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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette profiles one of the Abu Ghraib abuse suspects that Seymour Hersh affectionately calls "the children": Army Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., 36, one of seven members of the 372nd Military Police Company charged with assault, cruelty, indecent acts and mistreatment of detainees.
John Burner, who has known the family for 30 years, was visibly taken aback and dismayed yesterday.
"I feel so bad," he said. "He was a real good guy. I have nothing but good things to say about Chuck. Never once did Chuck give anyone a problem. It was always 'Yes, sir' or 'No, sir.' He wouldn't even call my wife and me by our first names. It was always 'Mr.' and "Mrs.' "
But public records indicate that Graner had troubles at work as a correctional officer in the state prison system in Greene County -- a history of disciplinary actions that culminated in his firing in 2000. He was later reinstated by an arbitrator.
Graner's marriage dissolved in 1997 and his wife obtained three protection-from-abuse orders against him in the ensuing four years. In her first petition, she accused him of threatening to kill her. She made other allegations of abuse in subsequent petitions.
Read the whole thing, and take it with a grain of salt - news reports are sometimes wrong. But this one contains perhaps the most damning comments regarding the "these children are victims" line of defense, from a reporter who served with Graner in a previous assignment:
KDKA-TV reporter Ross Guidotti served with Graner in a military police company when both were members of the Marine Corps Reserve. For about six weeks in early 1991, both were guards at a prison camp for Iraqis captured during the Gulf War.
"From what I saw, he did not have a malevolent side," Guidotti said. He remembered Graner as "a funny guy, outgoing, and quick to crack a joke."
He said he was shocked to hear that Graner has been accused of mistreating prisoners, in part because of the training they and other guards received years ago. "It was drilled into our minds well before we left the continental U.S. what we were allowed to do, and not allowed to do, relative to the treatment of prisoners."
As Americans get over their shock and disgust and Democrats once again loose their "criminals are victims" debate then perhaps the wheels of justice can start turning again.
Hat tip: Commenter here.