Small Wars Journal

Torture at The Library of Congress

Torture at The Library of Congress

By Morris Davis

Lynndie England will discuss her biography Tortured: Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib and the Photographs That Shocked the World at the Library of Congress Veterans Forum on Friday August 14 at noon in room 139 on the first floor of the James Madison building.

She is a convicted criminal who was dishonorably discharged, but she's out of prison and on stage at the Library of Congress. You may recall many of the memorable pictures of the glowing Private England during her tour in Iraq, including the one of her standing next to an Iraqi prisoner, a cigarette dangling from her lip, as she points at the Iraqi prisoner's genitals as he stands there naked with a sack over his head as he's forced to masturbate in the presence of GI England and several other nude men. It sure looked like she was enjoying some good times in the picture, so maybe she'll give more behind the scenes details during her lecture on Friday as she expounds on how she's a victim who is deprived of veteran's benefits because of her dishonorable discharge. As she said in an interview published in the West Virginia Metro News on Monday: "Yeah, I was in some pictures, but that's all it was ... I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time." That has to be comforting to those who died because of the wave of anger her snapshots ignited in the Middle East, like the family of Nick Berg who was slaughtered in front of a video camera in retaliation for Abu Ghraib, according to his murderers. America as a whole still pays the price for Private England's "wrong place -- wrong time" misadventure, but that won't stop the Library of Congress from opening its doors and handing her the mike.

The event is sponsored by the Library of Congress Professional Association's Veterans Forum and its leader LOC employee and Vietnam Veteran Bob Moore. Veteran Moore has weathered a wave of criticism in recent days, but he remains steadfast in his hatred for Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and his admiration for Lynndie England's "guts."

I am a Library of Congress employee and a veteran.* I retired with an honorable discharge after serving for 25 years in the Air Force. I was the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay for more than two years and I resigned in 2007 in large part because I believe waterboarding is torture and my superiors, Tom Hartmann and Jim Haynes, did not. I believe my views on torture have been clearly expressed, so it should come as no surprised that I am more than a little disappointed that the library that belongs to the United States Congress is hosting one of the most infamous torturers in modern time so she can promote her book. I'm even more disappointed that the event is sponsored by a veterans group. Perhaps I should start a rival group within the LOC called Veterans with Values and our motto will be "we don't honor the dishonorable." It doesn't appear that we'd overlap in any way with Mr. Moore's group.

Thousands and thousands of honorable men and women have and are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. They don't get book deals and invited to lecture at the Library of Congress. Most of them would be happy with a thank you and a chance at an education or a decent job when the mission is over. It's a disgrace that the dishonorable profit and that we use government property and resources to glorify the gutless. If you attend the lecture on Friday, don't save me a seat.

-- Moe Davis

*The views expressed herein are my personal views published in my personal capacity.


olevet69 (not verified)

Fri, 08/28/2009 - 2:19pm

Then the question remains, why have those in the chain been allowed to walk...sort of a vague line there, isn't it?

Greyhawk (not verified)

Fri, 08/28/2009 - 2:00pm

"I knew the line."

Based on the course of this conversation it would appear <em>the line</em> is wherever you would have it. Anchor it with facts and it's less easy to move, and your emotional declarations of nobility for refusing to cross it will be more impressive. If you enter into a discussion about Abu Ghraib with some knowledge of what happened at abu Ghraib you won't find yourself in the unenviable position of having to abruptly declare "it aint about abu Ghraib".

..."how did the chain of command suddenly disappear"...

In this thread I'm the guy who condemned torture and presented the information that spells out pretty clearly exactly what the folks involved at all levels are guilty of. I'm not going to defend them, but I can't condemn them for crossing anyone's personal, vague, and highly mobile "line" either.

olevet69 (not verified)

Fri, 08/28/2009 - 11:28am

It ain't about Abu Ghraib, Greyhawk, it is about the perpetual state of war this nation continues to embrace. The SSGs, where was their integrity? That's the first line! Given that, how did the chain of command suddenly disappear when the pictures were published...I'm talking about prison, not just drumming out of the service in disgrace. How does this nation ever get back what these soldiers, CIA, OGAs, or whatever threw away? My war was different, but one thing is for sure...the big wrong called war is still worshipped today. The first rule of war is to suspend your evidenced. Instead of the military command facing its ghosts, they scapegoat the least of these. My war still has to live with My Lai, and the escape of the chain of command from the slaughter of 500+ men, women, and children. 40 years later, I have a perspective you may not have, Greyhawk. Biased, I may be, but as retired enlisted, I knew the line.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Sat, 08/22/2009 - 1:28am

"...the PFCs were without supervision. The SSGs should have been, in my estimation, the first moral line."

