Posted by: Lister | April 26, 2009

Alyssa Peterson

In a previous post, I listed some American officers who refused to torture prisoners. Among those was Alyssa Peterson. The Independent has an article on her today:

It was in September 2003 at Tal-Afar air base, northern Iraq, that Specialist Peterson, serving with a military intelligence section of the 101st Airborne, came across interrogation methods very different from the ones she had known in training. An Arab-speaker, Peterson was assigned to work as an interpreter at interrogation sessions in a unit known as “The Cage”. After only two nights, she refused to take further part in the sessions and was reassigned. Then, on 15 September, she shot herself with her service rifle. A notebook recording her thoughts was found by her body. Its contents were blanked out in the subsequent official report.

Her family, in Flagstaff, Arizona, were told she had died from a “non-hostile weapons discharge”. It was only after an Arizona reporter, Kevin Elston, investigated, that the army revealed Peterson had killed herself. They refused to say what interrogation she objected to, and maintain that all documents relating to methods used at Tal-Afar have been destroyed.

But, at Mosul, also in northern Iraq, a former US soldier, Kayla Williams, later told the broadcasterCNN: “There were prisoners that were burned with lit cigarettes. They stripped prisoners naked then removed their blindfolds so that I was the first thing they saw. And then we were supposed to mock them and degrade their manhood.”

She, too, objected. Williams had once met Peterson, and conceded the interpreter had personal problems. The official army report into her death, obtained in 2007 by the Arizona Daily Sun, said that she had once been reprimanded for “showing empathy” to detainees. It said her superiors had given her suicide prevention training.

Her body was buried, with military honours, in Flagstaff, Arizona. One of scores of messages on a memorial website reads: “Alyssa Peterson was a shining example to all, a true hero and patriot for displaying empathy and her opposition to torture.”

Reprimanded for showing empathy, when it is actually understanding those you wish to interrogate that helps you get infomation out of them. That seems to be the opinion of the man who found Zarqawi, “Matthew Alexander”.

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Responses

  1. The Alyssa Peterson Society
    Mission Statement: To mark the life and passing of a young Latter Day Saint who knew her life’s purpose.
    We learn from her example and see to it that our young people of today learn and understand all the implications of the principles established in 1946 by the United States.
    These principle s shall be part of the training our military and of our CIA people.
    Please, if you are interested in working with me on this, let me know.
    James mathscoach@gmail.com


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