This is going to be responding to e-mails.
Whistle-blower Ian Fishback died. From WIKIPEDIA:
While stationed in Iraq, for more than a year Fishback expressed concerns to his immediate chain of command regarding treatment of detainees at Forward Operating Base Mercury in Fallujah District but was ignored.
The letter resulted in the creation of a 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:
Matthew Harwood, an associate editor at Security Management magazine, wrote in Attitudes Aren't Free: Thinking Deeply About Diversity in the US Armed Forces (2012) that Fishback's letter to Senator McCain "is a testament that inside the US military lies redemption".
Andrew Bacevich stated that Major Fishback was a "uniformed whistleblower who took seriously the values of “duty, honor, and country” he had learned at West Point. A classic straight arrow, Ian found intolerable even the slightest deviation from what the soldierly code of conduct required."
Senator Dick Durbin called Ian Fishback a military hero:
Some e-mailer are asking why we didn't cover his passing?
We did cover it.
In fact, we led the November 25, 2021 "Iraq snapshot" with it.
That matters for two reasons. In terms of this site, Thanksgiving Day (which was November 25th that year) is one of the few days during the week that I don't do an Iraq snapshot. When Bully Boy Bush pushed through the SOFA in Iraq on a Thanksgiving Day (2008), we did a snapshot. It has to be major like that for me to do one on Thanksgiving Day. We treated Ian Fishback's death as something major. Doing a snapshot meant that others in the community would feel that they had to post on the holiday as well. Which is why it has to be something major to get me to do one.
The second reason the "Iraq snapshot" matters is the date. Again, that's November 25, 2021. Those of you e-mailing that he just died and that I've ignored it need to look at what you were reading or watching. He died approximately two years ago. Last week, he was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Here's the opening of the August 9th ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (NPR) report this week:
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Ian Fishback was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday. Fishback was an Army veteran who deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also named one of Time magazine's most influential people for blowing the whistle on torture by the U.S. military. And despite being hailed as a real-life Captain America, Fishback died broke, virtually homeless and in court-mandated mental health care.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
MARC GARLASCO: It's a real damning, damning statement on 20 years of war and how we treat the veterans of this country.
"Ian Fishback was laid to rest Tuesday after having died in 2021. He was named one of Time magazine's most influential people in 2005 for blowing the whistle on torture by the U.S. military."
Thursday, Drew F. Lawrence (MILITARY.COM) reported on the ceremony and on the events of Fishback's life:
At the end of his life, Fishback was medicated with antipsychotics, racked by paranoia that he was under surveillance by the government, and virtually immobile in a court-ordered adult foster care home.
[. . .]
During his later mental health struggles, the government was indeed watching him -- the FBI created a file on Fishback due to its concerns over his behavior, according to exclusive documents obtained by Military.com.
[. . .]
It was there [West Point] that Fishback seemed to settle into a second calling in life as a philosopher and teacher, according to The New York Times. Mental illness, exacerbated by the tumultuous spotlight of whistleblowing, rumbled in his mind, however. He left the Army in 2014, but continued to teach.
[. . .]
While he was a graduate student instructor [at The University of Michigan -- this is after teaching at West Point}, even Fishback's students began to perceive something amiss, according to the FBI investigation documents obtained by Military.com.
The FBI initiated an assessment in July 2019 with a case name that read "Former U.S. Army Major Claims Abuse by U.S. Government and Threatens Disclosure of Classified Information." The bulk of the investigation contains information from April of that year into early fall. Military.com received the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request.
"In end of class evaluations that [redacted] finally reviewed in January 2019, several students reported that, mid-term, something seemed to have changed in Fishback's demeanor that affected his ability to effectively communicate the information on the syllabus," said one document, referencing an interview with a University of Michigan professor.
That April, Fishback allegedly made comments "concerning a possible justification for killing those who may violate a person's rights." The interviewee did not find the comments threatening, however, and when interviewed later by a campus police officer, Fishback denied he said anything about killing.
That same month, Fishback sent an email to other graduate students saying, in part, that they and the department as a whole "lack the intellect and honor of professional scholars," according to an email included in the FBI file.
In July 2019, the messages became more explicit and less tethered to reality. Fishback wrote to his colleagues alleging that he was tortured and raped at the University of Michigan, and that he was retaliated against by "U.S. Special Operations, the NSA, and/or the CIA."
