Friday, April 27, 2007

Army Strip-Searches Entire Hispanic Guard Unit

By Cernig

How about this for outrageous abuse of power?
The commander of New Mexico's National Guard is demanding an apology from the Army brass after dozens of his soldiers in a mostly Hispanic unit were ordered to strip to their gym shorts and searched for gang tattoos while on duty in Kuwait.

Army officials said the searches last May of 58 New Mexico National Guardsmen in a unit called Task Force Cobra were proper and legal.

But Brig. Gen. Kenny Montoya, head of the state National Guard, said he believes ethnicity played a role in the episode - the unit is 55 percent Hispanic.

``I said something wrong was done there,os. The Army forbids extremist, racist, sexist or vulgar tattoos and prohibits membership in any extremist organization, though the regulations do not specifically mention gangs.

After the incident, the Army recommended discipline against three New Mexico soldiers who objected to the searches. Maj. Kenneth Nava, a spokesman for the New Mexico Guard, said those three were counseled but not otherwise punished.

After the Albuquerque Journal reported the incident this week, New Mexico's congressional delegation demanded a full investigation from the Army. Gov. Bill Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor and a Democratic presidential hopeful, said he supports an investigation into the ``degrading searches.''
Now you would think that the correct way to go about this kind of thing would be to individually search certain soldiers, after careful investigation provided some measure of probable cause. But no. The Army says it was told by "a military attorney that having soldiers remove their shirts to check them for gang tattoos would be legal." So it just jumped in and searchedf the whole unit.

This incident presents us with a microcosm of this whole sorry administration. If some legal eagle tells them it is allowed, they will then push it to the very boundary of sense, and beyond.

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