‘Exclusive: Marines Nazi-Flag Whistleblower Comes Forward’ - Mother Jones
Exclusive: Marines Nazi-Flag Whistleblower Comes Forward
An Iraq vet, now a Holocaust expert, explains why he exposed Marines’ use of an “SS” flag.
By Adam Weinstein
February 11, 2012
When Marine investigators learned last November that a scout sniper platoon in Afghanistan was using a Nazi “SS” flag as its standard, it wasn’t a member of the unit who told them. It was Iraq war veteran Waitman Beorn, a visiting history professor at Loyola University New Orleans, also a Fulbright and Guggenheim fellowship recipient who teaches at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Dr. Beorn’s research on Nazis and genocide is informed by his military background: He is a West Point graduate and former officer who served as a scout platoon leader in Iraq from 2003-2004. Through his work he seeks to teach “ethical decision-making in a military context using the Holocaust as a vehicle.
Charlie Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion
Shortly after I first wrote about the flag controversy last week, Beorn got in touch to explain how and why he chose to report the incident to the Marine Corps’ inspector general. (Though Beorn contacted military authorities, he didn’t play a part in the incident’s recent unearthing by the media.) For one, he had learned through military contacts that the use of the ‘SS’ flag was not an isolated incident. He hoped that exposing it could lead to an important “teachable moment” that might help alleviate what he considers to be a serious issue. In an email interview, he shared with Mother Jones details of how the Marine Corps responded to him, and how the Corps has since addressed this moral education issue with the troops. He said he was disappointed with the emerging media narrative that the military had responded poorly. “I was surprised by the speed with which they acted and the seriousness with which they appeared to take it,” he wrote.