Interrogator's Nightmare

"An Iraq Interrogator's Nightmare"

This is an important piece to read. I'm not sure what to say about it yet, however; except one thing. This line, above all of it, strikes me:

I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency.
It is not the first or the last part that concern me. A soldier has no right to consider whether an order is "meritless," but only whether it is illegal. However, this man was -- his biography says -- a contractor, who can of course refuse an order. He is free to go.

But this part of the line is important:
I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody.
That is a formulation that uses the language of honor. A failure of honor is serious.

The other two parts of the statement are statements of guilty feeling, without any formal standing in the law or in the military's code of honor. A contractor is not the one who is asked to decide whether or not an order is meritless, except for himself, with the remedy of leaving. Nor is he the one who decides whether or not the policy upholds the standards of human decency. That is done by the military, with the oversight of Congress to ensure that the People's common interests are upheld.

The man is saying he personally feels guilty about what he did. I am sorry that he is tormented. I have a genuine sympathy for any man who suffers as he says he does. But it is not at all unusual to find that you feel guilty about what you did in the war, any war; nor is it a reliable sign that anything is wrong. Sadly, it is entirely to be expected. He is far from the only man to suffer nightmares.

The middle part of his confession, though, is formally correct. It is therefore serious. A man who has custody of a prisoner does have a duty to protect him. If he fails in that duty, an answer must be given.

The 82nd will have to show that the conduct he claims he was ordered to perform either did not occur; or that it was not inconsistent with his duty to protect his prisoner. That is a point of honor, and the military cannot neglect those. I will await their word on the subject with interest.

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