I put in more snippets than usual. And I didn’t try to make the scrolly thing because it seems like some browsers don’t like it.
I don’t really have a lot of commentary to add to this, those of you who pray, please pray for this man, and for his family, that they come to no harm.
Delgado says he observed mutilation of the dead, trophy photos of dead Iraqis, mass roundups of innocent noncombatants, positioning of prisoners in the line of fire – all violations of the Geneva conventions. His own buddies – decent, Christian men, as he describes them – shot unarmed prisoners.
In one government class for seniors, Delgado presented graphic images, his own photos of a soldier playing with a skull, the charred remains of children, kids riddled with bullets, a soldier from his unit scooping out the brains of a prisoner.
When I interviewed Delgado recently, he expressed his deep love of his country, but he also insisted that racism – a major impetus to violence in American history – is driving the occupation, infecting the entire military operation in Iraq.Here is Aiden Delgado story.
Q: When did you begin to turn against the military and the war?
DELGADO: From the very earliest time I was in Iraq, I began to see ugly strains of racism among our troops–anti-Arab, anti-Muslim sentiments.
Q: What are some examples?
DELGADO: There was a Master Sergeant. A Master Sergeant is one of the highest enlisted ranks. He whipped this group of Iraqi children with a steel Humvee antenna. He just lashed them with it because they were crowding around, bothering him, and he was tired of talking. Another time, a Marine, a Lance Corporal – a big guy about six-foot-two – planted a boot on a kid’s chest, when a kid came up to him and asked him for a soda. The First Sergeant said, “That won’t be necessary Lance Corporal.” And that was the end of that. It was a matter of routine for guys in my unit to drive by in a Humvee and shatter bottles over Iraqis heads as they went by. And these were guys I considered friends. And I told them:” What the hell are you doing? What does that accomplish?” One said back:” I hate being here. I hate looking at them. I hate being surrounded by all these Hajjis.”
Q: When you arrived at Abu Ghraib, what did you see, beyond what we all learned from the scandal in the news? And how were you affected?
DELGADO:..The prisoners were housed outside in tents, 60 to 80 prisoners per tent. It rained a lot. The detainees lived in the mud. It was freezing cold outside, and the prisoners had no cold-weather clothing. Our soldiers lived inside in cells, with four walls that protected us from the bombardment. The Military Police used the cold weather to control the prisoners. If there was an infraction, detainees would be removed from their tents. Next, their blankets were confiscated. Then even their clothing was taken away. Almost naked, in underwear, the POWs would huddle together on a platform outside to keep warm. There was overcrowding, and almost everyone got TB. Eighteen members of our unit who worked closely with the prisoners got TB too. The food was rotten and prisoners got dysentery. The unsanitary conditions, the debris and muck everywhere, the overcrowding in cold weather, led to disease, an epidemic, pandemic conditions. The attitude of the guards was brutal. To them Iraqis were the scum of the earth. Detainees were beaten within inches of their life.
DELGADO: T…He showed me these grisly photographs, and he bragged about the results. “Oh,” he said, “I shot this guy in the face. See, his head is split open.” He talked like the Terminator. `I shot this guy in the groin, he took three days to bleed to death.” I was shocked. This was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet. He was a family man, a really courteous guy, a devout Christian. I was stunned and said to him: “You shot an unarmed man behind barbed wire for throwing a stone.” He said, “Well, I knelt down. I said a prayer, stood up and gunned them all down.”
Q: Commanders permitted use of lethal force against unarmed detainees. What was their response to the carnage?
DELGADO: Our Command took the grisly photos and posted them up in the headquarters. It was a big, macho thing for our company to shoot more prisoners than any other unit.
Q: When did all this happen?
DELGADO: November 24th. The event was actually mentioned in the Taguba Report, under Protocol Golden Spike. And there’s more… I got photos from the guy who was there, my friend. I have a photo of a member of my unit, scooping out the prisoner’s brains with an MRE [meals-ready-to-eat] spoon. Four people are looking on, two are taking photographs. If you remember the Abu Ghraib stuff that came out on CNN, this kind of stuff was common. You see guys posing with bodies, or toying with corpses. It was a real common thing in the military, all because the guys thought Arabs are terrorists, the scum of the earth. Anything we do to them is all right.
Q: So far as I know, no commanders have been held accountable for events at Abu Ghraib. Your story implicates commanders…
DELGADO: After the Abu Ghraib scandal broke on CNN and TV, commanders came out to us and said: “We are all family here. We don’t wash our dirty linen in public. This story doesn’t need to go on CNN. Nobody needs to find out about this.” There was a sort of informal gag order.
DELGADO: I went to Fort Knox for basic training. It was known to be harsher than other bases. The training was mentally taxing, and there was already some anti-Arab sentiment.
Q: Like what?
DELGADO: In the early stages I remember Army chants. We sang in cadences. And the chants had anti-Arab themes. Like burning turbans, killing ragheads, killing the Taliban.
Q: What did the chants say?
DELGADO: It was three years ago. I can’t tell the exact words, but the sentiment was to burn turbans and kill ragheads. That was the phraseology. Our drill sergeants would give us motivational talks to pump up our fighting spirit. The theme was the need to get revenge, to go to the Middle East to fight Arabs.