Sunday, January 13, 2008

Iraq War a “Clean Shoot,” and History Will Be The Judge

Recently, a regular contributor to, Frosty Wooldridge, rehashed a bunch of old rhetoric regarding the Iraq conflict ( ). Mr. Wooldridge’s comments are rather easy to sum up: “Bush lied and people died.” Certainly he will find a clutch of readers who will eagerly agree with those sentiments—no matter how threadbare they have become. It’s not the first time ‘Ol Frosty has pitched in this way, and not likely the last. Go get ‘em Frosty. But I am sure that his stated dedication to Constitutional principles will compel him to allow a bit of reasoned decent.

Picture, If You Will
Picture, if you will, a darkened alley late at night in the most gang and crime ridden part of town. This night has been especially violent with innocent citizens and police officers mowed down by the senseless violence haunting the area. You are a cop on patrol and come upon a known felon in that darkened alley. He has a long rap sheet, has dodged prosecution on a series of heinous crimes, and has even taken a shot at you once or twice in the past. He is a known fellow gang member of another criminal who, just earlier today, committed a mass murder—and now he is crouching behind a dumpster in a darkened alley on your beat.

You pull over your squad car and call out to this man. He rises from his hiding space—his hands firmly stuffed in his pockets and talking tough. You draw your service weapon and order the man to show his hands—he does not. You call out to him, “show your hands and get on the ground or I’ll shoot.” Your orders are ignored and somewhere in the next few moments of shouting and furtive gestures—within the context of the suspicious bulge in his pocket, the dangerous neighborhood, and the reputation of the man who opposes you—an invisible line is crossed and you fire your weapon.

Which brings us to a few questions
If we are to judge the character and professionalism of this officer:

  • Does it matter whether or not the suspect had an actual weapon at that time?
  • What if he had a weapon that was jammed or broken—whether he knew it was broken or not?
  • What if it was a toy weapon?
  • What if he had a pocket full of bullets and no gun? Or a gun with no bullets?
  • What if he had nothing but a pocket comb and a bit of loose change?
  • What if….

The Investigation
The Internal Affairs Department will undoubtedly investigate this shooting and everything will be reviewed in the glaring morning light that filters though the blinds of third-story legal offices as a fresh cup of coffee leaves occasional brown rings on the dog-eared pages of official reports. But one hopes that—after the posturing, positioning, and appeals have dogged the system through the process—only one determination will come from the juries and peer reviews. This was a “clean shoot."

Can one imagine a darker or more violent alley than the Middle East or a homicidal sociopath more unpredictable than Saddam?

There are those who will attempt to parse this analogy to suit their own opinions, but an honest reading must at least give pause to partisan blanket statements, character assaults, and ad-hominem accusations. The fullness of history shall be the jury and final review of our seemingly graceless times and all of us who lived in them.

Be well,

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