Friday, February 03, 2006


Utter Stupidity

This seems to be the week for stupidity in the news -- criminally so in one case, another the harmless I-can't-believe-anyone-could-be-so-stupid sort of thing.

By criminal stupidity, I'm referring to Ivory J. Webb IV, the deputy sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, who gave conflicting orders to a man, and on that basis shot him, three times. The man he shot, Senior Airman Elio Carrion, is not only active-duty USAF, recently returned from Iraq; he's also a fellow policeman!

The details of the story are murky. From what I've heard so far, Airman Carrion was a passenger in a car that was pursued, in a high-speed chase, until the car hit a wall. Granted, under such situations, tempers run high.

But so far as I know, the car in question was doing nothing more than speeding; there was no reason that I've seen for officers to use lethal force. Indeed, there's a videotape of the incident, and Airman Carrion can be heard trying to calm down deputy Webb, right up to the moment that Webb shot him, three times.

Airman Carrion is in stable condition, thank God. No doubt we'll hear more about this in time to come. But I hope Webb lands in a prison cell, preferably with ex-USAF cellmates.

In a more harmless case of rank stupidity, it looks like Michael Yon might have to sue the U.S. Army... over copyright infringement! Michael's famous photo of Major Dave Bieger, and an Iraqi girl named Farah who had just taken the brunt of a terrorist attack, was published by the Army without Yon's permission... and the Army claims that Yon is not entitled to compensation for use of his work!

Mind you, the Army has had few, if any, civilian cheering squads as powerful, and as effective, as Michael Yon. He volunteered to go to Iraq, more than once, on his own money, as an embedded free-lance journalist, simply because he felt that the story needed to be told. He's written stories and taken photos, this one among others, worthy of the Pulitzer -- and every one of them makes the Army look good. Now the Army wants to save itself some embarrassment and a few thousand bucks, it seems, by alienating one of the best cheerleaders it had in this war.

(At least, that's what Army lawyer Alan Klein seems to be trying to do. If the Army is smart, they'll fire him... quickly.)

Mr. Yon, for his part, is no dummy. He has not only threatened to sue the Army, he has also -- as a Massachusetts resident -- appealed to none other than Senator Ted Kennedy, asking him, as a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, to help him with this.

My guess is that Senator Kennedy, already smarting over his embarrassing Alito debacle, will welcome a chance to come out swinging and get some positive headlines again... and make the Army (and, by extension, President Bush) look bad in the process. If the Army doesn't settle this, fast, Kennedy will make them sorry they didn't kiss Yon's feet while they had the chance.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Where's General Honore when you need him?

UPDATE: Michael Yon's dispute, at least, has been rectified. Michael explains in his own words here.


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