Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Abu Ghraib whistleblower: 'I lived in fear'
Joe Darby is a military guy. A tough guy. About 6-feet tall, with a shaved head. He is best known as the whistleblower behind the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.

"I think the picture that bothered me the most was the one you see on TV and Internet of the male Iraqi standing and the other male Iraqi kneeling in front of him with the sandbags over their heads," Darby told me today.

Darby was first given the disturbing pictures by Specialist Charles Graner, who is now serving 10 years for his part in the abuse. Darby said he had asked Graner for photos from their travels so he could share them with his family. Instead, he got photos of prisoner abuse.

For weeks, Darby struggled with the biggest decision of his life. Should he turn in the photos to the Criminal Investigation Division?

"Ultimately it needed to be done. ... It had to be done," he said.

As the suspects were rounded-up, Darby grew scared.

"They had their weapons. They slept in the same compound I did. And they were trying to find out who turned them in. For that four to six weeks, I lived in fear that they would figure out it was me. I slept with a loaded weapon under my pillow until they left," he said.

Unfortunately, Darby couldn't stay anonymous forever. While dining at the mess hall with 400 others, he watched and listened as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld publicly thanked him on national television. Darby says he left the mess hall immediately, out of fear.

Darby stood his ground as members of the military and his own family ostracized him. They called him a rat, a traitor, and a whistleblower.

"I don't like the tag that much. I view it as -- I was a soldier and I was an MP. I was just doing my job. And they violated the law," he said.

Things got so bad his wife called the Pentagon for extra security. Eventually, Darby and his wife had to move away. They entered military protective custody.

Today, they won't tell anyone where they live or who they work for. Still, Darby says he's proud to have served in the military and that he has no regrets.

(Editor's note: Randi Kaye's piece on Joe Darby airs on "360", tonight 10 p.m. ET)
Posted By Randi Kaye, CNN Correspondent: 6:50 PM ET
It is so sad to think that the people who do the right thing are criticized and fearful of their life. I respect Joe Darby and hope that he lives his life happily and out of harms way. Can't wait to see the segment tonight on 360!
Stephanie Wood
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie Wood, Charles Town, WV : 8:25 PM ET
It's good to see that doing the right thing still holds some weight, even during 'a war on terror'.
Posted By Anonymous Julianne, NY NY : 8:36 PM ET
And no regrets he should have about ranting...It is one thing to instruct our children not to tatter tell on others but when it comes to the dignity of people, whether we like them or not, we have to ask ourselves if we are doing the right thing by letting the culprit get away with murder. Mr. Darby might have put a cloud of shame over the US military for a while but certainly exposed justly those who felt it was their duty to "exterminate" the ennemy - and for what - their own ego. Where ever Mr. Darby and his family are today, he certainly will be remembered by those of us who do not see fit to antagonize the ones who do not see eye to eye with our ideology.
Posted By Anonymous Lyne Geddes, Laval, Qc CANADA : 8:40 PM ET
I can't imagine being treated as a pariah by my own family for carrying out such a heroic act.
Posted By Anonymous G.G.,Ontario, Canada : 8:51 PM ET
Wow, that was both brave and just. Both qualities are ones that I wish we saw more often. I think it's disapointing that the kind of response that he recieved was to be shunned and alienated by members of our military. The same group that is supposed to be liberating Iraq. I would also like to take a minute and wonder why Rumsfeld would announce his name on tv? Did he not think that by doing that he could somehow put Darby in danger? It doesn't seem like either our leaders or our protectors really thought it out, no matter how perfect we like to think they are.
Posted By Anonymous Erin, St. Louis : 9:04 PM ET
I think this guy can be proud of what he did. He refused to be part of a cover up; he saw that the law was violated and he acted appropriately, just as a law-abiding person should do.

If Joe Darby is ostracized, attacked or threatened by the military and his own family, shame on them! What does that tell us (and the rest of the world for that matter) about our military? How can we be an example of democracy - which we want so desperately impose on everyone else that does not live by this ideology - if we would let anybody, military personal or not, get away with abuse?

