The Pentagon announced on Wednesday that they would seek the death penalty for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a jihadist complicit in the bombing of the USS Cole.
The announcement is the first fruit of the Obama administration’s reversal of position in trying to convict militant Islamists in civil courts.
And it was also long overdue.
If 9-11 was a tsunami that altered America’s relations with the world, the attack on the USS Cole was its earthquake.
Occurring on October 12th, 2000- a year before 9-11, minus a month and day- it was the first clue that the tectonic plates of US policy would be shifting, and that there was nothing we could do about it.
The Cole bombing contained many of the same characters responsible for 9-11, the Ft Hood shooting, the attempt to car bomb Times Square and the failed attempt to blow up the Northwest Airlines Christmas flight in 2009.
That we ignored the Cole bombing for so long, that we still try to ignore it, Mr. Attorney General Holder, is insult to my people.
O.K., I really don’t have any people, but if I did, they’d be sailors.
It’s not just the depravation of liberty and comfort and convenience that sailors submit to in the ordinary course of business; the business of just keeping the Navy afloat.
It’s that it’s hard, boring, tedious, uncomfortable and often dangerous being a salior, even when people aren’t trying to kill you.
I thank God every day that many are doing that business, 24-hours a day, all over the world.
Right now, as you read this, a 25 year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class is sitting behind a .50 caliber machine gun, on 34-foot boat painted steel gray. He’s on a force protection mission, protecting a ship from the type of attack that happened to the Cole.
He’s slathered in sunscreen, because not only does he have to watch for bad guys, he has to watch for skin cancer too. Besides which; getting a sun burn is a violation of orders which could lead to disciplinary action against him.
There will be no beer today for him, as he sweats out a pint or two of water an hour, surrounded by nothing but desert and water.
Being dehydrated? That’s also a violation of orders.
When he’s done with his 18 hour day, he gets to sleep in a tent. Then he gets to do it again.
Many of the Inshore Boat Units of this type are reserve components, meaning they will be called up for deployment, sent back to civilian life, and then will called up again.
For 17 USS Cole sailors, they didn’t have all those years. They died as a direct result of the explosion in October 2000.