Tea Party Rep. Allen West, a retired Army officer with detainee experience of his own, travels to Guantánamo on Monday with five other members of Congress on an inspection tour.
The GOP congressman from Palm Beach and Broward counties takes with him a most unusual perspective.
In 2003, as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, he fired a gun near the head of an Iraqi man while he was being interrogated to gain the captive’s cooperation. He was subsequently fined $5,000 after an Army investigation found the episode did not merit a court martial.
CNN reported that the case stemmed from an Aug. 20, 2003 incident at a military base in Taji, north of Baghdad. West was interrogating an Iraqi policeman who was believed to have information about a plot to ambush a U.S. convoy and kill West. Supporters called him a hero, military prosecutors said his actions amounted to torture, CNN said.
On Monday’s trip to the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba, West will “tour the military prison there, investigate detainee treatment and review the process by which suspected terrorists are tried through the military court system,’’ said West spokeswoman Angela Sachitano.
It’s a first time visit for West, who retired from the military after 22 years in the service and then moved to South Florida.
West, a freshman in Congress, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He’ll be traveling with five other committee members whose identity will be disclosed only after the trip is over, said Josh Holly, a committee spokesman.
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