Remember Pvt. Lynndie England, leash holder, rogue bad apple who went to jail and was dishonorably discharged because she took it upon herlittle ol’ self to torture prisoners, something we would never, never do in this country? In 2005 in an essay titled, “Who Gave Lynndie the Leash“ I wrote about the fallacy of the premise that England should take the fall:
It’s almost as if Lynndie England was reprising the role of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. Dog leash in hand, she epitomized the evil of Abu Ghraib. The accused knew what she was doing,” said Capt. Chris Graveline, the lead prosecutor. “She was laughing and joking. … She is enjoying, she is participating, all for her own sick humor.” Virtually guaranteed a conviction by a jury of five male officers, the U.S. Military saw in her prosecution a ritual cleansing of the stain of torture and abuse that oozed out of Abu Ghraib.
That Pvt. England had a history of mental incapacity and learning disabilities and was ordered to pose by her lover and superior officer were simply not relevant, she had a dog leash (although ironically, she was acquitted of a conspiracy charge pertaining to the leash).
Reports by members of the 82nd Airborne Division to Human Rights Watch and Congress that abuse and torture were not limited to Abu Ghraib were also considered irrelevant…
…Making it crystal clear that the whole point of the England trial was to close the book on the torture and abuse allegations, the judge ruled against the testimony on the grounds that abuse elsewhere was not necessarily connected and would not lessen England’s guilt.
Funny thing, turns out that the other incidents of abuse were connected/were U.S. military policy and she actually was just following orders as the recently released torture memos make very, very clear.
A detailed history of harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush administration directly links the CIA’s interrogation program to the military’s use of aggressive tactics, dismissing the notion that the brutal treatment of terror detainees and prisoners was the work of a few low-ranking soldiers.
As Linda Dupuy writes in this excellent essay calling for a full pardon for England,
She was sacrificed – her livelihood, her future in the line of duty – for the sake of a war effort. Her country and more specifically her government abandoned her for doing exactly as she (it appears now) was told.
Lynndie England is a symbol of embarrassment. Not because she posed in pictures following orders – but because our government let her take the fall.
Dupuy is absolutely correct, we owe England a huge apology, a full pardon and everything we can possibly do to make her life right again. And more than that, we owe her the full prosecution of those who created this policy and knowingly and willfully let her take the fall for their actions.