Guard Deaths in 2004 Blamed on 'Friendly' Iraqis
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
And now to a story of two American soldiers apparently killed by Iraqi soldiers. An Army investigation concludes that Patrick McCaffrey and Andre Tyson, both California National Guardsmen, were murdered two years ago by Iraqis they were training.
Scott Gold wrote today's story in the Los Angeles Times. And he joins us now. And Scott, what did the Army find?
Mr. SCOTT GOLD (Reporter, Los Angeles Times): We don't have a lot of details yet. We expect to have them later this week. And the report is just now being delivered, one last night and one this afternoon, to the soldiers' mothers in the cities of Tracy, which is a suburb of the Bay area, and Long Beach in the Los Angeles area.
What we know so far is that Patrick Ryan McCaffrey was an Army specialist, 34 years old, and Andre Tyson, who was a first lieutenant, were killed in June, 2004, while they were patrolling a patch of farm land in Balad, which is about 50 miles north of Baghdad.
The military initially attributed the deaths to an ambush. But the Army's criminal investigation command has since determined that these men were actually murdered by Iraqi civil defense officers who were patrolling with them and who they had apparently trained a short time earlier.
BRAND: And how did they come to that conclusion? How did they even suspect that it was the Iraqis that were being trained that were actually turned on their trainers?
Mr. GOLD: Well, again, we don't have the full details of the report yet, so I can't really talk about the decision-making that went into it. But we reported in a Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine article that was written by my colleague, Rone Tempest, last year, that McCaffrey, in particular, had expressed considerable reservation to his father about the Iraqi National Guard units that he and his fellow soldiers had been assigned to train.
He told, for example, about recognizing that captured, suspected insurgent - recognizing the man who had just tested positive for using some sort of explosive device or material as someone he had trained earlier that day.
BRAND: Wow. So, how widespread is this?
Mr. GOLD: Well, that depends on whom you ask. McCaffrey's mother, Nadia McCaffrey, has become an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq. She has attended a number of peace vigils and demonstrations.
According to Nadia McCaffrey, she believes that this is widespread, that this has happened in the past, continues to happen today. According to the military, that is not the case. This is an extremely rare occurrence. And, for the most part, the Iraqi soldiers who have been trained by the United States are increasingly professional, according to the U.S. military.
BRAND: And what has happened to the perpetrators?
Mr. GOLD: That's a very popular question this week. We do know that two Iraqis were taken into custody. Once they returned to Camp Anaconda, which is the base camp that was being used by McCaffrey and Tyson, those Iraqis voluntarily returned to Anaconda and were taken into custody. The military, however, has not ever said what has become of them and whether they were formally charged.
There's also a third suspect who apparently was a Russian-trained sniper who was fairly well known in Iraq. And the military has not determined, or at least not announced publicly, whether he's ever been found.
BRAND: This took place two years ago. I'm wondering, is it normal for it to take two years to investigate something like this? Or was this unusually long?
Mr. GOLD: No, I don't think that that's terribly unusual. But again, Nadia McCaffrey was not pleased with the course of the events. This is, again, the mother of Specialist McCaffrey.
Her contention was that no one in the military was really paying a lot of attention to her. She then approached Senator Barbara Boxer of California and asked her to get involved about a month ago.
And Boxer wrote to the Pentagon requesting that the Pentagon release at least some sort of an update into its investigation and that apparently prompted this report to be released this week.
BRAND: Well thank you Scott.
Mr. GOLD: Okay thanks very much.
BRAND: Scott Gold is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.
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