April 14, 2014 1:14 pm -

Eric Fair worked in the military as an Arab linguist and later as a contract interrogator. He knows how ugly it makes us appear.

Seven years ago, I wrote an op-ed in this newspaper about my role conducting abusive interrogations in places like Abu Ghraib and Fallujah [“An Iraq interrogator’s nightmare,” op-ed, Feb. 9, 2007]. I ended the piece by suggesting that the story of Abu Ghraib and abusive interrogations wasn’t over. In many ways, I thought, we had yet to open the book.

The book never opened. Instead, our country spent the next seven years denying, ignoring or defending our use of interrogation practices that manipulated and abused the emotional, mental and physical well-being of thousands of foreign detainees…

Nevertheless, the few of us who had the courage to serve remain responsible for our actions. And when those actions fail to meet legal and moral standards, we cannot hide from the consequences.

Even the staunchest supporters of aggressive interrogation practices acknowledge their malicious nature. They say the tactics are a necessary evil, or are practiced in the shadows, or belong in the dark. They fight to keep the stories quiet. They classify, deflect, deny. They don’t just close the book: They erase it. But an accounting of our failures is the only way forward.

Late in the summer of 2005, I returned from Iraq for the second time. My conscience was poisoned, my moral code shattered. I resigned my position with the National Security Agency the following year and returned home to Pennsylvania in an effort to address the consequences of my actions. Eight years later, the struggle continues…

In April 2004 I was stationed at a detention facility in Fallujah. Inside the detention facility was an office. Inside the office was a small chair made of plywood and two-by-fours. The chair was two feet tall. The rear legs were taller than the front legs. The seat and chair back leaned forward. Plastic zip ties were used to force a detainee into a crouched position from which he could not recover. It caused muscle failure of the quads, hamstrings and calves. It was torture…

I’m dealing with my own burdens now. My marriage is struggling. My effectiveness as a parent is deteriorating. My son is suffering. I am no longer the person I once was. I try to repent. I work to confess. I hope for atonement.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.