Joseph Darby did the right thing.
SGT Joseph Darby is a good
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 98, Taos, New Mexico,
salutes SGT Joseph Darby for a job well done.
ABCNEWS.com Person of the Week: Spc. Joseph Darby
Joseph Darby, Iraq Prison Whistle-Blower, Followed His
By Peter Jennings
May 7, 2004 — Army Spc. Joseph Darby, 24, is the man who sounded
the first alarm about the abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison — by
people in his own 372nd Military Police Company.
Yorker magazine was the first to report that after seeing the
pictures we are all so familiar with now, Darby put an anonymous
note under the door of his commander. He described the incidents and
the photographs he had seen.
Darby is quoted by a criminal
investigator as feeling very bad about something he thought was very
"It was really hard on him," said Margaret Blank, Darby's mother.
"He didn't want to go against...his troops. It cut him in half, but
he said he could not stand the atrocities that he had stumbled upon.
He said he kept thinking, 'What if that was my mom, my grandmother,
my brother or my wife?'"
Darby later came forward and identified himself as the person who
had sent the note.
"I told him, 'Your picture is in the paper,'" Blank said. "I
said, 'Honey, I'm so proud of you because...you did a good thing and
good always triumphs over evil. And the truth will always set you
free.' And he said, 'You're right, mom.'"
The photographs have had enormous consequences, and Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld cited Darby's actions during testimony
before Congress today.
"There are many who did their duty professionally," Rumsfeld
said. "Spc. Joseph Darby...alerted the authorities that abuse was
Human rights workers say that such horror can only be exposed if
someone has the courage to come forward.
"Torture flourishes in the dark," said Carroll Bogert of the
group Human Rights Watch, "and what Darby has done is to shine a
light on what was happening in a place that was dark."
Stood Up for His Beliefs
Darby grew up in western Pennsylvania. His family moved around a
lot, but when Darby was a teenager they lived in the mining town of
Bob Ewing, Darby's 10th-grade history teacher and football coach
at North Star High, described Darby as an average player and an
average student, but one who knew his own mind.
"In school, if Joe believed in something, Joe stood up for it,
and it didn't matter if it was unpopular, or the politically correct
thing," Ewing said. "If Joe believed in something, that's what Joe
stood up for."
His parents didn't have a lot of money. And after his little
brother was born, Joe went to work at a Wendy's to help out.
"He never let anyone know he was down and out," said a neighbor,
Gilbert Reffner. "He was out to make a better life for himself."
He thought the Army might lead to a better life — even a college
education, which the Army would pay for. Like so many others, he
ended up in Iraq.
'Tell The Truth'
Today, Darby is a hero to some — but not to all. He is married,
but his wife's name is being withheld at her request, because in the
wake of what her husband has done she fears retaliation.
"Darby told the truth," Human Rights Watch's Bogert said.
"Telling the truth doesn't always make you popular. And I think a
lot of public opprobrium has come down on his head for the fact that
he told the truth. But I think that history will put him in a good
Darby's mother has had a hard life. She had cancer. She lost an
eye. She has diabetes.
But this week she said that her faith in God has made the
difference. That, and a son she is proud of.
"Tell the truth, always remain true to yourself and remain true
to your country," Blank said. "And I think he did all three."
'Moral Call' Led Soldier to Expose
Fri Aug 6, 7:05 PM ET
By ALLEN G. BREED, Associated Press Writer
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - The soldier who was the first to report
his colleagues were abusing Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib prison
testified Friday that he agonized for a month about disclosing what
he had seen, but decided he could not let the abuse go on.
"It violated everything I personally believed in and all I'd been
taught about the rules of war," Sgt. Joseph Darby testified during a
pretrial hearing for Pfc. Lynndie England. "It was more of a moral
Darby turned over two compact discs of photos, including some
that showed England leading a naked prisoner by a leash and smiling
as she points at the genitals of a hooded detainee. Darby had known
the 21-year-old reservist since basic training with the
Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company and wrestled with the
decision to come forward.
"These people were my friends," Darby testified by phone from an
undisclosed location. "It's a hard call to have to make the decision
to put your friends in prison."
The Article 32 hearing at Fort Bragg is to determine whether
England should face a court-martial on 13 counts of abusing
detainees and six counts stemming from possession of sexually
explicit photos. If convicted, she could get up to 38 years in
Friday's fourth day of testimony painted a picture of a prison in
disarray, where it was often unclear whether guards or military
intelligence officers were in charge and where barely trained
reservists were often left to make decisions alone.
