Sunday, November 05, 2006

Soldier commits suicide after two days of administering Cheney’s “aggressive interrogation techniques”.

This is a repost of this one from a few days ago. Blogger seems to have mysteriously "disappeared" it.)

This story, via Taylor Marsh, tells about how a young woman in the military apparently became so despondent after two nights of interrogating prisons at an air base at Tal-Afar in northwestern Iraq. I say “apparently”, because the military has again tried to hush the story up, just as they did in the friendly fire death of Pat Tillman and no doubt countless other stories. Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, died September 15, 2003 due to “non-hostile weapons discharge.” The reporter that uncovered the story only did so after years of digging around, trying to uncover the truth, and after filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Here is a snip from the story at Editors and Publishers.

She was only the third American woman killed in Iraq, so her death drew wide press attention. A “non-hostile weapons discharge” leading to death is not unusual in Iraq, often quite accidental, so this one apparently raised few eyebrows. The Arizona Republic, three days after her death, reported that Army officials “said that a number of possible scenarios are being considered, including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian.” (Her parents now say they were never told about her objections to interrogation techniques.)

But in this case, a longtime radio and newspaper reporter named Kevin Elston, unsatisfied with the public story, decided to probe deeper in 2005, "just on a hunch," he told E&P today. He made "hundreds of phone calls" to the military and couldn't get anywhere, so he filed a Freedom of Information Act request. When the documents of the official investigation of her death arrived, they contained bombshell revelations. Here’s what the Flagstaff public radio station, KNAU, where Elston now works, reported yesterday:

“Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ...".

She was then assigned to the base gate, where she monitored Iraqi guards, and sent to suicide prevention training. “But on the night of September 15th, 2003, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle,” the documents disclose.

This is such a tragedy, albeit a small one in the midst of the much larger tragedy that is Iraq. This fine young woman joined the military as a translator. She was fluent in Dutch. She looked to be equipped to go amazing places in this world. And yet, the Army assigned her to a detention center to help wring “the truth” out of detainees who have not had a day in court and had not been found guilty of anything. She killed herself after only two nights, and the Army once again tried to hush it all up, lie about it if necessary and hope it all goes away. Which, in this particular case, it almost did.

This is the policy that Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney have gone to great lengths to defend. This is what is vitally important to our country, something that makes a young lady kill herself after her participation.

I feel sick over this.

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