February 8, 2010
Viet Nam, Holder, Obama, and the Christmas Day TerroristBy Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr.
On Christmas Day, Attorney General Eric Holder decided to prevent the obtaining of crucial enemy intelligence from airline terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab by granting him the "right" to remain silent. The implicit negative consequences of that decision pertaining to our future safety reminded me of a stark and positive contrast to Holder's dangerous way of dealing with captured enemy combatants.
In April of 1968, I was a young infantry captain operating near the coast of Quang Nam Province in South Viet Nam. We captured prisoners who meant us grievous harm. Go back there with me for a few minutes, see how we handled that kind of situation, and then we'll return to today and examine Eric Holder's actions with that context in mind.
An enemy sapper battalion, with a method of operation akin to those of today's terrorists, had caused us many casualties and much fear. Operating at night, using pipe bombs, teams of enemy sappers blew gaps in the roads we traveled and booby-trapped the ways around those gaps. Sometimes they booby-trapped the gap itself.
Too often, the sappers planted high explosives under the roadways and waited in concealment for a convoy to enter the kill zone before detonating their bombs. Traveling those roads became a terrifying experience.
Our colonel resolved to attack the enemy battalion's base camp and destroy these sappers. On the first day of our regimental operation, I radioed my superior that my unit had captured three enemies. Within fifteen minutes, a major choppered in to pick up the prisoners -- a very dangerous act for him and the pilot, as we were still in contact with the enemy.
We threw our bound prisoners into the chopper, and it flew off hugging the landscape to avoid enemy fire. The major did not take the prisoners to an ACLU lawyer in the hopes that within a month or so, their parents could be contacted, at which point said parents could hopefully persuade their captured children to talk.
Well-trained military intelligence officers conducted the interrogations, knowing which prisoner to focus on and how to question him. They forced the most vulnerable prisoner to reveal where the sapper battalion's main defenses were, and when the enemy intended to mass there.
Our colonel immediately prepared what is known as a T.O.T., or Time-On-Target. The shells of all our big guns within range (105s, 155s, 175s, and even naval batteries from what I believe was the battleship New Jersey) were plotted to hit the enemy position simultaneously. It was our turn to terrify the sappers.
The effect of this massive artillery barrage exceeded our expectations. We met no resistance when we swept through the area, finding more than thirty enemy killed by shrapnel from the airbursts. Better yet, we found that their command bunker had been penetrated by a shell with a delayed-action fuse, killing all ten of its high-ranking occupants. The terrorizing attacks on our region's roadways ceased.
That was a textbook tactical situation where the prompt interrogation of captured enemy combatants led to successful battlefield results, ultimately saving the lives of many American soldiers, perhaps mine included. We treated prisoners as intelligence assets to be promptly exploited, not as criminal suspects absurdly presumed to be innocent prior to some kind of moronic trial for show.
Let's go back now to the current strategic situation, where the safety of every American civilian is at stake, and where the Attorney General and the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, are responsible for preventing the immediate interrogation of an enemy combatant from taking place.
Terrorist Abdulmutallab's failed bombing attempt on the civilian U.S. airliner on Christmas day led to his immediate capture. Before even an hour had passed, Attorney General Eric Holder, acting under the authority of Barack Hussein Obama, provided an attorney for this enemy combatant, forbidding the gathering of enemy intelligence crucial to the safety of the American people from future terrorist acts.
Holder's decision to protect Abdulmutallab from interrogation has facilitated enemy efforts to continue surprise terror attacks against American citizens at home and abroad. Thus, Holder and Obama have given a measure of aid to our enemies.
Whatever cripples our efforts to close with and destroy our enemies empowers those enemies to kill and maim us. Knowing that their captured comrades will not be subject to standard military interrogations doubtless comes as a great relief to our sworn enemies. Al-Qaeda leaders know full well that the granting of constitutional rights to their fellow terrorists helps keep secret the time, nature, and place of their future attacks. Thus, Holder and Obama have given not only aid to our enemies, but a measure of comfort as well.
Holder and Obama cannot take back or justify what they have done. However hard they may try, their propagandists cannot tinsel over Holder's and Obama's dereliction of duty by cleverly embellishing their excuses. By protecting the terrorist from immediate interrogation, Holder and Obama delivered a sledgehammer blow to the framework of our national security. Who knows how much crucial information on planned enemy strikes has been lost as a result of their ineptitude and betrayal of the public trust?
Upon taking office, Holder solemnly swore that he would "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Yet instead of supporting and defending the Constitution against foreign enemy Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Holder shielded the terrorist from interrogation, using our founding document as his pretext for doing so. There is no provision in the U.S. Constitution for granting constitutional rights to enemy combatants. By granting Abdulmutallab such rights, Holder has violated his oath of office.
In the event that anyone has missed the point, here is the crux of the matter: Instead of acting to protect us from enemy combatants, Eric Holder acted to protect an enemy combatant from revealing what he knew about planned terrorist operations directed against us. In doing so, Holder has demonstrated an unfathomable indifference to our national security and person safety.
If Obama and Holder had been a major and a captain in my outfit in Viet Nam, they would have compromised our mission, caused casualties to mount, and caused morale to plummet. Think of yourself as a soldier operating today against our enemies in Iraq or Afghanistan. Would you want Obama or Holder in your immediate chain of command? No, you would not.
The sad and tragic truth for us today is that these two incompetents are running the whole show.
Mr. Johnson, a West Point graduate and an airborne ranger infantry veteran of Viet Nam, is the author of The Parthenon Code: Mankind's History in Marble and Noah in Ancient Greek Art. He is also the inventor of the board game "Obozo's America: Why Bother Working for a Living?" His websites are welfaregame.com and solvinglight.com.