Time magazine, my corporate overlords, have just put out their list of the top one hundred leaders in the world. One of them is Ian Fishback, one of the great heroes of our current struggle against religious terrorism, who risked his career to expose abuse and torture sanctioned by the Pentagon civilian leadership in Iraq. Last year, many of you sent emails of support to this soldier, and I know they made a difference. The good news is that this West Point graduate is still at war, doing what he believes in; and that, with his help, the McCain Amendment passed last year. The bad news, of course, is that the president doesn't regard himself as subject to laws passed by veto-proof majorities in the Congress. But Fishback's record of honor, duty and country endures. My 2005 column explaining him to British readers can be found here. His letter to Senator McCain, rightly now an historical document, ends thus:
Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security? Terrorism inspires fear and suppresses ideals like freedom and individual rights. Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is "America."
He's still fighting.
(Photo: Jamie Rose/New York Times.)