Friday, April 3, 2009

Now this is a Travesty!

I didn't have the opportunity to serve in Iraq; but I know people who did. I have listened when they talked about the Iraqi citizens who risked their lives by serving as interpreters for American forces. I've met some of those Iraqi interpreters who have been able to obtain visas to come to the United States. They are genuinely nice folks, who made a decision to work for Americans who brought hope to them and their country; a decision that cost them their safety and sometimes cost even more. So I became increasingly angry as I read an article posted on FoxNEWS about the State Department's denial of a visa for an Iraqi interpreter who had repeatedly saved the lives of American troops; for what seems like a "made up" reason.

You see, this interpreter was a member of the Peshmerga, an anti-Saddam group. He was asked to get documents on one of Sadam's sons. He did so by stealing Uday Hussein's car, was caught, convicted, sent to prison, and repeatedly tortured. He actively worked to overthrow Saddam at a time when our foreign policy encouraged such activities...but a State Department Consular official denied this brave man's visa applications for himself, his wife, and their child, because he had a conviction for theft. He denied the visa despite a full explanation of the reasons behind the theft (the overthrow of a dictator) and despite numerous recommendations from military men and women (including General Officers) who described numerous occasions when this interpreter put his life on the line to save American lives. He's pulled wounded soldiers from destroyed vehicles and covered them with his own body to protect them from sniper fire. He's risked his own life to pull wounded troops to safety. His skill as an interpreter was invaluable at finding and catching insurgents. What more does anyone need to do?

This is a travesty and someone should question the real reason behind the visa denial. According to the FoxNEWs report, the State Department official who denied the visa was aware that this brave man was the organizational impetus behind a public meeting of translators to protest a political decision to hand over the real names of Iraqi translators to the Iraqi government; something the translators felt put them and their families in danger. He's also apparently been a whistleblower on a couple of other occasions. Perhaps, this State Department official who denied this heroic man his well-deserved visa is really just exercising his puny power.

Despite the denial, the Iraqi interpreter continues to work for the Americans. . .knowing that doing so risks his life and the life of his family. Amazing!

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