Blustery, angry account of three Navy SEALs who snared a vicious Iraqi terrorist and were then ensnared by flimsy allegations of prisoner abuse.
Writing “with the cooperation of” two of the accused, Robinson (co-author: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, etc.) sees this odd case as an indictment of the military's desire for political correctness and its complex relationship with its elite warriors: "The US Navy SEALs belonged to the nation, not to a few yellow-braided officers.” By 2009, the special-ops mission in Iraq was directed toward capture-or-kill missions against specific insurgents, like Ahmad al-Isawi, responsible for the notorious mutilation slayings of four American contractors in Fallujah. When the SEALs finally seized him, he accused one of bloodying his lip, a ploy literally out of the al-Qaida handbook. The fear of abuse scandals following Abu Ghraib caused commanders to lose perspective on the reality of how such counterterrorism operations were conducted. Unfortunately, the court martial of the SEALs became a public embarrassment for the military. The whole affair was carried all the way to Baghdad; after considerable expense, all three were quickly acquitted. Robinson ably discusses the intricacies of military justice, but his style is repetitive: Readers are constantly advised that “[t]he Navy had somehow jumped all over an unreliable statement from a stressed-out kid…acting as though a heroic SEAL platoon did not have an honest man among them.” Since the case against the SEALs seems like an update of Catch-22, Robinson's frequent assertions that each accused warrior "wore the flag of the United States both on his battle dress and on his heart" become extraneous.
Perhaps inadvertently captures the folly and resource drain of the Iraq War, though its emphatic style should appeal to conservative readers.