Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Whistleblower

Via Andrew Sullivan, here's a story. Joe Darby was a military police officer stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in January, 2004 when another soldier gave him a CD with the infamous photos on it. After some serious thought he turned them in to the Criminal Investigation Division, and the rest is history. Literally. He's kept quiet about it since, but in the current issue of GQ, he finally speaks out.

What he says is both fascinating and disturbing. He says there was no conspiracy to keep what was going on from higher officers. They didn't know because they just didn't care. Couldn't be bothered to keep track of things, to actually supervise the soldiers and facilities they were responsible for. He tells how government agents -- obviously the CIA, but he's unwilling to actually say that -- could come in in the middle of the night, "interrogate" a prisoner to death, and leave it to the Army to deal with the body, clean up the mess, and take the blame, if any.

There's something else that's very clear, though Darby doesn't harp on it. Sullivan often says that SecDef Donald Rumsfeld is a bungling fool and should have been fired years ago. When Darby blew the whistle, CID went to great pains to keep his identity secret, especially after Abu Ghraib blew up into a global scandal. They promised him he would remain anonymous, but he was scared to death nevertheless. Awful lot of weapons around in a war zone, awfully easy to arrange a fatal accident. He was literally sleeping with a 9mm pistol in his hand.

He was eating in the mess hall one day with a couple hundred guys, with the TV turned to congressional hearings on the Iraq war. Rumsfeld was testifying, and actually spoke Darby's name out loud, identified him as the whistleblower. Every soldier within earshot just froze and stared at him. If he was scared before, he was terrified then, and told the Army they just had to get him out of the country. They did, and he's safe, but if that fucking idiot Rumsfeld had been trying to get Darby killed, he couldn't have done it better.

What a fool.

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