Do you have a right to view an ISIS Kill List?

According to The Clarion Project, a political information bureau that warns westerners of the growing threat from radical Islam, ISIS has published a ‘kill list’ that includes the names, addresses and emails of 15,000 Americans.

Clarion_300So far, this is interesting news, but it is not really new. I found ISIS, Hezbollah and Al-Qaida kill lists going back at least 8 years. This 2012 bulletin complains that NBC would not release the names contained on a kill list.

A kill list is newsworthy, and the Clarion article is interesting—but the article has more “facts” with which the publisher wishes to generate mob frenzy…

  • It explains that 4,000 of the names on the Kill List have been leaked by hackers
  • It echos a report by Circa News that the FBI has decided to not inform citizens that they are on the ISIS kill list.

In a clear effort to whip up and direct audience indignation, it asks readers to take a one-question poll. Which answer would you choose?

  1. I have a right to know if I am on an ISIS kill list
  2. I do not need to know if my name is on the ISIS kill list.
    The FBI can protect me without my knowing

Let’s ignore, for a moment, that the editorial comment appended to answer #2 involves a misleading assumption (i.e. that your safety is related to inclusion on the list and that you need or would be the focus of FBI protection). Even before this cheap tactical mis-direction, I am frustrated with the sleazy promotional and shock tactics of The Clarion Project (formerly,

Muslim Imam, orders the destruction of Christian churches

This a pity—because the Clarion Project also creates and distributes valuable educational literature. For a few years, they were the credible standard in defining and issuing warnings about the dangers of radical Islam—especially as it is seeded and spread from within. The Clarion Project also produces terrific “wake-up” videos and documentary evidence about life under Sharia law and the shocking intolerance, misogyny and disrespect for human rights that characterize ISIS. It highlights the brutal tactics that emerge when regional governments are controlled by religious zealots. Like any repressive dictatorship, ISIS rules through fear instilled by bands of roaming thugs and by turning everyone into snitches.*

But the Kill List Poll points to a growing trend at Clarion. Four years ago, I objected to Meira Svirsky’s inflammatory report that criticizes a DOJ official for refusing to answer a complex and subtle question with a Yes-or-No response. The Clarion Project has a critical and noble goal. But pushing the emotional hot buttons of an audience by over simplifying or vilifying subtleties undermines the entire organization. In the end, it only demonstrates that they are bullies. And just like Donald Trump, bullying plays only to mobs. It is no the way to win hearts and minds.

My Answer to the Poll

  • I do not need to know if my name is on the ISIS kill list


Both ISIS leaders and radical clerics have repeatedly declared that *all* Americans, American allies, Jews and non-believers may be killed on the spot or taken as sex slaves to pleasure suicide bombers and Jihadist soldiers. quranThey state that doing this fulfills Jihad and prophecy and is sanctioned by the Holy Qur’an. With this in mind, I feel that the poll options are political, selfish and offensive. It assumes that readers are idiots…

The multiple choice answers are incomplete and misleading. Of course, Americans have a right to know if they are on a kill list—and, in fact, we already know. We are all on that list!

About Radical Islam

The warning bell at the heart of Clarion journalism is an alarm that must be heard—very loudly. Radical Islam is a cancer and not just figuratively. It exhibits all earmarks of a spreading pathogen that invades and attaches itself to its neighbors while building offensive outposts far from the region that it started. It has not yet been contained and excised. It presents a significant ongoing threat to our safety, our health and our wealth.

~Ellery Davies

* I could illustrate my point with photos of men being burned in a cage, the abduction of preteen school girls from their homes (they were given to soldiers), a child slitting the throat of captives, or a women having her nose cut off because she was raped by a stranger. After all, in the twisted world of radical Islam, anyone who is different, unique gay, Christian, or not in agreement with the local Imam is to be tortured and killed.

But I can similarly point to even this comparatively mild video. It shows a Turkish music store under attack last week (June 2016), because a group of thugs suspects that the band signing autographs represents secular hedonism—or that that fans in the store might be consuming alcohol during Ramadan.

ISIS burns Jordanian Pilot. To what end?