I applaud Darby for not breaking down and standing his ground.
Posted By Anonymous Elke, New York/NY : 9:22 PM ET
I applaud Mr. Darby for his integrity. I wish him and his family well and safety. It is really disconcerting to think family members would shun him for letting his conscience be his guide. What was happening to those prisoners was wrong from the get-go and should have been exposed.
Posted By Anonymous M. Gillum, Chesterton, IN : 9:27 PM ET
Do we really think that Rumsfeld "Thanked Him"? I think Rumsfeld was fingering him for the guys so they could "Thank Him". God bless Darby for doing the right thing. We need more citizens like Darby.
Posted By Anonymous Sonia Rosa Lokey Sausalito, Ca. : 9:28 PM ET
It is people like Joe Darby who continue to bring honor to our military and to our country. I applaud him for the tremendous amount of courage he demonstrated in doing what was right. Thank you Mr. Darby for your service to our country and for being a man of integrity.
Posted By Anonymous Janet, Hinesville, Georgia : 9:36 PM ET
Instead of being in hiding Mr. Darby should be running for public office, where honesty and integrity are badly needed.
Posted By Anonymous Jo, Saugerties, NY : 9:50 PM ET
Joe, you did what is right. That is the American way. You are a real war hero..
Posted By Anonymous Asif, Houston, TX : 10:18 PM ET
It's too bad that Darby has to live the rest of his life in protective custody simply because he chose to "Do the Right Thing". Let's face it, if we all would "Do the Right Thing", perhaps we would not have to live in a world of "war" and "terrorism". Kudos to Darby for showing us what true courage really is.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 10:20 PM ET
Joe Darby, I hope this message finds you.
Thank you for saving the honor of the Military Police. Thank you for your exemplary integrity and courage.
May you and your family find happiness and peace.
Posted By Anonymous 1LT Jack Nolan, MP, USAR (Ret), Burbank CA : 11:23 PM ET
This young man is a hero. He should hold his head high. His having to make such a difficult decision has ensured that our troops are fighting for something, and that humanity is alive.
Posted By Anonymous Bonnie Fairfax VA : 11:27 PM ET
A salute from one servicemember to another - he did the right thing, even though others might disagree ... there is a large difference between a 'rat' and a 'whistleblower'.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, San Antonio, TX : 12:35 AM ET
One wonders why an intelligent, military man like Rumsfeld would publicly thank (or give up) the name of the whistle-blower.

Our Secretary of State must either be incredibilly inept or he did that to discourage other whistleblowers.
Posted By Anonymous t, San Diego, CA : 1:47 AM ET
Hey Randi- My sympathy for Darby. I hope he sets a role model for other soldiers. Such hatred and violence should be reported. I am sorry he is suffering for taking a non-violence approach to war. Thank you Darby for making the United States soldiers accountable for their unethical actions. Kudos!!! Peace!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann Taylor Nacogdoches, Tx : 1:53 AM ET
I believe that in this so-called war on terror, the most brave thing to do is to not lose ones own morals and values.
He took that hard way, even in his probable moments of doubt.
I do not call that being a traitor, i call that being a man.
Posted By Anonymous M. Brand, Amsterdam, the Netherlands : 3:15 AM ET
This is a prime example of what we call in the military "moral courage". It takes people with moral courage like mister Darby who will stand up point out evils to keep us on the right azimuth. I applaud what he did and I only hope that his example gives strength to others to raise their hand and speak rather than turn their heads.
Posted By Anonymous Kyle, odenton MD : 5:22 AM ET
Darby should be hailed as a national hero. Being a true American believes standing up for a higher set of ideals. He deserves a medal for his bravery.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick Ford, Los Angeles, CA : 5:44 AM ET
I'm from Belgium and coincidently read this blog. It's horrible to read that you get harassed by your own family for doing the right thing. Who knows how many people Joe saved from torture and death ... And I'm sure these people aren't the "nicest" people, but they are still humans too and we have to remember that, war or no war. It's one thing to keep them secure behind lock and key, it's another to torture them for you own amusement.

