Army Whistleblower Says Superiors Hid Torture

A U.S. Army counterintelligence agent who accused fellow National Guardsmen of abusing Iraqi detainees says that his own commander coerced an Army psychiatrist into diagnosing him as “delusional.” According to Sergeant Greg Ford, his commanding officer confronted psychiatrist Angelina Madera, a captain with the 30th Medical Support Element, after she had initially assessed Ford to be mentally stable.

Sgt. Ford says Captain Victor Artiga, a company commander in the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, told Dr. Madera she was to reclassify the whistleblower Ford as unfit for duty so he could be transferred out of Iraq immediately.

Reached at his home in California, Ford said that Captain Artiga rushed over to Dr. Madera’s office as soon as he received her written evaluation and confronted her with the results. Ford says that Artiga told Madera that Ford was “delusional” and that her initial report “could not stay that way.” He verbally intimidated her, according to Ford, and told her to change the report to reflect Ford’s “delusions” because this was a “military intelligence” matter and Artiga wanted to get Ford out of Iraq “right away.”

This exchange was witnessed by Sergeant First Class Michael Marciello, a counterintelligence team leader, who says he was ordered by Artiga to seize Ford’s weapon and ammunition right after the torture allegations were made and to guard him 24 hours a day until Ford left Iraq after a second session with Madera.

Sgt. Marciello confirmed that he witnessed Artiga confronting Madera and said the commander made it very clear to Dr. Madera that she had to change her report and make sure Ford was sent to Landstuhl, Germany, for a mental health evaluation. Marciello said that Dr. Madera appeared to be “shaken” by the exchange and eventually agreed to assist Artiga in evacuating Ford to Germany.

Ford had alleged witnessing three fellow counterintelligence team members “torture” Iraqi detainees who were in their custody in Samarra, Iraq. “I walked in once right after an interrogation and saw a prisoner that was handcuffed and slumped against a wall,” Ford recounted. “He was comatose. When I looked closer, I noticed a cigarette sticking out of each ear. When I removed them I saw that they were still lit.”

Ford went on to relate other such scenes that he described as “war crimes.” He said, “On several occasions I walked in and saw agents literally pulling prisoners’ arms out of their sockets while they were tied behind their backs with flexcuffs. I had to push [one] idiot off [a] detainee and pop the guy’s arms back in place.”

The Army has denied all of Ford’s allegations about prisoner mistreatment.

A 30-year career National Guardsman with eighteen years as a prison guard, Ford says that within twelve hours after the confrontation between Artiga and Madera, medics strapped him to a gurney against his will. He was flown by C-130 to Kuwait and then on to Landstuhl Army Regional Medical Center in Germany.

The scenario Ford presents is not altogether unfamiliar. A United Press International story on May 25, 2004, told the story of another whistleblower who was allegedly locked in a psychiatric ward as punishment for speaking out against the Army. That case involved Julian Goodrum, a decorated lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves. Goodrum, a veteran of the Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, had filed a complaint last summer over the death of a soldier in his command. He had also testified before Congress about the poor medical care reserve component soldiers were receiving at Fort Knox, Ky., upon returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ford, who refers to the ordeal as a “kidnapping,” said that he filed complaints with the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) upon his return to the U.S. last summer, but that so far nothing has come of them. The CID has made no comments on the matter.

Sacramento FBI Agent Tom Reynolds has acknowledged receipt of a complaint and says his office took a report from Ford and is awaiting instructions from Washington.