|Birth name||Joshua Eric Casteel|
|Born||27 December 1979|
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
|Died||25 August 2012 (aged 32)|
New York, New York
|Place of burial|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||2002–2005|
Joshua Casteel (27 December 1979 – 25 August 2012) was a United States Army soldier, conscientious objector, playwright, and divinity student. He volunteered for the army in 2002 and conducted interrogations in Abu Ghraib prison.
In 2005 he received an honorable discharge as a conscientious objector. He was active in the anti-war movement before dying of lung cancer in 2012.
He was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in a Christian evangelical family. Casteel was active in the local community theatre, Theatre Cedar Rapids, where he had lead roles in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Who's Tommy
Casteel won an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point but dropped out in his first term there. He enlisted in the Army in May 2002 and was trained as an interrogator at Fort Huachuca and in the Arabic language at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. His unit arrived in Iraq in 2004, six weeks after revelation of prisoner abuses by US personnel at the prison. Casteel served with the Army's 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion as an interrogator at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and claimed to have conducted over 130 prisoner interrogations. After Casteel applied for conscientious objector status, he was assigned to non combat duty guarding a burn pit.
Six months after applying, the Army approved his application as a conscientious objector and granted him an honorable discharge in 2005. Casteel graduated from the University of Iowa in 2008 with a dual master of fine arts degree in playwriting and non-fiction writing. He was an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and the author of several plays performed in the US and abroad, including Returns and The Interrogation Room. As a public speaker on religious and political matters, Casteel addressed audiences in the US, Ireland, Sweden, Italy and the UK. He was featured in the documentary films Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers and Soldiers of Conscience. In 2008, excerpts of Casteel's emails from Iraq were published in Harper's Magazine and in book form by Essay Press.
He died of lung cancer in New York City in New York-Presbyterian Hospital on August 25, 2012. An oncologist told Casteel's mother that "Joshua died of lung cancer without having any of the conventional risk factors such as smoking, asbestos exposure or radiation ... I am quite sure we did not have anyone younger with lung cancer those five years I worked at the VA." Casteel's family believes his cancer was the result of exposure to toxins released by a burn pit he slept near for six months in Iraq. He was a University of Chicago Divinity School graduate student at the time of his death. An article titled "The Priest of Abu Ghraib", which analyzed his theological struggles while interrogating Muslim prisoners in Iraq c. 2004, appeared in the Jan.-Feb. 2019 "Smithsonian" magazine.
- Casteel, Joshua. Letters from Abu Ghraib. (Ithaca, NY: Essay Pr., 2008). ISBN 978-0-9791189-3-7
- Allen, Susie. "Divinity School student Joshua Casteel, 1979–2012". UChicagoNews. 18 September 2012. Accessed 21 June 2013.
- Latchis, Rebekah. "The Big 3-2!". Joshuacasteel.com. 16 December 2011. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- "Obituaries: Casteel, Joshua Eric". The Gazette. 02 September 2012. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- Lindsey, T. M. "A conscientious objector's journey". The Iowa Independent. 03 September 2008. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- "Soldiers of Conscience". Luna Productions. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
- Casteel, Joshua. "The Monk of Abu Ghraib". Harper's Magazine. Vol. 317, No. 1901. 1 October 2008. p. 22.
- Erin Jordan. "Cedar Rapids family blames burn pit in Iraq for son's cancer death". The Gazette. 26 October 2012. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- Erin Jordan. "Cedar Rapids family links ex-soldier's death to burn pit". The Gazette. 28 October 2012. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- Percy, Jennifer. "The Priest of Abu Ghraib". Smithsonian Magazine. January 2019
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Joshua Casteel|
- "Joshua Casteel: 'To Love One's Enemies' ", a video clip from Soldiers of Conscience. Accessed 21 June 2013.
- "Call of Duty", an essay by Casteel on military-themed first-person shooter video games. Accessed 14 August 2013.
- joshuacasteel.com, a site about Joshua maintained by his family. Accessed 22 June 2013.
- "Authors – Joshua Casteel (archived)," a short biography on the Essay Press web site. Accessed 18 December 2014.