If you want a story about how America treats its prisoners, try this one, written up by a Marine serving in Iraq:
Dear Mom & Dad,
Word has reached us about some soldiers who are in trouble for allegedly abusing war prisoners. I don't know the details of the situation, but from what we've heard, it's pretty ugly and all over the news. I wanted to tell you a story about a night in the desert a few weeks ago that you won't see in the news, but is more representative of what's going on over here.
Due to operational security constraints, I can't go into great detail in this story, but I think you'll get the picture. In the course of my unit's operations, it's very common that suspected bad guys are captured and detained for interrogation.I'm sure the media is making interrogations out to be bad or wrong, but they are not. Interrogations are a necessary tool to extract intelligence that helps us destroy the enemy and protect Americans from terrorism.
Sometimes we have a hardened and roofed facility in which detainees are held and interrogated, but if we are on the move, often times they are placed in whatever temporary detainee area we can create.
One night last month, we were stopped in the desert outside of Fallujah. We had 3 detainees under our control that were captured in the act of doing bad things against Marines. Because we were in the open without any facilities around, the detainees were temporarily being held on a patch of desert closed off by concertina wire. Besides for the wire and guards watching them, they were out under the stars just like all of our Marines.
Around 3:00 a.m., the wind started blowing hard and a sandstorm hit our position. As Marines covered themselves with their sleeping bags, the sky opened up and the flying sand was joined by a downpour of rain. Most of the Marines hopped into vehicles to get some cover.
In the back of a truck, which was the closest vehicle to the detainees, 4 Marines were trying to stay dry and get some sleep. The lieutenant who was in charge of providing security for the detainees approached this truck and opened up the back hatch. He ordered the Marines out of the truck and told them that they couldn't stay in there. The Marines asked why and he explained to them that he had to put the detainees in the back of the truck to protect them from the rain and sand.
Word of this spread very quickly and everyone was livid. We couldn't believe that our Marines were being kicked into the sandstorm/rainstorm so these 3 detainees, who were caught trying to kill Marines, could stay dry. The next day I was still angry and everyone was still talking about what had happened that night. Later in the day, after having time to cool down and think about the situation, I switched from being angry to being proud.
Who else, other than Americans, would kick their own men into a storm so their enemy could sleep in peace? Who else, other than Americans, feel so strongly about laws and rights that they would go to such extremes to protect captured terrorists during a war on terrorism?
When these guys are under our control, they eat better than they do when not in capacivity, receive medical attention that they would never otherwise receive, and are treated like Marines only know how to act, professionally.
I assume whatever happened with the alleged prisoner abuse is leading headlines back home, but I wanted to share this story with you, because it's not one you'll ever see in the news. What I've described in this letter is indicative of how my unit operates, and I would venture to guess that it's representative of the other 99% of detainee handling throughout Iraq.
My spirits remain high, my body's holding up, and all's swell on my end. I hope the same is the case with everyone back home. I love you and miss you lots.