Army officer who reported prisoner abuses dies at age 42

| November 30, 2021

Major Ian Fishback

Former US Army Major Ian Fishback, who was one of the people that sounded the alarm on prisoner abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan has died. There’s a lot in the story that is unusual, not the least of which is he was only 42 years old. Jeff LPH 3 sends in this Army Times article;

A former Army officer and Detroit native who reported in 2005 that military prisoners in the Middle East were being beaten and abused by U.S. soldiers has died.

Maj. Ian Fishback of Newberry, Michigan, died suddenly Nov. 19, according to his obituary from the Beaulieu Funeral Home in Newberry. He was 42. No cause of death was listed.

Fishback’s family says he died in an adult foster care facility in Michigan, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Fishback wrote about the abuses in a letter to top aides of Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, according to the newspaper.

McCain and Warner were senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Warner was the committee’s chair.

Fishback and two other former members of the 82nd Airborne Division reported that prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq were assaulted, exposed to extreme temperatures, stacked in human pyramids and deprived of sleep in an effort to extract intelligence from them, or just to amuse the soldiers, The Times reported.

Fishback also said Army superiors ignored his complaints.

“Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees,” Fishback wrote in the letter to McCain. “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.”

The allegations of abuse eventually led the U.S. Senate to approve anti-torture legislation in 2005.

Fishback’s family said in a statement on the funeral home’s website that the community had supported him “through his recent difficult times.”

“He faced many challenges and many of us felt helpless,” the family wrote. “We tried to get him the help he needed. It appears the system failed him utterly and tragically. There are many questions surrounding his death and the official cause of death is unknown at this time. We can assure you that we will get to the bottom of this. We will seek justice for Ian, because justice is what mattered most to him.”

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking further comment from the family.

Fishback was named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 after sending his letter to McCain.

Friends and family were scheduled to gather at 1 p.m. Saturday to honor Fishback’s life at American Legion Post #74 in Newberry. The U.S. Army Honor Guard will conclude the services, according to his obituary.

Newberry is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Category: Army, Veterans in the news

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KoB

Yep, lots more questions than answers in this case. Did he have dirt on the Klintoons? In an adult foster care facility? DaHell? What kinds of issues?

May he rest in peace now.

Jay

Yeah…there are a LOT of unanswered questions there. The guy was MY age. Why the hell was he living in an adult foster care facility?

Anonymous

People aren’t as hard as they used to be.

Joe Serpico got shot for his trouble and didn’t need adult daycare. Just sayin’.

Jason

…exposed to extreme temperatures…wasn’t everyone who deployed also exposed? I know I was

Anonymous

Concur.

MI Ranger

No, you had the choice to put on your jacket and pants before you went outside!

Green Thumb

I was exposed to some extreme stupidity.

SFC D

I’ll try to find the article I read, but it stated that MAJ Fishback was having very serious mental health issues for years, mainly paranoia that the feds were plotting to make him disappear, and even felt unsafe with his family, believing they were part of the plan. The article didn’t state that his mental condition was a result of his whistleblowing and subsequent stress, but my non-medically trained mind would tend to think it… Read more »

SFC D

Not the article I read, but pretty much sums it up.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/obituaries/2021/11/24/ian-fishback-army-dead/

Graybeard

I’m not sure that was an unreasonable fear, given the current feds we are inflicted with.

MarineDad61

It appears he was gainfully employed as a West Point instructor as late as 2015,
and studying towards a PhD in 2021.
RIP IF.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Fishback

David

Having met a number of PhD candidates over the last few years (courtesy of a daughter doing so) I can assure you that being in a PhD program is no guarantee of sanity.

Graybeard

Inigo Montoya: “I give you my word as a PhD!”

Wesley: “No good. I know too many PhDs!”

Anonymous

True. Academia is an “institutional” environment for often more reason than one.

Roh-Dog

Dayum. In a perfect world someone would have gone to jail for what you had exposed, not just the E’s who got creative ‘just following orders’.

This is the world we live in, I guess.

Rest In Peace, Sir. {salute}

MI Ranger

There were several people who lost their career as a result of what happened in Iraq. The NG BG in charge of the MPs was relieved. The MI BDE Commander (active duty O-6) who owned the Interrogators, while not relieved was quietly forced out even though none of it happened by them. I believe the CIA interrogators all got asked to find new jobs as well. Bottom Line: The interrogators all did what they were… Read more »

MI Ranger

Sorry some did get charged:
Eleven US soldiers were convicted of crimes relating to the Abu Ghraib scandal. Seven of those were from Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company. A number of other service members were not charged but reprimanded.

And COL Pappas (MI BDE CDR) was relieved of Command as well.
https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/30/world/meast/iraq-prison-abuse-scandal-fast-facts/index.html

rgr769

The National Guard MP unit guarding the prison was full of people that were civilian prison guards. That one MP NCO was the principal instigator of the abuse, IIRC. Obviously, the Army didn’t “murder” many of them, as there was no shortage of rampaging ‘Slamonazi’s once they were released. Many used their captivity as street cred in Al Queda and ISIS and gained leadership positions.

MarineDad61

rgr769,
The 372nd MP (Graner, England, etc.) is Army Reserve (federal),
NOT National Guard (state).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/372nd_Military_Police_Company_(United_States)

rgr769

Whatever. Bottom line is the unit had a number of NCO’s and officers who were civilian prison guards who were allowed “off the chain,” thanks to their incompetent female commander.

SFC D

I recall BG Barbara Fast’s assumption of command of the Intel School got delayed for a while during the investigation. She came out clean in the long run, but for a while she was in Quarters #1 and afraid to unpack.

Roh-Dog

Even the other FO/GOs that got spanked walked it off eventually. Heck, even the GO that did the leg work for DoD’s scalp hunt ended up getting let go.

He dared to talk the mess about High Chancellor Rumy.

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

RIP Major.

Smitty

Wasn’t the female General transferred? If I recall, it was NG or reserve MPs who were playing fraternity pranks on the inmates and taking photos- blown way out of proportion by the press.

MI Ranger

I would call it hazing if that is what you mean by fraternity pranks, Yes. Yes, BG Karpinski was relieved and demoted. Maybe blown up a little, but if you check my link above, it would seem that those that were found guilty were guilty of some serious abuse, that like hazing will get you thrown in jail because it is not lawful or just. People often misunderstand that some forms of trust exercises may… Read more »

Hatchet

Thank you for your unyielding courage and service, Major Fishback.
Forevermore, may you Rest in Peace that you so richly deserve, Sir.

*slow salute*

Poetrooper

It appears there could have been substantial conflict for this warrior philosopher from early in his life. His father was a Marine Vietnam vet who came home with “issues” and joined the anti-war movement, which he claimed, “Saved his life”. Then this very bright young man from a family of peaceniks goes to West Point at the urging of his teachers and makes his career as a warrior. But as it turns out, he is… Read more »

Roh-Dog

Don’t we want our Warrior-class to be reluctant participants in the ugliest aspect of humanity?

Duty, Honor, Country

Skippy

Rest Well Sir
The pain is now gone

Carlton

Rest In Peace.

You deserved better than this.

Skivvy Stacker

Adult foster care is nothing mysterious or out of the ordinary. It is hospice care by another name. It’s just paid for through the county of residence of the person who is being cared for. I myself am in a foster care situation. I will not go into details as to why I am here, because that’s nobody’s business. But if I didn’t have this available to me, I would be on the street, or… Read more »