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Mon Nov 29, 2021, 06:18 PM

Ian Fishback, Army officer and whistleblower against detainee abuse, dies at 42

Ian Fishback, Army officer and whistleblower against detainee abuse, dies at 42



Obituaries

Ian Fishback, Army officer and whistleblower against detainee abuse, dies at 42

By Greg Jaffe
November 24, 2021 at 7:58 p.m. EST

Former Army Maj. Ian Fishback, a U.S. Military Academy graduate and combat veteran whose condemnation of torture by U.S. soldiers in Iraq produced groundbreaking legislation in the early years of that war, died Nov. 19 at an adult foster-care facility in Bangor, Mich. He was 42.

His father, John Fishback, said the cause had not been determined but that Maj. Fishback, who served in the military until 2015, had been racked by paranoid and delusional thoughts for months. He speculated that his son’s experiences in combat may have caused a neurological degeneration that contributed to his erratic behavior.

During his years in the military and long after, Maj. Fishback developed a reputation for uncompromising moral courage. Upon returning in 2005 from a tour in Iraq with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, he wrote a letter decrying the abuse of Iraqi detainees by his unit. He sent it that September to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had endured more than five years of imprisonment and torture by the North Vietnamese as a young naval officer, and to Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Maj. Fishback said vague, contradictory and inconsistent guidance from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and senior military leaders had led to a “wide range of abuses” by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, including “death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment.”

Maj. Fishback, who also did combat tours with the Army’s 5th Special Forces Group, wrote that it was his responsibility as an officer to ensure that his men “would never commit a dishonorable act.” ... “It absolutely breaks my heart that I have failed some of them in this regard,” he wrote in his letter.

Two additional 82nd Airborne Division soldiers buttressed and expanded on the allegations of abuse in a report released by Human Rights Watch shortly after Maj. Fishback sent his letter to McCain and Warner. Within weeks, the Senate voted 90 to 9 to approve the Detainee Treatment Act, which mandated “no individual under the physical control of the United States Government, regardless of nationality or physical location, shall be subject to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.”

{snip}

Earlier this year, Maj. Fishback completed his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Michigan. His thesis on the “Method and Morality of War” explored the moral and legal responsibilities of commanders and combatants in battle.

{snip}

Alex Horton contributed to this report.

By Greg Jaffe
Greg Jaffe is a national reporter with The Washington Post who spent more than a decade covering the military. He’s the co-author of “The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army.” Twitter https://twitter.com/GregJaffe

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Reply Ian Fishback, Army officer and whistleblower against detainee abuse, dies at 42 (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Nov 2021 OP
madaboutharry Nov 2021 #1

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Mon Nov 29, 2021, 06:50 PM

1. Rest In Peace, Maj. Fishback.

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