Where do people get this stuff?

No, the PFCs were <em>not</em> without supervision. In most cases the SSGs were the ones photographing them. At least two of those NCO supervisors were 30+ year old prison guards in civilian life - not untrained inexperienced kids. England was an admin troop violating rules - in spite of previous warnings - to be where she was.

You don't have to read the Darby account (personally I think he nails down exactly what everyone involved was guilty of) or the Taguba report (remarkably he reaches the same conclusions) but please read <em>something</em> about Abu Ghraib before commenting further on the issue. Even the most biased sources won't make that case.

Good news for Lawfare advocates: The noble GITMO defense lawyers apparently were showing the detainees covert CIA officers photos!!

<a href="… of the Will of Lawyers</a>

The same week as the Scots released the Lockerbie bomber! You guys can break out the champagne.

No doubt soon enough they'll be a special prosecutor appointed. No, not to investigate if the "rule of Law" was violated by giving away (directly to the enemy) the identity of intelligence personnel.

No, the special prosecutor will be appointed to investigate the very same operatives. Who no doubt will have all their info leaked to the media shortly after the Special Prosecutor goes into business.

You are the Jane Fondas of our time. All the more unforgivable as you are often serving Officers with Law degrees at that.


"We have an Army without integrity and moral courage, this crap continues today."

Not sure who's Army your talking about. In my Army (United States version), we have a very professional army from my observations. Yes, we sometimes have bad apples (we are a volunteer force and represent the full-spectrum of American society, but on whole, it is a damn good organization.

"We are not at war, but riding hell for leather all over the Middle East looking for something to waste or be blown up by IEDs."

Again, not sure what conflict in the Middle East that you are referring to. In Iraq, I've never gone on a patrol trying to waste someone or get blown up by an IED.



olevet69 (not verified)

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 2:56pm

Inteltrooper, the PFCs were without supervision. The SSGs should have been, in my estimation, the first moral line. Mid level/career NCOs know the code and values routine...their evaluations are predicated on passing that muster...anything less than a go is a career ender.

We have an Army without integrity and moral courage, this crap continues today. Please, spare me the war is hell argument. We are not at war, but riding hell for leather all over the Middle East looking for something to waste or be blown up by IEDs.

IntelTrooper (not verified)

Fri, 08/21/2009 - 2:17pm

<i>This had to come from the top, no question in my mind, and it was suffocated by the media. Hang 'em all.</i>

Yes, of course, because PFCs and SSGs are incapable of doing stupid things on their own, without direct orders from Dick Cheney.

olevet69 (not verified)

Thu, 08/20/2009 - 4:48pm

I am glad to see this discussion evolve. This nation does not torture, and now, the fact that we have, we will never be able to regain that high ground.

The Officers and NCOs that walked away should be returned to duty and brought before whatever court necessary and explain their actions and inactions that have forever removed from the United States this tenuous bit of honor and integrity.

This had to come from the top, no question in my mind, and it was suffocated by the media. Hang 'em all.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Thu, 08/20/2009 - 12:21am

<em>"The mere fact that a female can parade them around on a leash, to them, is the ultimate insult/humiliation. It is true that intel gathering isnt going on at that specific moment, but it helps retain the mindsets that all is not well and that they have no control of their situation whatsoever."</em>

But the guy on the "leash" wasn't ever going to be interrogated, was by all accounts (including those of the guards) mentally ill, had no knowledge or intel value whatsoever. In fact, he arguably didn't have a "mindset" at all - he was just being used as the subject of yet another "funny picture" for Graner's collection (one that began long before the unit deployed). Again, this is based on the statements of the guards you pretend to defend by claiming they're the only people who's opinions matter.

Frankly ProudVet, you're sounding something like a poser here - one whose knowledge base seems restricted to episodes of "24" and Abu Ghraib editorials from May 2004. That's fairly obvious for most of us, but worth noting for the benefit of any other casual passers-by on this particular post.