In one email, he denied that he was suffering from mental illness. He also worried he "might be killed."
That's a lot to unpack and that may be why some are confused -- or they just may be learning that Fishback died (in 2021) this week and that may be why they're confused.
At any rate, the eight pages the FBI elected to release are online here. Let's review one thing found in those pages.
In a July 13, 2019 e-mail to the University's grad school for philosophy, he wrote, "I have been tortured while I'm at UM. Among other things, my work has been severely disrupted, I've been sexually harassed and I've been raped." That appears to indicate he was alleging he was raped and harassed at The University of Michigan." But maybe he was blurring all the abuse together?
The only documentation of anyone speaking to Ian about this is on September 10, 2019. I don't understand that, the interview took place on September 9, 2019 and don't why you wait a day before typing up your report for The University of Michigan's Division of Public Safety?
Then your ass should be fired. Let's assume there was no targeting of Ian Fishback. You're campus safety. You've been contacted repeatedly by the FBI about Fishback -- is he a threat to others, he's saying he'll release national secrets in Europe, he made some "veiled threat" on a voice mail to then US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's office, etc. Fishback was in Europe at the time and the campus department was relaying that they couldn't speak to him. He returns, they immediately contact him by phone, he says he's at his apartment and that the safety officer can come over right now. Which happens. That's September 9, 2019. Why do you wait a day until you file your report the next morning at 9:10 AM?
I'm not screaming "Cover up!" here. I'm saying that someone should have been fired.
You already know that Ian Fishback is making claims that, true or false, will attract attention if known. You therefore do not do an interview on September 9th and then wait until September 10th to write it up. That looks suspect -- it's probably just a lazy campus security officer* -- and you want to avoid that on any report you write up but especially when it's on a student that the FBI has repeatedly contacted you about and who they're trying to make it sound like has physically threatened the Speaker of the House. (The 'threat' to Pelosi was not physical violence and appears to have been that he would expose what he said the government was doing to him or some secrets he knew from his time in the military.)
*As noted here and at Elaine's site and at Rebecca's site many times over the years, I spoke out against apartheid in South Africa for years. In college, I'd already been speaking out when our campus paper felt the need to do a 'soft' feature on a tennis player who was a foreigner -- a White South Afrikaner -- and they quoted the player at length, about tennis and especially about South Africa. This White person wanted the campus and the world to know that Nelson Mandela was not a political prisoner and besides, he had it better than any Black person in South Africa because he was being treated so well in prison. At the same time, the White tennis player, insisted that talk of discrimination against Black people in South Africa was all just a bunch of nonsense from the media. The tennis player clearly didn't see the problem with his own 'logic' that there were no problems for Black people in South Africa yet, by being in prison, Nelson Mandela had it better off than any other Black person in that country.
I wrote a tear down to the paper. (Gee, can you imagine that.) And it outlined all the problems with that feature, with the editorial staff not offering any sort of disclaimer or, for that matter, facts about the actual living experience for Black people under apartheid. It included calling out the nonsense of letting someone from the abuser class dismiss those suffering from the abuse and their claims of abuse which does not promote academic excellence (or, for that matter, mediocrity).
It was a huge deal on campus -- and I'll stop my known part of it there.
How this applies to Ian Fishback? Due to that and many other things, our campus security visited me regularly. Sometimes obviously, sometimes trying to act like a friend or worried about some supposed violence and making sure I was okay.
Elaine and I got our FBI files years ago. We spent two weeks going through them together while going through the volumes of my journals so we could identify every redacted name possible -- it's why we don't highlight YES! magazine which hired a snitch -- a lying snitch -- who didn't know us but loved to lie about us -- we already knew the snitch worked for the government, when Elaine was dating a British MP, the whore approached us and as the whore approached, the MP told us the whore was CIA. That's the condensed version anyway. For the longer, search this site and search Elaine's.
What we found out other than identities was that we were both spied upon non-stop by campus police. (Rebecca was as well but they were more interested in who she was dating than anything political. This despite Rebecca's strong stance for Palestinians that dates back to college. Rebecca was and is very beautiful and I'm sure that's what fascinated the campus security more than her politics.) Every little-accidental-bump-into was actually instigated by an FBI request.
