I was born to a life of impossibility, heartbreak and hopelessness but, I always knew I would escape. My signature motivation - a profound sense of justice was born with me. A witness to the crimes of poverty and hatred, both against me and all those around me, I clawed my way to becoming a lawyer. I began as a Public Defender, often fighting for the deplorable in the name of the Constitution. In pursuit of greater justice, and with awareness of the world’s evils, I joined the Air Force, spending seven years as a distinguished officer, litigator, and warrior.
In 2007, I was truly in shock and awe when I deployed to Iraq to “serve” in a war that itself was a crime. I volunteered for the most dangerous of the available positions because I was told this was the path to delivering the most justice - but the truth was the exact opposite. I was really a pawn in a sham court system, set up to detract from the crimes committed against the detainees at Abu Ghraib. In this position, I experienced many life-changing events: I felt the Earth shake through me as a man wearing a bomb, praying to God, blew himself through a market, killing 150 people in an instant; I led a makeshift team through the blood trail of our fallen bodyguard after a mortar attack on our courthouse; I prosecuted “terrorists,” heard their explanations and put them on death row; and I pondered daily the unimaginable horror endured by the people of Baghdad during our campaign of Shock and Awe.
The profound physical and emotional injuries I received in Iraq rendered any “normal” life impossible for me. After years of teetering on the brink of destruction, I have forged a new mission: the pursuit of justice through filmmaking. I now prosecute cases with a camera – a weapon potentially far mightier than the pen and sword ever dreamed. I strive to show my viewers their roles in so many of our daily crimes against each other. I will propose a clear course of action: something each one of us can do now to face the actions of the past, stand against them as they exist in the present, and compel us all toward a more just future.
The truth is that, despite our great intentions, ideals and imaginings, ours is a criminal and reprehensible history of slavery, slaughter, genocide, theft, rape, imprisonment, torture, greed and terror – for, I assure you, there are few things more terrifying than having American Airpower rain down on your city for days on end, or having your skin set ablaze by Napalm from the sky, or being indiscriminately mowed down in a homicidal frenzy of Hotchkiss guns… This “history” matters now because it continues now.
It is my most fervent belief that the old ways of doing things – with a blind eye toward all that does not please us – must change. To achieve this, we must see, own, and use our individual privileges to make right all that has so long been wrong. It is my most fervent hope that, in telling the dark side of the American story, while suggesting good and righteous possible courses of remediation and action, we can forge a future that truly guarantees - by finally delivering - Life, Liberty and Justice – to all of us.
Gloria A. Downey, Major, Retired, USAF JAG Corps