ProudVet (not verified)

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 9:57pm

They wont be surprised to hear that statement IntelTrooper, if they are being candid and telling you the truth. As stated earlier, humiliation is more threatening to this particular type of person than any threat of death. The mere fact that a female can parade them around on a leash, to them, is the ultimate insult/humiliation. It is true that intel gathering isnt going on at that specific moment, but it helps retain the mindsets that all is not well and that they have no control of their situation whatsoever. As far as specifics/actual experience, I will not go into that in this forum. There is a definite line between being candid, informative and being a snitch and ratting out comrades.

IntelTrooper (not verified)

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 8:33pm

<i>That is: Interrogation by harsh methods always has been and always will be the most effective means of gathering intelligence from captives which may be used to save lives. Period.</i>
My friends who served as interrogators in the BTIF in Afghanistan will be very surprised to hear this.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 7:45pm

Hi ProudVet

<em>"My only conceived purpose is to point out simple basic facts which cannot be warped or spinned to ones own opinion. That is: Interrogation by harsh methods always has been and always will be the most effective means of gathering intelligence from captives which may be used to save lives. Period."</em>

I'm glad we're going for a fact-based discussion here. You might want to share your actual experiences/specific methods applied when using torture to get useful information as support for your claim, otherwise it sounds a lot like an opinion, and perhaps an uninformed one at that.

And given your stated position that <em>only those who've been there are fit to pass judgment</em>, if so then why should anyone read anything beyond Joe Darby's account? For proximity he can't be beat.

Beyond that point, what of the fact that the prisoners depicted in the most famous of the Abu Ghraib photos (for example, the guy on the leash England was holding or the group in the naked pyramid collection) weren't being interrogated for intel at all, and were simply available objects for abuse?

ProudVet (not verified)

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 5:56pm

Sorry guess that should have been "spun to ones own opinion".

ProudVet (not verified)

Wed, 08/19/2009 - 5:52pm

Sorry if you took offense Shmedlap. My statements were meant to be pointed in the direction of those "casting stones". To answer your most basic of questions? It simply depends on who you ask. The liberals put their take on what happened as well as the conservatives put their take on it. Any particular event may be viewed by two people and you may get two totally different descriptions of what took place.

My only conceived purpose is to point out simple basic facts which cannot be warped or spinned to ones own opinion. That is: Interrogation by harsh methods always has been and always will be the most effective means of gathering intelligence from captives which may be used to save lives. Period. To many of these people humiliation is far worse than death. They see themselves as martyrs if they are killed or die in support of their jihad. So, you play upon that which they fear the most in order to extract your intel. Thats just the way it works.

As far as the general populace in these countries are concerned, yes, they are generally friendly and hospitable. But those are not the people you are dealing with in places such as Abu Ghraib. You are stuck day in and day out dealing with, for the most part, scum of the earth terrorists. Just the same as working in a penal institution here where you are spit at, urine and feces thrown at you etc... on a daily basis.

It is not hard for me to see the actions of England coming to the surface especially after her witnessing far worse actions and scenarios played out by upper echelon people working there. Most of which have walked away unscathed.

Kory Schaubhut (not verified)

Sun, 08/16/2009 - 3:14pm

It's not about being "slighted." It's about how public discussion in America should be approached. When you disagree with someone, then you should present your points or counterpoints and continue the discussion. "Shutting people up," for lack of a better way to put it, is not how it should go.

The point is not the quality or lack thereof of the statements made by people you disagree with. The issue isn't whether or not their point of view is correct. The issue is that the public should have the opportunity to decide for itself.

As for the BBC interview: Lynndie England is clearly not a masterful public speaker and in every interview I've seen her in the interviewer spends the whole thing trying to trap her into an admission of responsibility or guilt. People ask the wrong questions. We could find out a lot more if interviewers focused on gathering information instead of trying to repeat Lynndie England's trial. We already know how that turned out.

- Kory

anon (not verified)

Sun, 08/16/2009 - 9:40am


There are plenty of facts in 256 post which are of course being interpreted a certain way. This as I have said is politics, not an academic debate.

SWJ took a stand or a position if you like when it gave a forum to the accuser of England. And denied her a forum for her side of it. Which someone denied at death threat point.

I do believe the editors denounced England and her actions as well. Than there's the chem lite line....

Get out of politics, guys. For one thing the line that you're surprised by the vitriol indicates either 1) you dissemble or 2) you're detached from life in the USA the last couple of decades.

Please weigh 1) more than 2).



