This seems to me to be wildly irresponsible rhetoric coming from Haley Barbour:
Barbour and other officials had a harsh warning for those thinking of looting.
“I’ve urged the highway patrol and national guard to treat looters ruthlessly,” Barbour said, “The rules of engagement will be as ruthless as the law allows.”
I can understand the desire to send a message to possible looters. I really can. I can even recall saying out loud myself that I thought looters should be shot on sight.
But I wasn’t serious, and I wasn’t the Governor of Mississippi, and I damn sure wasn’t about to unleash a bunch of young National Guardsmen on the public with orders to be ‘ruthless.’
Even though Barbour intends for them to act within the law, it seems to me that if you tell a bunch of young heavily armed guys to be ruthless, ruthless is what you will get. That just strikes me as irresponsible.
Am I way off base here? I don’t think I have to go too far back in the history books to find an example of what can happen when undertrained military personnel were given an apparent green light to be as tough as they want with people who were deemed unacceptable. National Guardsmen aren’t police, they aren’t lawyers, and sending this sort of message is going to lead to problems.