Trump needs to get Gitmo right

President Donald J. Trump has said “We are fighting sneaky rats right now that are sick and demented,” “We’re going to win,” and it would be “fine” if US terror suspects were sent to the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for trial.

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One of the President’s first actions then should be to shred the 2009 Military Commissions Act and then proceed using the military commissions’ guidelines from Army Field Manual (FM) 27-10 (a.k.a. The Law of Land Warfare), which is the U.S. adaptation of the Geneva Conventions. By that law, those accused of committing war crimes would receive the SAME rights as U.S. soldiers covered by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This would be fair, just and speedy.

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Currently, the Military Commissions Act of 2009, hastily written by then President Barack Hussein Obama and Department of Justice head Eric Holder, and then passed by a Democrat majority Congress, gives detainees accused of war crimes virtually the SAME rights as you or I would enjoy in a Federal court of law. Outrageous!

According to FM 27-10 and Geneva, by NOT following the rules for lawful combatants, unlawful combatant detainees actually earn ZERO extra legal privileges. That’s why these detainees are not considered Prisoners of War, they didn’t EARN the status, which carries many privileges.

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In 2009, Congress provided these Islamists-who-want-to-kill-us with the full blessing of the “lawfare” they were seeking. Captured al Qaeda training manuals we read at Gitmo back in 2002, identified strategies the “Brothers” should use if captured. “Lie about your treatment.” “Claim you were abused and tortured.” “Demand a lawyer.” The bad guys know that once allowed into the American justice system they could use lawfare to their advantage and either delay punishment, or get early release. Both have come to pass for virtually all detainees.

In WWII six of eight German saboteurs caught dry foot on U.S. soil were executed within eight weeks of their capture. They had hurt no one, nor had they destroyed any property. However, they were not wearing uniforms, did not carry their weapons openly, and had the means, motivation and intent to kill Americans and to destroy U.S. property. Two of the eight captured saboteurs flipped on the others and were spared the electric chair.

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Remember, those six German saboteurs who were executed had not hurt a fly nor blown anything up. They were deemed spies and in violation of the Geneva Conventions. After being denied habeas corpus, they were tried by military commission unanimously approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. Spies caught on the WWII battlefield could expect summary executions ordered by field grade officers and above. Every detainee brought to Gitmo could have been lawfully shot dead on the battlefield.

Instead, they were taken to Gitmo for interrogation to “obtain valuable information” that would “save many lives,” according to President George W. Bush, in his memoir, “Decision Points.”

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What’s different now? Why did we release at least 730 known/suspected terrorists? Why are we allowing foot dragging in the court room? Why are we allowing religious garb, prayer time, Qurans, prayer rugs/beads, directions to Mecca on guard towers, use of U.S. military chaplains, halal and special holy holiday meals to known enemies?

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The moniker “Club Gitmo” certainly applies. In the early days, when I was the ranking U.S. Army Medical Department officer with the Joint Detainee Operations Group, Joint Task Force 160, tasked with overall monitoring of bad guy and good guy care, I was appalled at the difference between how we treated the detainees medically and how we treated our own soldiers. The detainees had immediate and full medical attention and care. Daily visits from an Army medical Non-Commissioned Officer, who collected medical intelligence that I would scrub and then utilize for reports to the Army incarceration command and Navy medical command, provided insight into how the enemy was trying to take advantage of the system.

In the end, each detainee received the highest quality medical care available in the U.S. military. If a specialist or special equipment were needed, they would be flow in from the States. If U.S. personnel required specialized treatment, they were sent home, a medical re-tread.

Sick-call for detainees was 24/7/365. All they had to do was cry and complain about this thing or that and then ZIP! Into the internal medical facility. Signs and symptoms of an illness or disease and BINGO! Off to the JTF detention medical facility. All air conditioned, and doting-over by Navy medical personnel who did not leave their bedside manner at the door.

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If U.S. military personnel needed medical attention they could NOT be taken to the Naval Station GTMO medical facility (Navy Hospital), which was reserved for permanent party military and civilian residents. JTF personnel had to first see their organic unit medical personnel (medics), then wait to see someone with more medical expertise if necessary and available. Most U.S. personnel could not find adequate transportation to take them to an authorized medical facility, as most Army units guarding the detainees had to leave their organic vehicles behind in the continental U.S. Many walked or had to take the base shuttle bus, sometimes waiting hours between buses.

