Friendly Fire Ambush

by MARJORIE COHN

Sergeant Patrick R. McCaffrey, Sr. and First Lieutenant Andre D. Tyson died on this day two years ago in Balad, Iraq. Back then, military officials reported that enemy insurgents ambushed them. The Army subsequently conducted an investigation and learned the men were targeted and killed by Iraqi troops they were training.

Although the Army completed its investigation on September 30, 2005, it failed to clarify the initial notification to the families for nine months. It took a May 22 letter from Senator Barbara Boxer’s office to force the Army to finally come clean.

A month before he died, Patrick told his father that Iraqi forces they were training had attacked his unit. When he filed a complaint with his chain of command, Patrick "was told to keep his mouth shut," his mother said.

After Patrick died, his parents conducted their own investigations. The Army denied requests to see autopsy reports. The McCaffreys persisted. They talked to soldiers in their son’s unit and managed to learn what really happened.

Bob McCaffrey was informed by members of his son’s company that insurgents were offering Iraqi soldiers about $100 for each American they could kill. "Iraqi troops are turning on their American counterparts," Bob said. "That puts a knock in the spin that the White House is trying to put on this story — how the Iraqis are being well trained and are getting ready to take over."

Nadia McCaffrey learned that after her son was shot, a US truck arrived. It picked up Lt. Tyson, who was dead, but did not take her son who was still alive. The truck returned later and took him to the base, where he bled to death.

Yesterday, Brig. Gen. Oscar Hilman and three other officers visited Patrick’s mother to deliver the official report. "It was overwhelming," Nadia told me. I had to live through the whole thing again."

The officers "tried to patronize me as a good Mom," she added. "I said I won’t stand for that. I want the truth!"

When Nadia talked to Army officers yesterday she asked them, "How could you possibly let this happen"? They sat silent.

An Army official cited the "complexity" of the case as an excuse for the delay in telling the families how their sons really died, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"They never tell the family the truth," said Ophelia Tyson, grandmother of Andre Tyson. "You know how politics is."

"I really want this story to come out; I want people to know what happened to my son," Nadia said. "There is no doubt to me that this is still happening to soldiers today, but our chain of command is awfully reckless; they don’t seem to give a damn about what’s happening to soldiers."

The father of two children, Patrick joined the National Guard the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He was the first combat death in the 58 year history of California’s 579 Engineer Battalion, based in Petaluma, Ca. Patrick was listed as "Casualty number 848." That was 1652 deaths ago.

"He was killed by the Iraqis that he was training," Nadia said. "People in this country need to know that."

"It’s god-awful," said Bob, himself an Army veteran. "It underlies the lie of this whole situation in Iraq. It’s all to me a pack of lies."

Boxer noted, "You have to ask yourself, ‘What are we doing there with a blank check and a blind eye, when our soldiers are risking their lives for the Iraqi people and the Iraqis are turning around and killing our soldiers?’ We need an exit strategy."

MARJORIE COHN is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president-elect of the National Lawyers Guild.

  


 

 

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Regime Change Refugees: On the Shores of Europe
Lawrence Ware
No Refuge: the Specter of White Supremacy Still Haunts Black America
Paul Street
Bi-Polar Disorder: Obama’s Bait-and-Switch Environmental Politics
Kali Akuno
Until We Win: Black Labor and Liberation in the Disposable Era
Arun Gupta
Field Notes to Life During the Apocalypse
Steve Hendricks
Come Again? Second Thoughts on My Ashley Madison Affair
Paul Craig Roberts
Whither the Economy?
Ron Jacobs
Bernie Sanders’ Vision: As Myopic as Every Other Candidate or Not?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and Crisis
Jeffrey St. Clair
Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade
Richard W. Behan
Republican Fail, Advantage Sanders: the Indefensible Budget for Defense
Ted Rall
Call It By Its Name: Censorship
Susan Babbitt
“Swarms” Entering the UK? What We Can Still Learn About the Migrant Crisis From Che Guevara
Andrew Levine
Compassionate Conservatism: a Reconsideration and an Appreciation
John Wight
Adrift Without Sanctuary: a Sick and Twisted Morality
Binoy Kampmark
Sieges in an Age of Austerity: Monitoring Julian Assange
Colin Todhunter
Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Depraved Morality of David Cameron
JP Sottile
Chinese Military Parade Freak-Out
Kathleen Wallace
The Child Has a Name, They All Do
David Rosen
Why So Few Riots?
Norm Kent
The Rent Boy Raid: Homeland Security Should Monitor Our Borders Not Our Bedrooms
Michael Welton
Canada’s Arrogant Autocrat: the Rogue Politics of Stephen Harper
Ramzy Baroud
Palestine’s Crisis of Leadership: Did Abbas Destroy Palestinian Democracy?
Jim Connolly
Sniping at the Sandernistas: Left Perfectionism in the Belly of the Beast
Pepe Escobar
Say Hello to China’s New Toys
Sylvia C. Frain
Tiny Guam, Huge US Marine Base Expansions
Pete Dolack
Turning National Parks into Corporate Profit Centers
Ann Garrison
Africa’s Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Dan Glazebrook
British Home Secretary Theresa May: Savior or Slaughterer of Black People?
Christopher Brauchli
Poor, Poor, Pitiful Citigroup
Norman Pollack
Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran
Barry Lando
Standing at the Bar of History: Could the i-Phone Really Have Prevented the Holocaust?
Linn Washington Jr.
Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial
Roger Annis
Canada’s Web of Lies Over Syrian Refugee Crisis
Chris Zinda
Constitutional Crisis in the Heart of Dixie
Rannie Amiri
Everything Stinks: Beirut Protests and Garbage Politics
Graham Peebles
Criminalizing Refugees
Missy Comley Beattie
In Order To Breathe
James McEnteer
Blast From the Past in Buenos Aires
Patrick Higgins
A Response to the “Cruise Missile Left”
Tom H. Hastings
Too Broke to Pay Attention
Edward Leer
Love, Betrayal, and Donuts
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
David Yearsley
Michael Sarin: Drumming Like Summer Fireworks Over a Choppy Lake