As you’ve no doubt read elsewhere, Army Spc. Charles Graner, the grinning goon in many of the digitial photos documenting the degradation of prisoners at Baghad’s Abu Ghrabib, was sentenced to 10 years in the brig following his court martial earlier this week.

Graner, whose “I was only following orders” defense is not unique in atrocity cases, is of course, the fall guy in this sordid episode, and it doesn’t seem right that the Secretary of Defense and Commander In Chief have emerged relatively unscathed (though a much larger jury pool already blew a chance to do something about it).

While it might be unrealistic to expect contrition from Graner, it’s a bit much for his dad to claim that the offending photographs were actually designed to call attention to the abuses, just as his mother’s insistince that Graner is “still a hero” illustrates that for some, the Iraqi prisoners are still considered a little less than human.

A Washington Post article from last June details some of the allegations against Graner that predate his second tour of duty in the U.S. Army ; that Graner honed his skills in prisoner abuse while working as a corrections officer in Pennsylvania. Presuming there’s anything admirable about beating inmates, spitting in their food or writing “KKK” in one prisoner’s blood, it makes sense that Mrs. Graner thinks her son is “still a hero”. I’m not sure which is more mindblowing, Graner’s sadistic acts or the utter lack of shame shown by his apologists.