Moa’ath al-Kasasbeh-01aThree days ago, ISIS released a video in which the Jordanian Pilot, Lt. Moa’ath al-Kasasbeh, was burned alive in a cage. The result? A blitz against ISIS positions and logistics with the fury of an enraged leopardess. Jordan and the US led coalition is getting sympathy and support from near and far—even from prospective allies with no former stake in this war.

Why do people commit atrocities on a deeply personal and individual level? Think about it before reading further.

Since you’re still reading, you will obviously learn my opinion:Actually, I just can’t figure it out…

I ‘get’ that some people/groups/governments/rebels want land, power, money, sex—or simply revenge on those they feel have brought suffering or dishonor to their people, their cause or their prophet. I also get that they commit atrocities in an attempt to achieve their goals. But, I cannot fathom why the really bad guys inevitably do things that are so grotesquely evil, inhumane and appalling that they bring unity and resolve to their enemies!

Referring to ISIS actions and tweets: “It is a PR stunt”. But PR serves a purpose, even if it is a twisted purpose or one hell-bent on religious fervor. I doubt that decapitations, burning a man alive, and kidnapping a young, female aid worker help the cause of ISIS, even among the angry, dispossessed youth that they routinely recruit.

charlie-hebdo-cover-603x8002Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, fellow at the Middle East Forum and researcher at the IDC Herzliya academic institution, explains that the video is a “wholly new level of public advertisement of brutality” and that it is “designed to terrorize the outside world, especially the Arab states taking part in the US-led coalition.”

How can anyone be so distorted as to think that such disgraceful and abominable tactics achieve anything other than invigorating enemies and generating massive sympathy for the other side. More to the point, do they not realize that their families will be hunted down and killed, humiliated or otherwise brought to justice?

ISIS believes the US led coalition forces to be an infidel, a disciple of Satan or a rabid animal (metaphors that radical Islam invokes toward anyone who is free, living under democracy, has a brain or a conscience). But even if you believe these things, it makes no sense to back a dog (or Satan) into a corner and poke him with a stick—especially if your opponent has satellite reconnaissance, powerful weapons and growing community sympathy.


Piers Morgan describes his reaction to viewing the ISIS video of Jordanian Pilot, Moa’ath al-Kasasbeh, burned alive in a cage. He didn’t want to watch, but is glad that he did.

Can Saudis say “Je Suis Charlie”?

Update: This article was written 2 weeks before the death of the Saudi leader

On Jan 23, (Friday morning, local time), Saudi King, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud, died. His half brother, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, ascended to the throne as expected. He promptly assured the international community that policies, alliances and contracts would continue as before.

Je Suis CharlieThe Saudi government is publicly standing with France in condemning the slaughter of editors and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, a satire magazine. They were gunned down in the name of defending the prophet’s honor.

Of course, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Iraq are waging war against extremist group Islamic State with expanding air and ground support from a US-led international coalition. Yet, I am sickened by the irony of their “outrage”.

saudi-arabia-domestic-violence-sThe Saudis have no compunctions in savagely beating Raif Badawi for the crime of promoting free speech and debate. They have no problem beating women who drive a car or who travel without a male relative. We must take stock of our affiliations. It’s time to run with those who share our ideals and who appreciate a common humanity. The Saudi royals are neither just, moral or humane.

The fact that so many in the west consider the Saudi kingdom to be moderate or “a friend” is both ironic and a travesty. These are barbarians with starkly warped ideals. Saudi Delegate at UNThey are as backward and ruthless as those who slaughtered the journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Both groups respond to free thought and debate with righteous violence.

It’s time for western governments and NGOs to recognize that the Saudis are no more evolved than the Ayatollahs in Iran or the Imams and Muftis who promote and export Sharia Law the word over.

Consider the relationship of China with the US and Canada. The Chinese are a major trading partner, but few would suggest that this partnership indicates a shared kinship of political ideology or compatible individual freedoms. China’s government may change some day, but for now, modernization is limited to their economy and with a slightly heightened awareness of environmental issues. Democratic process and Personal freedoms be damned.

