Saturday, October 01, 2005

NYT story that broke Captain Fishback's allegations

I spent some time sorting through the Capt. Ian Fishback story. The first newsprint reference I can find to him comes in this NYT article dated 9/24/2005, 3 in 82nd Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine Unfortunately this story is no longer freely available. (NYT Select archive link):

Three former members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division say soldiers in their battalion in Iraq routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves.

The new allegations, the first involving members of the elite 82nd Airborne, are contained in a report by Human Rights Watch. The 30-page report does not identify the troops, but one is Capt. Ian Fishback, who has presented some of his allegations in letters this month to top aides of two senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John W. Warner of Virginia, the chairman, and John McCain of Arizona. Captain Fishback approached the Senators' offices only after he tried to report the allegations to his superiors for 17 months, the aides said. The aides also said they found the captain's accusations credible enough to warrant investigation.

An Army spokesman, Paul Boyce, said Friday that Captain Fishback's allegations first came to the Army's attention earlier this month, and that the Army had opened a criminal investigation into the matter, focusing on the division's First Brigade, 504th Parachute Infantry. The Army has begun speaking with Captain Fishback, and is seeking the names of the two other soldiers.

The report from Human Rights Watch is here: Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division

From what I can discern, Captain Fishback says he tried to get answers from his chain of command over a period of 17 months. When that failed, he contacted senators Warner and McCain, as well as Human Rights Watch. The Human Rights Watch report included testimony from Fishback and two other sergeants. Now according to Andrew Sullivan, the army has opened an investigation aimed it seems at identifying the sergeants who talked to Human Rights Watch -- not into the alleged prisoner abuse itself. Captain Fishback is not divulging these soldiers' identities.

Bear with me if I obsess on this story. I think it is incredibly important. In following posts I will catch up with other bloggers who think so too. I cannot understand why his story, and his ongoing ordeal in the hands of Army investigators, is not on page one of every paper and leading every newscast. Have we really gotten that callous about the US's use of torture? I cannot accept that.

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