Un-Fair Publicity

Remember my post about the Washington Post op-ed by Eric Fair?

I said it was powerful and moving.

Well it apparently the piece moved not just me but the right wing blogosphere as well; just in a slightly different direction. And a very weird one at that.

I also made a direct connection to the case of Khalid Al-Masri, the Lebanese born German citizen kidnapped and held by US/Afghan “authorities.” I first noticed this when looking at my referral logs and people looking for “Eric Fair warrant Germany.”

The backstory.

During the last week in January, Munich’s prosecuting attorney got arrest warrants for 13 people though to be associated with the, what in Germany is considered, kidnapping of Khalid al-Masari. One of the German television stations got the list and released (German) the names on the warrant,

According to research by the NDR, the arrest warrants were handed down for the following people.

Kirk James BIRD
Michael GRADY
Lyle Edgard LUMDSEN
Walter Richard GREESBORE
Patricia Riloy

Included in the warrants issued by the prosecuting attorney from Munich I are several spellings of each name. According to NDR research, these names are aliases. In addition according to research by “Panorama” [,a German television news magazine], several real names are also known to the investigators.

According to research from the ARD political magazine “Panorama,” the thirteen being sought under these warrants are CIA operatives. Most live in the US state of North Carolina. Three have already been confronted in September 2006 by “Panorama” about the charges; the accused refused any comment. [my translation, my emphasis]

In it’s coverage of the case, Speigel Online also underlines that the warrants are based on the al-Masari case and that the names are thought to be aliases.

Munich-based Bavarian senior state public prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld said in a statement Wednesday that the warrants had been issued in the last few days. He said the agents are being sought on suspicion of abducting and wrongfully imprisoning el-Masri as well as causing him grievous bodily harm. Thirteen suspected CIA agents are listed in the warrants, although the names given are thought to be aliases. [my emphasis]

But Eric Fair wasn’t in Afghanistan and thus doesn’t have anything to do with the al- Masri case. Thus, it is unlikely that the Eric Fair from the WP article is one of the defendants being mentioned in the German warrant. Eric Fair probably isn’t that person’s real name and that isn’t the right country anyway. al-Masri wasn’t in Abu Ghraib.

So far so good.

Ah but the twisted turns of the Intertubes.

There is an Eric Fair mentioned [Hat Tip: Kilabe for the PDF if not his sentiments] in the lawsuit Saleh, v. Titan filed in California in 2004 and moved recently to Virginia due a change in venue. From the Juli Schwartz’ article in the Rutgers Law Journal,

The plaintiffs in Saleh represent a class of Iraqi detainees who claim to be the victims of heinous human rights abuses at the hands of U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors under military command. The named plaintiff, Mr. Saleh (who since withdrew from the suit), is an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen who was imprisoned under Saddam Hussein’s regime for speaking out against the Baath Party. He escaped to Europe, but returned to Iraq in September 2003, where he was seized and detained at Abu Ghraib. According to Saleh, he and other prisoners were stripped, beaten, defiled, and raped throughout their detention. Their tormenters were identified as both uniform and plain-clothes personnel. Mr. Saleh was released in December 2003, and upon his release contacted a Michigan-based attorney who eventually joined forces with eight other plaintiffs. Together they filed suit in the Southern District of California against the two private contracting firms allegedly involved in the abuse, Titan Corporation and CACI International, and three employees in their individual capacities. The pleadings asserted federal question jurisdiction under the ATS and the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act.

In the original filing there is an Eric Fair named as one of the CACI employees.

That’s an interesting case if you’re a lawyer or a civil rights person. Probably drops below the level of news for everyone not directly involved.

Still, Fair’s excellent description of what his time in Iraq was like speaks volumes about the emotional damage being done to civilians on both sides of the conflict. Unless of course, you’re not bothered by things like that,

I feel bad that this guy is having nightmares, and I hope he is getting the PTSD counseling he needs. A lot of people can’t forget what they saw and did in Iraq. I could describe for you in detail the faces of the middle-aged Iraqi soldiers on whom I directed 50. cal fire, and exactly what they looked like when they died 30 feet away, as I directed the gunner’s fire from one to another until they were all dead. For a long time, I saw them every day. I examined their faces for clues about who they were, and to divine the exact moment and exact manner in which life exits the body. I also wept once, and asked forgiveness, because no matter what else they were, they were also human. I was a reporter. Some people didn’t think I was supposed to be doing what I did, and called me a murderer. Screw them. They were people who weren’t remotely familiar with the truth they were lecturing me about. Guess what: War is hell.

This person seems to miss the point. (If not missing while directing 50 cal. machine gun fire.)

Unfortunately, the people Eric Fair took part in torturing were not on the battlefield. They were defenseless prisoners. Killing people in battle, while debateable in a war of aggression (and really debatable if you are supposed to be an embedded journalist) probably wouldn’t be challenged by moderates. Torturing people to get information for questionable tactical and strategic use is something else entirely.

Thus, while I might not curse Mr Crittenden for his feelings about what happened on the battlefield, I find his feelings about the WP article extremely distasteful.

And extremely Un-Fair.

2 comments so far

  1. kilabe on

    EA, Thanks for the hat tip, much appreciated. Even though we don’t fall on the same sides of most of the political arguments, I enjoyed reading your posts and admire your sense of decency.

  2. blc303 on

    No problem.

    I like to quote my sources and it isn’t important who finds it. If it’s real and there, I’ll point to the person who pointed me there.

    You’re right, we are on differing sides. But as long as the conversation remains civil, You have your opinon, I have mine and thats cool.

    Just don’t torture any kittens while I’m around. 😉

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