And Joe, if you happen to read this: you are the kind of American that makes us "foreigners" keep the faith that not every American is a war-seeking masochist and that there are still good people with right attitude to lead Iraq to peace instead of more violence.
Posted By Anonymous Dennis, Belgium : 6:32 AM ET
Mr. Darby is a hero in my book. In the face of danger he did what all to few people these days do: the right thing. The soldiers who tortured and humiliated Iraqi citizens violated the law and Mr. Darby's actions brought them to justice. It is a pity that some people in our government do not have this kind of courage.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Decatur, GA : 7:03 AM ET
It seems to me that some in the United States Army seems to think that they are above human decency. God Bless Mr. Darby for his bravery. I wish him the best.
Posted By Anonymous Heather Gregory Dayton, Ohio : 7:28 AM ET
It takes a lot of guts to do what Joe
Darby did. Almost all Americans really,
really thank you, Joe Darby. The US program of torture is far more extensive
than most Americans will ever realize, but you have shed some light on this. And saved some lives as well, undoubtedly.
Posted By Anonymous Valerie, Providence, RI : 7:32 AM ET
Am I missing something here? He and his family have received threats. His wife asked for protection, they can't tell anyone where they live or work, yet you show him on television. I admire him for what he did and hope the best for him.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff - Libertyville Illinois : 7:35 AM ET
It is a shame that not only the military but his own family ostracized him for doing the right thing. He would not have had to live in fear for those weeks or even now be silent in where he and his wife live and work if the military were able to weed out better the bad seeds and those with very poor judgment. Kudos to Joe Darby - and shame on those in his family and the military who called him a rat and a traitor! They should have been proud of what he did.
Posted By Anonymous Cheri, Columbia, SC : 7:40 AM ET
Joe Darby is a courageous man. Instead of shunning him and calling him a traitor, his family should be proud to have raised such a patriot and role model. My admiration and best wishes won't make any difference to him, but he has them anyway. I would hope and expect my son, who is also in the Army, would behave as honorably as Darby has done.
Posted By Anonymous Linda Kramer, Norman, OK : 8:21 AM ET
Did he stop to think of the japordy he put our Military men and women in??? I think he did it to make a name for himself; with no regards to the safey of Americans, here or abroad.
Posted By Anonymous Brenda St Louis, MO : 8:30 AM ET
Joe Darby is not a patriot nor a hero. He and others like him are glory hounds whose anti American rhetoric hurts this country, endangers its soldiers, and encourages terrorists.
Posted By Anonymous W. Henry Ritts IV, Illinois : 8:34 AM ET
Sorry I do not believe what he did was anything Heroic at all. ALL he did was cause more rift between the Democrats and Republicans and our poor soldiers out there. I venture to say every one feeling pity for this whistleblower was not in the military, they couldn't make it. My husband was an MP in the Army, and I would not have wanted him to do what this guy did.
Posted By Anonymous Terri Myrtle Beach SC : 8:41 AM ET
If there were more Darbys in this world maybe some of the evil things that go on would be less likely to happen. Also I would have thought that Donald Rumsfeld would have known better than to say Darbys name in public. I"m wondering where his priorities were that day.
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Whitby, Ont. Canada : 8:50 AM ET
I as an American mother of a marine am proud of Darby's courageous act of conscience and ashamed of his family's lack of support for him. He is a hero, and what a great "movie" this will make.
Posted By Anonymous Ana, Austin, TX : 9:27 AM ET
I'm not stunned at all by the response from others to Mr. Darby's actions. This is why sin is perpetuated, because well meaning people refuse to acknowledge it and dont want to suffer the consequences when its brought out into the open. Mr. Darby did the right thing, its unfortunate that he should suffer because of it. We all need to learn a lesson from this. I'll be praying for him and his family.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon Trautewig, Tampa, FL : 9:40 AM ET
darby is one of the bravest heroes our country has. i think rumsfield knew exactly what his statements and naming of darby would do to this man's situation-and he wanted him to be fearful for exposing the tyrants that were doing rumsfield dirty work. i hope darby is honored with a bravery medal.
Posted By Anonymous brooke johnson, nj : 9:46 AM ET
"I don't like the tag that much. I view it as -- I was a soldier and I was an MP. I was just doing my job. And they violated the law," he said.