Sun, 08/16/2009 - 2:28am

<p><em>"You also took a polarizing stand yourselves. Did you not?"</em></p>
<p>Speaking for myself, no. But if that was directed to me, you would not be the first to suggest this. I find that incredible, since I stated no opinion one way or the other.</p>
<p>Other commenters have staked out polarizing positions. To those individuals on either side of the "debate," I say, "so what?" What facts have been provided by either side to back up their positions? Scant few. A position without backup is just an opinion. Everybody has an opinion and all are equally worthless without some reason to assign greater weight to one over the other. That is why I made two requests for more information, pointing out that I find this issue so polarized and politicized that I do not know whom or what facts to trust. Unfortunately, there was only one taker. As I stated earlier, I am not suggesting that by asking the question that I am entitled to an answer, though I do find it odd that at least two commenters have seen fit to instead "respond" to me for something that I have neither typed nor suggested.</p>
<p>But thanks for injecting more of your opinions into the mix. I will weigh them accordingly.</p>

Paul (not verified)

Sun, 08/16/2009 - 2:12am

Mr. Davis, all you did was serve to further delay the truth in who all was involved and who was ultimately responsible for the misdeeds at Abu Ghraib. It's only through intelligent discussion and actually putting everything in it's real perspective that we find the truth and ultimately stop these types of abuses from happening again.

Funny how you officers who never field have such lofty opinions and then quit when you feel your voiced objections are overruled. Truth be told sir the rest of us hung in there, fought it to the bitter end and we prevailed because we were prepared to pay for the consequences of our actions. You quit, plain and simple.

So the next time you want to show moral indignation, please keep it to yourself so the rest of us can get on with the business of learning the REAL truth so we can stop this type of madness from continuing in the future.

If you're so heck bent on punishing torturers, why haven't you had any success with the people from the very command you say you witnessed these types of acts????

Stop burning enlisted servicemembers and go after your own officer corps who are the real culprits in all of this insanity.

Semper Fi!

Counterpart76 (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 6:22pm


In reading your reaction to Lyndie England's appearance at the Library of Congress, I have mixed feelings. First off, I am a Veteran of the US Air Force, I also spent about a year in Afghanistan (and Iraq for 2 months)as a Contractor for the Army. My capacity as a Contractor was support not Security, a fact I feel I always need to point out due to the stain the behavior of Blackwater and other DoD and State Department Security Contractors have put on civilians working in the two war zones. I served honorably as an enlisted Airman and as a civilian contractor.

I did not spend all of my time in Afghanistan sitting on a FOB (Forward Operating Bases, which are well protected). I spent time traveling around the country doing my job, sometimes with the help of some locals that worked for us. I got a real good look at how that country really is, and I got to know some of the people.

I think we all can learn from what Lyndie has to say because her attitude towards the prisoners she was in charge of looking after is the same as many Americans I talk to each day. A lot of Americans do not see the people whose countries we are fighting in as people. They are "Bad Guy's", almost a abstract character of everything they think is wrong in the world. I myself carried some of this view until I got up close and personal with real Afghans. I learned about their culture and the complexity of the current situation in their country. I found most Afghans are very conservative and religious, but would give the last scrap of food to a stranger out of kindness.

My experience has lead me to believe that all wars are wrong and we should do everything in our power to find other ways to resolve our conflicts. Is this goal realistic, probably not, but I no longer want to contribute to the death of anyone anymore. That does not mean I don't still have respect for our Service men and women and the tough job they are doing.

That being said, I think we NEED to hear from Lyndie. We need to know what she was thinking, and why she did what she did so it never happens again. There are thousands of American men and women serving honorably in the two war zones, many I have personally worked side by side with. You or I do not have to honor Lyndie, but we need to listen or we may see a repeat down the road, and that would not serve us or the people we are suppose to be fighting for any good.

Arif Jayish Al… (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 5:17pm

@SWJED, Schmedlap...Feld Marshall Von Hindenburg...

You gave a public forum to a man (Davis) with an ax to grind. And grind it did and does, over a lot of raw nerves. This was quite predictable. You also took a polarizing stand yourselves. Did you not?

You are right of course, we do need to have a public debate about interrogations. But we're not. We're in the midst of an ongoing witch hunt that was started for PC reasons in 2004, was hyped to incredible heights for political reasons in the election year of 2004, and has now been resurrected so this Wily Loman of a CINC can throw his rabid supporters thirsty for their political opponents (and not so secretly haters of the defenders of this country, in uniform, intel, and the police) blood, and for a few bloody scalps to throw left wing nuts.

