The trouble with lawfare

An instructive story:

When I was in Iraq, we did not have a single M.P. (military police) on our base. Our work was done with cavalry scouts and armor officers, and they did a magnificent job and took great care in their work. But they’re not detectives, there were no Miranda warnings, and they cannot be held to that standard. It’s absurd. They’re war-fighters, not cops.

I vividly remember the day I learned that lesson. It was early in the deployment, and I had a lot to learn. We’d brought in a few detainees, and I was surveying the evidence packets. I approached the troop’s First Sergeant (most senior noncommissioned officer) and said, “First Sergeant, do you think we can get some more stuff on these guys? Could we go out and interview some additional witnesses? I’d like better Iraqi sworn statements.”

He gave me a look that I can best describe as respectful incredulity, and said: “Sir, we grabbed those guys after a troop-level raid in a hostile zone after riding over and through a known IED ambush. That operation took weeks to prepare, all of my guys risked their lives, and we were lucky enough to pull it off without anyone dying. You’re saying you want us to stop our other operations to plan another raid to maybe find one or two more people to give sworn testimony? People who won’t live another day in that village if they’re seen talking to us?”

I felt like an idiot for asking the question.

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