Friday, March 24, 2006

Secretive U.K. Submarine Visit Revealed

Warning: The Following Opinion Is Highly Speculative;
The Facts Are Stubborn, However -
There was a secretive submarine event that barely made news in its country of origin, the UK, until now. It is strange and murky, but certainly ominous for enemies of the UK. For the US, it may finally establish an “end run” around one of the most serious obstacles to winning current and future wars – consulting JAG lawyers for permissions to strike hot, enemy targets.

Reportedly a friend of Tony Blair's and involved with the Labour Party, Lord Goldsmith QC (Queen’s Counsel) was appointed as Her Majesty’s Attorney General in June 2001. Goldsmith had been a life peer since 1999, and as Attorney General, became the chief legal adviser to the UK Government. In 2002 Lord Goldsmith became a Privy Counsellor.

In the past, hot, high-value US targets have escaped due often to a single lawyer’s hypothetical concerns. The war on terror has no doubt been prolonged because enemy leaders escaped US extermination. When wars are prolonged needlessly, we incur unnecessary casualties.

One of the worst examples of legal interference in military attacks was reported here (sorry many of the links have expired or been expunged – the military publicly insists lawyers in the chain of command have not been a problem). Never before has the ratio of military lawyers to combat troops been as high as today, however. What would Gen. Patton or Adm. Nimitz have told Washington?

What has the UK done to give US forces hope for more timely, sensible approvals to take out the bad guys? For the first time in published history, the UK Attorney General, embarked on an unidentified submarine. The attorney general revealed how he was taken on a Navy submarine to make clear the need for him to give speedy legal advice in times of war. Lord Goldsmith told peers he had to be on call constantly during conflicts to advise on legality of military action. He said that soon after assuming his duties he went into a submarine to see first-hand where decisions were made. Once a periscope was raised there was only a 20-minute window to get advice before launching an attack, he said.

As an armed ally, the UK carries significant influence in the conduct of joint US wars. If Britain’s Attorney General understands the need for quick, legal permissions to attack, the US could support the attack (versus lead) based upon proper British legal clearance.

In the past, short-notice submarine involvements in land attacks have been hampered by scarce communications opportunities (submarines are loath to sit on the surface or at periscope depth all day awaiting critical message traffic). Britain and the US have solved this problem with broadband satellite communications on a real-time basis. Shock and awe may finally become the order of the day based upon real-time target intelligence, precision missile strikes, and elimination of legal foot-dragging. Hallelujah, what a concept!

You may ask why Lord Goldsmith visited an unidentified submarine instead of CENTCOM (Perhaps because there were already ample British lawyers at CENTCOM, but few countries can justify deploying lawyers on SSNs). Lord Goldsmith, his government's top lawyer, gave insight into his role when testifying to the Lords constitution committee in reference to war powers. He said there were general rules of engagement for troops in conflicts but international humanitarian law also meant legal advice was needed on attacking specific targets.

The better question is why this news is being released just now, and how long will it be before the public learns of successes in the upcoming submarine attacks on landed targets.

“Submarines are always silent and strange.” -Vigilis


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