Alyssa Peterson was a U.S. Army Specialist, certified in Arabic language and fluent in Dutch. She served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was also received training in interrogation techniques at the known military intelligence hub known as Fort Huachuca Arizona.
She was stationed at Tal Afar airbase in northwestern Iraq, ostensibly and specifically to conduct interrogations and translate captured documents. She couldn't have arrived at a worst time, as the U.S. mission hardened from orders on high, to specifically use methods and techniques of torture rebranded as "enhanced interrogation". These acts are conducted in isolated, restricted and tightly controlled areas, with fully sanctioned, informational plausible deniability applied. In her capacity Peterson was expected to function much like her associates and apply these methods upon those taken in combat or rendered and branded as enemy combatants. However, as reported by journalist Kevin Elston, "Peterson objected to the torture techniques used on prisoners and refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as "The Cage". Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed." Later Army records also revealed that she had been allegedly "reprimanded" for showing "empathy" for prisoners and contrary to military training which instructed her to "… 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 remarked that, "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."
After her refusal of task she was then assigned to the base gate monitoring Iraqi guards. According to a later investigational report, she was then put under suicide watch after refusing participation in interrogation sessions which she stated constituted torture of Iraqi prisoners. On September 15, 2003, Peterson was found dead allegedly from a shot from her service rifle. Three days later her sudden demise was then officially ruled death by "non-hostile weapons discharge". This, according to Army officials, includes a number of possible scenarios that are being considered such as: "Peterson's own weapon discharging, the weapon of another soldier discharging, or the accidental shooting of Peterson by an Iraqi civilian". That seems fairly ambiguous and very wide an estimation to then arrive at a final suicide ruling in my personal observance.
What we're left with is the possibility of a suicide if one trusts the official story, but more likely it may have been a murder to silence her. Some of what she had witnessed was prisoners stripped naked, beaten and having lit cigarettes extinguished upon their body. In addition, cramped confinement, stress position, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box and waterboarding were also known to have been used. Considering that Army spokespersons stated that ALL records of the torture techniques had been destroyed, it was obviously egregiously worse. Then you have an alleged suicide note left by her, which of all the records requested by Kevin Elston via FOIA request, was never manifested. An official report also reported that Peterson kept a notebook of her writings that was located next to her body but the contents were conveniently blacked out.