This doting behavior towards detainees must stop. Detainees should never receive better care than our own troops. The goal was of course to keep them alive, but the pandering and doting was difficult to witness.

Now, the detainees are allowed to wear white robes and long beards. In the beginning, for hygiene reasons, all detainees were clean shaven and had shaved heads. I think we need to go back to orange jumpsuits and no beards or head hair. It’s cooler in the hot climate of the Caribbean and more fitting for unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us.

President Trump, who said he would fill Gitmo up “with some bad dudes,” could turn all of this around. He now has the chance to get it right. Let’s hope and pray that he does.

Trump vs Obama: The Gitmo Challenge

As sure as Casey Jones perished in a pile of smoke and broken steel amid the flame and fury of a head on collision between two burly and brave locomotives, President Barack Obama and President Elect Donald Trump are bearing down for a modern version of that fateful clash.

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“There should be no further releases from Gitmo,” Started the determined Tweet. “These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”

With this pure and logical Tweet, almost as if on cue, the President Elect seemed to be responding to an editorial by the Washington Post earlier in the day, calling for him to close Gitmo.

His response? In your face.

Even more, it is finally a direct challenge to the President regarding his failed policy of releasing unlawful combatant Islamists back into the Global War on Terror.

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According to the Director of National Intelligence, 30 percent of released detainees have returned or are suspected to have returned to the fight. And what about the other 70 percent we don’t know about, where are they?

Everyone except the President and his floundering administration knows that releasing dangerous terrorists into a world plagued by terrorism is not in the best interests of the American People, or anyone for that matter.

For a President Elect who ran on and has repeated his top priority of “America First,” his Tweet about not releasing more detainees is consistent and shows the courage of his convictions.

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The President Elect has now done more than any other person, in government or out, in the last eight years to challenge and put the President on notice over his catch and release policy with regard to emptying Gitmo, most recently of the “worst of the worst,” as labeled by Donald Rumsfeld back in 2002, when Gitmo opened. These men are dyed-in-the-wool terrorists, highly trained, skilled and committed to killing innocent people of any race, age, gender or nationality.

Recently, President Obama announced the probable release of up to 22 more detainees from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This prompted a few outcries from this law maker or that, but nothing seemed to get the President’s attention regarding the fact that we are still at war, and that releasing our enemies while that war is hot is at worst treasonous, and at best pretty damn stupid.

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The gloves are off, the face slapped and the challenge laid bare. The President can run, but he cannot hide from this test of manhood made in a simple Tweet. He must face the issue or move along quietly into private life and then leave the Big Boy issues to the Big Boys.

Sending Josh Earnest to deal with this one would be inadequate, even for Barack Obama. He has got to respond, and respond in a positive way or risk any shred of rationality left in his now fast crumbling presidency.

When the President responds, he must do so without the tired and false narrative regurgitated one more time in the Washington Post article. There is no “international outcry” to close Gitmo. Gitmo has never been used by our enemies as a recruiting tool, and the Administration has never once provided evidence of this claim. There is not nor has there ever been systemic torture or abuse at Gitmo, and calling the approved and legal enhanced interrogation technique “waterboarding” torture is a lame liberal after-the-fact label that just won’t stick. The fact is that there is no moral comparison between Gitmo and how our enemies treat captives.

Waterboarding works, and maybe it saved your life. Just ask Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks, whether or not it is effective, and whether or not he is none-the-worse for the wear.

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No, Barack Hussein Obama must for once stand up, look Donald J. Trump in the eye, and then respond to this challenge of character. The same-old, same-old responses didn’t work eight years ago when he promised to shut Gitmo down, and they are not going to work now. He must capitulate.

Unfortunately for us, the President’s modus operandi related to challenges of his failed policies are either to ignore them, lie about them, or double down and make the whole damn thing worse.

Like Barack Obama’s apology tour, red line in the sand, Benghazi lie, trading terrorist leaders for an Army deserter, calling terrorism in the US “workplace violence,” “no boots on the ground,” “overseas contingencies,” “the Global War on Terror is over,” Gitmo is his failed crucible. He will die on this hill as sure as you’re reading these words.