This is the sort of conduct we expect from our fine enlisted men and women.

Thank you, Joe Darby, for upholding honor in the face of adversity from within our own ranks.
Posted By Anonymous Jake, Wheeling IL : 10:01 AM ET
There are those who are extremely uneducated and do not know what "fairness", "truth", or the difference from right and wrong is. This young man should be extremely proud of his military service to include turning in those who broke the rules. Breaking the rules should not be tolerated.
Posted By Anonymous F. Berg, Del Rio, Texas : 10:05 AM ET
Wonder if Rumsfeld once thought about what the consequences of his remarks might be?
Posted By Anonymous Del Houston, Texas : 10:06 AM ET
There are those who are extremely uneducated and do not know what "fairness", "truth", or the difference from right and wrong is. This young man should be extremely proud of his military service to include turning in those who broke the rules. Breaking the rules should not be tolerated.
Posted By Anonymous F. Berg, Del Rio, Texas : 10:06 AM ET
How can Mr. Rumsfeld get away with exposing this hero. What a foolish thing to do. Thank you Joe Darby. Thank you for upholding true American standards.
Posted By Anonymous Matt, Boise Id : 10:19 AM ET
I applaud Mr. Darby for his honest and integrety in reporting this incident. This world needs more people like him who are willing to do the right thing just because it is the right thing. I think it is very sad that our society has forgotten that "two wrongs do not make a right". Cudos to Mr. Darby
Posted By Anonymous M. S. New Orleans, LA : 10:19 AM ET
I too was in the Army, and remember learn three standing orders of a soldier. The most important of which, A duty to not follow an un-lawful order.
You did "the right thing" My father taught me, "It is not always pretty, nor easy, but the truth is always the truth!
So, Hold your head high, and know that you served as a soldier is expected.
Posted By Anonymous Tate, Louisville, KY : 10:20 AM ET
Mr. Darby is a prime example of the bravery and fine character of all (well, the vast majority) of our military personnel. He and his family should be proud that he did the right thing, in spite of the consequences of his actions. I was shocked to learn of Rumsfeld's inconsiderate and dangerous revelation of Mr. Darby's identity. I hope and pray that the Pentagon can now keep Mr. Darby and his family safe from those who would have the U.S. "ravage the countryside" in the name of peace and democracy.

God Bless Mr. Darby and his family and all of our fighting men and women. Even though i don't support our war in Iraq I have tremendous support and pride in our military personnel.
Posted By Anonymous PJK, Hoboken NJ : 10:21 AM ET
It is sad that an honorable man like Darby has to live in fear because others choose to break the law and he stood up for what was right and justice.
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Wichita, KS : 10:23 AM ET
As everyone should know, there are two sides to every story! For instance, did Darby actually work on Tier 1A? No. So it's amazing to hear him say that the soldiers on Tier 1A were "not" instructed by their superiors to soften up detainees. How would he know... he wasn't one of those soldiers who were responsible for the tier and therefore... of course Darby was not instructed by his superiors to do so. There are documented statements that counter his comments. I think that CNN has the responsibility to report BOTH SIDES of the story.
Posted By Anonymous Carri, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania : 10:23 AM ET
So basically, I am a tough guy if I am 6 feet tall with a shaved head? Mr. Toughguy was so tough and moral that he had to "annonymously" turn in those photos? If he really believed in what he was doing, he shouldn't have feared it and turned them in honorably. Also... if it wasn't so widespread and only a "few bad apples" why did he fear it? Come on people, wake up and connect the dots! They are all but connected for you anyways. Hmm, why did Rumsfeld reveal his name? Oh I don't know... maybe Rumsfeld was upset that his methodology for data gathering through softening up for interrogations was revealed??
Posted By Anonymous Jessica, Reston, VA : 10:35 AM ET
True heroes are rare and rarer still come out of their ordeal unscathed. Joe Darby lived the existential nightmare that seperates most of us from those few who are willing to stand up to the consequences of doing the right thing.

