Northern Valley Beacon

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Lynndie England: the real face of America

The last time you saw this young woman prominently featured in news photos, she was holding on to a leash attached to an Iraqi prisoner
and had a cigarette dangling out of her mouth.

Here she is in shackles, dishonorably discharged and sentenced to three years in a military prison. The Army of one. See how far you can come.

Pfc. England was a file clerk. What was she doing in cell area of the Abu Ghraib prison humiliating prisoners? Why were no commissioned or non-commissioned officers present to carry out the function of their command and to maintain military discipline and decorum?

Here is a 22-year-old woman who surmounted a severe learning disability. As is the case with most people who realize that they function on a low level of cognition, she suffered from depression. She is accepted into the U.S. Army where she finds a "boy friend" who impregnates her and urges her to participate in taunting and abusing Iraqi prisoners. She has an 11-month-old baby boy as a result of her union, however quick, with Corporal Graner.

A number of we old soldiers have real trouble with what happened to Pfc. England. When we were on duty and working under military orders, we understood the standards of conduct required of us. Furthermore, there would be senior personnel of some rank involved to make sure that we discharged our tasks according to those standards. And there would be higher senior personnel to whom we reported when we had discharged our duties according to the standards prescribed. If we did not do our duty according to those standards, the NCOs and the company and battalion level commanders were held responsible. When we were in charge of troops assigned to a mission or a detail, we understood that we would be held responsible for any failings on the part of those under our command. Misperforming grunts might receive company level punishment, but the personnel in charge were held ultimately responsible.

What Lynndie England did was wrong. But someone who outranked her was encouraging her to do it. Someone enticed her into what would be an unauthorized area for a file clerk to venture on any but the most official business. And those who outranked her had orders and standards of military conduct to carry out. Someone above them was responsible for seeing that the prison was being run according to rules and standards of military order and discipline.

Why is Lynndie England standing in shackles instead of them?

This is the Bush legacy. A war based upon lies and deceit. The sacrifice of 2,000 American troops, many of them the likes of Lynndie England, to carry out a war dishonestly conceived, incompetently planned, and incompetently carried out at the highest echelons. The troops are doing what they are told. Lynndie England did what she was told.

Lynndie England, not George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld or Topsy Rice, earns the dishonor and goes to jail.

The right wing says that those of us who hate this perfidious and obscence war hate America. They are partially right. We hate the America that puts someone like Lynndie England in shackles and dismisses the lives of 2,000 of her comrades under the lie of bringing democracy to an Islamic nation that does not even like the idea of democracy.

Look at Lynndie England. God bless America. Yeah, right.

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