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Aidan Delgado (born November 18, 1981) is a lawyer and former soldier in the 320th Military Police Company of the United States Army, best known for having become a conscientious objector in April 2003 during his deployment to Iraq and for his prominent role in disclosing information about Abu Ghraib.
Delgado states that he joined the Army Reserve while he was also investigating Buddhism. He signed his enlistment contract on September 11, 2001, and he was in recruiting office in Florida when he first learned about the attacks of that day. He began a year-long tour in Iraq in April 2003; by then he was openly questioning whether he could participate in the war in Iraq good conscience, due to his newfound dedication to the principles of pacifism espoused in his faith. He filed for conscientious objector status and continued to serve in Iraq while it was processed.
As the only member of his company who spoke Arabic, Delgado was in frequent contact with Iraqi civilians. Eventually he was transferred to Abu Ghraib where he claimed to have witnessed many abuses. The Army recognized his conscientious objector status and he was honorably discharged in April 2004.
After the Army
Delgado is actively involved in the anti-war movement. He has participated in numerous peace activities across the country, and led the 70-member "Florida For Peace" group to Washington, D.C. on September 24, 2005 to participate in the rally organized by United for Peace and Justice. He has also given many presentations on the abuses committed at the Abu Ghraib prison, at which Delgado was stationed for six months.
Delgado sparked considerable controversy when, upon his release from the Army and his return to the United States, he asserted, in an interview with The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, to have witnessed cases of abuse perpetrated against Iraqi civilians by American soldiers. This included claims of soldiers in Humvees breaking glass bottles over the heads of passing civilians.
After the Bob Herbert interview, Delgado provided a sworn statement and copies of photographs taken at Abu Ghraib to Army CID and IG investigators. The lead investigator was Army CID Agent David Lindstedt and lawyer Aaron Delgado from the Daytona law firm Simpson & Delgado was also present as legal council. Several months later, representatives of the military stated that they could neither confirm nor deny Delgado's account. During the investigation Army CID Agent David Lindstedt acknowledged that the incidents described by Delgado occurred, but disputed the context. In their report, Army CID investigators acknowledged that they had not interviewed some of the members of Delgado's unit that he had mentioned in the deposition as witnesses.
Since his involvement with The New York Times article and the publication of his story in national media, he has become one of the most visible and well-known veterans in the anti-war movement. Along with numerous television appearances he appears in the film The Ground Truth by Focus Features and the revised edition of Rush to War. In February 2006, blues guitarist Robert Cray released a video for his song "Twenty," about the Iraq War, in which Delgado portrayed a soldier coming home. Delgado is one of the individuals featured in the documentary Soldiers of Conscience by Luna Productions, broadcast on the POV Series on PBS on October 16, 2008.
In 2007, Beacon Press published a memoir of Delgado's time at Abu Ghraib and his conscientious objection entitled The Sutras of Abu Ghraib. The book describes the army as "suffused with casual racism and capricious violence."
Delgado speaks some Arabic, having spent eight years living in Egypt, where his father, an American diplomat, was assigned; he graduated from Cairo American College in 2000. Delgado also lived in Thailand and Senegal. Delgado attained a bachelor's degree in Religion at the New College of Florida in 2006.
- Delgado's prominence is indicated by this article in the New York Times. The article, by Bob Herbert, is available through this link: 'From Gook' to Raghead' (article in New York Times, dated May 2nd, 2005), accessed 2014-04-02.
- Fleming, Scott (2005). "In Good Conscience". LiP Magazine and AlterNet. Archived from the original on 17 March 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
- This is from the New York Times. The article, by Bob Herbert, is available through this link: 'From Gook' to Raghead' (article in New York Times, dated May 2nd, 2005), accessed 2014-04-02.
- Herbert, Bob (May 2, 2005). "From 'Gook' to 'Raghead'". New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
- This quote if from a review by the Publishers Weekly. The book, including this quote from the Publishers Weekly, is cited on this page: (Link to Amazon.com webpage on Delgado's book, The Sutras of Abu Ghraib), accessed 2014-04-02.
Select speeches and interviews
- Democracy Now! Interview transcript
- In Motion Magazine Interview
- CounterPunch Interview
- Peace Corps On-line Interview
- DeweyHammond.com interview and transcript