2009

Who Is Allen West

In Florida's 22nd District, a race is brewing that may soon capture the nation's attention. The leading frontrunner for the Republican nomination is Allen West. West is an African American and that makes him an interesting character in and of itself. If the name Allen West sounds familiar, it should. West is former Army Colonel who was forced into early retirement following this incident.

Between August 16 and 20, intelligence identified an Iraqi policeman who was allegedly involved in the assassination plot, and the man was arrested on Aug. 20. According to the officer's defense attorney, this is what happened.

Lt. Col. Allen B. West was told the policeman was uncooperative, so he took a few of his men to the interrogation area to see for himself, where he found the prisoner being questioned by two female officers. They told him the man was belligerent, and wasn't giving them any information. (Surprise, surprise. The idiocy of having women question male Arab prisoners is apparent to everyone except the army commanders.) West entered the room, sat across from the man, drew his pistol, and placed it in his lap. West told him he had come to either get information, or to kill him. The prisoner responded by smiling and saying, "I love you." The interrogation continued, and one of West's troops lost his temper and started slapping the man. West then had his men take the prisoner outside, where he again threatened the man, telling him that he would kill him on the count of five if he didn't tell what he knew. The prisoner refused, and West fired his pistol into the air.

The interrogation continued, but not the beating. After about 20 more minutes of useless questioning, West grabbed the man, held him down near a box full of sand used to discharge jammed weapons, and said something like, "This is it. I'm going to count to five again, and if you don't give me what I want, I'm going to kill you." West held the man down, counted to five, and then fired his pistol into the discharging box about a foot from the Iraqi's head. He began talking. Over the next few minutes, the prisoner gave very specific information about the plot. He named the conspirators, gave times and dates of the assassination plan, and even described how attacks would be made.

West and his men went back to their base camp. The lieutenant colonel immediately went to his boss, woke him up, and told him what he had done, and about the information he'd gotten from the Iraqi. West didn't say anything about what his troops had done. The boss — Col. Kevin Stramara — responded only by saying something like, "Alan, we need to take the high road." Leaving Stramara, West went to the medics' area, and ordered one of the doctors to examine and treat the prisoner. The doctor found the man bruised and scared, but not injured in any significant way. The next day, West briefed his own staff about the incident, and told them he took full responsibility. And that, West thought, was that. Apparently so did Stramara, who never even reported the incident.

This very tough interrogation became the subject of great controversy. He became a symbol and a folk hero to many on the right who saw him as a symbol of the PC nature with which our military was fighting to GWOT. In fact, West could have faced much stiffer punishment but wound up being forced to retire early.

Now, he's back on the scene and running for Congress. He's made a splash with this video.

He's also a political rockstar. He's already been on Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity. Expect him to make the conservative rounds.

In fact, Allen West may be a good test case. I don't believe that most voters are terribly impressed with their Reps receiving this kind of national attention. That's what happened to Doug Hoffman and he lost. So, will all this media attention help West...we'll find out next November?

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