That's why Holder is about to appoint a special prosecutor, so they can distract attention from the rest of the agenda going off the rails.

Welcome to the blood sport of democracy, Gents. If you want scholarly, stay out of it. Especially as the American Republic enters the banana Republic stage.

And don't you think it's a bit tone deaf to supress free speech this week? Have you ignored the last few months? Oh wait, you were shocked there were death threats. You been in a coma the last few years?

You're right, this has been an oasis of scholarship and rectitude. Perhaps you should avoid domestic politics? Because the rule of PC Iron is rusting away and the scaffolding collapsing...and the unquestionable assertion "we don't torture" is being questioned.

Maybe in an environment where vilification, scapegoat prison terms and disgrace, threats of disbarment, investigations, witchhunts, transparently false denials, and special prosecutors didn't set the tone...maybe there would be a reasoned debate.

Perhaps you'd like to take up the quest.

But I wouldn't recommend it.


Well said Schmedlap, and thank you for pointing out one of our core strengths here. It is very unfortunate that the Johnny-come-latelys waltz in and offer judgment based on their agendas or preconceived notions of what this site is about and what we offer. The last 24 hours is akin to the Jerry Springer crowd showing up at a Charlie Rose interview - some things don't mix.


Sat, 08/15/2009 - 3:17pm

<p>Did you see me give an opinion either way on Abu Ghraib, let alone judge any of the actors? On the contrary, I asked where we can get more information on the issue. I asked twice and one person responded. As for your advice to me, it seems that you've already made a hasty assumption about my background. Perhaps you should take your own advice about <em>"attempting to judge."</em></p>
<p>The new visitors who have suddenly shown up to this site have added nothing of value to what could have been a discussion. Granted, it was a pretty provocative, polarizing post that kicked everything off. If that post was so bad, then it should be easy to refute. If it was so clearly correct, then it should be easy to support. Instead, both sides of the "debate" offer up profanity and insults. Take a look at other threads on this blog, over its nearly three year history, and see how often discussions turn in this direction. Rarely. And on those rare occasions, it is because something caught the eye of some people more interested in exchanging insults than ideas - as this thread has apparently done.</p>
<p>Most of the commenters who have taken a side on this topic - both sides - have only come here to voice their displeasure or anger, and levy insults at those who disagree, rather than make a salient point. I stand by my last comment.</p>

Jim Davis (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:34pm

Wow. Hats off to Moe and the others that helped assure that my government and the minority it actually consists of (LOC this time) can't tolerate anything they don't like.. much less discuss or analyze it, or god forbid use the situation to convey what they think is reasoned logic with the party in question or the public!

Pretty hysterical when the LOC was supposed to be a reference for ALL published points of view, eh?

ProudVet (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:29pm

Also, I agree that once again the highers ups (those with the cleanest of hands) have walked while those at the bottom of the ladder got hammered and vilified. Same old story: the highest of the high (Officers on up) walk while those in the trenches get screwed. They blame and burn the grunts in order to cover their tracks. All this to feed and satisfy the liberals and liberal press to get them off the politicians backs.

ProudVet (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:20pm

You may call it anything you wish Schmedlap, (nice name by the way!)but the facts are undeniable. You cannot reason this to death in order to spin it into something its not. The bottom line is harsh interrogation is, and always will be, a necessary evil. If the liberal and self righteous whiners in this country had their way, we would be whipping them with a wet noodle in order to get intel. Again, pick up a weapon, stand a post or walk a mile in their shoes. Otherwise your "reasoned discourse" amounts to nothing more than the errant babblings of those who want to impose their will and ideas (while risking nothing) on those who HAVE sacrificed, and risked everything. Stop attempting to judge those you dont understand and who have been there and experienced a life you obviously have not. You are out of your league and provide little in the way of usable or interesting commentary.

James (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:06pm

Jealousy is a bitch...a shame you want to limit freedom of speech over your own anger and insecurities

Joey Merde (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 1:01pm

It is obvious that England did the stuff she did and all who condemn her are right in doing so. But, given the continued exposing of senior military and civilian government officials involved in the mistreatment and torture of enemy combatants you all might want start looking beyond the "foot soldier". I am getting the feeling that this blog and those who feel strongly about honor in battle have looked in the wrong direction. I wonder if any of you will ever believe that your commanders and civilian government officials(Cheney, Rumsfeld, Yoo) committed crimes against the Constitution.

