Leftist Boddhisatva

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Violations of Geneva Conventions not a priority until publicized, says Captain


News Item:
Army Capt. Ian Fishback said he tried for more than a year to get his commanding officers to pay attention to reports of widespread abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops.

But it was only after Fishback, 26, a West Point graduate, spoke to Human Rights Watch and several members of Congress that military investigators began to listen, he said Tuesday during a telephone interview from Fort Bragg in North Carolina. His civilian attorney, Gene Fidell, monitored the interview. It was Fishback's first public comment about allegations that surfaced last week in a report by Human Rights Watch.

Fishback served in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004. While in Iraq, he said, he witnessed abuses that included sleep deprivation and exposure to cold.

He said the abuses committed by Army enlisted soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which sparked an international furor, "were not isolated." He also said he wonders "how many other people have tried and been unable to bring things to light, given how hard it has been for me."

The Human Rights Watch report included testimony from Fishback and two 82nd Airborne Division sergeants who served with him in Iraq and Afghanistan and alleged that members of their unit routinely abused prisoners. The sergeants, who described taking part in the prisoner mistreatment, were not named in the report.

Fishback said that Army investigators have interviewed him over the past week and that the Army has told him to reveal the names of the other two soldiers or face disciplinary action.

Fishback said his interest in reporting the abuses was sparked by congressional testimony in May 2004 by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld said that U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan follow rules in the Geneva Conventions barring prisoner abuse. That "raised a red flag," Fishback said. He said that he believed U.S. troops were not adhering to the conventions and that there was confusion over what behavior was acceptable.
An Army spokesman said in response to Fishback's statements, off the record, that Fishback was a metrosexual, "little more than a girl who cared too much about the emotional well-being and self-esteem of terrorists. He should have thought more about the honor and integrity of the US Army." The spokesman also said, "We can't wait to give Fishback a discharge, be it after a long prison sentence or not."

Current mood: suspicious of counter-accusations.

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