Small Wars Journal

Lynndie England DC lecture canceled after threats...

As reported by the Associated Press. I really should respond - but why bother - or should I?

A lecture by the woman who became the public face of the Abu Ghraib scandal was canceled Friday at the Library of Congress after threats caused concerns about staff safety...

David Moore, a Vietnam War veteran and German acquisitions specialist at the library who organized the event, said he had received several e-mails threatening violence and that he shared them with police and the library's inspector general...

He said he was disappointed by the cancellation but supports the decision because of safety concerns. "We can't have an event here that's going to develop into a brawl like a town hall meeting," he said.

He added, "Free speech in America is pretty well dead."

He blamed an essay decrying the event [link added] on the Small Wars Journal blog for stirring up much of the opposition. The site focuses on war politics and strategy...

Nah, he said it all and opened himself up to severe criticism by those better versed than I. Moore is quoted as saying - "I'm just fed up" - welcome to the club Mr. Moore - you are in select company.

He never contacted us - nor did any officials concerning the so-called threats - and obviously he has some sort of agenda. Might as well preach to a wall than try to reason with the unreasonable - you can quote me here - I'm just fed up.


Kory Schaubhut (not verified)

Sun, 08/16/2009 - 3:52pm

You know... I wouldn't necessarily agree that speaking at the Library of Congress is a singular honor. I would equate it more to the books that are chosen to be part of the Library of Congress...

- Kory

The free-speech fundamentalists! Agreed that threats against a meeting is a crime, wich someone should investigate. They do wonders with phonetracking these days.

But on the issue of free speech, there is a big difference asking institutions to block folks you find reprehensible, or even do it yourself. Ive personally blocked several racist meetings. It is any veterans and even serving mpersonel right to exercise politics outside of uniform, as far as I know, as long as he/she dont break the rules. Like calling in threats.

Victoria Heim (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 8:28pm

All stories should be told and shared.
However, there are many soldiers who compose
poetry, write their story. They deserve
to have the podium too. Many are waiting to
be published.
I am organizing a Evening of Poetry
at the White House. I go to memorials,
listen to soldiers here at Ft. Carson
Mountain Post. We need to honor our
soldiers and the White House is the
place for this.

Jon Chakeres (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 3:34pm

As a fairly long-time reader and supporter of SWJ, Im disappointed to see some of the unhelpful, unprofessional political remarks being dropped into this post. (Including some obscene entries that were removed.) The editors make it clear that this forum is intended to serve as an exchange of thoughtful ideas and discussions. Throwing around "fascists", "liberal-left" or comparing the nation to authoritarian states doesnt contribute anything to meaningful discourse.

Additionally, my own two cents is that I agree with Mr. Davis sentiments- Lynndie England has every right to speak about her experiences and her opinions, but it feels like a big slap in the face to invite her to speak at one of the nations greatest centers of knowledge and promote her book. Im a junior Army captain who served as a platoon leader in Iraq and Afghanistan and I well remember how frustrated and pressured young Soldiers (and officers) become during deployments. But I believe that one of our militarys greatest strengths is being able to look at ourselves and acknowledge when someone in our ranks has screwed up. Lynndie England and those in her unit and chain of command disgraced the military and our country with their actions. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the military knows that England and her cohorts actions contradict everything the Army had taught them- regardless of how much pressure was put on them to obtain information, what they did was wrong, period. I am deeply proud of 99.9% of the service members in our nation who have served overseas, regardless of whether they kicked down doors, built schools or guarded warehouses. England and the others who knowingly committed crimes are the .01% of our military whom I believe deserve no respect- their actions nearly ruined our entire mission in Iraq and Afghanistan and killed untold Americans.

Regardless of political leanings, we should not let a myth form that every single misdeed by American service members was the fault of senior leaders and politicians- the individuals in our armed forces have more responsibility, dignity and maturity than that.

Moe Davis (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:56pm

Let me exercise the right of free speech and offer a couple of personal observations.

