Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Premature triumphalism

Half a news cycle and reThuglican triumphalism starts to wilt (from Rod Nordland of Newsweek):

[A]s details became clearer of the raid that eliminated what the U.S. military calls High Value Targets (HVTs) Nos. 2 and 3, a lot of people in the intelligence community were left wondering: why weren’t they just taken alive?

At a news briefing today, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, squirmed his way past that question repeatedly.

It was, he said, the decision of the commander on the ground based on the circumstances and his judgment—”and it was the right decision.”

But was it? Who beside the sons might have better information about the one HVT that really matters, Saddam? “The whole operation was a cockup,” said a British intelligence officer. “There was no need to go after four lightly armed men with such overwhelming firepower. They would have been much more useful alive.”

But Sanchez insisted it wasn’t overkill. “Absolutely not. Our mission is to find, kill or capture high-value targets. We had an enemy that was barricaded and we had to take measures to neutralize the target.” ...

“Bollocks,” said one former Special Forces soldier. “A SWAT team could have taken them. It didn’t need a company.” ...

Besides, as we already know (back) the neighborhood was already surrounded.

We could have done a Noriega, no problem. Perp walk, Hague Tribunal, UN loves us, Europe throws some cash and more troops our way, and—this is the best part—if we send the war criminals off to be tried at the Hague, the Iraqi people get to see justice in action.

But the Bush gang just had to be thugs. They don't know any other way to be. So they'll probably make the same stupid mistake with Saddam.

NOTE: This doesn't blame the troops (i.e., the grunts—not brass hats like Sanchez). The troops did what they were trained to do.