Skip to comments.Flagstaff soldier killed self after protest
Posted on 11/03/2006 12:34:35 PM PST by absolootezer0
The investigation into the shooting death of Spc. Alyssa Peterson found her suicide came soon after she was reassigned for objecting to prisoner interrogation techniques but did not specifically give a reason for her action.
A Flagstaff soldier who died in Iraq committed suicide after she refused to participate in interrogation techniques being practiced by her U.S. Army intelligence unit, according to a report about an Army investigation aired by a Flagstaff radio station.
U.S. Army Spc. Alyssa R. Peterson, 27, died Sept. 15, 2003, in Tel Afar, an Iraqi city of about 350,000 residents in the northern part of the country.
At the time, the U.S. Department of Defense listed her cause of death as a "noncombat weapons discharge."
Spc. Peterson's mother, Bobbi Peterson, reached at her home in northern Arizona, said she became aware of the KNAU report Wednesday. Neither she nor her husband Richard has received any official documents that contained information outlined in the KNAU report.
Until she and Richard have had an opportunity to read the documents, she said she is unable to comment.
Spc. Peterson had been assigned to C Company, 311th Military Intelligence Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), which is based in Fort Campbell, Ky. She was in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedon, functioning as an Arabic-speaking intelligence specialist.
On Tuesday, a KNAU Public Radio reporter, who had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the reports of the criminal investigation into Peterson's death, aired a report that Peterson had committed suicide.
According to KNAU, an Army investigation found that Peterson had objected to interrogation techniques that were being used on prisoners.
"She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage," stated the KNAU report.
She was subsequently assigned to monitoring Iraqi guards at the base gate and was sent to suicide prevention training, stated the KNAU report. And on Sept. 15, Army investigators concluded she shot and killed herself with her service rifle, according to KNAU.
The KNAU report also stated that Army spokespeople for Peterson's unit refused to describe the interrogation techniques and that all records of the techniques have been destroyed.
The Peterson family told the Arizona Daily Sun in 2003 they did not want to know how she died beyond the Army's general classification of the death. They declined to discuss the matter further and asked the Daily Sun to respect the family's privacy. The Daily Sun agreed to the request.
At Fort Campbell, Lt. Col. Ed Loomis said that Peterson's commander did not release the document cited in the KNAU report. Fort Campbell did honor an FOIA request by a Flagstaff radio reporter 15 months ago, but the report it released contained the results of a non-criminal investigation initiated by Peterson's commander.
She information cited in the KNAU report likely came from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Loomis said.
"We did not provide that because Criminal Investigation Command is a separate law enforcement entity that investigates felony crime independent of the chain of command," Loomis said.
Calls placed to a spokesperson at Criminal Investigation Command in Fort Belvoir, Va., were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Peterson's body was returned to Flagstaff in late September 2003, where she was buried with military honors at Citizen's Cemetery.
She had graduated from Flagstaff High School in 1994 and had a talent for learning languages. While attending Northern Arizona University, Peterson, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took a two-year leave to go on a mission in Holland. She eventually returned to NAU and received a bachelor's degree in psychology in May 200.
Right after graduating from NAU, she entered the U.S. Army and studied Arabic and was deployed to Iraq in mid-February 2003.
I seems like an odd reason to kill yourself.
it doesn't seem like (from the article) that this was definately the reason, they're just assuming because the two events happened close together.
"Peterson's body was returned to Flagstaff in late September 2003, where she was buried with military honors at Citizen's Cemetery."
2003???!!! And they're bringing it up NOW? That can't be for any good reason.
Not to make light of it, but...
I've always felt that this is an Achilles heel, having our people trained by moslims to "speak the language" is having an affect on their effectiveness, and ultimately, their sanity.
Flag being a college town they're guaranteed to find a receptive audience.
I would say that if they assigned her to "suicide prevention training," there was a bigger problem going on there. Pity the training didn't work. Young people who kill themselves probably always subconsciously think they're going to be like Tom Sawyer, watching how people wept at his own funeral. And then they'll turn out to be alive again after all. But it doesn't work that way.
I agree! What the heck??
...sadly there seems to be other issues here
Scumbags like this typist didn't even give her a chance to read the report, let alone reflect on it.
An effing vulture, hoping to pick Sheehan meat off this soldier's carcass.
itd be nice to know what type of prevention training that was.
i mean, was she going as someone who was suicidal, or was it routine training for all gaurds to teach them techniques of prevention for inmates?
The DUers will love this one. So will John Kerry.
I have no idea.
Looks like a november surprise to me.
A 5.56 to the head at point-blank? There goes your open-casket funeral.
In all seriousness, I am terribly sorry that this young soldier found no alternative to suicide. There is always an alternative. Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline. If there is a substance abuse problem, call the AA Hotline.
Sounds like one of those "two bullets to the back of the head" suicides. She was probably going to rat someone out.
Destroyed records? Isn't this unusual?
Gee. News just in time for the election. Call me cynical.
Who ordered the code red?
There is no reason to believe that the percentage of neurotics and mentally disturbed individuals in the military is any different than in the general population...
Can you back this statement up or are you just being silly?
Sad. But whether she had legitimate moral objections to the treatment of the prisoners (which I doubt) or simply was emotionally unstable, YOU DON"T COMMIT SUICIDE unless there is something badly wrong. By that act, she puts her own moral judgment and mental capacity completely in doubt.
Even if she thought she was going to be punished for disobeying orders and refusing her assigned duties, no normal person would choose suicide. But the story seems to suggest that she was given another assignment after she protested.
At best, this seems to be someone who didn't belong in the military in the first place.
Male suicide rates in Oakland and San Francisco California are very, very high, nationwide.
...as fictionalized on Law & Order last night.
I cannot imagine the military assigning anyone to interrogation or detention duty unless they are totally sound of mind.
They may not be after a number of months on duty in that kind of facility - but should be screened for possible mental impairment prior to the assignment.