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Saturday, October 01, 2005

CPT Fishback under sequester 
CPT Fishback, the officer who went to Human Rights Watch to report the chronic abuse of detainees by the 82nd Airborne, is under sequester, according to Andrew Sullivan.

What is now being done to the hero, Captain Ian Fishback, who braved 17 months of obstruction, threats and intimidation by military brass to keep quiet, is a national disgrace. Fishback has now been sequestered at Fort Bragg under orders restricting his contacts (the pretext is that he is a key witness in a criminal investigation and that he should not be in contact with outsiders while it continues). My sources tell me that he has been subjected to a series of long, arduous interrogations by CID investigators. Predictably, the CID guys are out to find just one thing: they want to know the identities of his two or three NCO corroborators. The CID folks are apparently indifferent to the accounts of wrongdoing - telling him repeatedly not to waste their time with his stories. Fishback knows if he gives their identities up, these folks will also be destroyed - so he's keeping his silence, so far. The investigators imply that he failed to report abuses, so he may be charged, or that he is peddling falsehoods and will be charged for that. They tell him his career in the Army is over. Meanwhile the peer pressure on him is enormous. I'm reliably told that he has been subjected to an unending stream of threats and acts of intimidation from fellow officers. He is accused of betraying the Army, and betraying his unit by bringing it into disrepute. His motives are challenged. He is accused of siding with the enemy and working for their cause. And it goes on and on. This is not surprising. My email in-tray tells me each day that I am a supporter of Islamo-fascism, a traitor, someone who should be deported and so on, for insisting that legalized torture in the U.S. is one of the most important issues we now face. But I'm a free man and they cannot silence this blog. Fishback, whose courage deserves a medal, is not. They are slowly smearing and breaking him. But I have a feeling we have finally found a man with the integrity, faith and patriotism to stand up to the culture of fear and brutality he is now enduring.


Remember, first reports are almost always wrong. I don't believe Sully quite understands the nature of the inquiry or investigation. Obviously, it's a pretty serious 15-6. But is he "reliably told" anything? Dunno. He's already had to backtrack on something else he's been "reliably told" about the episode. Namely, Sullivan had to back off the quote "break him, and fast" attributed to Rumsfeld, because a source even closer to the situation flatly told him that was not true.

I was originally sceptical of Fishback, when I thought it was an anonymous account. I am now, on the whole, inclined to believe him, though it does boggle my mind that a captain wouldn't be able to get information on what was or was not permissible under the Geneva-Hague conventions. We're all edumacated. We can all read the protocols for ourselves, I would hope.

I wrote Fishback through the Army AKO system last week, expressing my support, and asking for his reaction to some of my writings on Abu Ghraib from last year - particularly the questions of policy. He thanked me and said he'd be reading the blog, but did not otherwise respond.

Now, what does give me pause, personally, though, is the combination of the allegations concerning the treatment of CPT Fishback with what appears to be the trumped-up revocation of Colonel Tony Schaffer's security clearance, because he allegedly absconded with some government pens 20 years ago, among some other things that strike me as antiquated and trivial. The more proximate cause: Blowing the whistle on Able Danger.

I don't make a claim to know more about what's going on in these cases than Sullivan or Morrissey, and I haven't dug into the Army's side of the story. No responsible officer would comment, anyway - particularly in the case of an ongoing 15-6 investigation.

The military has always been prone to seemingly personal vendettas and witch hunts over seemingly minor matters. Four-star officers have been relieved of their commands for the sin of telling tasteless jokes, for crying out loud! (Admiral Macke. Larson before that, though I don't think Larson was relieved.)

These might be unrelated, or they might be indicative of a culture in the army that has changed for the worse.

I've never been under any pressure to be less than honest. I never felt my chain of command would not support me if I had to blow the whistle on something like Fishback did. As long as I feel that way, I'll be proud to remain in the Army.

If - and that's a big if - the Army makes a pattern out of hanging its whistleblowers, though, well, the beauty of having a reserve component officers is that hey - we REALLY don't need this job. And when the chain of command fails, I'll either blow a whistle and take my lumps, if need be, or resign and put my journo hat on and cover it that way, or simply reassess my willingness to be associated with the Army altogether.

Nevertheless, I still have faith. I still believe that ours is the best Army the Republic has ever fielded, and I'm still proud to be a member.

Splash, out

Jason

Comments:
Off topic: Macke.

Macke was the guy who cacked up our mil-mil relations with the Japanese Government, who during scandals as big as the one he was dealing with usually see their own SecDef resign. So he was conspicuously dumb in public and hurt the cause a lot more than he helped, and got fired for it.

Oh yeah, and then he was the guy who got those USS Missouri donors on the Greeneville to go to sea when they hit that Japanese fishing school boat...
 
How the hell is CID supposed to investigate his allegations - something the captain allegedly wanted when he took his story to the press - without getting their names and talking to them? This is so much typical anti-military bullshit. "The Army failed to invetigate the allegations!!!" (with breathless, drooling, 58-point headline). Then when the Army does investigate "Army pressures witnesses". In this fucking moron's eyes, there's nothing the military can do right, even when they're doing what he wants them to.
 
If the Captain won't identify the perp's there are no perp's, just a captain who wanted his name in the news. Tell him to put up or shut up. Why anyone would print this BS without at least one fact is beyond me.
 
damn Jason, you've got some knee jerk commenters reading your blog now.

i also sent Fishback a note of support. let's hope he has the courage of his convictions to stick with until resolution.

Schaeffer's pens are the same as Karpinski's shoplifting charges; just more ludicrous crap dredged up out of nowhere to pressure them to keep their mouth's shut. hopefully Fishback has lived the life of an Eagle Scout so there won't be any dirt they can dig..

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