I was dismayed by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but not exactly shocked. I was in the Army 1972-1975 and Navy 1977-1983. Discipline, duty, honor, and courage do get practiced, but there has always been some sleaze, and it seemed inevitable that some manifestation would emerge.
My own exposure to the polished sleaze at command level resulted from my tour in Virology Lab, Naval Hospital, San Diego 1982-1983, although it was quite petty compared to the events in Iraq. People have been intimidated by threats of court martial to obey unlawful orders. In my own experience no one threatened to do that when I disobeyed orders to give lab results on tests not done to Medical Corps officers. I think courts martial to enforce unlawful orders are rare. Keep in mind that the test of "unlawful order" is not "Would Ted Rall disapprove?"; it's "Could I be court-martialed for obeying this order?" However fraudulent personnel actions are the norm for retaliation against whistleblowers or others who are "not team players."
Unlike the U.C.M.J., which does provide real opportunities for a defendant to present a case, the appeals process on personnel actions is a systematic sham. The Tailhook Association scandal of 1991 was an example that made the news because it involved sex. Most people's attention was on the behavior of a few drunken, horny pilots. I could not help but marvel how so many of their colleagues, men who were brave enough to fly jets into combat, were absolutely afraid to rebuke their peers.
Many BW readers would say, "Aha, Republican administrations!" Well, Lt. Paula Coughlin may have been molested during the Bush senior administration, but the whistleblower retaliation against her could have been corrected under the Clinton administration. It wasn't. The system is never reformed by either party.
—Martin J. Grumet, Boise
LET THE VIDEO GAMES BEGIN
I was very excited to hear of Twin Galaxies plans for making Boise the Video Game Capitol of the World.
Think about it, there was almost a new convention center built for the express purpose of bringing money into Boise, which was a good notion, but the problem was that no one knew exactly who would be coming to the new convention center. It was just hoped that someone would choose our city over the rest of the country. Why would they come here as opposed to Seattle or Chicago or anywhere else? There are lots of fine convention centers all over the nation.
Compare the above situation with Twin Galaxies plan. We know exactly what industry we're dealing with. Right now it's a $24 billion per year industry, and it's only getting bigger and bigger. The money is there. Right now there is nothing in the world that functions as the headquarters of the "Superbowl of Gaming," so if we build the facilities, the people will come. There's nowhere else for them to go! There will be soon enough, it's just a question of where. We need to get behind Twin Galaxies before some other community beats us to the punch! Bringing in outside money to Boise is a great idea, and a video game stadium is a much safer bet than any convention center, no matter how new and shiny it is. But time is short, if we don't plant out flag and claim this industry for Boise, someone else will!