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Shades of McCarthyism: War Criminal GOP Rep. Allen West Accuses 80 House Democrats of Being “Communist Party Members”

A war criminal-turned Republican member of the House of Representatives evoked chilling memories of the 1950s communist witch hunts when he accused around 80 House Democrats of being members of the Communist Party.

The Huffington Post reports that Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was speaking at a town hall event in Jensen Beach Tuesday when the moderator asked him “what percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?”

“It’s a good question,” Rep. West replied. “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”

West’s assertion is ridiculous, and reminds one of the “Red Scare” communist witch hunts of the 1950s, led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI). Paranoid to the point of hysteria, McCarthy alleged that large numbers of communists, Soviet spies and communist sympathizers had infiltrated the US government and military. He was ultimately censured by the Senate, one of only a handful of offenders to ever receive such punishment.

Angela Melvin, Rep. West’s spokeswoman, defended her boss’ ludicrous assertion in an interview with the Huffington Post.

“The Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies. The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself. These individuals certainly aren’t proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom,” she said.

West’s campaign was quick to point out that the congressman was simply answering a question asked by the event’s moderator.

Perhaps a better question would have been:

“How could the people of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District elect a known war criminal to the House of Representatives?

That West is a torturer, and thus a war criminal, is beyond question. Back in August of 2003, West was a lieutenant colonel in the US Army, serving in Iraq during the violent early days of the US occupation. West was interrogating Yahya Jhrodi Hamoody, a captured Iraqi policeman suspected of having information pertaining to a plot fo assassinate the lieutenant colonel. The prisoner was not cooperating, and so West stood by and watched as four of his soldiers brutally beat him. West then threatened to kill Hamoody and fired his gun next to the prisoner’s head.

Hamoody cracked and provided information about the impending assassination plot, possibly saving the lieutenant colonel’s life. But the way in which the prisoner was treated violated the Geneva Conventions and amounted to torture.

“I know the method I used was not right, but I wanted to take care of my soldiers,” West later testified in a military courtroom. When asked if he would behave differently if he found himself in a similar situation again, he famously retorted: “If it’s about the lives of my soldiers at stake, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can.”

Military prosecutors argued that West’s actions constituted torture and violated articles 128 and 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. But as is so often the case with US war criminals, the lieutenant colonel got off with a slap on the wrist.

He was fined $5,000 for his crimes and relieved of his command, but was able to retire ‘honorably’ from the Army.

After returning stateside, West decided to run for Congress. He lost in 2008 but was endorsed by former Alaska Governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and won on his second try in 2010. Rep. West has been a favorite among Tea Party supporters and other ultra-conservative types.

 

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