The political world of Barack Hussein Obama is falling down, has run its course, is absent of any credibility.

Unlike Casey Jones, who piloted his locomotive to the bitter end in order to save lives, knowing it would kill him, President Obama will almost certainly jump from the train in an effort to save his own skin and fight another day.

Rumors of the President working to establish a “shadow government” upon his exit from the Presidency in just several days is both typical of his personality and fateful for his legacy. One last temper tantrum from the man who could never get out of his own way because of failed liberal beliefs, he will disappear into the twisted wreckage of his tenure as our Chief Executive, and it appears that President Elect Donald Trump is going to make sure of it, Tweet by blessed Tweet.

First Marine Killed in GWOT Remembered

IMG_1633[1]37 years ago, on November 21, 1979, United States Marine Corporal Steven J. Crowley, who was guarding the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was shot and killed by radical Muslim extremists, becoming one of the first casualties of the Global War on Terror.

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Muslim extremist “students,” having heard a false story about the U.S. occupation of the mosque at Mecca, Saudi Arabia, gathered weapons and then boarded buses that would take them to the embassy.

Once at the compound, the Islamists stormed the complex and then set fire to debris collected on the first floor of the main building.

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CPL Crowley was shot once through the head, just above his left ear, at approximately 1:10 p.m. local time, while on duty protecting the embassy from the roof of the main building. He was taken into the building and then brought to the safe room, or vault on the second floor.

At approximately 3:25 p.m. CPL Crowley was pronounced dead in the embassy vault, after an oxygen tank that was providing his threadbare connection to life ran out.

This group of Islamist “students” was later to be funded by none other than Osama bin Laden himself.

Steven was a tall, fit, blond-haired blue-eyed, chivalrous and cordial 19 year old graduate of Comsewogue High School, in Port Jefferson Station, Long Island, New York, who loved to run on the Cross Country and Spring Track Teams and who was a member of the Chess Club.

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Steven Crowley Park, in Port Jefferson Station, was named for this brave neighbor of ours, and by cleaning up the park each fall we honor him and his brave and selfless service to our country. Cub Scout Pack 120 (Boy Scouts of America) has been cleaning up the park each fall at least since my 21 year old Eagle Scout son was a 6 year old Tiger Scout, 15 years ago and counting.

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We tell the boys about Steven and his sacrifice to his country and to all of us.

Steven is a hero to all the nation, and his death marks one of the very first casualties in the Global War on Terror. The incident that precipitated Steven’s murder at the hands of Islamists shook the Muslim world just the day before, on November 20, 1979.

Overzealous Wahhabi’s seized the Grand Mosque at Mecca for about two weeks. Saudi Arabian commandos, with the help of French and American intelligence, eventually retook the mosque, ending the incident. But the erroneous story that the U.S. had seized the mosque incensed hordes of Islamists throughout the Muslim world.

The incident at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad was merely the first in a series of events that eventually led up to the attacks by Islamists on the United States on September 11, 2001, killing more Americans than died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, or died at Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Since then our enemies have mutated into the current Islamic State, but many other Islamic terrorist groups have emerged as well, each one determined to eliminate Israel, kill all infidels, and establish a worldwide caliphate.

In Steven’s memory, and for us, and for generations to come, we must fight the forces of evil that continue to harm us and our allies. Until all Islamists are dead, or no longer have the means or will to kill us, we must defend ourselves by any means necessary.

Balance of Power 2016

Back in the late 1980’s there was a computer simulation game called “Balance of Power” that pitched the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union against the global super power of the United States in a geopolitical contest. The game assumed only two influential countries, a bipolar reality.

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The game was direct; if either country went too far in attempting to influence other countries, DEFCON 4 would be declared and the game would end in global thermonuclear war. Both players would lose, just like the ultimate scenario of the Star Wars missile defense system-inspiring movie, “War Games.”

The algorithms of the game however,  did not even allow for the chance for, East and West Germany to be reunited, or for the Soviet block to dissolve. It was a major flaw in the game, but reflected the bipolar thinking of the time.

