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Waiting with Bated Breath to See How FOX News Defames Capt. Ian Fishback

Reported by Marie Therese - October 2, 2005

On September 16th, Capt. Ian Fishback, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, sent a letter (below) to Sen. John McCain expressing his dismay about the lack of guidelines on the issue of detainee interrogation. The Captain is one more in a growing list of returning and/or active-duty Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are coming forward with stories of prisoner abuse at locations other than Abu Ghraib. This letter clearly and succinctly rebuts FOX News Channel's resident torture apologists like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, John Gibson, Oliver North, Col. David Hunt, Wayne Simmons and Lt. Col. Bill Cowan (among others) who rant and rave that things like waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stripping, sexual humiliation et al are not only necessary but laudable.

Mark my words. The FOX News smear merchants - acting in concert with the Republican National Committee - are busily hammering out a massive campaign of lies, half-truths, innuendo and bilious invective all aimed straight at Capt. Fishback.

However, you can fight back.

Blogger Andrew Sullivan has started an email support campaign. If you would like to send a word of encouragement to the Captain, click on the link below.


Sullivan writes:

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.

RUMSFELD WANTS HIM BROKEN: Another source informs that the word is around that Rumsfeld has taken a strong interest in this. He is quoted by some as saying "Either break him or destroy him, and do it quickly." And no doubt about it, that may be just what they are doing. Expect some trumped up charges against Fishback soon, similar to what they did to Muslim Chaplain Captain James Yee, whom they accused of treason with no solid evidence and then, when those charges evaporated, went on to accuse him of adultery. The bottom line, as the NYT reports today, is that the military and the Bush administration are determined to stop any real investigation about how torture and abuse came to be so widespread in the U.S. military. The scapegoating of retarded underlings like Lynndie England is an attempt to deflect real responsibility for the new pro-torture policies that go all the way to the White House. It's a disgusting cover-up and it rests on breaking the will and resolve of decent servicemen and women brave enough to expose wrong-doing.

We News Hounds would like to suggest that you send a "preemptive" strike straight to FOX News Channel. Let one or all of the following "My President Right or Wrong" types know that an assault on Capt. Fishback is unacceptable and will, eventually, backfire on FOX News itself.

Fred Barnes & Mort Kondracke (Beltway Boys)

Neil Cavuto


FOX and Friends

John Gibson (Big Story)

Sean Hannity

Brit Hume (Special Report)

John Kasich (Heartland)

Oliver North (War Stories)

The O'Reilly Factor

Geraldo Rivera (At Large)

Chris Wallace (FOX News Sunday)


Dear Senator McCain:

I am a graduate of West Point currently serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry. I have served two combat tours with the 82nd Airborne Division, one each in Afghanistan and Iraq. While I served in the Global War on Terror, the actions and statements of my leadership led me to believe that United States policy did not require application of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. On 7 May 2004, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's testimony that the United States followed the Geneva Conventions in Iraq and the "spirit" of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan prompted me to begin an approach for clarification. For 17 months, I tried to determine what specific standards governed the treatment of detainees by consulting my chain of command through battalion commander, multiple JAG lawyers, multiple Democrat and Republican Congressmen and their aides, the Ft. Bragg Inspector General's office, multiple government reports, the Secretary of the Army and multiple general officers, a professional interrogator at Guantanamo Bay, the deputy head of the department at West Point responsible for teaching Just War Theory and Law of Land Warfare, and numerous peers who I regard as honorable and intelligent men.

Instead of resolving my concerns, the approach for clarification process leaves me deeply troubled. Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees. I am certain that this confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment. I and troops under my command witnessed some of these abuses in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

This is a tragedy. I can remember, as a cadet at West Point, resolving to ensure that my men would never commit a dishonorable act; that I would protect them from that type of burden. It absolutely breaks my heart that I have failed some of them in this regard.

That is in the past and there is nothing we can do about it now. But, we can learn from our mistakes and ensure that this does not happen again. Take a major step in that direction; eliminate the confusion. My approach for clarification provides clear evidence that confusion over standards was a major contributor to the prisoner abuse. We owe our soldiers better than this. Give them a clear standard that is in accordance with the bedrock principles of our nation.

Some do not see the need for this work. Some argue that since our actions are not as horrifying as Al Qaeda's, we should not be concerned. When did Al Qaeda become any type of standard by which we measure the morality of the United States? We are America, and our actions should be held to a higher standard, the ideals expressed in documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Others argue that clear standards will limit the President's ability to wage the War on Terror. Since clear standards only limit interrogation techniques, it is reasonable for me to assume that supporters of this argument desire to use coercion to acquire information from detainees. This is morally inconsistent with the Constitution and justice in war. It is unacceptable.

Both of these arguments stem from the larger question, the most important question that this generation will answer. Do we sacrifice our ideals in order to preserve security? Terrorism inspires fear and suppresses ideals like freedom and individual rights. Overcoming the fear posed by terrorist threats is a tremendous test of our courage. Will we confront danger and adversity in order to preserve our ideals, or will our courage and commitment to individual rights wither at the prospect of sacrifice? My response is simple. If we abandon our ideals in the face of adversity and aggression, then those ideals were never really in our possession. I would rather die fighting than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is "America."

Once again, I strongly urge you to do justice to your men and women in uniform. Give them clear standards of conduct that reflect the ideals they risk their lives for.

With the Utmost Respect,

-- Capt. Ian Fishback
1st Battalion,
504th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
82nd Airborne Division,
Fort Bragg, North Carolina

NOTE: Thanks to our regular reader, edfromned, for the heads up on this story!

ADDENDUM #1 10/2/05 5:27 PM EDT

As per News Hounds reader SouthPaw check out further testimony at Human Rights Watch.

ADDENDUM #2 10/3/05 11:51 AM EDT

Post edited to correct email addresses.

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