A former interrogator-turned-creative writing professor opened up in a New York Times op-ed about his experience torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib in 2004.
Eric Fair’s memories of Abu Ghraib continue to haunt him nearly 13 years later. His guilt plagues him, but he does not seek forgiveness, and does not hope to forget.
Fair refuses to allow the crimes he and others committed at the prison to fade into the past. “My transgressions will be forgotten. But only if I allow it.”
At Lehigh University, Fair teaches a course called Writing War, which he says reminds him daily that he is not just a normal college professor. “I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured,” he wrote.
Here are some of his most powerful quotes:
- “Abu Ghraib dominates every minute of every day for me. … I still wear the black fleece jacket with the faded stain. I still smell the paint. I still hear the sounds. I still see the men we called detainees.”
- “Abu Ghraib will fade. My transgressions will be forgotten. But only if I allow it.”
- “My son could ride the bus to school and talk to his friends about what his father does for a living. I was someone to be proud of. But I’m not. I was an interrogator at Abu Ghraib. I tortured.”
- “Many people were surprised by what it [the Senate torture report] contained: accounts of waterboardings far more frequent than what had previously been reported, weeklong sleep deprivation, a horrific and humiliating procedure called ‘rectal rehydration.’ I’m not surprised. I assure you there is more; much remains redacted.”
- “One day, the students will come to know that this country isn’t always something to be proud of.”
In 2004, photos were released of American soldiers torturing detainees at the Abu Ghraib military prison in Baghdad, which served as a detention center for captured Iraqis from 2003-2006.
Some photos show piles of naked bodies and prisoners being led on leashes and terrorized by dogs. Others reveal the battered faces and bloodied bodies of two dead Iraqis. [WARNING: GRAPHIC]
Eleven soldiers were eventually convicted of crimes relating to the scandal.
After the release of the CIA Torture Report by the Senate, The New York Times editorial board writes that “what happened [at CIA black sites] appears to have been worse than what took place at Abu Ghraib.”
The report details the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by CIA interrogators, including waterboarding, “rectal rehydration,” sleep deprivation and mock executions. Some officers threatened to hurt, rape, and kill family members of detainees.
The CIA insists that these interrogations led to valuable information that eventually saved lives.
Read the full senate report here.
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