In reality, and in hind-sight, it has always been a multi-polar geopolitical scene. Back then there were U.S. satellites and Soviet satellites, but many of our allies were influencers of their own. Today, these influencers make up the complex multi-polar geopolitical reality.

The European Union, OPEC, NATO, China, North Korea, South American countries, African countries, Southeast and Southwest Asia, Australia and the various factions of the Islamic State and al Qaeda, all have regional and/or global influence through words and/or deeds that affect how the U.S. and Russia are perceived.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the world moved away from Soviet influence and towards American democracy; multi-polar players gained strength and influence. As we moved through the Clinton years however, our standing in the world diminished. It strengthened again during the Bush years, but then for the past eight years or so we have been driven towards the abyss of geopolitical enigma.

The U.S. is no longer viewed as the single super power, even though on paper we still are. If we are not willing to use our strength, the sharks that smell blood in the water will come nibbling, and if nothing happens to them on the nibble they will take bites.

Lies about a “red line in the sand” (Syria), blowing off a status of forces agreement (Iraq), neglecting security at embassies and consulates (Benghazi), declaring the Global War on Terror “over” (Afghanistan), trading an Army deserter (Bowe Bergdahl) for five high level Taliban leaders, releasing high threat detainees from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, normalizing relations with Cuba, all combine to let our enemies and non-friends know we are unwilling and unable to respond.

Even seeming innocuous incidents, such as Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf, and Russian planes buzzing our ships in the Baltic Sea prove to those who would do us harm that we are impotent.

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Bites will turn into a feeding frenzy – see current Syria and Iraq.

Russia has warned the U.S. that attacks on Assad’s Syrian forces will bring a response from them; ball in U.S. court.

What will the U.S. do with the ball? Pass it to the next president? Shoot it at the basket (Russians) and try to score (put them in their place)? Or will we throw it away (ignore the threat) and then suffer the consequences of leaving our fate up to others who decidedly do NOT have our best interests at heart?

One strategy could be to withdrawal completely from Syria, not as a retreat, but as a retrograde maneuver in order to let Russia have Syria all by itself. Russia would have to support Syria and rebuild the decimated country, or risk being expelled or dragged into a further quagmire. The U.S. would not benefit from “victory” in Syria, as there is no consolidated or legitimate force opposing Assad. We would be accused, and rightly so, of neocolonialism and occupation of a sovereign foreign nation.

Let Putin deal with Assad, he can have him, and the headaches and costs associated with meddling in a civil war. Putin would have to do the right thing by Syrian citizens or risk even more international disdain.

The U.S. finally got it right with the surge in Iraq, coupled with aggressive disruption of the human elements supporting al Qaeda. Many daily and nightly clandestine missions in that country, combined with the embedded U.S. soldier approach in the towns, cities and villages of Iraq, worked like magic.

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The bad guys became the hunted. As more of them were captured and interrogated, more information was gleaned that helped us shut them down. Ground was taken, held and rebuilt. Instead of double-agents infiltrating U.S. and Iraqi operations, we infiltrated and killed al Qaeda from within.

The current strategy of droning leaders, bombing small targets, using only Special Forces, and releasing operatives to fight again is ineffective at best and suicidal at worst. Killing one’s and two’s with a weapons system that more often than not also kills innocent civilians is counterproductive. Enemy leaders are replaced in a heartbeat; detainees from Gitmo who become leaders of enemy organizations allows our enemies an advantage we can’t overcome with drones, bombs and hyperbole.

We are in a most vulnerable position now with less than 30 days left before a presidential election that promises either a sea change in American geopolitical strategy or guaranteed uncertainty.

You know the saying that one should do something questionable without asking permission first because it’s better to be scolded than to be told “No?” Our enemies are not asking our permission. They are being as aggressive as they need to be in order to take what they want and then telling us to bugger off if we get too curious.

It is the worst possible scenario come to life.

In war there is less right vs. wrong and more survival, and those who survive live to fight another day.

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At this point in the Global War on Terror – a multi-polar geopolitical morass – we must begin to flex our muscles and play it smart as the one true super power, or the feeding frenzy will take hold and the balance of power will shift solidly to the left.

