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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Abu Ghraib - truth-telling and its consequences
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Abu Ghraib - truth-telling and its consequences

courtesy of consortium news...
Editor’s Note: On Thursday night, former Army Sgt. Sam Provance received a letter of commendation from Common Cause – signed by former President Jimmy Carter and 15,000 others – for his “uncommon courage in defending the rule of law and standing up against torture.”

In 2004, Provance was the only uniformed military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib who broke the code of silence and challenged the Bush administration’s insistence that the grotesque prison abuses were simply the work of a few “bad apples.”

After military policeman Joseph Darby turned over the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs to investigators, Provance spoke out about the role of intelligence officers and other higher-ups in encouraging the humiliation and torture of prisoners. He gave statements to the Army’s internal investigation, at a congressional hearing and to the press.

For his brave integrity, Provance was punished, threatened with a court martial and pushed out of the military. Since then, Provance has faced severe financial and family pressures, struggling to find work that pays enough for him to meet child support obligations and other basic needs.

So, when Provance accepted Common Cause’s commendation, it was a bittersweet moment that illuminated the grim reality of trying to tell important truths in this American era:

I wish I could share with you a “success” story as a result of my being a “whistle-blower,” but the reality of things simply do not presently allow it.

I admit to you that at one time I did believe that my life would eventually turn for the better, in spite of it all, especially fighting under the banners of “doing right,” “standing up for others” and “speaking the truth.”

But it has been a very long and arduous path I have found myself upon with no end in sight. Rather than a karmic “good” winning in the end over “the forces of evil,” I have experienced what I feel like is a slow and intimate wrath in response to my actions.

However, I have sometimes thought perhaps it has been best. Perhaps I might have grown enthralled with the ensuing drama or seduced by the attention garnered. But I have been humbled many times and kept humble nonetheless.

Others I have seen in this and other scandals took the bribes of some media or gave in to others' insinuations that they embellish their testimony for a better “copy.” Still others got lost in drugs or, more tragically, had mental breakdowns under the unique stress.

Their efforts in this regard were effectively sabotaged, losing their credibility, if not their lives.

Perhaps I could have much to gain from indulging in the spotlight or kill a lot of the pain in the fantasies of inebriation, but I know that if what I have said or done is to maintain its meaning – what I have been sacrificing so much for – I have to stay true. I have to stay the course.

I realized that one cannot allow others to take away their credibility or the integrity of the act itself, otherwise, all will be for naught. Sometimes, as in my case, my credibility is all I have left.

i don't think it takes being a whistleblower to fully appreciate what provance is experiencing... a lot of us have been working for many years to tell the truth - at least the truth as we see it - and have felt like voices crying in the wilderness... all we can do is keep on keepin' on...

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