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Former Army Officer Who Wrote John McCain About Prisoner Abuse by US Soldiers Dies

Former Major Ian Fishback, who wrote to Arizona Sen. John McCain and Virginia Sen. John W. Warner about U.S. soldiers abusing prisoners in the Middle East, has died.

Fishback, who was living in Newberry, Michigan, suddenly died Nov. 19 at the age of 42, his obituary from the Beaulieu Funeral Home in Newberry said. There was no cause of death mentioned.

He died while in an adult foster care facility, Fishback’s family said, according to The New York Times.

Fishback had written to the top aides of McCain and Warner about the prisoner abuse, The Associated Press reported. At the time, the two senators were senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, with Warner as the chair.

Along with two other former members of the 82nd Airborne Division, Fishback reported that prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq were physically abused, experienced extreme temperatures, stacked in human pyramids, and deprived of sleep to obtain information from them or to simply entertain the soldiers.

His complaints were ignored by his superiors, Fishback said.

“Despite my efforts, I have been unable to get clear, consistent answers from my leadership about what constitutes lawful and humane treatment of detainees,” Fishback wrote in the letter to McCain. “I am certain that this confusion contributed to a wide range of abuses including death threats, beatings, broken bones, murder, exposure to elements, extreme forced physical exertion, hostage-taking, stripping, sleep deprivation and degrading treatment. I and troops under my command witnessed some of these abuses in both Afghanistan and Iraq.”

The abuse allegations led to the approval of anti-torture legislation by the U.S. Senate in 2005.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Ian Fishback, Prisoner Abuse, U.S. Army
Former Major Ian Fishback and two other former members of the 82nd Airborne Division reported abuses inflicted on prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq from U.S. soldiers, but his complaints were ignored by Army superiors. In this photo, parade marchers go up 5th Avenue during the 102nd Annual Veterans Day Parade in New York, New York on November 11, 2021.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Fishback’s family said in a statement on the funeral home’s website that the community had supported him “through his recent difficult times.”

“He faced many challenges and many of us felt helpless,” the family wrote. “We tried to get him the help he needed. It appears the system failed him utterly and tragically. There are many questions surrounding his death and the official cause of death is unknown at this time. We can assure you that we will get to the bottom of this. We will seek justice for Ian, because justice is what mattered most to him.”

The Associated Press left a message Wednesday seeking further comment from the family.

Friends and family were scheduled to gather at 1 p.m. Saturday to honor Fishback’s life at American Legion Post #74 in Newberry. The U.S. Army Honor Guard will conclude the services, according to his obituary.

Newberry is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

John McCain, Letter, Ian Fishback
Arizona Sen. John McCain and Virginia Sen. John W. Warner received a letter from Former Major Ian Fishback regarding prisoner abuse inflicted by U.S. soldiers. The allegations led to anti-torture legislation in 2005. In this photo, McCain pauses while addressing a campaign event for his presidential run at the Freedom Hill Ampitheatre in Sterling Heights, Michigan on September 5, 2008.
Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

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