Monday, August 16, 2004

Where's the Commander-in-Chief? 
Staff Sgt Joseph Darby, an MP in the Army reserve, thought he was doing the right thing, the American thing, when he reported prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib to his superiors. These were war crimes he was witnessing, after all, something we Americans prefer to think of as being in the province of the bad guys - the Idi Amins and Saddam Husseins of the world. For the world, he did the right thing - but for some Americans, he made himself the enemy. For himself and his family, he made a bad mistake.

This honorable, courageous citizen-soldier, following in the best American tradition of military might tempered by compassion, is suffering mightily for his mistake. Sgt. Darby's family is now living in protective custody due to threats against them by so-called "patriots" who think that nothing is bad enough for Iraqis or anyone who cares about them as people.
"People were mean, saying he was a walking dead man, he was walking around with a bull's eye on his head. It was scary," said Bernadette Darby from Corriganville, Maryland.

Mrs. Darby said it was difficult living in protective custody, and she missed her privacy. She did not say who was providing the protection.

"There's always someone with you," she told ABC's "Good Morning America" show.

Despite the threats, Mrs. Darby she believed her husband made the right choice exposing the abuse.

"Joe is the type of person to take what is going on around him and be like, 'How would I feel if that was my wife?' ... He just could not live with himself knowing that that was happening and he did not do anything about it," she said.

It's difficult enough for the families of active-duty reservists to get by, emotionally AND financially, but the mistreatment of Darby's family is criminal. Where does George W. Bush, the chief "Compassionate Conservative," supposed supporter of our troops, and Darby's titular boss, stand on Sgt Darby's courage in coming forward, and on what's happened to him since? A bit of highly public thanks and praise for upholding traditional American values might go a long way toward making things right for the Darbys. Unfortunately it hasn't even merited a mention, let alone a commendation.

As usual, Mr. Bush is AWOL.

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