These characters either created, blessed or implemented the use of torture based on the SERE training methods. It is amazing to me that they believed these methods would work to the end they wished to achieve. One must remember that the "torture" training SERE attendees go through was designed to familiarize personnel with what they could expect when captured and that the purpose of the torture was not necessarily for intelligence but also for propaganda (example: McCain's written statement from Hanoi).

Lets keep a focus on our values - we don't torture. Those who endorsed using these methods were incompetent, evil or stupid. We cannot let them walk while the Englands of the military are the only ones punished. It's a black mark on the US military for sure, but it's even a blacker mark against the rule of law. Why should England be shouted down and vilified when the ones who created and condoned this behavior go un-prosecuted?

A SERE gradute & Vietnam Vet


Sat, 08/15/2009 - 12:57pm

Nice to see some new visitors to the site. SWJ was getting bland with all of its reasoned discourse. What a lucky break that this thread suddenly attracted some people who could inject profanity, name-calling, finger-pointing, and other nonsense that has been missing from the site for so long.

JustBob (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 12:40pm

Back and forth trumps Freedom of Speech...

I'm so proud of you all...

I won't be back so save your rant...

ProudVet (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 12:00pm

Since my last post was deleted, I will reitterate: Not being able to gain necessary intelligence from these terrorist assholes is far more damning than humiliating them. When the needed intel cannot be gleaned from these sources.....THAT is when lives are lost. This is war not a popularity contest. By gaining intel as to what they are planning saves the lives of our troops and the civilian populace. The mere fact that Davis has the unmitigated gall to question the means by which his cozy blanket of freedom is provided for him by our brave men and women in and out of uniform is unthinkable. The presence of interrogators, while repugnant and vile to you and your ilk saves lives and is a necessary evil. If this truth is to much for you then go ahead and snuff it out as you did Englands and my previous post. And you have the nerve to say freedom of speech is not dead? Pick up a weapon and stand a post. A real post, not some backwater potato peeling station staffed by officers like Davis. You have no idea what the daily lives of our troops are like till you have walked a mile in their shoes over there, and certainly NO RIGHT to judge them. Glad you resigned. Thankfully there is no place for the likes of you in the military. Semper Fi!!

<i>Darby - you are a rat. You ratted your comrades over things that happened under color of orders, and war while you weren't even present. Your war was simply to rat out the rest who did some of the dirty work. </i>

That's not "ratting", that's fulfilling a moral obligation to report war crimes and human rights abuse.

elf (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 7:53am

SWJ, et al,

Well you've been pawns for terrorist enemies of freedom, congrats. Do continue to wallow in your self righteousness. As you lose small wars (not that you'd win "The Big One") then neurotically look back on it for decades. I think you know the one I mean.

The PVT and the rest of them were following rather detailed orders, which their (purely administrative) female GEN has recently stated they questioned and were informed under the circumstances it was lawful. Or perhaps you believe they received Phd's in Arab Pyschology on the trip North from Kuwait. The first time stamp was 42 hours after they rolled onto site.

Was it wrong? Yes. It's all wrong, you morally myopic *****

COL Pappas was the MI CDR who cut a deal to rat his own out, while the junior enlisted swung. The Officer Corps continues to cover itself in shame, which no amount of preening self righteousness can hide. This disgraceful scattering before the light to leave the enlisted to face the consequences is worthy of a small banana republic Army, in fact it reminds me more of the 26th INF Div (Iraq) officers who abandoned their men in the trenches in 91. If you think the left will have any use or regard for you afterwards do think again.

Darby - you are a rat. You ratted your comrades over things that happened under color of orders, and war while you weren't even present. Your war was simply to rat out the rest who did some of the dirty work.

Ken White (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 2:22am

My son was in the Company from the 82d that provided external security for Abu Gharaib at the time of the incidents. They became aware of the problem and reported it -- combat troops do not like it when folks in the rear mistreat the prisoners or detainees that said troops have not man handled. The investigation started earlier than most say.

I've read the Taquba report. It does not answer the question I asked in November of 2003 -- note that date -- to wit: "Are they going to court martial the Company Commanders and 1SGs for failure to supervise their people? For allowing them to do this simply because the V Corps CG said 'I want more intel!'"

I realize their careers were over -- but that's not quite the same thing, is it...