Saudi FlagLike China, the Saudis are our temporary trading partner. We must not confuse trade or even military cooperation with friendship and we must constantly reevaluate the limits of our business and financial arrangements. Unlike China, Saudi Arabia bankrolls extremism and exports intolerant ideology that destabilizes the global community. They are no better than ISIL, Boka Haram or the most radical of Sharia-inspired zealots. The Saudi government is barely shy of being an enemy to every free democracy. I am not against constructive engagement. But we should also understand an ideological adversary and maintain a comfortable distance.

Suggested Reading:

Is Islam a Religion of Tolerance?

In my armchair observation of the world’s major religions, they each have scriptures, righteous examples or commandments that seek the destruction or subjugation of other races, infidels or non-believers. In short, among all the talk of love, peace and coexistence, there is inevitably a doctrine, which—if interpreted literally—espouses hate or the smiting of people who are different. Is this the case for every religion? Perhaps an exception is Buddhism and other religions that are associated more with spiritual or political philosophies rather than a deity (e.g. Confucianism is not really a religion).

islam_385x261But here’s the thing: Despite holy scripture that places adherents spiritually or morally above their neighbors, few individuals believe or act on scripture that suggests burning neighbors, cutting off their hands, or raping their daughters. They also leave their neighbors to establish and administer their own political and cultural practices, according to their own set of beliefs. That is, most cultures accept the universal maxims: “Live and let live” and “Treat others as you wish to be treated”.  Adhering to these two simple golden principles of non-interference and cooperation are the keys to living in a multicultural world. Everyone understands this. Everyone lives it! Well, not quite everyone…

islamThe problem with Islam, as I see it, is that a large fraction of followers actually implement an “interference doctrine”. But when an institution combines a nihilistic philosophy with growth and evangelism, it takes the form of a cancer: Constantly pushing out its boarders and consuming anything in the way. Many Islamic adherents (how many?) refuse to accommodate tolerance—at least for those outside of its beliefs, even when an Islamist community is a minority in the homeland of other cultures and philosophies.

I believe in tolerance. Given a connected world with a great many cultures and beliefs, it is the only way to foster peaceful and productive coexistence. The concept of Sharia Law—practiced against non-believers and especially outside of an Islamist homeland—is not only intolerant and abhorrent, it is impossible to reconcile within any framework of coexistence. Therefore, the only philosophy or practice of which we should be intolerant is intolerance itself.


I honestly don’t know the fraction of Islamists who teach hate and who seek to spread intolerance. But I can see that the absolute numbers are staggering. It’s not just growing in the Arab world, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali and Timbuktu. It has taken root in France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Finland and even in North America. While I cringe in response to some reader suggestions (“We must destroy Islam. We need to institute a genocide”), I honestly don’t see how to contain a cancer by any means other than destroying it. As with any cancer, there is an urgent imperative to prevent spread and the consumption of surrounding tissue.

Is it possible that Islam can be gently prodded to correct the extremism within its many sects and among its zealous Mullahs? I don’t know. And I don’t know if we have time to engage on such a benign level. Despite my disdain for intolerance, I keep returning to my own maxim: The only thing of which we can be justifiably intolerant is intolerance itself. I believe that if we do not quickly squash intolerance, the haters will consume us.

(Continue below image)390806_257718917664687_371811942_n

That’s my opinion on the growth of a very destructive force from the dark side. My father had a considerably less tolerant plan… He died before there was a western acronym for ISIS [ISIL, Daesh, The Caliphate], but he once wrote that captured Taliban and Hammas fighters should be killed and a video sent to their families. The video would show the corpse of a religious extremist as it is buried alongside open carcasses of pigs, including intestines and pork brains. He figured that the graphic display of eternal damnation might persuade the next generation from spreading their hate and killing across other cultures. I hold out hope for a more civilized and humane way to encourage tolerance among neighbors.

In response to the titular question: Is Islam a religion of tolerance? It doesn’t appear to promote tolerance at any level. Not from religious leaders and not that I can see from the adherents. If Islam were tolerant, we would see swift condemnation of terrorist acts. We would see acceptance of other cultures and practices. We would sense an acceptance that women can be educated and treated as something other than cattle, and we would see a peaceful and productive coexistence with the greater communities, both religious and secular.

