Huffington Post: The U.S. Soldier Who Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture
by Greg Mitchell
Originally published on 9/15/2010 at huffingtonpost.com
On the date marking the 7th year anniversary of Spc. Alyssa Peterson’s death in Iraq, Greg Mitchell, blogger for The Nation, describes the events leading up to the suicide of this devout Mormon. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to a prison in Tal Afar. Official records released after her death listed the cause as a “non-hostile weapons discharge”, and her parents were given no definitive explanation. A tenacious reporter from her home state, Arizona, eventually uncovered the truth.
With each revelation, or court decision, on U.S. torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gitmo — or the airing … of The Tillman Story and Lawrence Wright’s My Trip to Al-Qaeda — I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who died seven years ago today. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what most would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, on September 15, 2003. …
The official probe of her death would later note that earlier she had been “reprimanded” for showing “empathy” for the prisoners. One of the most moving parts of the report, in fact, is this: ”She said that she did not know how to be two people: she … could not be one person in the cage and another outside the wire.”
Peterson’s suicide was reportedly the only fatality suffered by her battalion during its Iraq tour. Her suicide note and journal contents have never been released.