Mirandizing the Enemy
By Chuck Muth
For today's lesson in "How to Lose a War," let's consider the case of Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto in World War II and compare it to the case of Nawab Buntangyar in what some consider to be World War III today.
But first, consider this all-too-common report in the New York Times this week out of Nad Ali, Afghanistan:
"A suicide bomber wrapped in explosives walked into a crowded government building.and blew himself up, killing at least seven people, four of them police officers. Six people were wounded."
OK, back to the lesson. Admiral Yamamoto commanded the Japanese Navy and led the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. He was, as the lawyers put it today, an "enemy combatant." Then, on a spring afternoon in 1943, Admiral Yamamoto decided to take a leisurely inspection tour of the South Pacific in a transport plane. U.S. forces learned of Yamamoto's exact itinerary, intercepted his plane and blew him out of the sky.
Note that Yamamoto was merely on an inspection tour and not engaged in hostile activities directed at the American pilots who intercepted him. He posed no "imminent threat" to the American pilots. Therefore, according to some rather bizarre interpretations of today's rules of engagement, the American pilots should have tried to force Yamamoto's plane to land and capture him rather than shoot him down. And the pilot who was credited with nailing Yamamoto should have been tried for murder instead of being awarded the Navy Cross.
Asinine, right? Right. Absolutely absurd.
Which brings us to Nawab Buntangyar.
Mr. Buntangyar had been designated an "enemy combatant" in the Afghanistan war theater for organizing suicide and roadside bomb attacks like the one in Nad Ali described above. He was, for all intents and purposes, an officer in the enemy's corps, not a foot soldier. As such, Buntangyar was declared an "enemy combatant" and was "vetted as a target" by American commanders which, according to the New York Times, "meant he could be legally killed once he was positively identified."
Similarly to Yamamoto, U.S. forces learned of Buntangyar's itinerary last October and endeavored to take him out of the game - permanently. Buntangyar was lured out of his village hideout and into the open where a Special Forces team was waiting. He was positively identified by Afghan police on the scene. So Capt. Dave Staffel gave Master Sgt. Troy Anderson, reportedly 100 yards away from Buntangyar, the green light.
BLAM!! Right between the eyes. Bye-bye, Nawab. Hello, 72 virgins.
Think about this for minute, folks. Our man Sgt. Anderson, under the pressure of a wartime operation, nails the bad guy from the length of a football field right in the melon with one shot. No American casualties. No civilian causalities. Not even any property damage, other than maybe a dry-cleaning bill or two for the guys standing next to Nawab at the time. Compare this to the enemy's suicide bombings.
Naturally, Staffel, Anderson and the entire 7-man Green Beret team involved in the mission were warmly clasped on their backs and congratulated for a job well done, right? Wrong.
In June, Lt. Gen. Frank H. Kearney charged the pair of Green Berets with premeditated murder in the incident. What makes this persecution - er, prosecution even more outrageous is that Kearney brought the charges after not one, but two military investigations cleared the Green Berets in the incident, concluding the shooting was "justifiable homicide."
Is this any way to fight a war?
The shooting was cleared, twice, so why is Lt. Gen. "CYA" Kearney continuing to persecute - er, prosecute these military professionals who did the job they were trained to do and asked to do by their country? What kind of message does this persecution - er, prosecution send to our boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq? I mean, if we're not going to let our soldiers kill the enemy, then why the hell are they there?
Who's running this "war" anyway? The commanders in the field or the lawyers back home? If it's the lawyers, and men like Capt. Staffel and Sgt. Anderson have to read Johnny Jihadi his Miranda rights instead of plinking him in the noggin with a bullet, then the war is over. We lost. Bring the boys home.
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