All 4 photos:

Colossal PR Failure: Taliban effort to silence Malala

If you have picked up a newspaper or turned on the TV news in the past 11 months, then you probably know of Malala Yousafzai, a courageous Pakistani girl who stared down the Taliban and took 2 bullets to the head. Today, as Malala’s influence spreads across the Muslim world, the Taliban is realizing that attacking a 14 year old girl was a terrible move. Even among religious zealots, their cause was dealt a blow.

Malala was targeted by Taliban militants who sought to suppress her appeal for an education. They stormed her minivan school bus and shot her twice in the face. But she survived. After surgery to replace parts of her cranium, implant a cochlea into her inner ear and reattach nerves to facial muscles, she is making an astounding recovery thanks to triage surgeons in Pakistan and a team of specialists at Queen’s Hospital in Birmingham England.

Mala didn’t want a free education, or one that was mandatory for girls who accept the radical Islam enforced by Taliban militants. She simply advocated for halting their intimidating ban on the education of all girls, including the destruction of 250 schools, and the murder of families who object to their twisted religious doctrine.

But many Wild Ducks have yet to learn of Malala’s back story. For many in the West, it began when the New York Times created a 32 minute video about the life and efforts of Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai. In the picturesque Swat Valley, just north of the Islamabad, he operated a private high school and college for girls. Ziauddin recruited and paid a professional staff and maintained surprisingly high academic standards.

The New York Times profiled Malala’s life 2 years before she was shot

Although the Times video ends with Malala meeting President Obama’s attaché, she was not yet the object of international attention. Filmed just before and after her twelfth birthday, it captures the profound regional change. It begins with interior scenes of Malala’s home and her father’s school. The family lives with unbearable stress, because of a Taliban decree that schools admitting girls must close within the week. Their radio broadcasts warn that school staffs and parents will be held accountable for any girl who receives an education. The meaning of ‘accountable’ isn’t lost on parents or schools. Gunman shoot, burn, amputate or bomb anyone violating the Fatwa. Half of the pupils stop coming (and stop paying tuition). Across the region, the few schools that weren’t already destroyed are shut off to girls.

Ziauddin Yousafzai

Ziauddin Yousafzai

Then, The New York Times video covers siege and exile. It follows the father’s flight from Swat, including his 4 month separation from family. Eventually, he returns to a home and school that was occupied by the local army in an apparently successful effort to expel the Taliban. But the narrator explains that Taliban militants are hiding among the refugees, taking food from western charities and slipping back into the region along with returning citizens.

But what about Malala? In addition to exhibiting extreme chutzpah, she is a living testament to her father’s educational methods. Even at 11, she is poised, articulate, multilingual and startlingly proficient in math and science.

Malala talks about her remarkable recovery after being shot in the face by Taliban militants

What does AWildDuck think about Malala and the events that forged courage amongst depravity? There is an astounding array of ignorance, hate and extremism in this world. Extremism inevitably leads to trauma, like that which this girl has endured. Yet, here, we are witness to the emergence of an intelligent and astonishing young adult! Her strength has risen with each ignorant and evil act of tormentors. In short order, she has become a beacon of truth and human dignity. What an amazing triumph of compassion, medical skill and sheer will power over the forces of intolerance.

Malala Yousafzai will go on to do great things. She has demonstrated that she cannot be silenced—certainly not by a bullet. She is an incredible force for good and an inspiration for us all.

French air strikes in Mali: Noble effort to stem a cancer

Summer vacation? Scratch Mali and Timbuktu

Summer vacation? Scratch Mali and Timbuktu

When I was young, my parents occasionally invited Aunt Millie to stay at our home and babysit, while they traipsed off to exotic places like Tahiti, Bora Bora, Bali and Fiji. That was back in the 60s and 70s. With an arctic blast sweeping across North America this week, some of you may be planning your own summer getaways to warmer climates. If you are fortunate to be part of the economic recovery, then you might be thinking about a tropical paradise like your folks visited back in the day.

