The After-Life (And Suicide) Of An American Torturer

The country still won’t come to terms with the fact that the US perpetrated a global campaign of war crimes, torture, dehumanization and cruelty for seven years, and its impact is still being felt. It is felt not simply among all those dictators – from the master-torturer, the King of Jordan, to the Chinese and Russians, beaming broadly, knowing that the US has now no moral legs to stand on, especially since Obama’s decision to ignore binding Geneva Convention laws that require prosecution of the guilty.

But there is a human toll as well: not just among those still living with PTSD from the brutal torture sessions, but from the perpetrators as well. Many did so with qualms, under orders; others, given the signal from the commander-in-chief that torture was now an American value, took to it with relish and occasionally desperation. One reluctant participant soldier, just killed himself – yet another one – because he couldn’t live with what he had actually been ordered by his president to do. Part of his suicide note:

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

“Crimes against humanity.” “Far beyond what most are even aware of.” “The ensuing cover-up.”

When will the American people finally see the Senate Intelligence Report on the Torture Program?

And when will Eric Holder finally initiate criminal prosecutions? Or are the powerful always above the law, even as soldiers kill themselves because of the memory of the inhumanity?

Gawker, which published this first, notes:

“Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old.”

(Thumbnail Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)