Friendly Fire Ambush

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.





More articles by:

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She writes, speaks and does media about human rights and U.S. foreign policy. Her most recent book is “Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.” Visit her website at http://marjoriecohn.com/ and follow her on Twitter at @marjoriecohn.

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It