To: The Office of the President of the United States
From: Freeman, Milo D., OIF Sept. '06 - Dec. '07
RE: Detainee Abuse Photos
My name is "Milo Freeman." I am a proud supporter of your election, and an Iraq War veteran. I served in support of OIF from September of 2006 to December of 2007. I am proud to call myself a veteran. I am not, however, proud of the ways which my country has chose to view or exploit my service in the past.
While proud of my former occupation, it became clear to me very quickly that our presence in Iraq was in fact a harm to the people of that country. I believe that our presence there caused a great deal of suffering to the people of Iraq, and only served to damage our standing in the world. When I first heard that you were running for President, I eagerly supported your campaign. The night of your election was one of the proudest of my life, because, as a man of 26 years, yours was the first presidency in whose making I had truly had a hand.
I have applauded many of your sweeping accomplishments since taking office. I applaud your decisive actions on the economy, and have applauded your efforts to undo the damage of the last eight years. But there is one policy of which I must vehemently disapprove: the decision not to make public ALL of the photographs depicting detainee abuse by US forces.
I know that my comrades serve bravely every day in the service of our country. I know that their service is noble, because once it was mine. But I also believe that we are frail, that we are human, and that without the proper guidance we can fail to live up to the values that our Constitution espouses. I believe that being American does not render us incapable of sin. And in these photos, sir, I believe that we have committed many grave sins, indeed.
I understand your office's desire not to engage in partisan witch-hunting. I understand that our nation faces many challenges, and simply finding scapegoats for the recent past will solve nothing. But I also believe that we, as Americans, must LOOK our sins in the face. We must know that we have done wrong, so that we can TRULY begin to heal the wounds we have inflicted. Without this catharsis, sir, there can be no justice; there can be no healing.
I understand that the photos you have chosen not to release contain images which may incite backlash against the forces responsible. I understand that they contain images which may be upsetting to the American public. My response: good. After an era which was so marked by double standards of justice, my conscience cannot abide the sufferings depicted in these images. I cannot proudly call myself an American, a veteran, while knowing that my service contributed to this shame. It is not merely wrong, sir, it is vile. It is abomination. We allowed ourselves to forget our most basic values, and in so doing we are ALL the less for our silence. Even you, Mr. President.
When American forces stormed into Germany in 1945, they discovered horrors beyond belief. They saw how German soldiers had allowed themselves to be co-opted, how German citizens had willingly blinded themselves to the truth. And when they looked upon those crematories, those stacks of corpses piled like cordwood, they did the only thing they felt was right: They rounded up the surviving soldiers, and forced them to bury the dead. They rounded up the villagers, and forced them to confront the hideousness of their own sins. For not all sins are acts of comission, as you well know. In hiding the truth from the public, we are committing sins of OMISSION.
If yours is the Administration that I believed it to be, then you can maintain no silence in this. The truth, however ugly, must be made known. If the rumors are true--that the photos you have suppressed not only depict torture and humiliation, but even murder and rape--then we are bound, as Americans, to acknowledge our crimes. Without truth, there can be no healing.
I implore you, Mr. President. Serve Justice. Serve Truth. Release these photos.
Freeman, Milo D. (SPC), US Army, 2004-2008