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.