Eric Fair writes: In March 2004, at Forward Operating Base St. Mere outside Falluja, Iraq, I was walking home from work. Ferdinand Ibabao, my close friend and fellow contractor, was walking with me. It had been a long day of interrogations, so we were looking forward to checking emails, and hearing about what our families were up to back home.
As we walked through a large open field on the base, the distinct sound of incoming mortar rounds interrupted our conversation. We’d been talking about finding new contracting jobs in Iraq. Conducting interrogations at places like Abu Ghraib and Falluja was beginning to take a toll. We both agreed it was time to move on to something less complicated, something that didn’t force us to set aside our humanity in order to go to work.
As the mortars detonated nearby, Ferdinand, always one to joke, ran around like a baseball player trying to catch a pop fly shouting “I got it, I got it!” He said it would be a mercy killing.
I found myself thinking about Ferdinand and his dark humor after Ted Cruz and Donald J. Trump unapologetically endorsed the use of waterboarding at a Republican debate early last month. “I’d bring back waterboarding,” Mr. Trump said, “and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
I don’t know what drives a man to say such things. I just know that when they do, men like Ferdinand and me will be forced to shoulder the consequences.
In my role as a civilian contractor for the Department of Defense, I spent the first three months of 2004 torturing Iraqi prisoners. At the time, we were calling it enhanced interrogation, but that’s a phrase I don’t use anymore. Stress positions, slaps to the face and sleep deprivation were an outrage to the personal dignity of Iraqi prisoners. We humiliated and degraded them, and ourselves. [Continue reading…]