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Some people disappoint me. June 24, 2007

Posted by Jim Satterfield in The War in Iraq.
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Sixty Minutes repeated a story from last December this evening with one of their usual follow ups. It told the story of Joe Darby, the courageous young man who brought the events at Abu Ghraib to the attention of military investigators. He requested anonymity. Somehow the New Yorker found out but the article which revealed his identity didn’t really gain widespread attention. But when Donald Rumsfeld mentioned his name during his congressional testimony there came the firestorm. Now to the point of the title of this post. His hometown turned their backs on him with a vengeance. The young man who had the courage to do what was right was condemned as a traitor. Consider this part of the piece.

An officer asked Darby what he wanted to do. “I said, ‘Sir, I just want to go home. I’ve always just wanted to go home.’ He said, ‘Well son, that’s not an option.’ He said, ‘The Army Reserve has done a security assessment of the area and it’s not safe for you there. You can’t go home,'” Darby remembers. “‘You can probably never go home.'”

“They said, ‘If you had to choose, where would you want to live?’ And you know basically where do you pick, you know? You’ve lived a whole life in one area,” he says.

Asked if it seemed fair to him, Darby says, “No.”

“It’s not fair. That we’re being punished for him doin’ the right thing,” his wife Bernadette adds.

The Army’s security assessment of his hometown had concluded that “the overall threat of harassment or criminal activity to the Darbys is imminent. …a person could fire into his residence from the roadway.”

The local VFW commander told Cooper the military was right to keep Darby out of town. “Probably so. There was a lot of threats, a lotta phone calls to his wife,” Engelbach remembers.

He says there was a lot of anger in Cumberland. “‘Cause it really did put our troops in harm’s way more so than they already were,” Engelbach says.

Bernadette Darby says she heard people calling her husband a traitor, that he was a dead man and that he was walking around with a bull’s eye on his head.

So yes, there are people involved in this situation that disappoint me bitterly when they fail to comprehend that in the debate over torture and prisoner abuse it doesn’t matter what Saddam did. They actually think that it was wrong to do what is legal and right because it was other members of our armed forces who were committing those crimes. One of them at one point uses the tired old cliche about the things that Saddam said. It doesn’t matter what any tyrannical government outside of the United States does. What matters is that those who represent the people of the United States, be they civilians or members of the military do the right and legal thing and the events in Abu Ghraib weren’t it and neither is making threats against a good man and his family.

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