- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

An Army captain has lodged formal complaints of detainee abuse in Iraq 21/2 years ago by going to an international human rights group and giving interviews.

Agents of the Criminal Investigative Command have interviewed Capt. Ian Fishback, a West Point graduate, about reported offenses in the summer of 2003 and early 2004.

Capt. Fishback has been removed temporarily from a Green Beret training program at Fort Bragg, N.C., because of the probe’s demands.

He declined to comment yesterday.

The Criminal Investigative Command is determining whether Capt. Fishback’s charges, much of them hearsay, open a new chapter in the Pentagon’s string of investigations into detainee abuse.

Capt. Fishback told Human Rights Watch that commanders within the 82nd Airborne Division rebuffed his attempts to have the charges investigated, and that Army soldiers lack guidance on handling detainees.

The Army, however, has provided a list of training programs for soldiers in the aftermath of the Army abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

“The U.S. Army, in addition to providing new field manuals and policies on the handling of detainees, has implemented more than a half-dozen training initiatives at posts here and in the United States and overseas to include additional training on Geneva Conventions and rules of engagement,” said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

Two 82nd sergeants deployed with Capt. Fishback in Iraq have provided anonymous statements to Human Rights Watch.

The Army now has their names, a defense official indicated, and the probe is expected to take months to complete.

Mr. Boyce said the service “is investigating the allegations made by a Fort Bragg soldier that he may have witnessed or heard secondhand about acts of detainee abuse during his military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Army is the lead agency operating war prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It reports conducting more than 400 investigations of purported detainee abuse, resulting in punishment for 230 service members.

Statements posted by Human Rights Watch at www.hrw.org say the offenses occurred as elements of the 82nd Airborne patrolled the Al Anbar province and the town of Ramadi. Division soldiers set up a forward operating base called “Mercury,” where scores of detainees were brought for questioning and temporary incarceration.

“There was a case where a soldier took a baseball bat and struck a detainee on the leg hard,” Capt. Fishback told Human Rights Watch. “This is all stuff that I’m getting from my [noncommissioned officers].”

Human Rights Watch cites a firsthand account by someone it calls “Sergeant A”: “We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day.”

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