“U.S. Drops Charges Against 5 Detainees”

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… reports the New York Times, and the reason just might be that the government’s handling of these very cases in Guantanamo had caused a Catholic prosecutor to quit in protest ten ago.

“I no longer want to participate in the system, but I lack the courage to quit. I am married, with children, and not only will they suffer, I’ll lose a lot of friends,” he said then.

How many, how many, I wonder. When a Foreign Service ambassador once complained vigorously to me about a policy that he was forced to defend publicly, even though he strongly opposed it, I asked him why he didn’t quit.“You can only quit once,” he answered, memorably, the bitterness fairly oozing from his pores. And he might as well have added, “but I lack the courage to quit. I am married, with children, and not only will they suffer, I’ll lose a lot of friends….”

He did not quit, by the way. He stayed on, retired, received a hefty bonus, and got some sort of award.

All of his friends were there.

So hats off to “Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, a military prosecutor who stepped down from his position in September, saying publicly that there were systemic problems in the prosecution that raised ethical issues.”

No, Mr. Vandeveld won’t be a general any time soon, but perhaps he had a more distant, permanent promotion in mind. Not to mention his conscience, of course.

2:25 pm on October 21, 2008
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