Tonight, Glenn Beck took up the cause of Florida GOP congressional candidate Allen West, whom Beck called a "man of integrity." In doing so, Beck defended West for assaulting a detainee during an interrogation when he was serving in Iraq -- actions military officials say violated the law. West also reportedly has a close relationship with a motorcycle club suspected by the FBI of criminal activity.
Here is what Beck said about Allen West tonight:
While they're talking about, that they're not telling you about Allen West. He's a candidate that I don't necessary agree with everything I heard him say, but I will tell you this; he is a man of integrity. You know who this guy is? Why isn't he - why doesn't everybody know who he is? Lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Troops were under attack, he got intel that they were planning attack, captured the bad guy, the terrorist. He wouldn't speak, he was like, "I'm not - you just Americans, you not -" So West took him outside, told everybody else to leave. He blindfolded the terrorist. He told all the other troops to leave. So he was alone, and he said to the terrorist, "I'm going kill you if you don't tell me what's going to happen, because my guys, their lives are at stake." Terrorist says, "you Americans, you are not -" West fired a bullet near the guy's head. Terrorist wet his pants, I believe and then started to talk - that's usually the way it happens. Gave up valuable information about the upcoming attacks.
Well, what happened then? West tried to cover it up? No. West walked directly to report the entire story to his superior officer. He said, "that's just the way it is. I want you to know I did it and hear it from me. I did and I did it by myself. By the way, here's the intel." He may have been wrong. May have been wrong. I don't think so. You might think so. He may have been wrong but, at least he had the courage of his convictions and he took the blame himself and made sure nobody else was involved. And then he did the right thing -- he took the consequences. He had a hearing, he was asked if he would do it again and he said, "Yes, it's about the lives and safety of my men." Quote, "I would go through hell with a gasoline can." He was relieved of command, and that's too bad. But he did retire with a full military pension.
CNN.com reported on December 13, 2003, that West threatened to kill an Iraqi policeman his soldiers were interrogating. West also reportedly "watched four of his soldiers ... beat the detainee on the head and body." CNN.com further reported that military prosecutors said West's actions "amounted to torture." According to a December 14, 2003, Boston Globe article, military officials said that West "disobeyed laws, ignored orders ... and mortgaged future discipline in his unit."
Beck's defense of West's actions is not surprising when you consider that he once defended the use of torture by airing clips from the fictional Fox television show 24, saying "[I]t's going to take somebody who sits in front of Congress who is not afraid of them anymore and does what Jack Bauer did. And that is, 'Yes, I did torture, and I'm proud of it.' And it's time for these things to come out of the closet." Beck has also said to a caller on his radio program who claimed to have tortured U.S.-held prisoners, "I appreciate your service."
More troubling allegations against Allen West have recently come to light. As Talking Points Memo noted, NBC News reported on Allen West's connections to a biker gang known as the Outlaws Motorcycle Club that has been targeted by the FBI for alleged criminal activity:
Allen West, a national tea party favorite and the Republican nominee for Congress in Florida's 22nd Congressional District, has (to put it mildly) some controversial friends. According to a new report from NBC News, West has been a fan and defender of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, a national group targeted by the FBI for involvement in racketeering, "violent crimes" and "attempted murder."
As NBC reported tonight, West has had personal dealings with the Florida chapter of the Outlaws, which lists on its website "Brothers In Prison," which NBC correspondent Lisa Meyers says includes "many" who "were convicted of violent crimes, including murder."
West's dealing with the Florida branch of the group, according to Meyers, includes inviting them to a "campaign bike ride," using them to "guard" him "in an interview," and speaking before a "Constitutional rights rally" organized by "groups who bragged they were affiliated with the Outlaws."