Inside the Ring

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One major case of such missile proliferation was revealed in 2006, when the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah used a Chinese-made C-802 anti-ship cruise missile, obtained from Iran, to attack and sink an Israeli patrol boat during the summer conflict with Israel.

Pro-SEAL witness

As the trial of Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe was set to open this week in Norfolk, Va., an unlikely witness from afar waited for the telephone to ring, reports special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

The defense team for Petty Officer McCabe, a Navy SEAL who is charged with striking a captured terrorist in Iraq, wanted Rep. Dan Burton to testify via telephone about the huge amount of public support for the defendant and two other SEALs already acquitted in the case.

But the call to Mr. Burton never came. The military judge ruled against a defense motion to dismiss the assault charge before the hookup with the congressman could be made.

Inside the Ring asked Mr. Burton, one of the SEALs’ biggest supporters in Congress, what he would have told the judge. The three commandos had captured Ahmed Hashim Abed, an accused al Qaeda terrorist who is suspected of planning the killings of four Blackwater security guards in Fallujah in 2004.

“There’s no question that the overwhelming percentage of the American people are very, very upset that three Navy SEALs who risked their lives to capture this al Qaeda terrorist … that they’re even being considered for a court-martial,” said Mr. Burton, Indiana Republican.

Mr. Burton said manuals used to train al Qaeda terrorists direct them to “always claim torture or mistreatment if they are captured, and that’s exactly what this guy has done. And it’s made it into an international incident.”

“And it sends a terrible, terrible signal to our military personnel in the field, the men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq, that they’re even considering prosecuting these people in a court-martial for doing their job because some guy who did a horrible thing to four contractors is saying that happened,” the congressman added.

Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, who heads U.S. Central Command’s special operations component, originally moved to punish the three SEALs at nonjudicial proceedings. But the SEALs maintained their innocence and rejected the offer. Gen. Cleveland then filed criminal charges and ordered the trials.

In December, Mr. Burton spearheaded a letter signed by 40 Republican lawmakers to Gen. Cleveland demanding that he drop all charges.

Petty Officer McCabe is expected to hear a jury verdict in Norfolk by Friday.

Operation Cooperation

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Paxton, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disclosed on Wednesday the military’s strategy for taking control of the key Afghan city of Kandahar in coming weeks.

“Our operation in Kandahar is named Hamkari, which in Dari means cooperation,” Gen. Paxton told the House Armed Services Committee.

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About the Author

Bill Gertz INSIDE THE RING

Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...

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