A friend and fellow Land of Lincoln native, Ayla Jean Yackley (she hails from Ottawa, on the banks of the mighty Illinois River), has been working as a correspondent for Reuters in Turkey (her mom’s family is Turkish, I think, and Ayla speaks the language) for several years. She passed on a press release yesterday from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists about an ugly incident involving U.S. soldiers, three Reuters employees, and an NBC photographer near Fallujah last year. According to the release (and Reuters offers a similar account, too):
“The three Reuters employees, along with Ali Mohammed Hussein al-Badrani, a cameraman working for NBC, were covering the aftermath of the downing of a U.S. helicopter when they were detained by U.S. troops on Jan. 2, 2004. The four were taken to a U.S. base near Fallujah and released three days later without charge.
“The Reuters employees allege that while detained, they were beaten and deprived of sleep. They said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them, and took photographs, Reuters has reported. Two alleged they were forced to put shoes in their mouths, and to insert a finger into their anus and then lick it.”
The news from both Reuters and the CPJ release was that the Pentagon, which never interviewed the men who made the allegations, has decided that it’s satisfied with its investigation and is dropping the matter.
Now, in a place where so many have died such awful deaths, this is not an example of the worst savagery of the Iraq war. But what’s just as disturbing as the original allegations is the Pentagon’s apparent complacency about this kind of behavior in the ranks.