Northern Valley Beacon

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Requiem for patriotism

Spec. Joe Darby had nothing to do with the prisoners at Abu Ghraib, but he provided support services and materials for soldiers who did attend to the prisoners. One day, a fellow soldier gave him a CD of pictures that he said Joe ought to see. Spec. Darby saved the CD on his computer and gave the original back to the soldier. Some days later, he called them up.

Spec. Darby started asking hypothetical questions of his fellow soldiers. He asked what they would do if they came into possession of photographs that showed U.S. soldiers committing acts that were against military law. He consulted with a senior NCO he respected. Finally, he took the pictures to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division.

The pictures were the ones of U.S. military personnel abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib that made the headlines throughout the U.S.

Joe Darby had to be protected from his fellow soldiers. He was called a traitor by people in his hometown. In the minds of many Americans, Joe Darby did something wrong.

What he did wrong was adhere to the enlisted personnel's oath that every soldier makes when entering the service. He abided by the rules in the Universal Code of Military Justice. More fundamentally, he saw fellow soldiers committing violence and degradation on other people, and he provided evidence to the military authorities.

Joe Darby received some commendations from high commanders. But he was vilified and reviled by some fellow soldiers and Americans here at home.

It's just a reminder that the sense of integrity and decency that once characterized America is significantly diminished in some quarters.

And ultimately, this is what our elections are about. Will the forces of deceit, degradation, and violence upon other people win again?

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