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Ian Fishback is a former United States Army officer, who became known after he sent a letter to Senator John McCain of Arizona on September 16, 2005, in which Fishback stated his concerns about the continued abuse of prisoners held under the auspices of the Global War on Terror.
McCain, along with Republican Senators John Warner and Lindsey Graham afterward wrote an amendment to a Senate bill which would make illegal previous Bush administration claims for the use of extreme methods of abuse.
Fishback is a 1997 graduate of Newberry High School in Newberry, Michigan.
He was admitted to West Point and achieved the rank of Major in the U.S. Army Special Forces.[ when? ]
He served four combat tours in the US Army, one in Afghanistan and three in Iraq.[ when? ]
In May 2012, Fishback received an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan, writing a master thesis on just war theory.
From 2012 to 2015, he served as an instructor at West Point.
He is currently a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor researching the interplay of morality and law in regards to proportionality and necessity.
In 2005, Fishback expressed concern about what he perceived as a military culture that was permissive toward the abuse of prisoners.
Dear Senator McCain:
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
504th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
82nd Airborne Division,
Fort Bragg, North Carolina
The letter resulted to the creation of an anti-torture legislation, the Detainee Treatment Act, "sponsored by Senator McCain and passed by the Senate in an overwhelming show of bipartisan support with a vote of 90-9."
During debates over his amendment, Senator McCain said:
"I thank God every day that we have men and women the caliber of Captain Fishback serving in our military. I believe the Congress has a responsibility to answer this call."
On May 8, 2006, Fishback was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world for taking the stand against torture.
Matthew Harwood, an associate editor at Security Management magazine, wrote in Attitudes aren’t free: Thinking deeply about diversity in the US Armed Forces (2010) that Fishback's letter to Senator McCain "is a testament that inside the US military lies redemption."
Carl Milton Levin is an American attorney and retired politician who served as a United States Senator from Michigan from 1979 to 2015. He was the chair of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and is a member of the Democratic Party.
Ricardo Sanchez is a former lieutenant general in the United States Army. His career was most notable for his service as commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq and V Corps.
Abu Ghraib prison was a prison complex in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, located 32 kilometers (20 mi) west of Baghdad. Abu Ghraib prison was opened in the 1950s and served as a maximum-security prison with torture, weekly executions, and squalid living conditions. From the 1980s, the prison was used by Saddam Hussein and later the United States to hold political prisoners. It developed a reputation for torture and extrajudicial killing, and was closed in 2002.
During the early stages of the Iraq War, United States Army and Central Intelligence Agency personnel committed a series of human rights violations against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, including physical and sexual abuse, torture, rape, sodomy, and murder. The abuses came to public attention with the publication of photographs of the abuse by CBS News in April 2004. The incidents received widespread condemnation both within the United States and abroad.
About six months after the United States invasion of Iraq of 2003, rumors of Iraq prison abuse scandals started to emerge.
Medical torture describes the involvement of, or sometimes instigation by, medical personnel in acts of torture, either to judge what victims can endure, to apply treatments which will enhance torture, or as torturers in their own right. Medical torture overlaps with medical interrogation if it involves the use of professional medical expertise to facilitate interrogation or corporal punishment, in the conduct of torturous human experimentation or in providing professional medical sanction and approval for the torture of prisoners. Medical torture also covers torturous scientific experimentation upon unwilling human subjects.
Moazzam Begg is a British Pakistani who was held in extrajudicial detention by the US government in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility and the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp, in Cuba, for nearly three years. Seized by Pakistani intelligence at his home in Pakistan in February 2002, he was transferred to the custody of US Army officers, who held him in the detention centre at Bagram, Afghanistan, before transferring him to Guantanamo Bay, where he was held until January 2005.
Torture, the infliction of severe physical or psychological pain upon an individual to extract information or a confession, or as an illicit extrajudicial punishment, is prohibited by international law and is illegal in most countries. However, it is still used by many governments. The subject of this article is the use of torture since the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which prohibited it.
Mullah Habibullah was an Afghan who died while in US custody on December 4, 2002. His death was one of those classed as a homicide, though the initial military statement described his death as due to natural causes.