I didn't expect an answer to the question. Good thing...

Greyhawk (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 1:33am

Continuing my previous comment...

About the only thing that exists from pre-April '04 (the only accounts not contaminated by the enormity of the post April story) is the Taguba report itself. It's since been released via FOIA requests, and in fact is now hosted online <a href="">at a DoD site here</a>.

More interesting (IMHO) than the report itself are the annexes, which include multiple interviews with the officers and others involved.

Missing from the link above are annexes 25 and 26, the actual initial CID investigation report and the interviews conducted with the soldiers and prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Taguba described it thusly: "The US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), led by COL Jerry Mocello, and a team of highly trained professional agents have done a superb job of investigating several complex and extremely disturbing incidents of detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib Prison."

A determined Googler could probably find a FOIA-released copy onlne somewhere. That first draft of history - compiled before these folks knew what was coming - is interesting to say the least.

So if anyone actually is interested in what happened at Abu Ghraib, I'd suggest actually reading the Taguba report (starting with the annexes!) before any other reading on the topic. Most of the selected quotes, mis-quotes, or paraphrasing from it I've seen elsewhere seem to somehow miss his main points.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Sat, 08/15/2009 - 12:49am

Hi Schmedlap

Apologies if my "no" answer seemed too brief to be accurate. But that's the answer, and I'll suggest the lack of other responses supports it.

That said, there are some accounts available on line that can be called "primary sources". Since those are testimonies of the individuals involved they should be read with reasonable skepticism (hopefully that's obvious).

A quick (not comprehensive) timeline (why it matters in a moment): The events depicted in the well known Abu Ghraib photos took place in the Fall of 2003. In January 2004 an Abu Ghraib soldier obtained copies of those photos from a fellow soldier and turned them in to CID. Their investigation followed immediately. (That much from the Darby account I linked in my first comment.)

Higher level investigations followed the CID investigation. The most well known by Major General Antonio Taguba resulted in what's now known as the Taguba Report.

Throughout the period above, the Army briefed the press on a few scant details ("investigating abuse", etc) of the ongoing investigations. A few other details ("pictures exist") were leaked. Transcripts of those briefings and a few CNN stories are still available online.

By April '04 Art 32 hearings for the accused soldiers began. To make a long story very short, on the day the Army determined to move forward with a Court Martial for one of the troops (Ivan "Chip" Frederick), his uncle turned the photos over to CBS news, along with Federick's own written account of events. Nearly simultaneously Seymour Hersh's account - based on interviews with Frederick and his civilian attorney and a few selected quotes from Taguba's classified report - was published. The Army had 'no comment' - at least no effective comment. (Anything said would arguably have been prejudicial to defense or led to charges of undue command influence, etc.) This policy could be (and was) portrayed as a "coverup".

Most of what's passed since for an accounting of what happened at Abu Ghraib originated in Frederick's written account, along with a few selected quotes from Taguba's report.

I submit that the timeline matters because you can now separate accounts of Abu Ghriab into two categories: pre- and post-April '04. The difference is significant because at that point the story became an historically significant event on a global scale, the magnitude of which the accused did not anticipate (see the England account I linked in my first comment for example. There are others). Post April '04 no one wrote an unbiased account of Abu Ghraib. Unfortunately, in the US most of that bias was purely political.

Anonynmous (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 11:41pm

Oh really?? And just how do you know that "said officers", were on a helo together at all?? And with a prisoner who ended up on ice??

Greyhawk (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 11:30pm

Cpt. Brinson, Col. Papas, Lt. Col. Jordon arrived on a helo with a prisoner who ended up on ice?

That's amazingly similar to a story of some OGA guys who did the same thing.

Anonynmous (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 10:21pm

In regard to your question of "What officers?", here's some names(just for starters): Cpt. Brinson, Col. Papas, Lt. Col. Jordon.


Fri, 08/14/2009 - 9:13pm

I don't mean to suggest that by asking a question that I am entitled to an answer, but it baffles me to think that people who apparently hold passionate views on this issue cannot answer my earlier question.

There seems to be two sides to this issue, with one side holding dear to its facts and the other side clinging to its. There may be some overlap of those facts, some that do not overlap but are not contradictory, and others that are contradictory. It would be nice to get an objective overview of the facts that most people can agree on, rather than having two sides cling to their preferred set of facts and yell past each other.