The military and Rumsfeld in particular knew how dangerous Joe's situation would become once they divulged his identity. For them to not protect him immediately is shameful.

What happened in that prison went against not only the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) but the Geneva Conventions and American civil law not to mention our national integrity.

Joe deserves all of our thanks for doing the right thing.

Thanks Joe, you made us proud.
Posted By Anonymous Lou M., Lake Forest, Illinois : 10:40 AM ET
As a former Army MP I can tell you that I have done alot of POW training missions. It is standard training for MP's. Of all the training I did the only time we were EVER led into "softening-up" prisoners was when our training was in conjunction with an MI unit. I can see how a Reserve unit, who does not do training operations as a full-time job can be led into a line of thinking and behaving that is not in accordance with the MP mission in the camp. It is shameful that the only ones punished were the MP's and not the ones who led them to believe there job was anything other than what is in the Training Mannual. The whistle-blower and the Reserve soldiers were left holding the bag for what the guys behind the scene orchestrated. It's not hard to get someone else to do your dirty work and keep your hands clean when they trust you and want to support you in your mission.
It is wrong to punish the guy who blew the whistle. Those pictures were passed around by e-mail among soldiers long before the media broke the story.
Posted By Anonymous Juli, Lubbock Texas : 10:56 AM ET
Why do the News people use the term " whistleblower", which to me is a negative term, to describe someone who does something that is wrong? Do policemen " whistleblow" when they arrest someone? I feel the news people throw the shroud of bad over someone who does something good. The word " whistleblower " should not even be in the dictionary, let alone printed in the papers.
Posted By Anonymous John Hingle Carmel In, : 10:59 AM ET
There may be some justice in the world after all. It's sad that some people still think that might is right. A little integrity and self-respect goes a long way, it's a shame that the Mr. Darby's colleagues forgot about that.
Mr. Darby, I admire your courage. It makes the rest of us want to do the same when confronted with a similar situation.
Posted By Anonymous Diana, NY, NY : 11:03 AM ET
I commend you Mr. Darby... But I bet there won't be many more coming forward if Rumsfeld keeps thanking them on national television... I can't believe that Rumsfeld inocently exposed him that way... Sometimes I wonder if our government officials truly believe our IQ's are that low, that we are that naive to take what they say at face value... They say the new xray machines at the airports see EVERYTHING... Can it see HIDDEN AGENDAS?... I would say Rumsfeld and few others might not want to fly anytime soon...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota Fl : 11:21 AM ET
Too many people believe "class" is a function of money, intellect or power. "Class" is the possession of qualities such as maturity, accountability, integrity and ethical behavior. That said, Mr. Darby has more class than all the influence peddlers in Washington.

It's uplifting to see examples of American commitment and courage in people like Joe Darby and so disheartening to see it squandered on bad foreign policy.
Posted By Anonymous Mayda Cameron, Midland, TX : 12:37 PM ET
I must say I'm a little shocked by the negative comments here regarding Mr. Darby. While I certainly believe that we are all entitled to our own opinions, calling this gentleman "anti-American" is ridiculous.

What was done to those captives was asolutely inhumane and yet I can see that there are people out there who think it was okay or should just be swept under a rug since they were "suspected" terrorists.

Who cares about a rift between political parties? Humans were treated like animals, clearly violating the Geneva Convention.

And considering that one of you can't even properly spell "jeopardy" I'm not sure that your stand on this issue holds any water.

This man stood up for what was right and caused these inhumane abuses to be brought to light. He should be considered an American hero.
Posted By Anonymous Rebecca, Oklahoma City, OK : 1:11 PM ET
You and your wife are HEROES! Thank you for holding criminals responsible for their acts. I'm a Navy Vet, and those pix and those acts disturbed me, but we are a bigger better country and military because of putting those goons in jail.