Osama bin Laden, 5 Years Gone

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It was five years ago that we learned Osama bin Laden had been killed by Navy SEALs in an overnight raid to his compound in Pakistan.

Before the year was out President Barack Obama withdrew all U.S. military forces from Iraq without a Status of Forces agreement that would have secured the peace in that tortured country.

A few years later, in 2013, Obama unilaterally declared “The Global War on Terror is over,” after announcing an end to U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan.

Now, just weeks after the death of a United States Marine in a fire base in Afghanistan, Obama has announced 250 more troops to Iraq and Syria. The fire base by the way was not part of the official count of troops in Iraq. The administration hadn’t said anything about the fire base or the Marine artillery units set up there to support a mainly Iraqi assault on nearby Islamic State held territory.

Days later, during the assault, and before engaging the enemy, Iraqi forces withdrew in a panic, leaving U.S. advisors with no one to advise there.

Meanwhile, things in Syria are getting worse. What to do?

Send in 250 more troops. What kind? No one is saying beyond that some of them are Special Forces.

Those of us with military backgrounds know that for every combat troop it takes from 5-7 support troops to keep that soldier at the tip of the spear fed, clothed, paid, accounted for, lead and supplied with ammo, INTEL, COMMO, security and transportation. In other words, there are not 250 more Boy Scouts camping in the desert.

What is our objective in Iraq and Syria? What end state is desired?

I’m not big on numbers or time, so I’m not asking how many troops or when we’ll be out. I’m results driven. I want to know the end game.

Military folks like to plan from the end. Where do you want me to be and when do you want me to be there? The rest is nuts and bolts, but commanders are supposed to communicate their intent to their subordinates, who carry out the mission.

Soldiers don’t like it when you don’t tell them details about the mission. The American Army has frustrated opponents since the Revolutionary War. We don’t play by conventional rules. We are creative on the battlefield. We fight, we win.

However, when your boss says it’s day when it’s night, it’s hard to trust whatever else follows.

 

The announced death of Osama bin Laden was an emotional thing for me to hear. Staying up late, unable to sleep when after 10 p.m. on May 1, 2011, I saw on social media announcements that the President had scheduled a hasty news conference.

I listened and watched, rapt and in shock.

Strange feelings of sadness and relief crept over me. It’s as if I didn’t know how to react.

After a few minutes the news began to sink in, bin Laden was dead.

I became euphoric after a while, remembering all the things in my life that had changed since 9/11/2001. I lost my job, I was deployed for about 2 ½ years over five years, and my relationship with family members, friends and colleagues had all changed as well, and none for the better.

I was angry at bin Laden for all of this, and for putting me in harm’s way at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for six months, and then in Iraq for nearly a year. It was all his fault, and I was very happy that he was dead.

Or was he?

Why didn’t they show us official pictures of the dead body they say belonged to the evil terrorist?

Thrown overboard? In the sea? Why?

Were they hiding him? Did he actually survive?

Did they tranquilize him and then spirit him away to an undisclosed location to see how much information they could get from him? Why martyr him?

I still carry some of those thoughts.

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After Saddam Hussein’s sons were killed we saw gruesome photos of them. We saw photos of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Saddam Hussein after they were captured. Why nothing on bin Laden.

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It bothers me there is no closure, visually, to this person who caused so much death, destruction and heartache.

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Five years gone, but still alive in a soldier’s memory. All of it. From the bloody devastation of 9/11, to the deployments, to the raid, to today. Nothing has changed for the better. In fact things are worse now and not getting better.

 

Obama vs. Bwazir the Gitmo Detainee Who Wouldn’t Leave

So, Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir, 35- or 36- year old detainee at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a “committed” and a “trained al Qaeda fighter,” with a  four page Department of Defense docket, wants to stay in President Barack Obama’s gulag. Really?

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I can see the Saturday Night Live skit now. Obama travels to Gitmo to try and convince Bwazir to leave. He tells Bwazir that if he stays he will cause terrorist organizations all over the world to increase their recruiting. “It’s not who we are,” Obama would plead. “It’s an embarrassment,” he’ll kvetch.