Mali and Timbuktu were never a match for Bali or Fiji. But for many Europeans of my generation, they attracted independent travelers seeking adventure. They were safe, fun and the locals were very friendly. These sunny places are no longer hospitable to anyone–at least not anyone who fails to cover up women and face Mecca every few hours. Lately, they look more like Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Eight months ago, a region of Mali that is larger than all of France or Texas was overrun by Qaeda rebels. In an effort to ratchet up fear and control, they force Sharia Law by amputating limbs from anyone who fails to live by their twisted principles. By any reasonable measure, these are Barbarians… positively sick bastards.

Lift it in praise or lose it

Lift it in praise or lose it

For the past 3 months, citizens have been rounded up for public amputations (either as witness or participant). The crime? Nothing terrible. Gaze at an unrelated girl, fail to praise Allah after a sneeze, or dare to suggest that woman should be allowed an education, and you will lose both a hand and a foot—Instantly.

Justice is swift under Sharia law. Don’t expect a trial, a defense, an appeal or a delay. Reprieves don’t exist, praise Allah! Want to sneak a kiss with your honey? You had best not have a honey. Young brides are bought from parents. Just the act of holding hands is a risk you dare not attempt. For this and anything else that strikes the Mujahidin as unholy, you will pay with your limbs and perhaps your nose too!

The Mali government represents the majority of its citizens, but they are helpless against the hordes of Qaeda allied Muslims sweeping across their territory. They outnumber and out gun the army and are driven by visions of 18 willing virgins in the hereafter. I don’t know about you, but virgins in a swimming pool next to Allah’s throne probably trumps civility, cash or fear of justice in this life.

Bibi Aisha's father sold her to a Taliban fighter who hacked off her nose and ears.

Bibi Aisha’s father sold her to a Taliban fighter who hacked off her nose and ears.

The zealots’ latest scheme is to compile a mandatory registry of unwed mothers. You can imagine what comes next. Don’t bother to justify a woman without a husband (many husbands were killed by the very same thugs). ‘Islamic justice’ is an oxymoron. In their view, a woman with child should be the property of a man. By this logic, any woman in the catalog is guilty of a crime. Sister, if you are on this list, be very scared.

Should the west become isolationists in order to avoid the financial burden of war? We certainly don’t want more nation building (including cash for rebuilding), propping up governments, arbitrating another Middle East dispute. But what to do when we learn about brutality like the pirates in Somalia or the sick, brutal behavior in Mali. Can humanity opt for isolationism when presented with such abominations?

Last week, upon receiving an urgent appeal for military intervention, France came to the aid of her former colony. They launched blistering and superbly targeted air strikes against the holy rollers in Mali. This is no small task. It will be terribly expensive to sustain. It could turn into another Afghanistan or even a new Viet Nam.

The French seek to liberate northern Mali with air strikes targeted at operational bases, religious enforcement offices, training camps, and centers of  logistics and supply.

French Mirage Fighter Jet is fueld in mid flight

En route to strike fundamentalist rebels in Mali, a French Mirage fighter gets mid-air refueling

What is truly amazing is that the targets are spread across a region larger than France itself! According to reports from liberated citizens, the strikes from bombers & missile-firing helicopters target foreign extremists with remarkable precision and avoid civilians for the most part. But the precision cannot be perfect. Ten children jumped into a pond and drowned, in an effort to escape from bombs that they thought would hit them.

As terrorists and extremists regroup, I suspect that they will be more difficult to target without civilian casualties. Now that they are facing a powerful outside enemy, they will begin to distribute their activities throughout the population. Their movement of supplies and communications will become very difficult to distinguish from peaceful economic activities.