Darby testified that he received the now-notorious photos in
early December on computer discs from Spc. Charles Graner, with whom
England was having a sexual affair. There had been a prison uprising
while Darby was on leave, and he had asked Graner if he had any
When he looked at the photos, Darby was "bewildered" by what he
saw — prisoners chained together in sexual poses, piled on the floor
naked and forced to form a nude human pyramid.
Finally, on Jan. 13, Darby decided to make copies of the CDs and
write an anonymous letter to military investigators. Graner was
scheduled to return to the prison the next day from another
assignment, and Darby said he was "concerned about the abuse
England has said the guards were told to "soften up" prisoners
for interrogators. But Darby said England was a clerical worker who
did not even belong in that part of the prison and that guards had
no role in interrogations.
When asked by defense attorney Rick Hernandez to speculate why
Graner and the others would do these things, Darby replied: "I don't
know if they were bored, sir, or doing things they couldn't do at
home. But I knew there was no good reason for it."
Hernandez asked Darby whether he would have followed an order to
put a naked prisoner into the prison's "hole" as punishment, as was
a common practice at Abu Ghraib. Darby said he would not have.
"Every soldier had the obligation to follow lawful orders — and
not follow unlawful orders," he said.
Darby, who is from Cresaptown, Md., where the 372nd is based,
acknowledged that he had seen at least one image of detainee abuse
as far back as October, when Graner showed him a still from a video
camera of a hooded detainee handcuffed to the bars of his cell.
Darby quoted Graner, a prison guard in civilian life, as telling
him: "The Christian in me knows it's wrong, but the corrections
officer in me can't help but love making a grown man piss
Graner and England are among seven 372nd members who have been
charged with abuse. Graner also faces adultery charges for having
sex with England, who her lawyers say is seven months pregnant with
Throughout the hearing, prosecutors have contended that England
was part of a group of rogue reservists who went outside the chain
of command to abuse prisoners for sport on the night shift at Abu
Defense attorneys have attempted to show that the guards were
poorly trained and that intelligence officers had control of the
site where the photos were taken.
Bolstering that contention, Sgt. Hydrue Joyner testified Friday
that the 372nd's members were not initially trained for prison duty
and that most of what they did learn was taught on the job.
"No one knew what we were supposed to do," said Joyner, who was
in charge of the day shift in the unit where the abuse occurred.
"Basically, I was just shooting from the hip and hoping to God I
didn't screw up."
He said he gave male prisoners women's underwear because that was
all he had at one point and that he was often unable to get enough
jumpsuits for them to wear.
Joyner injected some rare levity into the hearing, telling how he
gave prisoners nicknames such as "Spiderman," "Groucho," "Big Bird."
Even England, who has been mostly stone-faced during the
proceedings, laughed so hard she became red in the face.
Family of Iraq Abuse Whistleblower
Mon Aug 16, 9:51 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Relatives of the U.S. soldier who sounded
the alarm about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison said
on Monday the family was living in protective custody because of
death threats against them.
Reservist military police officer Staff Sgt. Joseph Darby alerted
U.S. Army investigators about the abuse by fellow soldiers of
prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, a move his wife says
has angered people in their community in western Maryland.
"People were mean, saying he was a walking dead man, he was
walking around with a bull's eye on his head. It was scary," said
Bernadette Darby from Corriganville, Maryland.
Mrs. Darby said it was difficult living in protective custody,
and she missed her privacy. She did not say who was providing the
"There's always someone with you," she told ABC's "Good Morning
Despite the threats, Mrs. Darby she believed her husband made the
right choice exposing the abuse.
"Joe is the type of person to take what is going on around him
and be like, 'How would I feel if that was my wife?' ... He just
could not live with himself knowing that that was happening and he
did not do anything about it," she said.
Darby's sister-in-law, Maxine Carroll, said people had written
graffiti on her fence but she also applauded what her brother-in-law
did and said she was horrified by a series of graphic photographs
Darby handed over to investigators.
"That's not what we are there for (in Iraq). We are there to show
them the right way. When Joe can talk, then that is what he will
say," she said.
In testimony this month at a hearing for one of the soldiers
accused of abusing prisoners, Darby said he struggled with the
decision to turn over the photos because he was friendly with one of
What he saw on the CDs containing the photos, he said, "violated
everything I personally believed in and everything I had been taught
about the rules of war."