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On Consequence and Forgiveness

by Abby Zimet

Finding that criminals should answer for their crimes, a federal court ruled Friday that two private military contractors linked to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib cannot claim immunity, and lawsuits against them can proceed. For the torturers, legal repercussions are one issue; moral and spiritual ones, another. Eric Fair, a former soldier and police officer who became a contractor conducting interrogations in Baghdad, Fallujah and Abu Ghraib, continues to wrestle with them. He became a divinity student and writer in order to cope with his shame, guilt and nightmares. When he wrote about them, he faced a flood of messages from those who feel "revulsion at the subhuman you surely are," citing their belief that, "You'd be doing the world a favor by removing yourself from the gene pool." How and when, he wonders, does one forgive, oneself and others?

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