There's a reason that privates are privates. And, while I'd expect better, stupid behavior from privates doesn't come as a shock to me. Further, while I don't personally appreciate the mutilation of a dead cat or goat, neither do I consider it relevant to the discussions here. I did 5 months over there, and don't think anyone who hasn't walked in her shoes has much credibility in criticizing their behavior. And, for what it's worth, I think it's a shame - literally - that privates were punished but not their commanders...

As for the LOC appearance; I'd be really disappointed (and quite surprised) if threats originated from SWJ. Presuming she's done her time for whatever she was accused of, she gets to start over. *shrug* I don't hold that against her.

When I think back to all the stupid things we did when I was a private, I'm often surprised we lived through it. It's unfortunate that some are basing the vehemence of their condemnation of her on the (public perceptions of the) consequences of her acts. I'd argue that her acts were the scab on a much deeper wound...

SWJ has, as ever, provoked thought.

Semper cogito...

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=">a 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

Greyhawk (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 7:03pm

"what happened to the officers that did the following"

Better question: What officers did that? What were they officers of?

A question (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 6:46pm

While we are all outraged about the person that served her time for her crime, what happened to the officers that did the following?

"One night, this Black Hawk landed at about 4 a.m., and a couple guys came in with a prisoner and took him to tier 1, put sheets up so that nobody could see, and spent the rest of the night in there. They told us to stay away, so we did. Then a couple hours later, they came back out. They were like, "The prisoner is dead." They asked for ice to pack him, and then they said, "You guys clean this up. We werent here. Have a good day." Got back on the bird and took off, left the dead body right there. Those guys can come in and kill a guy, and theres nothing you can do. Theres no record of them."

If memory serves correct, after the scandal, the MI COL in command brokered a deal to testify against his Soldiers in order to avoid prosecution. I heard he retired with full benefits and now works for a very senior Army general at a major command.

What's the lesson here?

Vito (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 5:02pm


No arguments here, though I do object to being labeled self-righteous. Would you care to explain that? I'm all for accountability here and all against making England our poster child for that accountability. Do you get that? Or do you have a larger agenda that requires you to attack my objection to England waxing poetic at the Library of Congress.

Do all you can do and be all that you can be in defense of our nation's core values, but excuse me if I throw up when you elevate Lynndie England to a position of a honorable, credible, and believable spokes-person. The very fact you are even suggesting that is repugnant.


Arthur Lane (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 4:28pm

It's interesting that none of the self-righteous folk (e.g. Vito) have followed up on olevet69's suggestion that there may actually be a chain of command involved in this disgrace. Ms Englnd is no sweetheart, I agree, but she was a small cog in an ugly machine that has profited (and continues to profit) from our willingness to torment the little guys (and gals) while we bend over for Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. They clearly had no shame.

It's not only free speech that has disappeared from the USA; it's a shared sense of decency and intelligence.

Greyhawk (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 3:54pm

"Is there a good summation out there that gives an evenhanded account of what happened at Abu Ghraib?"


Try out my second link above though. Being one guy's story it's certainly one sided, but that's one guy who deserves to be heard. IMHO the fact that he was an Abu Ghraib troop himself is problematic for the grand conspiracy theorists.

Vito (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 1:52pm

Associated Press:

<i>Organizers have canceled a lecture at the Library of Congress by the woman who became a symbol of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal after threats caused concerns about staff safety.

Former Army reservist Lynndie England had been scheduled to discuss her biography Friday as part of a veterans forum on Capitol Hill. The book by author Gary S. Winkler is called "Tortured: Lynndie England, Abu Ghraib and the Photographs That Shocked the World."

In a notice to members, Angela Kinney, president of the Library of Congress Professional Association, says the event was canceled due to staff safety concerns.

David Moore, a Vietnam War veteran and German acquisitions specialist at the library who organized the event, says he had been receiving threats.</i>


Hmm, threats, or second thoughts? Only Moore knows for sure. Wish someone would do a FOI request on this. But in the grand scheme of things, it might not be that important considering the time and effort involved. At least the dishonorable England gets one in the loss column in revising her version of history.

SWJED (not verified)

Fri, 08/14/2009 - 11:38am

While I cannot confirm via the LOC web page, I received an e-mail that stated:

<i>Tonight the Library of Congress Professional Association pulled the plug on Lynndie England's promo event scheduled for noon tomorrow. They cited safety concerns from the backlash as the reason for terminating her appearance.</i>