In 2003, after pleading guilty to assaulting and threatening an Iraqi detainee during a brutal interrogation, Allen West's career in the Army came crashing down. After West deliberately disregarded Army rules and regulations, he was criminally charged by the military with assault and for violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with the Army concluding that "his crimes merit a court-martial".
West performed illegal acts in violation of military code under the UCMJ by abusing an Iraqi detainee and staging a mock execution -- firing a gun near the man’s head during an interrogation, threatening to kill him, and allowing his troops to beat him. The investigation found probable cause that West violated two statutes of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which forbade threatening a prisoner and assaulting him.
Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary, reportedly criticized West as a “commander who has lost his moral balance or has watched too many Hollywood movies.”
Expressing concern that his behavior could send the signal that abuse was acceptable as a means to an end, the Army relieved Colonel West of his command and contemplated court-martialing him on assault charges.
West was told he either had to resign or face court martial. If West were to be found guilty at a court martial of the two articles against him, rather than being charged under an Article 15 hearing, West could have faced 11 years in prison, a military prosecutor revealed.
Military prosecutors said West's actions amounted to torture and violated articles 128 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They added that through his actions against the detainee, West "disobeyed laws, ignored orders . . . and mortgaged future discipline in his unit. Without discipline, there is no trust, no cohesion, and no higher purpose for which we fight."
"Frustration and anger overcame (West's) professional ethics and personal values, and he performed what he knew to be illegal and immoral acts," said the statement issued by the Army's Fourth Infantry Division.
The army initially moved forward with a criminal prosecution of West, until the possibility of a plea bargain led the military to pursue an Article 15 proceeding. The Boston Globe wrote that during a closed-door tribunal in the town of Tikrit, "West was found guilty of three counts of aggravated assault and a single count of communicating a threat. The ruling was issued after West pleaded guilty to misconduct". West accepted this sweetheart deal knowing he could have faced possible court martial and the real possibility of 11 years in prison for his illegal acts.
Ultimately, West was relieved of his command, reprimanded by his commander (General Raymond Odierno, commander of the Fourth Infantry Division), fined $5,000 (following West's confession to the assault), got ordered to be shipped stateside from Iraq, and then allowed to retire from the Army. Leaving the U.S. Army in disgrace, West was kicked out of the military through his forced resignation, becoming the most senior officer by that point to receive disciplinary action since the start of the Iraq war.
Many months before the infamous Abu Ghraib prison scandal raised questions about whether the military was permitting or tolerating the mistreatment of detainees, the Army pointedly rejected Colonel West's aggressive tactics during that single interrogation and its law-breaking, cringe-inducing details.
In testimony at an Article 32 hearing -- the military's version of a grand jury or preliminary hearing -- West said the Iraqi 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. Said West: "Yes, there had been sporadic body punches and shoving to the individual, which I witnessed but did not allow to get too brutal."
West's soldiers were striking and shoving Mr. Hamoodi. They were not instructed to do so by Colonel West but they were not stopped, either, they said. ''I didn't know it was wrong to hit a detainee,'' a 20-year-old soldier from Daytona Beach said at the hearing. Colonel West testified that he would have stopped the beating ''had it become too excessive.''
West said he also threatened to kill Hamoody. Military prosecutors say West followed up on that threat by taking the suspect outside and putting him on the ground. He asked his soldiers to put Mr. Hamoodi's head in a sand-filled barrel usually used for clearing weapons. West admitted to pushing Hamoodi's head into that clearing barrel. Colonel West said he fired a warning shot in the air and began counting down from five. West then put his 9mm gun into the same barrel, near Hamoodi's head and fired.
Since West had interrogated a detainee using a pistol, an investigation was set in motion. A helicopter arrived at the Taji base to ferry West to Tikrit for the duration of the investigation. As he looked down at the soldiers gathered to see him off, he said, West knew his career was over.
West's abuse of the prisoner appears to have been for nothing. After being forced to resign from the U.S. Army (under threat of court martial) for this incident of shooting gun next to the head of an unarmed detainee for “intelligence”, West himself later admitted he wasn’t sure such intelligence ever existed (and no evidence existed that any actual threat against US troops was imminent). In fact, the “interrogation” at issue uncovered absolutely no evidence of weapons or any attack plot against West’s unit. West was forced to admit as much. Colonel West testified that he did not know whether ''any corroboration'' of a plot was ever found, adding: ''At the time I had to base my decision on the intelligence I received. It's possible that I was wrong about Mr. Hamoodi.'' Indeed, no evidence was ever found implicating the man.
The Iraqi, Mr. Hamoodi, said that he was not sure what he told the Americans, but that it was meaningless information induced by fear and pain. No plans for attacks on Americans or weapons were found.
Ultimately, since the U.S. Army says Allen West violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and forced him to resign in disgrace or face a court martial, all good Texans and patriots nationwide should be inclined to believe the U.S Army. Frankly, we don't need Allen West helping Democrats to convince Texas voters that Republicans cannot be trusted with power. That will inevitably be one of the unfortunate results of putting Allen West in charge of the Texas GOP.