Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Abu Ghraib Whistleblower

For CBS's show 60 Minutes on Sunday, Anderson Cooper interviewed the MP who blew the whistle on his fellow soldiers when he came into possession of the now infamous Abu Ghraib pictures, Joseph Darby.

What really struck me was this bit which is indicative of the dangerous code of silence that is expected by some in the military:

...But he didn't get support back home in Cumberland, Md., a military town that felt Darby had betrayed his fellow soldiers.

The commander of the local VFW post, Colin Engelbach, told 60 Minutes what people were calling Darby.

"He was a rat. He was a traitor. He let his unit down. He let his fellow soldiers down and the U.S. military. Basically he was no good," Engelbach says.

Asked if he agrees with that, Engelbach says, "I agree that his actions that he did were no good and borderline traitor, yes."

"What he says in his defense is 'Look. I’m an MP. And this is something which was illegal,'" Cooper remarks.

"Right. But do you put the enemy above your buddies? I wouldn’t," Engelbach replies.

The appropriate question should be: 'Do you put the law above your buddies'?

That disconnect between the role of a soldier who is bound to abide by the rule of law and this sophomoric belief that you must protect your 'buddies' at all costs is exactly what causes people like those who tortured the prisoners at Abu Ghraib - that and an atmosphere that anything goes when it comes to so-called 'intelligence gathering' when dealing with 'the enemy'.

That Mr Darby and his wife can no longer even live in their home town due to the attitudes of people like Engelbach and others who agree with him is not only disgraceful, it's immoral.

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