Regarding French intervention, they are getting US help, including advisors, logistics, mid-air refueling, and probably access to satellite images and US air bases. But so far, the US has not placed any troops into the operational theater. At least for now, the Yanks are not at risk. Despite this help (which I support, because the adversary is so evil and malignant), Let’s hope this doesn’t turn into another western war or even a long term sink for money or manpower. At least, we hope that evil can be contained—and if possible, killed off—without creating martyrs, righteous murderers and elevated dogma. Tactics Undermine Noble Purpose

Check out the video clip below. It’s also in Meira Svirsky’s inflammatory piece at Stop Radical Islam ( US Assistant Attorney General, Tom Perez, is apparently unwilling to respond to what Rep Trent Frank of Arizona claims is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question: Will he categorically rule out entertaining legislation that erodes free speech, even if it is against a religion (read: against Islam). Representative Frank repeatedly demands a simple Yes/No answer, even though “the defendant” attempts to explain that the answer is not quite as simple as demanded.

Just answer the question: “Yes” or “No”. Is this a hearing or a witch-trial inquisition?

The question and Mr. Frank’s demand for a 1-word answer–without any clarification–degrades the US House of Representatives by turning the Grand Jury session into a inquisition reminiscent of 17th Salem witchcraft trials. Unfortunately, a lot of congressional hearings slip into this mode, because US Senators and members of Congress can confer upon themselves Grand Jury status at will. It’s a slick, legal construct that means the visitor/guest is compelled to appear, has no right to an attorney, no right to cross examine, no right to abstain, and cannot even invoke the 5th amendment to the US constitution—the right to refrain from self incrimination. This wholesale withdrawal of constitutional protection is justified by the fact that the proceeding is part of evidence gathering and that no formal charges, court session or legal action has commenced. Life and liberty are not at stake and so protections be damned.

We’ll save a discussion of Grand Jury ethics for another day.[1] What disappoints me about this particular hearing is that it was posted to as an example of a government official who is soft on the erosion of constitutional freedoms and either soft or blind to the gradual Islamification of western democracies.

The attack by Representative Trent Frank on Assistant AG, Tom Perez, and the implication of reporting it in this way is unwarranted and misleading. It undermines the important mission of

First about street cred: I am not in favor of abridging free speech, especially against a growing threat to western democracies, even if disguised as a religion or a different cultural perspective.

I strongly support The public service watchdog sounds alarms and shines a bright light on a bona fide threat to western civilization. Although the scope of the threat is debated,[2] significant numbers of individuals and a growing body of Islamic organizations are proactively and purposely undermining basic freedoms, including freedom of speech.

I once thought that Islamification was the inflammatory fantasy-fear of rednecks and others who don’t–themselves–embrace a tolerant, inclusive society. But I have grown to understand that these Islamic groups are antithetical to inclusion. They seek to bend every society that offers them sanctuary to their ridged, intolerant views.

Now, about Tom Perez and his refusal to simply say “Yes”: Give the guy a break! The Yes/No demand posed by Trent Frank in the video clip above was not only belligerent; it is intentionally presented in a way that could not be answered with “Yes”. Four times, Assistant AG Perez attempted to explain that the very act of opening a communication and presenting it to his committee could be construed as “entertaining a legislative proposal”. Therefore, he could not rule out “entertaining a bill that would restrict free speech against a religion”. (The question was inflammatory and insincere! It certainly doesn’t mean that the Assistant DA is Communist or that he seeks to overturn the cornerstone of constitutional freedom). Had he been allowed to answer the question without constant bullying, it seems likely that he would have reaffirmed his mandate to uphold the US constitution, including—especially—our right to free speech.

I still identify with the laudable objectives of, and even the alarmist tone to most of their bulletins. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify with any organization that buttresses its argument with bullying and misdirection. C’mon guys…Your battle is too important to water down with unethical or intentionally misleading citations.


[1] Pssst! Express Yourself: Are the unchecked discretionary powers of a Grand Jury a reasonable tool in a democracy? Ellery has not arrived at an informed opinion. We invite a guest OpEd from an attorney with courtroom experience, clear writing style, and an opinion that can be supported with eloquence.

[2] For many westerners, the mention of Arabic Islam brings to mind images of terrorists, the suppression of basic freedoms, burqas, honor killings, clitoridectomies, the exclusion of girls from schools & driving, and hacking off fingers for minor infractions against narrow and extreme religious ideology (so called, Sharia Law).

What fraction of those identifying with Arabic Islam match this western impression?

Wild Ducks might debate the fraction of Islamists that exhibit religious zealotry, cultural intolerance and a penchant for violence & martyrdom (suicide during cowardly acts of terrorism). But few dispute the growing threat of a significant fraction and their front facing proxies. The institutions are just as extreme as the most radical individuals: anti-women, anti-western, anti-pluralism, and culturally intolerant. Propaganda and subterfuge is disseminated by feel-good shills, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other innocent sounding NGOs. For most westerners, the message is falling on deaf ears, because actions and television pictures speak louder than words. Acts like 911, Bangalore, Madrid, and London followed by jubilant dancing in the streets and a silence by Islamic spokespeople suggest that extremism and intolerance are either in the majority–or at least a very significant minority.

» Ellery Davies is a frequent contributor to Yahoo, CNet, ABCNews
» and The Wall Street Journal. He is also editor of

US soldier to be jailed for self defense

Washington Times columnist, Diana West, is a credible, conservative journalist and columnist. I don’t always agree with her perspective, but I have grown to respect her professional ethics, discipline and rigorous fact checking. Unlike Bill O’Reilly, she strives for a more intellectual discussion, rather than the entertainment value of chest-thumping, party line bloviation.

The watchdog organization, has reprinted West’s Blog post in which she passionately defends a US soldier, who shot and killed an Al-Qaeda detainee in Iraq as he lunged for the soldier’s sidearm. She argues that Army Ranger 1st Lt Michael Behenna was wrongly convicted for exercising his right to self-defense in a hostile combat zone.

Michael Behenna during happier times

The fact that the detainee was an enemy combatant and that he lunged for the soldier‘s pistol is not in question. And so it’s easy for any patriot to identify with Ms. West’s outrage. Right? Not so quick…Something about this piece irks me. It took a few reads to sink in, but soon, I found myself backsliding. Why would a credible journalist make a sweeping conclusion on what appears to be a glaring omission of facts?

Kevin Gould, a reader commenting at, says “There’s much more going on in this situation than this brief article presents. It’s selective and inflammatory.” Kevin’s observation is an understatement!

This report focuses on facts of convenience without investigating the backside. It uses a paucity of facts to push readers toward a “We can all agree” conclusion. But the facts are too slim to make that leap. The conclusion is not necessarily wrong, but when encountering this type of reporting, it should certainly raise our collective ‘be wary’ antennae.

She observes that Lieutenant Behenna was convicted by a military court for the unpremeditated murder of Ali Mansur, a detainee and al-Qaeda-operative in Iraq. For reasons not explained, the detainee and acknowledged enemy combatant was in the process of being released after an unsuccessful interrogation. Behenna’s superiors are convinced that he has valuable intelligence that they could not ascertain with available methods. And so—get this—someone asks this random lieutenant to escort and release the enemy, forthwith. (WildDucks know that it is very hard for me to contain a tiny bit of Blogger sarcasm).

Also unexplained is why he was being driven to his home town by Lt. Behenna, an apparent aberration to standard procedure–or why the lieutenant felt that he had the authority or moral imperative to begin a final interrogation during the drive. Even more puzzling is the fact that the former detainee, Mr. Ali, was naked at the time of his release and that he apparently lunged at his lone escort at a moment when clemency and release were imminent(?!)

Whoah! There’s a gaggle of unexplained circumstances and activities in this report!

O.K. That’s cool! Get the story out early and put a few facts on the table. Readers recognize that an elaborate, public explanation of military decisions might be unwise during the ongoing campaign to squash Al Qaeda. But with such little data on what really happened and why, it is certainly unfair to rally in defense of anything. This is not an issue of patriotism. It is simply about fair and balanced reporting. Cite the facts as you know them and–sure–toss in an opinion as columnist & armchair pundit. But a credible cannot arrive at a sweeping conclusion based on such scant data.

Yet, despite the many odd and improbable facts (or, more likely, the unexplained truths), Ms. West issues a patriotic rallying cry in defense of our brave soldier and against the court.

