Thursday, May 19, 2005

An Email To Andrew Sullivan

(This is an email I sent to Andrew Sullivan on Abu Ghraib. I am most disappointed in Andrew. I really like him. He was a conservative who I felt comfortable with, not the in-your-face bible thumper, not the isolationist. He criticized the conduct war without criticizing the soldier. But of late, I am of an opinion that he is no longer supportive of the troops. Let hope that I am wrong. I do not think he will respond or even comment on it, but you certainly can respond and comment.)

Dear Andrew,

I feel the need to write you an email after reading your relentless posting on Abu Ghraib and related scandals. Not that I find your criticism of the scandal unwarranted or that torture should not be criticized. But I find your belief that the practice is widespread and institutionalized is disturbing to say the least, if not personally offensive. I was in Iraq in 2004 and I was in the interrogation business. So I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I am your target; that you indirectly question and doubt my honor and integrity, as well as all of my brethren-in-arms. Do you?

More than 150 detainees pass through our detention facility, not one was ever abused or mistreated in anyway. They never ate pork and all of them received daily medical examination, everyday at 1300 hours. Some eventually ended up in Abu Ghraib, other were released. I’ve personally never seen an abused detainee, not by the US soldier. So when Abu Ghraib hit the news, it was as much a shock for me as it was for you. If I did not see the picture, I would not believe it. Even before Abu Ghraib, there were always rumor of misconduct against us. Detainees who we suspected to be insurgents, but lack evidence, were released. And often they would spread disinformation. One former detainee claimed that we stole his money. I know it did not happen. When I took him in custody, I accounted and logged everything on his person. Every miscellaneous piece of junk, every dinar was returned to him when he was released. It was only one among the many rumor maliciously spread by our enemies. This is why I initially doubted Abu Ghraib.

In the US, where we are not fighting a war, within our own correctional system, misconducts were uncovered frequently. Inmates were occasionally sexually and physically abused by correction officers. There were narcotic smugglings or nefarious behaviors by prison staffs. We know that it is not institutionalized or part of some governmental policy. If these scandals occurred frequently in our own prison system, Abu Ghraib should not surprise us. There were 150,000 US soldiers in Iraq, some of them had to be substandard, stupid, and cruel. Abuses are inevitable. But it was not our policy to torture. And I would think of you even less if you dare say that it is the military culture. I would hate to be lumped with the like of Specialist England.

It is constructive to criticize for the purpose of improvement. After all, the reputation of our country is at stake, my reputation as well. But I have a feeling that your criticism is not of the constructive variety. It is not constructive because you believe in the phantom theory that torture is policy and that our soldiers are prone to behave in a cruel and malicious manners. I am offended, and no doubt other soldiers are as well. I have offered a year of my life to the service of my country; and in that year, I have acted honorable as any American would. Shame on you to think otherwise, shame on you!

A former Sergeant of the 30th Brigade Combat Team.


Blogger Michael said...

Well done, and thank you for your service to this country.

6:25 AM  

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