Causes of Death
This week in Editor & Publisher, Greg Mitchell has been looking at cases in which the deaths of GIs have been misreported and possibly covered up by the military. On Tuesday he told the story of Army Corporal Kenny F. Stanton, Jr., who was killed a week and a half ago. The Washington Post reported that Stanton had been killed by an ambush set up by Iraqi police, but Mitchell wondered how forthcoming the Army had been when discussing Stanton's death. He took a look at published reports of Stanton's death, he found a fairly consistent message. Most, if not all, reports gave the cause of death as a roadside bomb of some sort, but no one passed along the fact that the killing had been set up by Iraqi police.
Wednesday's column was even more distressing. Mitchell discussed some digging by Kevin Elston, who's currently reporting for KNAU in Flagstaff, Arizona. Elston filed a Freedom of Information Request for more specifics on the death of Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, an Arab speaker assigned to interrogate prisoners. The third female soldier to be killed in Iraq, Peterson received a fair amount of attention upon her death, which was reported as a "non-hostile weapons discharge." Mitchell quotes the Arizona Republic, which explained that the Army was looking at various possibilities for precisely what happened, including "including Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian." But Elston found that the cause of the weapon's discharge was fairly straightforward: She shot herself after objecting to interrogation used on prisoners. She apparently did her job for two nights and then refused to do any further. She was transferred to other duties and put
No one has identified the specific techniques that offended Peterson, so Elston has made another Freedom of Information Request. The Army appears to have covered up the details of Peterson's death until Elston started digging, so further details may or may not ever be forthcoming. Mitchell's column is a very disturbing read, but it deserves a wider audience. Go read.
(Thanks to Dirk for the tip.)
[Thursday, 12:43--Edited to correct a misreading of the original E&P article.]