Alyssa R. Peterson (February 29, 1976 – September 15, 2003) was a U.S. Army Specialist, Arabic language certification, serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne in Iraq. Peterson graduated from Northern Arizona University, after which she enlisted in the Army and attended the Defense Language Institute in California, where she learned Arabic. She also studied interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in Arizona.
In the late 1990s Peterson became fluent in Dutch before serving an 18-month mission in the Netherlands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Peterson later graduated from Northern Arizona University in May 2001 with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. She enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 2001 and excelled in Arabic courses at the Defense Language Institute in Monterrey, California.
Peterson was transferred to Fort Campbell, Kentucky in July 2003 before her deployment to the Middle East sometime thereafter. She was assigned to C Company, 311th Military Intelligence Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division.
Death in Iraq
Peterson died on September 15, 2003 from a "non-hostile weapons discharge" at the Tal Afar airbase on the Syrian-Iraqi frontier. Subsequent investigation revealed that she had been placed under suicide watch after refusing further participation in interrogation sessions which she said constituted torture of Iraqi prisoners.
According to a report into the investigation into her death:
"We told her that you have to be able to turn on and off the interrogation mode -- that you act differently towards the people we meet with outside of the detainee facility," one fellow soldier stated. "She said that she did not know how to be two people; she ... could not be one person in the cage and another outside the wire."
Just before her death, Peterson spoke to another intelligence specialist, Kayla Williams, about her concerns. According to the Huffington Post, Ms. Williams also was forced to take part in torture interrogations during which detainees were assaulted, stripped, blindfolded, and then confronted with a female interrogator. It is also reported that interrogation included cramped confinement, stress position, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box and waterboarding. She refused to participate in this, according to journalist Ann Wright, "for saying no to torture, is dead, perhaps by her own hand".
Peterson's body was returned to Flagstaff, Arizona in late September 2003, where she was buried with full military honors at Citizen's Cemetery.
- http://www.sltrib.com/lds/ci_12239925[dead link] "On opposite poles: two mormons on torture"
- Hendricks, Larry (2007-03-11). "Flag soldier died deeply conflicted". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Mitchell, Greg (2009-04-24). "U.S. Soldier Killed Herself -- After Refusing to Take Part in Torture". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-25.
- Wright, Ann (2009-04-30). "Two Mormons & Two Different Ethics on Torture". Common Dreams NewsCenter. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- "U.S. Soldier Killed Herself After Objecting to Interrogation Techniques" By Greg Mitchell November 1, 2006 Editor & Publisher
- "U.S. Soldier Killed Herself in Iraq -- After Objecting to Torture" By Greg Mitchell March 17, 2008 The Huffington Post
- "U.S. Soldier Killed Herself -- After Refusing to Take Part in Torture" By Greg Mitchell April 23, 2009 The Huffington Post
- "Part II: Soldier Who Killed Herself -- After Refusing to Take Part in Torture" By Greg Mitchell April 24, 2009 The Huffington Post
- "Amid Media Debate: The Soldier Who Refused to Torture--And Killed Herself a Few Days Later" by Greg Mitchell April 25, 2009 Editor & Publisher
- "The Soldier Who Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture" By Greg Mitchell Serptember 14, 2011 The Huffington Post
- FACEBOOK GROUP: Specialist Alyssa R. Peterson (February 29, 1976 – September 15, 2003)