Friday, February 09, 2007

An Interrogator Speaks

If there is a must read in today's papers, it is certainly the Op-Ed penned by Eric Fair, an interrogator in 2004 who worked with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq. From The Washington Post:

American authorities continue to insist that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an isolated incident in an otherwise well-run detention system. That insistence, however, stands in sharp contrast to my own experiences as an interrogator in Iraq. I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

While I was appalled by the conduct of my friends and colleagues, I lacked the courage to challenge the status quo. That was a failure of character and in many ways made me complicit in what went on. I'm ashamed of that failure, but as time passes, and as the memories of what I saw in Iraq continue to infect my every thought, I'm becoming more ashamed of my silence.

It is often said yet rarely heeded, torture inflicts long term damage not only on the victim, but the torturer as well. Mr. Fair is now coming to grips with that, and hopefully his speaking out will prevent others from being forced to go down that road.

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