When the Abu Ghraib tortures were revealed, I wrote a Letter to the Editor and sent it off. It was not published. It is still pertinent.Here it is:
I love my brothers and sisters in Iraq. But right now, I am too angry to be polite or pull punches.
During the attack, Secretary Rumsfeld had our forces move faster, and hit harder.
That's what I want now of the President, the Pentagon, and the American authorities in Iraq. I am not speaking of tactics. I am speaking of justice. I am speaking of the rebuilding of honor and what will be a very long, very painful labor of restoring our reputation in the world.
I know we are not all like that. I know that our young men and women weren't raised to act that way! It is not necessary to make that excuse, and it is shameful that anyone should try. None of us should be like that. What our soldiers did to prisoners in their care in Iraq cannot be excused as an aberration. It can only be mercilessly rooted out.
First, the military unit running our prison there must immediately be replaced. It should be publicly disbanded, and its colors burned. Its leaders should all be relieved and segregated. It would not be too much to arrest them all, pending investigation. Those implicated in the criminal mistreatment of prisoners of war must be charged with war crimes, and those we have offended, yes, even the insurgents we are fighting, must be allowed to take part in the investigation and prosecution of the war criminals involved.
Our repentance must be public and dramatic. As a first step, those convicted of "mere" abuse might be imprisoned in Iraq, not in the USA. They might be publicly cashiered, in the old, ceremonial manner, with ranks, decorations and even military buttons ripped off. Then those convicted of causing the death of prisoners might be executed by firing squad, in Iraq, where Iraqis, Arabs and the whole world can see. And if it HURTS; well, that is part of repentance. Our shame can only be expiated by pain, by remorse, and by reformation.
Because "We aren't like that!" doesn't stop us from becoming like that. We have been getting "that way" for a long time. Self discipline, duty, a common moral body, these have been eroding longer than many of those soldiers have lived. The fanatics who fight us, many of them, see our freedom and moral laxity as what they fight. They see us leading the whole world to abandon morality, manners, and virtue. And so do many of our friends.
Many will not agree, but I think it might be a good idea if the President were to call for a day of public prayer and repentance. We need to move faster, and hit harder. There's an enemy waiting to destroy us, just inside the mirror.
Cortland E. Richmond,Sergeant First Class,US Army, Retired
As I say, it was not published.
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