Tuesday, December 8, 2009

No post here, just a question

Is anyone really upset about those three Navy SEALs allegedly punching the terrorist? I mean, really? We're going to punish members of our special forces for giving the enemy a love tap? I understand that our military can't be assaulting detainees, and once you allow them to pop a terrorist in the lip, it's a slippery slope to more serious assaults. That said, these three were apprehending a violent member of the opposing side, who is suspected (confirmed?) of killing and maiming American contractors and hanging their dead bodies. Does anyone really think that punching this man was so terrible to warrant a discharge?


Evan said...

If he posed no threat to them when they punched him, they shouldn't have done it. I know everybody wants to get their digs in--it's like what goes on at the bottom of the pile in football--but there's above all an image issue in play here. If we want to be seen as serious about fighting terrorism and not just attacking Muslims or going on some grand crusade, we need to make it clear that stuff like this isn't okay.

Which does mean that in real terms these guys are going to be hung out to dry, because an example will be made of them. And in some ways, because they are SEALs--the elite of the elite--they should be held to a higher standard.

It's a tricky situation all around. I don't think you'll find any great answers.

Lachlan said...

Fair enough. But if an example is made of them, I think the consequences may be felt beyond unnecessary violence towards detainees. This is pure speculation on my part, but it seems that soldiers should err on the side of the mission and their own safety. Couldn't a fear of reprisal cause them to be dangerously cautious when handling detainees?

And I think that the image of our military at home is as important if not more so than the military's image abroad, even where the fight is taking place. While we don't want to seem like crusaders, we also don't want to seem like we're persecuting the members of our own armed forces for relatively insignificant slights. I would bet that a poll would show the vast majority of Americans do not thing these SEALs should be punished. Are we sending the wrong message to Americans at the expense of sending the right one to Afghans?

Evan said...

I don't know when they roughed him up relative to when he was apprehended. I think that makes a big difference in what action should be taken. Obviously they should do everything they need in order to subdue a captive. But once he's secured there's no need for a follow-up punch.

I definitely think you're right about what a poll would show, but justice isn't set up to do what's popular, it's set up to do what's right. And as best we can we should avoid dropping cases because the result might be unpopular. If they did something wrong, they should be punished for it accordingly.

ZAG said...

The man was directly responsible for killing Americans, even if they were Blackwater. I have absolutely no problem with these Seal's punching the man in the face. The problem should have been dealt with internally, no question about it. A trial is ridiculous and without warrant. These guys need to be out there doing their job.

Lachlan said...

In fairness, they opted for a trial. It could have been dealt with internally, but they would have had no opportunity to offer a defense, would have been reprimanded, and had this stain on their records. Instead, they chose to risk a court martial and go for the open proceedings hoping to be exonerated. I hope they are.