“Are you kidding?” Bwazir would counter (to the theme of “Green Acres”). “Club Gitmo is the place to be. Island living is the life for me! Land and sea spreading out so far and wide, forget Yemen, give me this Caribbean paradise!”

Obama: “Bu, bu, but, Bwazir, my brother, you can go back to your squalid, dirty, disgusting life! You know, the one that led you to seek jihadi training at the Khaldan Training Facility, in Afghanistan?!”

Bwazir: “Barack, my brother, here, I get prayer beads, prayer rug, a free Koran, your military Muslim chaplains to help me pray (and smuggle uncensored messages to my peeps), and a green arrow painted on the floor of my cell pointing the way to Mecca. Plus, I get halal meals, and lamb and baklava on holy days.”

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Obama: “Forget about that! What about your mama’s home cooking? Sugar konafa, goat milk curds and honey-glazed beetles!”

Bwazir: “You don’t understand, Barack, my brother. This ocean air is good for my formerly sand infested lungs. I love to watch the black Cuban rock iguanas sunning on the beach rocks. The banana rats are hilarious when they fight for the food scraps we save to feed them with at night. Besides, they don’t have Harry Potter books in Yemen!”

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Obama: “OK, OK, so the flora and fauna at Gitmo are more entertaining than in your home town. I get that. But I’ve really got to close this place. I promised to do it over seven years ago and people are beginning to think I can’t keep my promises. Can’t a brother get some love here?”

Bwazir: “I feel you, my brother, but do you realize I have had better treatment here in 14 years than I could ever hope for back home or in some third world country of your choosing? Free check-ups, dental and vision care, and Ensure when I’m not feeling like eating for myself. And have you seen the candy they give in the MRE’s?

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Obama: “Bwazir, I’m going to have to insist that you leave.”

Bwazir: “OK, I will leave on one condition. I get to come and stay at your house. I hear you have two lovely daughters!”

Obama: “Whoa, there padnah! Let’s not get carried away! I said I gotta close the place, but coming to the United States is out of the question.”

Bwazir: “But I thought you had to prove to people you were not a liar. If you don’t close this place you will lose your legacy of effective foreign policy.”

Obama: “No, no, no. You don’t understand. If I let you come to the United States and let you loose people will say I don’t care about the safety of the American people.”

Bwazir: “Fine, but I don’t want to go back to Yemen. I want to go live with my sister and brother-in-law Saudi Arabia, or with my uncle in the UAE.”

Obama: “Uh, I’d like to do that, but we don’t have enough money to bribe them with, and they won’t take credit.”

Bwazir: “Then I am staying here. That turf soccer pitch is my field of dreams. I could never leave it, or this great free Muslim resort you have here. Thank you, my brother, but no. It’s the White House or Gitmo.”

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Obama: “Final offer?”

Bwazir: “Final offer.”

Obama: “OK, you can come to Washington, D.C., but you’ll have to accept a job with CAIR. Nobody who’s a brother of mine is going to live on welfare.”

Curtain.

On Obama’s Bloody Hands: Six Air Force Dead

Almost unnoticed or only given a passing glance was the recent murder of six United States Air Force members, killed while on a security foot patrol around an air base in Afghanistan. The pain and frustration over these deaths will linger for a long time, especially with their families, loved ones, and among those with whom they served, but also with those of us who understand the significance of the circumstances under which they were killed.

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The dead include the female commander of the security patrol, Maj. Adrianna Vorderbruggen, 36.  Tech. Sgt. Joseph Lemm, 45, a veteran of two prior deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq , and a New York City police sergeant.  Sgt. Michael Cinco, 28, of Mercedes, Texas. Sgt. Peter Taub, 30, of Philadelphia. Sgt. Chester McBride, 30, of Statesboro, Georgia.  And SSgt. Louis Bonacasa, 31, of Coram, New York.

Coram is a few minutes from my home on Long Island. I was a school district administrator where SSgt. Bonacasa went to school. And although we did not know each other, any time a neighbor is killed it brings home the serious nature of the Global War on Terror.

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Bonacasa was a husband, and a father of a young daughter. I know the anguish he must have felt in leaving his family to do our nation’s most dangerous work, for I left a two day old son to serve at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, just months after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Later, I served on two more deployments, including one to Iraq in 2004-2005 which saw me away from home and family for 14 months. Whether or not I was ever coming home was in the back of my mind every day in-country.

