Thursday, November 25, 2004

You might think it's sad I'm blogging on Thanksgiving

But really it isn't. We've done the feast several hours ago, and since neither my wife nor myself has a lot of family left living (at least in the immediate area), me and mine are often left to our own devices fairly early on holidays. In a way, it's nice, because our holidays aren't so hectic.

Anyway, while on on the subject of The Human Condition (I was?) Vox Day has a couple of excellent posts you should read. Warning, the first comes with a spew alert.

On the Battle of the Sexes: The annotated misandryst (Jeeze, look it up!)
On being married: Mailvox: sleeping on ice

Neither are too serious--just the thing for a holiday evening read.

Ancel Keys, dead at 100

Ancel Keys, the University of Minnesota scientist who invented the K ration diet used by soldiers in World War II and who linked high cholesterol and fatty diets to heart disease, died Saturday of natural causes. He was 100.

Not exactly the sort of food we think of on Thanksgiving, the K ration was one of those things that allowed the Allies to triumph in WWII. While the jokes about it abound, it helped keep the troops fed while they fought.

Thanks for the help, Mr. Keys.

Happy Thanksgiving

From the residents of the Freehold, Happy Thanksgiving!

When you number your blessings of this past year, please remember those who are far away from their families, buying for us with their sweat, blood and lives, the freedom that allows us this holiday. Their willingness to serve is our greatest blessing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Kevin Sites' version of the story

More on the issue of Marines killing terrorists. Previous posts, in chronological order, are:

My obligatory post on Marines killing terrorists
The other side of the story
The other side of the story, continued/amplified

For those who aren't aware of it, reporter Kevin Sites, who taped the Marine killing a terrorist in a Fallujah mosque, has a blog. He's posted his side of the story here.

I have a few issues with his story, although I don't doubt he is telling things as he saw them. First, he gives us information that the Marines had reason to believe they were being fired on from the mosque:

At that point, we hear the tanks firing their 240-machine guns into the mosque. There's radio chatter that insurgents inside could be shooting back.

Further along, we have

We hear gunshots from what seems to be coming from inside the mosque.

The Marines enter the mosque. Bear in mind, and Sites notes, that these are not the Marines who took the mosque the day before.

Inside were 5 terrorists. (Sorry, I absolutely refuse to call them "insurgents". Sue me.)

One of the Marines raises his hand signaling five.

"Did you shoot them," the lieutenant asks?

"Roger that, sir, " the same Marine responds.

On entering the mosque, Sites sees:

Immediately after going in, I see the same black plastic body bags spread around the mosque. The dead from the day before. But more surprising, I see the same five men that were wounded from Friday as well. It appears that one of them is now dead and three are bleeding to death from new gunshot wounds. The fifth is partially covered by a blanket and is in the same place and condition he was in on Friday, near a column. He has not been shot again. I look closely at both the dead and the wounded. There don't appear to be any weapons anywhere.

Now this is interesting. The Marines had noted 5 terrorists? How could they have possibly seen these men, if they were laying on the floor. Does the Marine's TOE include x-ray specs now? It seems to me that they, or others, must have appeared at windows. Doing what, we have no way of knowing.

Sites is the only man in the building who was there yesterday. He know that these 5 men he sees were left there after being treated for wounds. He know that they were shooting at other Marines yesterday. He tells the OIC that they are yesterday's left-behinds. The OIC leaves the room to report this to higher.

A different Marine enters, and for whatever reason, sees the 5 wounded terrorists he expects to see, and thinks one particular terrorist, the one Sites is...

...squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them.

...a threat.

Bear in mind Sites is inches away, looking through a viewfinder on a camera. Ever tried that? Try it with any kind of camera, video, still, digital, professional, consumer, whatever--your field of view is, to put it simply, limited. Which means Sites could not be seeing everything going on, unless he is aiming the camera without using the viewfinder. So perhaps the Marine saw something Sites didn't?

The Marine determines that the terrorist is faking death:

"He's fucking faking he's dead -- he's faking he's fucking dead."

Then the Marine fires, killing his terrorist target.

Sites then tells the Marines then in the room:

I get up after a beat and tell the Marines again, what I had told the lieutenant -- that this man -- all of these wounded men -- were the same ones from yesterday. That they had been disarmed treated and left here.

At that point the Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, "I didn't know sir-I didn't know." The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread.

(Fear and dread? Hell, the guy is seeing his life pass before his eyes.)

We don't know, and can't know, if these wounded terrorists had only moments before been firing on these Marines. The Marines saw 5 men, there were 5 terrorists in the room. Sites says no weapons were in evidence. Hastily stashed? Wielded by 5 other terrorists, still loose in the mosque? We don't and can't know.

