Yesterday, at the Editor & Publisher site and at Huffington Post, I revisited the tragic case of Spc.Alyssa Peterson, who committed suicide in Iraq just days after she refused to have anything to do with "torture" interrogations of detainees in Iraq. I'd written about Alyssa before, starting nearly three years ago and then in my book on Iraq and the media.
Those two pieces drew enormous attention thanks to major links at Talking Points Memo, via Andrew Sullivan, and elsewhere. My Huff Post piece formed the basis of the top diary for Thursday here at DailyKos. Hundreds of comments have appeared, including one especially personal and revealing -- contributed by a reader identifying himself as Spencer Peterson, Alyssa's older brother.
Among other issues, he tackles, in his comment at Huff Post, the charges, by posters here and elsewhere, that her death might have murder, not suicide -- and that, perhaps, her death had nothing to do with her reaction to the interrogations. There appears to be little reason to doubt that he is, indeed, her brother (it was his first comment ever there, and it's consistent with her brother's view as expressed to local journalist Kevin Elston back in 2006).
Here is what he wrote yesterday:
Alyssa is my little sister. I usually don't comment on boards like this, and I don't speak for the rest of my family (especially my folks), but I think she probably did kill herself over this. She was extremely sensitive and empathetic to others, and cared a lot more about the welfare and well-being of the people around her than she cared about herself.
At the time it happened, we had national media camped out on the front lawn for weeks, and the story was very well-covered - what little we knew at the time. We still haven't received her "diary" or "suicide note" or whatever it was, but the official report from the Army indicated suicide, and I personally don't see a good reason to question that.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support of our troops and our family. Alyssa's death was a tremendous loss to everyone who knew her, and we miss her sweet and sensitive spirit.
No one is happier than I am that (many of) our troops are coming home from Iraq, and I pray that the rest of our brave soldiers return home safely as soon as possible. Support our troops - bring them home!
I will have another followup piece tomorrow.
Greg Mitchell's book on Iraq and the media is "So Wrong for So Long." His latest book is "Why Obama Won."