Hit & Run

Gulf War Veteran Will Sue For Food


Jeffrey N. Zaun, the Navy A-6E Intruder navigator best known for having his bruised and swollen face displayed on TV as he delivered pro-Iraqi propaganda during the Gulf War, is now unemployed and living with his parents in Cherry Hill, NJ. As this Philly Inquirer article notes, and as has been a matter of public record since shortly after the Gulf War ended, Zaun's wounds were partly self-inflicted and partly the result of a violent bailout from his airplane; none of them were rendered by his captors. So why is he joining in a class-action POW lawsuit that seeks $910 million from the Iraqi government?

The Washington law firm of Steptoe & Johnson is seeking hard evidence and good testimony about prisoner abuse from Gulf War POWs, and it faces an uphill battle. Although several former prisoners report being beaten and abused, and one recounts what can be considered formal torture, with a contraption called "the Talkman," these are scattered tales, and there is no case for uniform mistreatment of prisoners. Jeff Zaun, for example, has no ill-treatment to report. Melissa Rathbun-Nealy, the war's most famous woman POW, was well-treated by the Iraqis, though she later received death threats from Americans outraged that she had married a black man.

Although this is a civil suit, it's a good indicator of the sort of high-sounding and idealistic excuses the state will advance when it gets seriously down to the business of stealing everything in Iraq that isn't nailed down. I don't see how holding enemy combatants prisoner during wartime can be grounds for a lawsuit, but I have no doubt Jeff Zaun and the gang will win the case when it is argued in Washington, or even Cherry Hill.

The Inquirer quotes Zaun as supporting regime change; his financial interest in said change must be inferred by the reader.