Posted by: Lister | August 6, 2007

Joe Darby

Joe Darby is the Abu Ghraib whistleblower. Damn! I shouldn’t have told you that. His identity was supposed to be a secret. Still, at least I’m not the Secretary of Defence of the USA. Imagine how embarrassing the slip would have been then! I’d have felt so stupid. The Abu Ghraib whistleblower’s ordeal:

When Joe Darby saw the horrific photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison he was stunned. So stunned that he walked out into the hot Baghdad night and smoked half a dozen cigarettes and agonised over what he should do.

[…] They were photographs of his colleagues, some of them men and women he had known since high school – torturing and abusing Iraqi prisoners.

[…] Most of the disc contained general shots around Hilla and Baghdad, but also those infamous photos of abuse.

At first he did not quite believe what he was looking at. “The first picture I saw, I laughed – because one, it’s just a pyramid of naked people – I didn’t know it was Iraqi prisoners,” he says. “Because I have seen soldiers do some really stupid things. As I got into the photos more I realised what they were.”

[…] Joe Darby knew what he saw was wrong, but it took him three weeks to decide to hand those photographs in. When he finally did, he was promised anonymity and hoped he would hear no more about it.

[…] When the accused soldiers were finally removed from the base, he thought his troubles were over.

And then he was sitting in a crowded Iraqi canteen with hundreds of soldiers and Donald Rumsfeld came on the television to thank Joe Darby by name for handing in the photographs.

“I don’t think it was an accident because those things are pretty much scripted,” Mr Darby says.

“But I did receive a letter from him which said he had no malicious intent, he was only doing it to praise me and he had no idea about my anonymity.

[…] Rather than turn on him for betraying colleagues, most of the soldiers in his unit shook his hand. It was at home where the real trouble started.

Labelled a traitor

His wife had no idea that Mr Darby had handed in those photos, but when he was named, she had to flee to her sister’s house which was then vandalised with graffiti. Many in his home town called him a traitor.

“I knew that some people wouldn’t agree with what I did,” he says. “You have some people who don’t view it as right and wrong. They view it as: I put American soldiers in prison over Iraqis.”

That animosity in his home town has meant that he still cannot return there.

[…] He has since left the army but did testify at the trials of some of those accused of abuse and torture. It is Charles Graner he is most afraid of.

“Seeing Graner across the courtroom was the only one that was difficult during the trial,” he says.

“He had a stone-cold stare of hatred the entire time – he wouldn’t take his eyes off me the whole time he sat there. I think this is a grudge he will hold till the day he gets out of prison.”



  1. […] House Contact the Webmaster Link to Article iraq Joe Darby » Posted at Pardon My Paradox on Monday, August 06, 2007 Joe Darby […]

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