"I didn't know sir-I didn't know."

The Marine was faced with an unknown situation. He had incomplete information. He perceived a threat. He had a heartbeat or two to think, reach a decision and act. He acted on his training. He eliminated the perceived threat.

Based on everything in Sites' account, using my God-given common sense (although with 20-20 hindsight available), I think he did the right thing.

Was it the "Right Thing" from an ethical or moral standpoint? I still say yes. He is fighting the declared enemies of his country--something he has sworn an oath to do.

Did he do the right thing according to his instructions and the rules of engagement? I suspect a Courts Martial will make that determination.

Could Sites be right, and the terrorist wasn't a current threat? Sure.

But in a heartbeat or two, given what you, the Marine on the ground, know about the situation, about the terrorist propensity to use fake surrenders, boobytrap their dead, and fire after surrendering, do you take a chance with your life--and the lives of everyone on your fire team? With Sites' life?

No.

The Marine did the right thing. If there were no "fog of war", perhaps this story would have a different, happier, ending. But the fog of war is real, and you can't avoid it.

Will the Marine brass realize this, and stand up to the tremendous pressure they will face to charge, try and convict this young man? I certainly hope so. Justice calls for it.

Remember these words:

"But if we find we have left our bones to bleach in these desert sands for nothing, beware the fury of the legions...." (A Roman Centurion in a letter home from North Africa, 3rd Century)

Because if we leave this Marine's, these Marines', these soldiers, airmen's, and sailors' bones to bleach in the sands of Iraq for nothing--if we try to second guess their every move from the safety that they enable us to have, we will have done far more damage to our military than the terrorists ever could. And we will deserve their judgment.

And I suspect that judgment could be summed up in the statement, "You think I'm going to die for these assholes?"

Monday, November 22, 2004

Puts a smile on your face, doesn't it?

(Via rec.guns)

A Volvo-driving, NPR-listening, DC-based reporter goes to the range.

I've seen this sort of thing first-hand. If you can get a woman to shoot once, you'll rarely have problems getting her to shoot again. It normally even works with liberals.

Next thing you know she'll be buying a pickup truck and listening to country music.

Europe – Thy Name is Cowardice

(Davids Medienkritik via Mamamontezz)

I don't know if this guy is a big whoop in Europe (if he isn't, he ought to be--they could use come clear thinking), but to quote Herr Medienkritik's post:

Matthias Döpfner, Chief Executive of German publisher Axel Springer AG, has written a blistering attack in the daily WELT against the cowardice of Europe in the face of the Islamic threat.

The original is in German of course, but Herr Medienkritik has enlisted some assistance and produced an English translation for us.

The money quote:

For his policies, Bush risks the fall of the dollar, huge amounts of additional national debt and a massive and persistent burden on the American economy--because everything is at stake. (Emphasis mine)

At least someone over there gets the joke.

Uh-huh

(Via The Drudge Report)

Marines shoot insurgent who was 'playing dead'

The US military says Marines in Fallujah have shot and killed an insurgent who engaged them as he was faking being dead, a week after footage of a marine killing an apparently unarmed and wounded Iraqi caused a stir in the region.

"Marines from the 1st Marine Division shot and killed an insurgent who while faking dead opened fire on the marines who were conducting a security and clearing patrol through the streets," a military statement said.

No, say it ain't so--the terrorists aren't playing by the rules of war? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you. *SNORT*

So when does our guy get off the hook for the same thing?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Innocent Victims

A lot is made in the media about the innocent victims of crime--the child orphaned by a murder, the family burned out of a home by an arsonist, the woman raped, the storekeeper robbed.

However, when the innocent victim is a result of a trial by media, well now, that isn't news.

Meet Brian Borgelt, former owner of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply. Yes, the place where John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, the infamous Beltway snipers, somehow obtained the Bushmaster AR-15 used in the crimes.

Guilty of sloppy record keeping, poor judgment in hiring, and possibly of failing to file Federal taxes (that one is still in litigation) Brian Borgelt is a poster child for what happens when you have been tried and convicted by the media for a crime you did not commit. Yes, Mr. Borgelt, has not been, and according to U.S. Attorney John McKay, can not be charged with a crime.

To me, one of the worst things is that we, the members of the "gun culture", did not stand behind this man in his hour of need. When he needed support, it wasn't forthcoming, because he wasn't lilly white. His record was tarnished by a 2000 AFT audit for "poor recordkeeping".

Read the article, and discover what happens when an innocent man is ruined by the media. Learn also the nature and the magnitude of our sin in failing to help our fellows. Learn from his misfortune, before it becomes your own.