Allen West's First Piece of Legislation Sounds... Perfectly Reasonable. (West's Attacks on Child Soldiers? Not So Much.) | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Allen West's First Piece of Legislation Sounds... Perfectly Reasonable. (West's Attacks on Child Soldiers? Not So Much.)

Hey, I'm shocked too. Of course, there could be surprises lurking in the legislation, which won't be completely viewable till next week. But the goal sounds noble.

The legislation is the "Global Combat Zone Recognition Act," and its stated purpose is to ensure "that men and women targeted specifically because they wear our nation's uniform are treated and recognized as the same as those who are attacked in active combat zones." Yeah, it's a little ungrammatical. So what? The point is fine. Why should a sergeant shot by some deranged hippie in Portland receive fewer benefits than his wounded comrades in Kandahar? Makes no sense. Good on ye, West. For now.

But, hey, did you have to introduce your very-reasonable-sounding new bill in the middle of such a nasty letter?

Man, you're always doing this. You say something halfway human and then ruin it with some spasm of gross misanthropy. In your letter to constituents, you wrote:

Something else that deeply angers me: At GITMO, 24-year-old Omar Khadr will serve one more year before being released to his native Canada, even though he was found "guilty" of five war crimes. Upon his release to Canada, the maximum time he will serve is seven years. What message does that send to our men and women in uniform?

...These non-state, non-military belligerents who do not openly declare nor carry their arms are UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANTS and not deserving of any rights under the Geneva Convention. However, out of our Western civilization benevolence, we treat them humanely and rightly so. Still I will not consent to offering constitutional rights to these creatures of abject evil.

Hey! Didn't you say, like, a week ago that rights are "inalienable" and "endowed by our creator"? Now they come from Geneva?

Anyway, it's nice that you included that "rightly so" in your note. Less nice is that you referred to Omar Khadr as a "creature of abject evil."

As you know, Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he was apprehended by American troops. It's true that immediately prior to his arrest on July 27, 2002, Omar failed to "openly declare" or "carry" his arms. That's probably because he was cowering in a mud hut, terrified, as American grenades rained down around his head. Hardly suitable conditions for a gentlemanly duel. Given the chance, Omar would have happily declared arms -- at least, his younger brother seems willing enough to explain whose side he's on.

But that's missing the point. Omar Khadr was born into a family of militaristic religious fanatics. At the age of 10 and with his parents' approval, he came under influence of the charismatic al-Qaeda leader Abu Laith al-Libi. It was under al-Libi's charge that Omar was caught in the firefight that led to his capture. Some of al-Libi's associates opened fire on American troops, the troops fired back, and a four-hour battle commenced. Afterward, Omar found himself the sole survivor in the hut he'd been occupying with his friends, lying amid the mangled body parts of his comrades with a piece of shrapnel sticking out of his eye. He picked up a grenade and fatally attacked Sgt.Christopher Speer. Or maybe he didn't. The reports are conflicting.

Either way, Omar may well be a menace to society, and it may well be a mistake to release him on the world -- especially after all the abuse he's absorbed at Bagram and Gitmo. No argument here. But tell me: How hard do you suppose it must be for a 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old child to reject the religion of his parents -- a religion to which his parents are fanatically devoted and that has shaped the entire political and cultural milieu in which he was raised? Very difficult, I imagine. Omar was evidently unable to hack it. If that makes him a "creature of abject evil," there must be a lot of them about.

Good going on the bill, though. I look forward to reading it.

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Brandon K. Thorp

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