A soldier who reportedly tipped off Army investigators to Iraqi war prisoner abuse joined the military to help others, a relative said Tuesday.
Spc. Joseph M. Darby, 24, of Corriganville, was credited by a member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division with slipping an anonymous note under a division officer’s door after receiving a compact disc from another soldier that contained pictures of naked detainees, according an article this week in The New Yorker magazine.
Darby later gave investigators a sworn statement saying “he felt very bad” about the prisoners’ treatment “and thought it was very wrong,” according to an abridged transcript the magazine obtained of another soldier’s Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.
Darby hasn’t discussed the case with his family, but they’re proud of what they’ve heard and read about him, said his sister-in-law, Maxine Carroll.
“He joined the military to take care of people and, honestly, that’s what he’s doing,” she said.
Darby’s wife Bernadette, 24, declined to comment. Carroll, her sister, said the military has discouraged Mrs. Darby from making public statements even though she hasn’t discussed the case with her husband.
An auto mechanic
Carroll said her sister and Darby married shortly after they graduated from high school in Somerset County, Pa., then moved to Falls Church, Va., where Darby worked as an auto mechanic.
Darby then joined the Army Reserve’s 372nd Military Police Company about three years ago, based near Cumberland, Carroll said.
“He wanted to serve his country and he wanted to give something back,” she said.
The unit was mobilized in February 2003 for deployment in Iraq.
The investigation of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad has yielded criminal charges against six members of the 372nd. They face possible courts-martial on charges including dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person.
Seven others, all officers or noncommissioned officers, have been given noncriminal punishment, such as letters of reprimand or admonishment.
Two other soldiers are cited in The New Yorker as having given evidence of abuse at the prison. The magazine reported that Spc. Matthew Wisdom, who is not charged, testified he saw two of the accused soldiers hitting a pile of prisoners and that he saw two prisoners committing a sexual act while soldiers watched.
“I thought I should just get out of there. I didn’t think it was right,” Wisdom reportedly testified. He also said he told his supervisors what happened.
Another soldier, Spc. Jason Kennel, who was not accused of wrongdoing, told investigators that military intelligence officers told the soldiers to remove prisoners’ mattresses, sheets and clothes, according to The New Yorker.