1. I support the First Amendment and Im a firm believer in free speech, even that with which I happen to disagree. I believe Ms England (1) paid her debt and deserves to get on with her life and (2) has the right to express herself. The reason I spoke out earlier this week was because (1) I do not believe people should be honored or rewarded for criminal conduct and dishonorable behavior and (2) the right to free speech does not mean anyone can say anything anywhere and at anytime. Im sure there are a lot of people who would like to have the honor of speaking at the LOC and theyll never get it. Have their First Amendment rights been violated? I hope Ms England gets a job and is able to support her son, but I dont believe she deserves a dime or a pat on the back for what she did. It doesnt take a book learning to know that somewhere along the spectrum of strip them naked, make them masturbate, stack them in piles, and insert glow sticks in their as#es youve moved beyond the code of conduct. If you <a href="">watch the BBC interview she did Thursday night</a> youll see that she just fell in love with the wrong guy (Grainer) and didnt want to risk losing his affection by saying no to his sadistic behavior. I dont know what else anyone needs to learn from Ms England, but if you want to learn more go see her at a book signing at some of the book stores where shes appearing in coming weeks; be my guest, but dont save me a seat.

2. I, nor anyone I know, advocated any form of violence to try and stop the event. If it occurred it is regrettable and I certainly do not condone it. The phones at the LOC have caller ID and obviously you can tell who sent an email, so we should learn soon who threatened Mr. Moore. I hope the name or names are well-publicized and they are held accountable. I, along with others I communicated with, intended to indicate our displeasure by giving Ms Englands appearance the attention it deserved: none. I would have been thrilled if they had the event and no one showed up. That would have been an appropriate statement.

3. To those who think the behavior of England and her cohorts is acceptable because its no worse than what the enemy does to us, I hope to God youre not in the military. If you are, you dont get it and you clearly aren't represenative of the overwhelming majority who do.

4. As for David Moore, he is a fellow veteran. I respect all who served (and who currently serve) honorably. I have very little patience for the chicken hawks who had other priorities and found deferments so they didnt have to serve, but they dont mind sending other peoples sons and daughters off to do what they didnt have the guts to do themselves (nor their own sons and daughters). I respect Mr. Moore as a veteran, but that doesnt mean I have to agree with all of his views.

5. I hope this recent publicity does not tarnish the LOC or the LOC Professional Association. The LOC is a great institution and the LOCPA is a fine organization. I think they got caught in the frag pattern unaware of what was about to erupt.

6. Finally, I am still disappointed that those who deserve attention and a pat on the back are not getting the recognition they deserve. Ive had surgery twice - once last month and before in July 2007 - at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Ive spent a good bit of time there. First, the medical care at Walter Reed is outstanding despite what some may perceive from the negative articles from a few years ago. Second, I got to see and talk with a lot of young men and women who lost arms and legs and eyes serving honorably. I have never once heard any of them complain or say, as Lynndie England does, that they are victims who deserve pity. Their attitudes are amazing. They deserve to be heard and to be honored.

- Moe Davis (Colonel, U.S. Air Force retired)

Rose (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:28pm

I applaude you Mr. Davis for voicing your concerns and disappointment that Ms. England was invited to speak at the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress should not invite persons to speak who are profiteering on crimes against humanity they have committed through hawking a book. Free speeach most certainly does not mean that the Library of Congress should invite anyone to speak who writes a book, nor does it in practice. Rather, free speech is best displayed when government activities - such as the Library of Congress inviting English to self-promote with the help of govenrment resources - is brought to light and critisized so that others might voice concern and policy might be changed.

Ms. England did so much to disgrace honorable persons who serve and have served this country and who have lost far more than their reputation, and regardless of the peculiar stated reasons that she will not be speaking, I am not disappointed.

Arif Jayish Al… (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:02pm

Ready for the Big Time, Guys? In this climate you may well attract Big Daddy Media.

Maybe not, the Right and Left are pre-occupied, and the Right of course chickenhawked out when the "dirty" pictures came to light.

CZ - I think traitor is a bit harsh...except of course North's a political opponent, right?


It's a privilige if you challenge the left wing fascists, as opposed to being their craven enablers. Soon it will be a privilege for most with this kind of moral cowardice.

A word about the police. The German police were very proper, professional, decent and polite, dedicated to the rule of law. It wasn't nearly enough. Nor will it be if it's our turn.

Publius II (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:02pm

The only thing disturbing in this situation is the repression of free speech. Frankly, both sides deserve to be heard. If you don't like, or disagree with Ms. England, then arrange to express your views in the same venue, or, better still, arrange to publicly debate her. Threats of violence against a speech are cowardly acts, and something more in tune with Iran or China than the United States.

No one's objecting to the fact that she's expressing her opinion, per se. She has every right to do so.

