Maj. Ian Fishback, Who Exposed Abuse of Detainees, Dies at 42

Maj. Ian Fishback, Who Exposed Abuse of Detainees, Dies at 42

“He had all the scars from it,” Brig. Gen. Stephen N. Xenakis, a retired medic who had worked with Major Fishback since 2005 on human rights issues, said in an interview.

“It was not that he was a perfectionist,” General Xenakis added. “I think he wrestled with understanding what are the principles, what am I supposed to do, how am I supposed to organize my conduct and thinking? He was intent on doing what he thought was ethical.”

Major Fishback earned a master’s degree in philosophy and political science at the University of Michigan in 2012, taught at West Point from 2012 to 2015, and was awarded his doctorate from the University of Michigan. In his thesis, dated this year, he explored the questions of when a war is just, when a soldier has a moral justification to disobey orders, and what the scope of his responsibility is both for doing harm and for allowing harm to be done.

His marriage to Clara Hoisington, a fellow West Point graduate, ended in divorce. He is survived by their young daughter; his parents, John Fishback and Sharon Ableson; his stepmother, Sharon Brown; and his sister, Jazcinda Jorgensen.

Mr. Ford, his friend from boyhood, described Major Fishback as a “moral absolutist.”

“If I asked him to help me bury a body, he would turn me in,” Mr. Ford said. “He would have been a great moral compass for this country.”

Major Fishback said several years ago that his original testimony on abuses had been discredited by the Army, in part because doctors said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Although he was promoted to major from captain, Major Fishback decided to leave the Army and the United States altogether. He moved to Sweden to accept a Fulbright scholarship, worked for a human rights organization, applied for European Union citizenship and sought, he said, to “make sure Europe is able to fend off the United States and Russia.”

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