Brave? Quite probably. Innocent of wrongdoing? Perhaps. I can’t imagine the dangers and stress that challenge Lt. Behenna in each day that of his tour amongst throngs of enemies who are indistinguishable from friends and other innocent individuals.

Unlike two of the readers leaving feedback, Kevin Gould and Michael Sanders, I have not served with the Ranger Regiment, nor am I an Iraqi war vet. Like Diana West, I sip afternoon coffee in non-combat luxury at a distance of 6,000 miles. But even a lay person can sense that this brief article omits critical facts—Facts that were in evidence at military court. C’mon Diana! This unconventional ‘drive home’ was clearly not SOP. And the lieutenant’s decision to engage in a little Mano-a-mano interrogation is more than a little bit suspicious—Wouldn’t you say?

I feel for Lt Behenna’s family. I hope that he receives clemency if he had reasonable fear of losing control of a hostile detainee and his pistol. Yet, I wonder if he had been given a mission with a specific and undisclosed motive. In our zeal to be patriotic and supportive of coalition troops, we must recognize that Ms. West is writing an emotionally driven piece without all the facts. That much is crystal clear.

I am not demanding that facts be made public. The timing might not be in our America’s best interest. But I am wary of Ms. West’s conclusion based on what is obviously a very guarded release of ‘convenient’ facts. There is more to this one than meets the eye.

So sayeth Ellery, as it is said. What’s your take on this story?

The IDF dilemma described in another feedback (search for Ira Curtis), presents a serious Catch-22. I would not want to be a juror on the court deciding the Israeli soldier’s culpability. The decision to engage in preemptive killing because you legitimately fear giving away your position to the enemy is the stuff of nightmares. I wonder why the IDF couldn’t hold the child of an enemy as a temporary POW–or perhaps deceive him as to his whereabouts?

The “Ground Zero” Mosque

Stephen Prothero is a professor of Religion, author, and lecturer. He also writes the CNN Belief Blog. In July, 2010, he wrote an op-ed for CNN in which he supported the efforts to build a mosque near Ground Zero, the hallowed ground of a great number of 911 victims, including the many 1st responders who died there.

Stephen’s take: Ground Zero mosque good for America and New York

CNN also published my feedback. Now that I have created AWildDuck, the retort is as relevant today as it was last year.

Does this belong at Ground Zero?

I get it… Stephen Prothero argues that blocking a Mosque at ground zero is a win for terrorists, because they will have succeeded at changing our pluralistic ways of tolerance and coexistence. But the argument doesn’t cut it, Stephen! In this century, Islam stands for intolerance in our front yard, and it is inextricably linked with violence and hate. Imams here in the US call for the overthrow of America, implementing Sharia Law and death to Americans.

The religion routinely calls any outsider an infidel (and you know what that brings, don’t you?). It is just too much to ask that we look at these individuals as a fringe minority within a peaceful religion. The nuts are driving the car and we needn’t choose to give them the auto loan and the dealership.

I grew up in Skokie Illinois. Our village of 70,000 had a large number of concentration camp survivors from Nazi Germany. Neighbors and store owners had numbers burned into their forearms at Auschwitz, Sobibor, Matthausen and Treblinka. While I supported the ACLU and admired their stance on free speech, they lost my respect and support when they backed the march of Nazis through the streets of Skokie. The ACLU claimed that political, legal and financial support was offered to these nuts in the name of free speech and fair representation. Perhaps they have the right — I don’t know. But certainly, the ACLU could find other worthy causes for their time and money. The decision to represent these screwballs was about as looney as the intent to allow a mosque to be erected at Ground Zero. For hundreds of millions of individuals (perhaps more than a billion around the world), that juxtaposition represents a win for radicals, cowards, and nut cases. To claim that it represents a religion of peace and tolerance is a PC delusion. At the very least, it is shockingly insensitive and inappropriate.

Is there even a contest of opinions here? I realize that true freedom is not subject to the whim of public opinion, but let’s just vet this one question: How many people in New York want to walk past a Mosque at Ground Zero. Seriously…How many?!