I hope they were attempting to be bitchy in the reports on us. But, let me be clear, if you come to a woman's home at 9:00 pm at night and you feel the need to include in your report that she's not wearing a bra, maybe you need to also include why, as a campus safety officer, you feel the need to comment on that to begin with? Are you such a stranger to women that you don't grasp that if she's not expecting company and she's returned to her own home for the night, she's going to remove her bra? Exactly how alien are women to you?
As you can tell I don't have a lot of respect for the cooperation between the FBI and campus security.
But one thing they did right when spying on me? Within two hours of each encounter, they had typed up their report.
So that does bother me that the report is written a day after campus security has interviewed someone that the FBI had been repeatedly contacting them about. My own poor opinion of campus security leads me to lean towards "Lazy ass." But that's just my opinion.
At any rate, in the September 9th interview, Ian's asked about the harassment and rape sentence from the July e-mail, this is page 32 of the FBI published documents, the interviewer typed, on September 10th, "I asked Fishback when he says he was raped if he is saying he was sexually assaulted while at U of M. Fishback advised the sexually assault occurred while he was faculty at West Point."
The media reports this past week struck me as sub-standard. And that's why. That's not the only issue in the files, by the way. But that's the one that stood out the most between the coverage and the actual files. The coverage -- not just MILITARY.COM -- finds reporters saying Ian alleged harassment and rape took place at The University of Michigan. I quoted the sentence from the e-mail earlier. And that could be saying UM, it could also be him combining what he'd gone through in the last years. In the only case of him being asked of it, the person interviewing him said he stated it took place at West Point.
Did those 'covering' it this week actually go to the trouble of reading the 48 pages the FBI released?
Was 32 too far for them? Were they too damn lazy and chose to stop after page 7 or 8?
I have no idea. But that's why I didn't highlight coverage of it. First, we'd already covered the death. Second, I was seeing sloppy reporting and wasn't in the mood for it.
An e-mailer to the public account insists that "it's too hot to handle" and that "you live in fear of controversy." That's hilarious because I actually said in an interview at the end of the 90s that we have to court controversy. So that's hilarious.
We had a lot to cover and never got to most of it this past week. Did you notice "Ronald," for example? That was forever leading up to an article that I'll try to work in next week -- and link to a piece Ava and I did awhile back about names.
To cover this issue, Ian Fishback's claims, I'd have to go into all that I've already done in this post. And I just didn't have time and also wasn't in the mood. Didn't want to unpack my own life, wanted to focus on other issues.
Do I think Ian Fishback was targeted by the US government?
I don't know. Or we could say it like Parker Posey in PARTY GIRL: "I. Don't. Know."
I have no idea.
Is it possible? Yes, it's possible. He stated that he was targeted through various presidencies and that the actions taken against him were worst during presidential election years which he hypothesizes would be because there was less executive branch oversight for government agencies by the executive branch during this time. He called Special Forces a "lynchpin" and, from the campus security officer's report, "Fishback explained he got entangled with high ranking generals, a former president of the United States and the CIA."
Is that possible? It certainly is possible.
If there were people actively persecuting him, it could also have been individuals -- either in those agencies or out of them -- doing so, acting as individuals and abusing government resources. Garner served in Iraq with Ian, for example, and Garner was furious about the exposure of torture, so to get back at the whistle-blower, Garner goes after Ian. Maybe Garner's NSA and he abuses access to programs that he has?
So, yes, Ian could have been targeted by the government or by former/present employees of the government (that would include Special Forces and all forms of military intelligence).
I don't see it though. Doesn't mean I'm right. If I saw it -- and that's why I read the pages the FBI released -- I'd say so. And, by the way, they didn't release everything.
If someone is a person of interest, even if the case is closed, the file continues to be updated. That's with any so-called life events -- such as marriage or birth.
It's interesting that there's no record of Ian's marriage or divorce in the released pages, for example. And that goes to the reality that there's nothing on his whistle-blowing.
The pages released start with 2019 and there's no way that was the first time Ian was on the FBI radar. As a whistle-blower, his file would have started then (if not started before when he was complaining about abuse to his superiors) -- especially as someone whistle-blowing on the US military's actions in Iraq.