Ghost detainee is a term used in the executive branch of the United States government to designate a person held in a detention center, whose identity has been hidden by keeping them unregistered and therefore anonymous. Such uses arose as the Bush administration initiated the War on Terror following the 9/11 attacks of 2001 in the United States. As documented in the 2004 Taguba Report, it was used in the same manner by United States (US) officials and contractors of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003–2004.
In 2005, The New York Times obtained a 2,000-page United States Army investigatory report concerning the homicides of two unarmed civilian Afghan prisoners by U.S. military personnel in December 2002 at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Bagram, Afghanistan and general treatment of prisoners. The two prisoners, Habibullah and Dilawar, were repeatedly chained to the ceiling and beaten, resulting in their deaths. Military coroners ruled that both the prisoners' deaths were homicides. Autopsies revealed severe trauma to both prisoners' legs, describing the trauma as comparable to being run over by a bus. Seven soldiers were charged in 2005.
Extrajudicial prisoners of the United States, in the context of the early twenty-first century War on Terrorism, refers to foreign nationals the United States detains outside of the legal process required within United States legal jurisdiction. In this context, the U.S. government is maintaining torture centers, called black sites, operated by both known and secret intelligence agencies. Such black sites were later confirmed by reports from journalists, investigations, and from men who had been imprisoned and tortured there, and later released after being tortured until the CIA was comfortable they had done nothing wrong, and had nothing to hide.
The US Army Field Manual on Interrogation, sometimes known by the military nomenclature FM 34-52, is a 177-page manual describing to military interrogators how to conduct effective interrogations while conforming with US and international law. It has been replaced by FM 2-22.3 Human Intelligence Collector Operations.
Specialist Tony Lagouranis is a former United States Army soldier, best known for having participated in torture as an interrogator during the occupation of Iraq. He was featured in the 2008 Academy Award-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side.
The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is a United States military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, also referred to as Guantánamo, GTMO, and "Gitmo", which is on the coast of Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. Indefinite detention without trial and torture have led the operations of this camp to be considered a major breach of human rights by Amnesty International and a violation of Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution.
Corporal Donald Payne is a war criminal and former soldier of the Queen's Lancashire Regiment of the British Army who became the first member of the British armed forces to be convicted of a war crime under the provisions of the International Criminal Court Act 2001 when he pleaded guilty on 19 September 2006 to a charge of inhumane treatment. He was jailed for one year and dismissed from the army.
"Enhanced interrogation techniques" or "enhanced interrogation" is a euphemism for the program of systematic torture of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and various components of the U.S. Armed Forces at black sites around the world, including Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib, authorized by officials of the George W. Bush administration. Methods used included beating, binding in contorted stress positions, hooding, subjection to deafening noise, sleep disruption, sleep deprivation to the point of hallucination, deprivation of food, drink, and withholding medical care for wounds, as well as waterboarding, walling, sexual humiliation, subjection to extreme heat or extreme cold, and confinement in small coffin-like boxes. A Guantanamo inmate's drawings of some of these tortures, to which he himself was subjected, were published in The New York Times. Some of these techniques fall under the category known as "white torture". Several detainees endured medically unnecessary "rectal rehydration", "rectal fluid resuscitation", and "rectal feeding". In addition to brutalizing detainees, there were threats to their families such as threats to harm children, and threats to sexually abuse or to cut the throat of detainees' mothers.
The Parwan Detention Facility is Afghanistan's main military prison. Situated next to the Bagram Air Base in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan, the prison was built by the United States during the Bush Administration. The Parwan Detention Facility, which houses foreign and local combatants (terrorists), is maintained by the Afghan National Army.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a member of the U.S. Congress from 1983 until his death in office in 2018, a two-time U.S. presidential candidate, and the nominee of the Republican Party in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, took positions on many political issues through his public comments, his presidential campaign statements, and his senatorial voting record.
The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) is an Act of the United States Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on 30 December 2005. Offered as an amendment to a supplemental defense spending bill, it contains provisions relating to treatment of persons in custody of the Department of Defense, and administration of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including: