Allen Bernard West, House of Representatives   Leave a comment

Allen Bernard West (born February 7, 1961) is a Republican U.S. Representative who represents Florida’s 22nd congressional district, serving since January 2011. He is the first black Republican Congressman from Florida since Josiah T. Walls left office in 1876 near the end of Reconstruction.[5]

West served in the United States Army in Iraq and was a civilian adviser in Afghanistan. With 20 plus years of active duty service in the United States Army, he achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. He elected to retire after an investigation of his conduct during the interrogation of a detainee in Taji, Iraq.[6]

[edit] Early life

Allen West was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to Herman and Elizabeth West. His father and older brother were both career military officers: His father served in World War II, and his brother served in Vietnam.[7] His mother was a civilian employee of the United States Marine Corps. West joined the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program in the tenth grade and entered the United States Army in 1983 after he graduated from the University of Tennessee. West was a member of the third of four consecutive generations in his family to serve in the United States armed forces.[7]

West received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Tennessee and his master’s degree in political science from Kansas State University. He also earned a master of military arts and sciences degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff Officer College in political theory and military history and operations.[3]

[edit] Military career (1983–2004)

[edit] Overview

West entered active duty on November 1, 1983, at Fort Sill then attended the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course. He then completed airborne training at Fort Benning. West’s first assignment was as an airborne infantry company fire support team leader and battalion training officer in the 325th Airborne Battalion Combat Team. He was promoted to captain in 1987 and graduated from the Field Artillery Officer Advanced Course.[8] West was next assigned to the 1st Infantry Division, commanding B Battery, 6th Field Artillery Regiment. He was a battalion task force fire support officer for 2d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. As a member of the 1st Infantry Division, he participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.[8]

After redeployment from Kuwait, West served as an Army ROTC instructor at Kansas State University from 1991 to 1994, becoming the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year in 1993. In January 1995 he was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division Support Command as the assistant operations/combat plans officer. West was promoted to major and attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1997. Upon completion, he became operations officer for the 18th Field Artillery Brigade before being assigned as executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Regiment. West was an army exchange officer at the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune from 1999 to 2002.[8]

He became battalion commander of the 2d Battalion 20th Field Artillery nicknamed “Deep Strike,” 4th Infantry Division on June 6, 2002. He held this position until his retirement from the army.[9]

[edit] Iraq interrogation incident

While serving in Taji, Iraq, West received information from an intelligence specialist about a reported plot to ambush him and his men.[6] The alleged plot reportedly involved Yahya Jhodri Hamoodi, a civilian Iraqi police officer.[6] West, who was not responsible for conducting interrogations in Iraq and had never conducted nor witnessed one, had his men detain Hamoodi.[6] In the process of detaining Mr. Hamoodi, soldiers testified that Hamoodi appeared to reach for his weapon and needed to be subdued.[6] Hamoodi was beaten by four soldiers from the 220th Field Artillery Battalion on the head and body.[10] West then fired his pistol near Hamoodi’s head,[6] after which Hamoodi provided West with names and information, which Hamoodi later described as “meaningless information induced by fear and pain.”[6] At least one of these suspects was arrested as a result, but no plans for attacks or weapons were found.[6] West said “At the time I had to base my decision on the intelligence I received. It’s possible that I was wrong about Mr. Hamoodi.”[6]

West was charged with violating articles 128 (assault) and 134 (general article) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. During a hearing held as part of an Article 32 investigation in November 2003, West stated, “I know the method I used was not right, but I wanted to take care of my soldiers.”[10] The charges were ultimately referred to an Article 15 proceeding rather than court-martial, at which West was fined $5,000.[6] LTC West accepted the judgment and retired with full benefits in the summer of 2004. Asked if he would act differently under similar circumstances again, West testified, “If it’s about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can.”[11]

[edit] Post-military career (2004–2007)

At his hearing, West pointed out that there were no further ambushes against American forces in Taji until he was relieved of his leadership post on October 4.[12] After West’s retirement, he received more than 2,000 letters and e-mails offering him moral support.[6] Furthermore, a letter supporting West was signed by 95 members of Congress and sent to the Secretary of the Army.[6]

In September 2010, West spoke in defense of a group of U.S. military personnel known as the “Leavenworth 10″ who were convicted of war crimes.[13]

After retiring from the U.S. Army, West moved his family to Florida and taught high school for a year.[6] He then spent two years working for Military Professional Resources Inc., a defense contractor. While with MPRI, West served in Kandahar, Afghanistan as a “regional director.”[14] In that capacity, he was an adviser to the Afghan National Army.[15]

[edit] U.S. House of Representatives

West speaking at the 2010 CPAC.

