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Captain Ian Fishback:

"Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees"
(excerpt from letter to Sen. John McCain, September 16, 2005)

Troubled by the abuse of prisoners he witnessed in Iraq in 2003-2004, U.S. Army Captain Ian Fishback first went through the military chain of command to complain about what he and two sergeants under him had witnessed; beatings, exposing prisoners to extremes of heat and cold, stacking them in human pyramids, and depriving them of sleep.

Fishback, a West Point graduate who served a tour in Afghanistan as well as one in Iraq said he wanted "clarity" from his superiors about whether or not the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of prisoners.

This clarity was not forthcoming, and for 17 months, Fishback's superiors took no action on his complaints.

Captain Fishback finally went outside the Army, first to Human Rights Watch, and then to the U.S. Senate. Fishback detailed the abuse he and his sergeants witnessed to Human Rights Watch researches, who issued a report of those abuses on September 23, 2005. He also contacted aides to Sen. John Warner of Virginia, and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

When the Army got wind of Fishback's plans to speak with Senate aides, they ordered him to report to military criminal investigators. Those investigators, he reported, seemed more interested in learning the names of the two sergeants who had told him of the abuse they had witnessed and in his relationship with Human Rights Watch than they were in investigating the abuse of prisoners.

Fishback refused to divulge the names because he had promised both sergeants he would not do so. A New York Times article quoted Fishback as saying: "We came forward because of the larger issue that prisoner abuse is systemic in the Army. I'm concerned that this will take a new twist, and they'll try to scapegoat some of the younger soldiers." The Army has told Fishback he may face criminal prosecution if he continues his refusal.

Read Captain Ian Fishback's letter to Sen. John McCain, "A Matter of Honor" at