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Army whistle-blower put his welfare last

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

U.S. Army Capt. Ian Fishback caught hell for trying to stop the torture of prisoners in Iraq. But he earned the respect of the world for adhering to the West Point creed: Duty, Honor, Country.
  • Duty. When Fishback couldn’t square the abuse he witnessed with the defense secretary’s testimony that the Army was following the Geneva Conventions, he felt it was his duty to question his superiors right up the chain of command to the secretary of the Army.

  • Honor. Undeterred by arguments in favor of inhumane interrogation methods and concealing the truth to avoid a black eye for his unit, Fishback veered from the chain of command after 17 months of not being listened to. He approached Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.—once a prisoner of war in Vietnam who himself had endured torture—who then led a successful drive for anti-torture legislation in Congress.

  • Country. Like helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson (EL, March 2006), who had intervened to stop the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, Fishback risked his personal safety to defend human decency.

    “I would rather die fighting,” Fishback said, “than give up even the smallest part of the idea that is America.”
—Adapted from “Ian Fishback: Blowing the Whistle on Torture,” Coleen Rowley, Time.

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