When a few attendees at a Florida town hall meeting tried to rattle Rep. Allen West (R-FL) with questions about his service in the U.S. Army, the congressman brushed it off and suggested they also go back and talk about the time President Obama snorted benzoylmethylecgonine (i.e. “cocaine” or “blow”).
“If you guys want to go back and talk about what happened nine years ago to me, let’s talk about the president doing blow,” Rep. West said.
The attendees questioned Rep. West about an Article 15 hearing he was involved in as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “Article 15,” it’s defined as follows:
Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) refers to certain limited punishments which can be awarded for minor disciplinary offenses by a commanding officer or officer in charge to members of his/her command.
Article 15, of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, (UCMJ), and Part V of the Manual for Courts-Martial, constitute the basic law concerning nonjudicial punishment procedures. The legal protection afforded an individual subject to NJP proceedings is more complete than is the case for nonpunitive measures, but, by design, is less extensive than for courts-martial.
But why would they ask Rep. West about an Article 15 hearing? They asked because they were bringing up a controversial incident the congressman was involved in when he served in Iraq, Townhall’s Katie Pavlich explains. Here’s the story as reported by Deborah Sontag of the New York Times:
Intent on foiling a reported plot to ambush him and his men, Colonel West, a battalion commander, made a calculated decision to intimidate the Iraqi officer with a show of force. An interrogation under way was going nowhere, Colonel West said in an interview, and he chose to take the matter into his own hands.
”This could get ugly,” he told his soldiers. But, he said, he imposed limits: ”This man will not be injured and he will not have to be repaired. There will be no blood and no breakage of bones.”
Still, Colonel West wanted the Iraqi policeman, Yehiya Kadoori Hamoodi, to think ”this was going to be the end” if he did not divulge what he knew. So Colonel West presided over what he considered a time-sensitive interrogation that grew steadily more abusive until he himself fired a pistol beside Mr. Hamoodi’s head.
Rep. West was fined for the incident but retired with full benefits and honors. And he’s never been apologetic about it, saying he would do it all over again.
“If you guys have a problem with the fact that people were out there planning to kill my soldiers and I found a guy and I put a pistol, you know, and shot over his head,” Rep. West said, “… if you guys have a problem with that, then you need to go talk to someone else because if I’m in that exact same situation, I’m making the same decision.”