[edit] 2008 election

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in Florida, 2008#District 22

On May 29, 2007, West was the Republican candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd congressional district, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Congressman Ron Klein for that seat in the November 2008 elections. He was defeated by a margin of 9.4% of the vote.[16]

[edit] 2010 election

See also: United States House of Representatives elections in Florida, 2010#District 22

West spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on February 20, 2010 and was endorsed by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.[17] As one of 32 African-American Republican candidates for Congress in 2010, West said he supported the Tea Party movement and dismissed the notion that the movement was motivated by racism as a creation of liberal critics and the news media.[18] West has been described as a “tea party star”[19] became a member of the congressional Tea Party Caucus in February, 2011.[20] West defeated incumbent Ron Klein by a margin of 8.6%. West, along with newly elected Tim Scott, are the first African-American Republicans in Congress since J.C. Watts retired in 2003.[21] West raised $5.4 million for his campaign, while his incumbent opponent raised $2.5 million. According to West, “…over 97 percent of our donations have come from individual contributions.”[22][23]

During the campaign, West’s opponents accused him of being the only black member of a controversial motorcycle gang with ties to drug trafficking and prostitution.[24][25][26][27]

He also gained national attention for making the claim that, because of his military experience: “I still retain a secret security clearance. And I tell you, if you look at the application for a security clearance, I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain because of my background.” [28][29]

[edit] 2012 election

West has already raised $1.5 million in the second quarter to support his 2012 reelection bid. The majority of West’s funding came from individuals, with an average contribution of $66 per person.[30][31][32]

The National Journal‘s Cook Political Report named West one of the top 10 Republicans most vulnerable to redistricting in 2012.[33]

On February 1, 2012, West announced that he will run for reelection from the new 18th Congressional District, which consists of a majority of the current 16th Congressional District. This comes in the wake of Representative Tom Rooney switching from the 16th Congressional District to the 17 Congressional District. This move is considered to dramatically improve West’s chances of reelection, though it will likely still be a competitive race.[34]

[edit] Congressional Black Caucus

West joined the Congressional Black Caucus on January 5, 2011. He is the first Republican to join the caucus since former Congressman Gary Franks retired in 1997.[35]

[edit] Committee assignments

West has been appointed to the House Armed Services Committee and the Small Business Committee.[36]

[edit] Political views

In January 2011, West joined House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) in condemning the official flying of a Palestine Liberation Organization flag in Washington. West said that the raising of the flag is “an attempt to legitimize an organization with a known history of terrorist actions”.[37] When asked during an interview with The Shalom Show how he would work with others “like Keith Ellison, who supports Islam” West stated that Ellison, a Minnesota Congressman and practicing Muslim, represents the “antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”[38] West later argued that his initial comment was misconstrued. He said the comments were “not about his Islamic faith, but about his continued support of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”[39] In a Boynton Beach Town Hall meeting, West told the Miami leader of CAIR that “I will always defend your right to practice a free religion under the First Amendment, but what you must understand, if I am speaking the truth, I am not going to stop speaking the truth. The truth is not subjective.”[40] In February 2011, West cited the threat of “radical Islamic terrorists” as his motivation for voting to extend provisions of the Patriot Act,[41] however he voted against another extension in May 2011.[42]

West was the keynote speaker at the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference on February 13, 2011.[43] West has described Michael Ledeen as one of his “foreign policy heroes.” [44]

On July 19, 2011, West sent an email to Democratic Representative and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in response to comments directed at him in a speech the Congresswoman made on the floor of the House of Representatives after West had departed the chamber.[45] West’s email, which he copied to members of House Democratic and Republican leadership, characterized Wasserman as “the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives”, said that she was “not a Lady” and asked that she focus, instead, on her own congressional district.[46] This is a long-standing dispute that West says “dates back to the disgusting protest you ordered at my campaign headquarters, October 2010 in Deerfield Beach.”


Posted February 20, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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