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October 25, 2007

Soldier In The Dark


(Note: This is the third of three related images I’m examining today.  The first two are posted at Huffington.  After you’ve seen all three, I’m happy for BAGreaders to discuss them all here.)

This is a photo of Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Diaz, former military lawyer and Deputy Legal Advisor for the Army at Guantanamo.  The image, along with his story, was featured this past Sunday in the NYT Magazine.

In March 2005, disillusioned with the legal stonewalling and judicial end-arounds at the facility, Diaz anonymously sent the names of the 551 men being held anonymously at Gitmo to the Center for Constitutional Rights, an activist legal rights organization which was seeking due process for the detainees.  Diaz was arrested shortly after, and on May 18th of this year, was convicted of disclosing secret defense information.  (The names, by the way, have since been released under the Freedom of Information Act.)  Diaz was sentenced to six months in prison and dismissal from the army.  He has been stripped of his right to practice military law, and potentially faces civil disbarment as well.

One thing distinctive here, as compared to the other two portraits, is the lack of background.  Dramatic as it — in the dark, as the outcast — the explanation might also be practical.  Since I’m pretty sure this photo was taken at a brig in Charleston (which Diaz is scheduled to leave this month), I can imagine him not wanting the place in the background, then offered for national consumption.

If you read the article, you’ll see that Diaz had a lot of adversity before becoming a lawyer and joining the military.  What is most tragic about this image — besides the fact Matthew Diaz is caught in the lower edge of extended darkness, facing the prospect of starting from the beginning, appearing to be sinking and losing his head to the shadows — is that he is still wearing his uniform.  With his punishment in mind, he might as well be naked.

Going back to the other two portraits, Diaz is the only one who doesn’t see the light.  In a statement that is horribly telling about this war, this lawyer — a heroic example of collateral damage — ends up with the light, the glare, on him.

See Huffington companion post: Soldiers In Heaven.

(image: Andrew Council/New York Times.

  • tina

    He looks like a classical Mayan carving–inscrutable, unreachable. Out of his time?

  • tonythetigersays


  • KansasKowboy

    We need thousands more like him in the military & government.

  • Stella

    Matthew Diaz is a light in the darkness.
    Bless his heart – let’s hope there are more than a thousand points of light just like him.

  • margaret

    Unlike the moral miasma of greyness, the colour of ethical blurring which characterizes this administration and government, as a whole, The photograph of Diaz expresses to me, that there is still the clarity of “black and white,” of truth vs. lies. Diaz still subscribes to a reverence for the “American Way,” not “The New World Order,” of the Bushes, which nullifies the Constitution at every opportunity.
    I am so weary of the mean-spiritedness, the bigotry, the corruption of my government, and the hopelessness that it engenders. It is time for change of a kinder, more tolerant, less bellicose, honest government: in Congress, as well as the Executive. And it is time to restore habeas corpus, and end this war.

  • PTate in MN

    I’m struck that all three are facing left. The right hemisphere of our brains “read” emotion from the left side of the face–one way of thinking about it is “The right brain functions like radar, scanning for the blip on the screen — signs of negative emotion or danger — and alerts the left side. The left hemisphere analyzes the situation, determines the risk, and formulates logical strategy.”
    So does a left profile shot suggest reflectiveness, internal feelings, things beneath the surface? Does a right profile shot suggest leadership, decisiveness, focus on the exterior? (For comparison, other right profile and left profile shots, here, here, and” rel=”nofollow”>here.)

  • On the Clock

    O/T… Did anyone catch APs Charles Dharapak’s photos of the Code Pink protestor thrusting “blood”-stained hands in Condi Rice’s face at yesterday’s Congressional hearing?
    Photo 702716d from Rex Features is especially compelling, showing Rice staring into the protester’s hand. I can’t find a free enlarged version easily, and Google image searches of “Dharapak” “Code Pink” and “Farooz” (protestor) seem to have been scrubbed or firewalled a/o 1030a 10/25.
    Would love to see a post on these particular images.

  • Gasho

    All 3 pictures are of people who aren’t just sharing the burden of the War of Terror – they’ve gotten more than their fair share.
    All 3 are beyond emotion, and look ’stunned’. The little girl looks innocent, but psychologically troubled; the General looks tired, strapped in and heavy; and the legal advisor looks like he’s had a lobotomy to remove the back of his head.
    War is hell. Each of these 3 knows it.
    May they find relief and healing. May we all–once we, too, discover that war is hell.

  • stevelaudig
  • Pappy

    Having served in both the Army and the Navy, I would like to make just a small point towards the accuracy of the article.
    Lieutenant Commmander Matthew Diaz is a Navy Judge Advocate General, which makes him a sailor, not a soldier. He will be discharged from the Navy, not the Army.
    Regardless of his branch of service, he, like Army Lieutenant Watada, is a true American hero.

  • jtfromBC

    stevelaudig, you might check this out
    “..Matt agreed to recieve mail from Bryan and the former’s niece graciously provided his military address. I was thinking that if others of my readers would like to do this I could pass on your names to his niece and ask her permission to provide Matt’s postal address.” (May 30 2007)

  • jtfromBC

    On the Clock, you might be interested in
    Protester Waves Blood-Colored Hands in Rice’s Face
    I think this photo of Condi is cool
    As this short video ends, collecting herself she chirps, Hi how are you ? its great to see you, yeah thank you..

  • jimmy

    I hope this dude, the Lt. Cmdr., knows that he is a hero. I love the way he looks so somber and sad compared to the other 2 photos and yet he is the hero. While my heart goes out to this little girl, it is Mr. Diaz who deserves our love even more.

  • Hettiemae

    One of the few true heroes of this war. It is men like him who will keep us from drowning in the evil of this war.

  • chris in sacto

    Wearing the uniform is mandatory, regardless of what setting you’re in. When I worked at David Grant Medical Center at Travis AFB, we had “patients” who were waiting to be medically boarded out. They slept in the hospital at nite but were allowed out during the day, with their uniforms on. Their status at the time was their “assignment.” The hospital was like a boarding home, some waited weeks.
    Lt. Cmdr. Diaz’s “assignment” is the brig. In the military, G.I. means “government issue.” The fact that you’re little more than a piece of furniture is one of the most striking lessons learned in the military.
    Lt. Cmdr. Diaz is a true patriot, he risked *everything*. Remember “give me liberty or give me death?” I wish Congress had his courage, to risk their silly “careers” and push back with all of their might against the Bush Regime. Some say Congress is being threatened by Bush, he “has stuff” on them via illegal wiretapping. So what? What are a few skeletons when the Constitution is at stake? Some say Congress is being threatened with death, like Leahy & Daschle receiving Anthrax in the mail. So what? Politicians come and go, but the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are *supposed* to live on. I’m sick of Democrats backing down, using “we’re not in the majority” meme as an excuse. That didn’t stop the Republicans from getting an amendment to censure MoveOn or threaten Pete Stark with censure, and the Republicans are in far fewer numbers.
    I wish Lt. Cmdr. Diaz the very best. I for one would have no problem saluting him, as a sign of respect for the man in the uniform. He is one of the few who should have no problem facing himself in the mirror everyday.

  • erthsister

    The way the shadows hit his face, it looks like he is tilting his head as if he is listening to something… as if to consider… He looks calm, thoughtful, considering.
    I like to think that he did not regret his actions. I am in admiration.

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