What is in question is the fact that the LOC invited her to speak. Why not invite me? Or any one of a million other veterans?

Speaking at the LOC is apparently a privelidge, not a right. If she wants to tell her story, she can get a blog like the rest of us do.

C. Z. Conley (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 1:17pm

When I was deployed, it was clear that contractors supervised the interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison. There have been several reports, a film, and lawsuits charging CACI and L-3's Titan with directing the abuses. The military actors were punished or pushed out the service (e.g., General Janis Karpinski), but the contractors didn't even get a deduction in their payments. In fact, CACI keeps getting more contracts. Perhaps Ms. England will shed more light on all who were responsible. She should be allowed to speak.

By the way, nobody seems to object to Oliver North lectures even though he disgraced the Corps by lying under oath to our nation while still in uniform and after his Commander-in-Chief, Ronald Reagan (who fired North), told him to tell the truth. I reject North as a traitor to himself, the Corps, and our nation. However, like Ms. England, I support and defend his right to speak.

Arif Jayish Al… (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 1:12pm

OK on God Gun, it's your blog.

My, isn't politics (what this entire mess was about from day one*) messy. Why bring up old politics? Oh, to be self righteous. From a safe distance physically, morally, and legally.

[*it was about the 04 elections.]

So PVT England can be pilloired in the press, but not defend herself publically? Silenced by death threats, and with you as the willing if so cagily unwitting accomplices?

Go buy COL Hackworth's plot a drink (I have the greatest respect for him, other than being duped by Hersh in his dotage). Still a great man. Just foolish at the end.

You're not fascists.

You're Hindenburgs.

Matt T (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 1:10pm

Am I reading this correctly that this blog has been used to essentially attack the First Amendment?

I hope that's a mistake. If not, another example of the liberal-left. They believe in the First Amendment, but only for them.

I'm a conservative who thinks Ms England is a moron and as retired military the commanding officer didn't get hammered enough. Allowing England to speak would be the best thing. People aren't stupid. Let her explain how it was appropriate to act like a little soup nazi. No one would buy it.

Instead, another example of the liberal left in play?

patrick phelps (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 10:07am

I most sincerely and humbly apologize for attributing to Mr. Dilegge the disgraceful comments and actions of Mr. Morris. It was certainly unintentional Mr. Dilegge.

patrick phelps (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 9:54am

When we agree to close our ears to both sides of the truth and judge according to our own paradigms, we become worse than those we judge. Our soldiers have been murdered and dragged through the enemy's streets. Our soldiers have been left dead and buried in Iraq without so much as a rock to mark their graves. These same men, these prisoners, on whom these acts were committed, are the same ones who, without mercy, humiliate and then behead those who have done nothing.

And this man, Dilegge, has the gall to utter such profane and disparaging remarks about a soldier who did what? Take some pictures, humiliate an enemy? Where were you Dilegge when the real atrocities were committed against our own? You are so correct, it is a disgrace that such gutless cowards are even allowed to work in government places.

Let's get a coupla things straight.
<li> We are all about free speech.</li>
<li> Free speech has never extended to screaming fire in a crowded theater.</li>
<li> Here, for a completely different reason, we also expect speech to be reasoned and accurate. Which is NOT the same as agreeable.</li>

Any actions to censure comments here are not to impair free speech or stifle debate, but to maintain a signal to noise ratio conducive to a substantive professional dialog. Contrary opintions are welcome; rant, invective, and hyperbole are not. So, in that context:
<li> "Lt Donato" - you're out of bounds for lumping the reasoned free speech here in with the vigilante tactics. And you lapse into rant.</li>
<li> Willy Scanlon -- re "stay home" -- read again, that was the net of <a href="… at the Library of Congress</a> so you may not have completely missed the point. Free speech at its finest.</li>
<li> SGK -- your opinion will be more valuable when you appreciate that fascism is more than just free speech that is right of what you agree with. You seem to be painting with a broad brush.</li>

We'll let this post stay open a bit longer for comments, in the hopes that there will be some substantive ones -- pro or con, we really don't care. Let's all raise the bar a bit higher than the last round so our speech is both free and productive.

We may have to pull out the God gun on some comments here soon, which will cause some wackos to rejoice at our closed-mindedness and fascism. We hope most of you will understand it is just good housekeeping and equal-opportunity tidying.