God, thank You for men like Darby.
And, thank You for President Bush!
John Donovan
Posted By Anonymous John Donovan Alexandria VA : 2:00 PM ET
To be perfectly honest, I do not know the whole story so I cannot comment on the man's actions but what I can comment on, no matter the actions or intentions of Mr. Darby, Donald Rumsfeld's public disclosure of the man's identity was completely uncalled for. I believe he did it with the intention of discouraging any future possible "whistle-blowers". He didn't even wait until Mr. Darby was out of harms way so that should tell us something about Mr. Rumsfeld's "appreciation" for the truth. Mr. Darby and the Reserve soldiers were left shouldering all the blame and anger while Mr. Rumsfeld and others behind the scenes walked away. C'mon people. Soldiers don't just think up this stuff on their own and cannot do this stuff without higher authorities knowing about it. DISMISS Rumsfeld!!!
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills, CA : 2:12 PM ET
Darby did the U.S. a public service and he did his job well. Be proud Joe Darby. You did the right thing when your Commander-in-Chief was hiding behind a wall of lies and deceit. What Rumsfeld did to you should have lost him his job as SECDEF.

Having spent more than 23 years in the military, I have seen less dangerous situations where a whistleblower was removed from the command at which they served after approaching authorities. They removed these people because it was dangerous for them to continue to stay there or because their bosses may not treat them fairly because the bosses will ultimately suffer in their career pursuits as a result of investigations and findings. This looks to me like they wanted Joe Darby to be taken out of the picture. I'm glad he is still with us.

Well done Joe and good luck in your future.
Posted By Anonymous William Slifko (USN ret.) Tokyo : 8:40 PM ET
My hat is off to you, sir. I can't stand what those people did to us and maybe the prisoners should not be treated "nice" but the treatment that they received is not the way to punish them. The decent people of those countries will not respect us with treatment like that. I was in the military and can only guess the pressure you felt for doing the rite thing. What courage!!
Posted By Anonymous George Hayes, West Hartford, Ct : 9:06 AM ET
I feel that Joe Darby is a hero, risking his life to uncover the truth. I don't think he can be a given a big enough reward for his actions. Joe Darby I hope you live a happy and long life and please keep your identity concealed. For you have stood against not only those who were envolved but also high ranking officers.
Posted By Anonymous Dan, passaci New jersey : 4:34 PM ET
It is so refreshing to see someone do the RIGHT thing with this war mess. I am very proud of you and what you did. God bless you! Those who criticize you should hang their heads in shame.
Posted By Anonymous Bambi Tuckey, Poconos, PA USA : 4:42 PM ET
While I applaud Mr. Darby for "doing the right thing" we have lost sight of the most important part of all of this. There is a war on. The torture committed by the Iraqui's is much worse than anything we, as American's, can ever imagine. While I do not support the treatment the prisoners received, I can in some sense understand the treatment by soldiers who had seen horrendous treatment of their own people and civilians captured
by inhuman beings.
What the prisoners suffered was degredation and humiliation. It was in NO WAY "torture". Give me a break. Maybe if we put pictures of the beheddings and the other mutilations that are done day after day by the real terrorists we would stop agreeing with all the media crap we are fed on a daily basis.
Posted By Anonymous Jasper Ruben, Spokane, Wa : 7:44 PM ET
The origin of the orders or their intent is irrelevent. The actions of people, either active duty or civilian are a direct reflection of our society. I applaude the efforts to help make right a serious wrong. Until the world's consciousness is changed from intolerance to compassion, there will be no peace. Thank you for your demonstration of commendable decision making.
Posted By Anonymous Tamatha Norman, Gulf Shores, AL : 1:51 PM ET
Thanks Randi for posting this one. I used to think that the CNN has become warmongers media , This posting strengthen my faith in CNN again.

If soldiers behaviour is like terrorists, than what America is fighting for ? If there is freedom for justice, no security for justice, no promotion for justice , what is America fighting for ?
Posted By Anonymous Frank, Bentonville, AR : 12:53 AM ET
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