(Bumped — this seems like an important story.)
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.