The last page of the released papers notes that the investigation was closed in September of 2019. This is noted in an April 8, 2021 update over something -- it's all redacted -- identified as a "March 2021 update" -- it's at least five paragraphs and all redacted. This could have been some public incident that led to Ian being court-ordered into an adult care facility. Whatever's redacted, the FBI was "contacted" about it.
There is no released page noting that Ian died. That's the sort of major event that they would usually add to someone who had been under investigation -- especially when they had initially had concerns that the subject might be violent (they dismissed that in September 2019).
So my point is that the full file has not been released.
If others want to look into it, they should. But, again, I don't see anything that supports what Ian believed was happening. (Again, doesn't mean I'm right.)
So for me, that leaves Ian Fishback as another veteran the US government made promises to and then failed.
I don't care about COVID and bed shortages. He was a distinguished of the US military and the VA refused to help him. They refused him.
The US government failed him. And that's as bad as if they targeted him.
In the November 25, 2021 snapshot, I wrote:
Promises were made to him. Promises were not kept. I see Ian as someone suffering from post-traumatic stress and in need of help. And when it all fractured and he got court-ordered, the VA should have been there to help. But it didn't. He had to go into a civilian adult-care center where he was drugged non-stop to the point that he couldn't even move.
That's not treatment for any human being. Sadly, the US government does not believe it is their role to provide healthcare for all US citizens. But the difference here is that Ian was in the US military and the promise the government makes there is that your service in the military means the US government will treat all wounds resulting from that service. Post-Traumatic Stress is a wound.
Ian was not helped by the US government, in fact he was harmed by it.
A brave person did a heroic thing. It wasn't easy to do it at the start and you can be sure it was hard to live with. Revealing what was happening didn't undo the damage. It didn't undo what was done -- those tortured were not magically untortured. And the horror that Ian felt that moved him to expose what was happening remained inside him.
That's sadly very normal. No one should have that in their head. We would all struggle with that. It is normal. We recoil from horrors for a reason.
The system clearly failed Ian. But Ian wasn't crazy. He was sent by our government into a war and he experienced very troubling things as a result. You go deep diving, you need to decompress. You experience what Ian did, you need something more than, "Thanks for your service."
And to be really clear, I'm not advocating for returning service members to be kept in some sort of isolation for weeks. When they return, they should be able to return to their loved ones. I am saying that services need to be made available. That's counseling with trained medical professionals, absolutely. That's also religious counseling -- that's chaplains and others. There should be a huge range of people to talk to and you should be encouraged to check in with some of the resources available.
If a veteran is feeling suicidal, it is great that there's a toll free number where they can serve assistance -- 800-273-8255 -- and it's sad that Eric Shinseki's family worked to make the use of that number questionable. But that the service is so needed goes to the fact that there are so many gaps in care.
And there were way too many gaps on the part of the US government with regards to Ian. He was abandoned in many ways.
He did a heroic and courageous thing. The US government did not honor that action.
I stand by that. He wasn't crazy. He may have been right about being targeted. I don't think those charges were right but I do see that he was responding to the wounds he incurred while serving. That doesn't make him crazy. And I am very careful when speaking of veterans to be precise about wounds. There is so much stigma around Post-Traumatic Stress, for example -- and we do not call that a "disorder," it is a response a veteran is having to a war wound -- and it can prevent people from seeking help. This is not something 'all in your head.' This is not 'you are crazy.' This is a wound, the same as a bullet wound, and it needs to be treated for your health. We need to be very careful on this topic unless your goal is to keep veterans suffering.
A bombing took your leg? You're not fine the next day. You have to process, you have to go through rehab. The same bomb may not have damaged anything on the outside of your body but it may have done same damage inside and that's why you need to seek help. It's not about being "crazy," it's about medical healing.
We have to note Kevin G.
"TMF: The Fearless Filmmaking Of 'New Hollywood' Di..." posted earlier tonight. It did not show the video -- it showed the code. I did something wrong when embedding it. Thank you to Bill for e-mailing to let me know.
Let me note a Tweet from Paul Rudnick.
Please feel free to read this at a Moms For Liberty rally: pic.twitter.com/8GgZGz6Y9y— Paul Rudnick (@PaulRudnickNY) August 12, 2023
I knew it right before I posted it. Like seconds before. And posted it anyway because I was able to breathe.