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Bonacasa loved his daughter so intensely that he wrote a poem about her and then had it tattooed on his left rib cage:

 

Daddy’s little girl,

The most precious person in my life

I can’t wait until that first night

Holding you in my hands

Now it’s time to be a man

From your first breath to my last

I’ll be there for you any way I can

Your pretty smile will melt my heart

And your sad cries will always tear me apart

Daddy will be there to wipe away your tears

And there to protect you from all your fears

Your sweet little laugh will be music to my ears

A beautiful gift from God to watch you grow through the years

There will be times when daddy is not around

He will be somewhere with his boots on the ground

There so at home everyone is safe and sound

When daddy is gone baby please don’t cry

Because for your freedom my baby girl

Daddy will die

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This heartbreaking promise from a father to his child is evidence still that we are in a bloody War on Terror, not simply some struggle against “thugs and killers,” as President Barak Obama would have us believe. This enemy is multifaceted and insidious.

Why then does our President pretend we are engaged with “lone wolf terror” and “crazy people” with guns? Every attack is connected in obvious ways, by philosophy, culture and yes, religion.

If this is not true, then why do we operate the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, like a Muslim resort: prayer beads and rugs, Korans, halal and special Muslim holiday meals that include lamb and baklava, signs in Arabic on guard towers and green arrows painted on cell floors pointing the way to Mecca, white detainee garb for the well behaved, and counsel from U.S. military Muslim chaplains?

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Obama’s denials that we are engaged in a war against Islamists fuels a misperception that has led to an inoperably thin effort that puts our troops in unnecessary peril. Too many missions, including the one that claimed these six lives, are under served with armor and overwatch – protections that should have been employed on such a dangerous mission.

I grew up as a soldier in the Army with the mechanized infantry as a combat medic, being told by my Vietnam veteran medical platoon sergeant and by the G.I.’s I served with that “you are an 11B (military occupational specialty nomenclature for infantryman) until somebody gets hurt.” They put the “combat” into “combat medic.”

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I learned every weapon system except for mortars, and trained to fire them. I understood the tactical and technical requirements of mechanized infantry missions. Later, as an officer, my first command was as a leg infantry medical platoon leader, responsible for support of line companies, scouts, evacuation and aid station operations. Inherent in all of this was the number one most essential element to any military mission: security.

The last nine years of my military career I spent as a medical service officer with enemy prisoner of war military police units, small liaison detachments responsible for operational oversight of detainee operations, both in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and later in Iraq. Again, the number one most important concern was security.

Four of the Air Force personnel killed, including Maj. Vorderbruggen, were members of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations; think the Air Force version of NCIS, the criminal investigation folks. This leads one to think there is something more going on here than a routine security patrol around an air base. It leads one to believe there was an intelligence gathering mission going on. Why were the Air Force police on foot patrol? Why so many non-commissioned officers? Were there armored weapons platforms on overwatch or in reserve? Was there sniper cover? Helicopters? Drones? If not, why not?

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Was this patrol, like the thin defenses for our personnel and ambassador in Benghazi, politically motivated? Was the major being allowed to punch her combat ticket (gender and sexual orientation aside) for promotion?  Was she trained and experienced in such patrols or intelligence gathering? Was she a linguistics expert?

In my experience, it is highly unusual for a military major to be leading a foot patrol. Majors are field grade officers, and generally assigned to staff positions in headquarters units, not front line commanders leading troops into battle or on security patrols. Usually, the highest rank for an operational combat unit is captain, one rank below major.

Why were so many killed with one motorcycle improvised explosive? Were they grouped together too tightly? Were they following protocols? Who sent them on the mission and why?

We must perform all military operations with overwhelming force and with vigilant force protection. This idea from civilians at the Pentagon and in the White House that we can perpetrate a war with a tiny footprint and only Special Forces, bombs and drones is naive at best and deadly at worst.

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If our political and military goals are not the same, we will fail, and there will be more blood spilled needlessly.

As a former combat medic I know how difficult blood stains can be to remove, and it may take Obama a lifetime to get this blood off of his hands.