SGK (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 7:31am

Mr. Davis and the rest of the facists opposed to free speech have won this round.

Willy Scanlon (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 7:10am

I agree with Lt.Donato.Miss England paid her debt and is squared with the house as they say. Mr. Davis is a fool. I too served in Iraq as a private contractor for the Department of Defense.Ms. England is a casualty of a war that few like Mr. Davis can even fathom,lest understand. She has a right to be heard as every person in America has that right. If Mr. Davis does not like whats being presented then who says he has to attend?
What people like Mr. Davis and some of the wussies that gripe and make threats about Ms. England fail to understand is that in a war zone,there are no rules of engagement,contary to their opinions and whatever Hollywood movies that they got their information from. When your dealing with terroists there are also no rules of engagement in obtaining information. Ask the Chinese,Iranians or better yet the Isreali's Moshad those same questions Mr.Davis.You be told its none of your business. They do the same and use the same techniques.Terrible things happen in war and nobody plays nice by the rules. So if you do not like it Mr. Davis then pick up your marbles like a good little boy and stay home.

Lt. Angelo Donato (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 6:27am

I have never heard of this blog before, only learning of it from the article about Pvt. England's cancelled speech. Morris Davis should be ashamed of himself, as well as any other person who had a hand in the vigilante tactics that lead to the cancellation.

Mr. Davis speaks of the dishonored speaking in the Library, ANY soldier who has served in any capacity in the current conflict is an honorable human being deserving to be heard.

Pvt. England and her compatriots were casualities of a war that was fought by arm-chair soldiers with no real experience of the war currently being fought, except for what their favorite pundit had to say.

Who does Mr Davis think he is? I can imagine what his own self-inflated description must be like but from where I sit he is nothing more then a bitter little man who was never a soldier, but rather a traitor who deserves to have his patches and insignia ripped from his uniform before he hangs.

Lt. Angelo Donato
US Army Military Police

<strong>Ed Note: we've never heard of Lt Angelo Donato before, either, and have cause to believe this is a fake identity. Please weight your opinion accordingly. We'll leave the comment up FYI and so you can appreciate the enigma of the 2nd and 4th paragraphs.</strong>

Reposted here from the comment section of the <a href="… at The Library of Congress</a> post.

- Dave

Editor in Chief, Small Wars Journal

The AP has picked up the story of the cancellation, as Vito pointed out earlier today. It cites David Moore, a library employee who organized the event, as blaming Moe Davis' essay at Small Wars Journal for "stirring up much of the opposition."

Here's <a href="… link to the piece as it appears in Yahoo</a>. It is everywhere, read it in your favorite newspaper. My first Google alert went off on the Billings Gazette version of it.

I would not join David Moore in saying that free speech is dead. Yet I believe I can speak for many of us here in saying that, as much as we oppose the event, we are appalled the outcome is the result of safety concerns arising from threats of violence. Thuggery is unacceptable -- over there, and especially over here. Small Wars Journal, and I am confident Moe Davis, a man of great principle, do not stand for that.

Far better that the LOC had come to its senses, evicted the event on principle, and it be held safely in a more appropriate venue. As firmly as I still weigh in with Moe Davis and I'm glad there is no event in the LOC, this is not entirely a good outcome.

We tend to be a fairly pragmatic group here and accept that good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. Welcome, David Moore and LOC, to the challenges faced by our many partners in small wars when attempting to exercise their much more basic freedoms in the face of much greater threats. We hope the police and the library inspector general are quickly successful on your behalf in enforcing the rule of law in our great Nation.

- Bill

Publisher, Small Wars Journal

" ... a brawl like a town hall meeting." Quite a bit of political bias wrapped up in that made-for-theater drama moment.

I suspect that there are a great many things about which Mr. Moore and I would disagree.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 6:54pm

"Moore said he won't plan future lectures because of the England problems and that he's canceling three already scheduled, including ones by a woman who wrote about sexual harassment in the military and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq."

Something stinks to high heaven here.


Fri, 08/14/2009 - 6:07pm

<em>"... develop into a brawl like a town hall meeting."</em>
<p>Tell me that's not a talking point.</p>
<P>I hope that these "threats" are reported to the authorities so that the culprits can be brought to justice, assuming that there actually were any.</p>

Greyhawk (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 6:03pm

Call the police and offer to assist in the investigation.