First, here's the whistle blower's story:
Something is wrong with the tone set from leadership when the one forced to hide his actions from his fellow soldiers is the one exposing wrongdoing, not the other way around.
The soldier who triggered the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal by sending incriminating photos to military investigators says he feared deadly retaliation by other GIs and was shocked when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mentioned his name at a Senate hearing.
Within days, Joe Darby was spirited out of Iraq at his own request. But his family was besieged by news media, and close relatives called him a traitor. Ultimately he was forced to move away from his hometown in western Maryland.
"I had the choice between what I knew was morally right and my loyalty to other soldiers. I couldn't have it both ways," the 27-year-old military policeman said in the just-released September issue of Gentleman's Quarterly.
Darby said he was still being interviewed when Graner and two others were brought in, and the agents had to smuggle him out wrapped in rugs and blankets to conceal his identity. Stunned when Graner and the others returned for a month's duty at the prison, he slept with a loaded pistol. "They'd be walking around with their weapons all day long, knowing somebody had turned them in and trying to find out who. That was one of the most nervous periods of my life," Darby said. His worst moment, he said, came on May 7, 2004, during lunch with 10 fellow MPs in a mess hall filled with 400 troops. "It was like something out of a movie," he recalled. Rumsfeld appeared on television, dropped Darby's name, "and the guys at the table just stopped eating and looked at me. I got up and got the hell out of there."
Saying that the people who were or are mistreated deserved it or they wouldn't have been in Abu Ghraib in the first place doesn't cut it with me. Like rape, there is no threshold that makes someone deserving of being a victim of abusive treatment.
That isn't justice or investigation, it's a cheap outlet that makes us feel powerful.
Then there's this passage from that article which I find terrifying:
He said he has returned home only twice, for a wedding and his mother's funeral. "I'm not welcome there. People there don't look at the fact that I knew right from wrong," he said. "They look at the fact that I put an Iraqi before an American."What he put first wasn't an Iraqi, it was American ideals like honor. What a horrid American would do such a thing?
I would blame the attack of 9/11 for this anger except no Iraqis were on those planes. This puts a lie to the idea that all those who support the war in Iraq want to liberate Iraqis. What it does is turn many Americans into the type of people who support any and all harm done as long as that harm is directed at those we see as our enemies.
Damn the ethics, full speed ahead. Exactly the attitude that creates support for acts of terrorism against the United States such as the attacks on 9/11/2001.
Unfortunately, there are some who actively feed this attitude for political gain. The problem with putting politics first is that you become more interested in ferreting out your political opponents' Willie Hortons than dealing effectively and fairly with all aspects of the problems facing our country and our world.
If the only war that must be won is the PR battle, a whole lot of American lives will be little more than collateral damage.
Soldiers and others who crossed the line because the push to act improperly was stronger than the pull of what they should have been doing are responsible for their behavior, but to call them bad apples is to miss the significance and source of the push they felt to act in ways that got them court martialed.
As long as the push continues, some will fail to resist that push.
Technorati tags: terrorism Iraq politics Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse