Having considered Janiece's suggestion in yesterday's comment thread and found it good, and as an acknowledgment of the fact that I've gotten a bit, uh, shrill and negative with the posting lately, today let's make a change of rudder.
First, the Comment Title, to wit: Dúnedain. For those of you not up on your Tolkien go here, but basically for the purposes of Stonekettle Station I'll define Dúnedain as : one of the good guys.
So today's Dúnedain is Malcolm Nance, former US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer, and currently one of the nation's foremost experts on insurgency tactics.
For the last week, Mr. Nance has been at the center of a national froofruah, because in Conservative Republican circles he has 'further embarrassed the President' with an article he wrote for Small Wars Journal, where he is a regular blogger and contributor. In the post Nance, as one of the nation's foremost subject matter experts, stated clearly and without equivocation that water-boarding is torture, period. Nance's position on this subject, and his credentials, have catapulted him into the middle of the bitter Attorney General confirmation hearings, and by extension the larger debate on the Bush Administration's position on the use of torture.
There are many, including myself, who admire Nance for setting the record straight as to the particulars of water-boarding. However, there are many, many more who have vocally attacked him for going public. He's a pretty salty guy, Malcolm is, and comments from the general rabble don't faze him much, but it's a dammed hard thing when your former comrades in arms (who should know better) are part of the mob.
I happen to know Malcolm Nance, not well, but we've met, and he emailed me this morning regarding comments I made here. I owe Malcolm a debt of personal gratitude. He and I were stationed together many, many years ago in Europe. We didn't know each other well, just two guys in the same very large division, he was a linguist and I was technical cryptologist and we never worked or deployed together, but we saw each other around, you know how it is. Twenty years later though, Malcolm and his team spent a very tough couple of weeks onboard USS Valley Forge providing training in counter-terrorism and force protection. I was one of Forge's force protection officers, responsible for directing the ship's security and combat teams while in hostile waters, and we were within a month of deploying into harm's way. The training provided by Malcolm and his team was tough and exhausting and rigorous. And it was something new, at that time few other Naval units had the benefit of this experience. Because of what we learned, Valley Forge's forces were completely reorganized into an extremely effective and successful weapon. That training directly contributed to our success in the combat zone and helped bring every one of our people home alive. After that deployment, and the next one, and until the day two years later when Valley Forge was decommissioned, our prowess at force protection was legendary on the San Diego waterfront, and other ships sent their people to us to be trained.
The actions of Malcolm Nance and his people have saved the lives of countless Americans. He has taken a stand fore square against the administration's disingenuous nonsense and rubbed America's nose in it. And Americans are pissed about it, and they should be, but not at Malcolm - rather they should be pissed at the comforting lies they've been mislead into believing and most especially at those telling the comforting lies.
So, here's to you Malcolm. As I said in the forum at SWJ: Senior Chief, one initiated Chief to another, well said. Keep saying it.
Update: More detailed thoughts on my position regarding torture here.