The U.S. Army recently decided to try G.I. war resister Suzanne Swift in a special military court-martial. She was charged on Sept. 27 with missing a troop movement and being absent without leave. Swift has refused to return to Iraq. She was coerced into having sexual relations—known as “command rape”—with her supervisor while on a tour of duty in Iraq. If Swift is found guilty, she faces up to one year in military prison.
Swift survived one tour in Iraq that left her emotionally and psychologically wounded. Her military-police unit returned to
In a Sept. 18 interview with Democracy Now, Swift explained the abusive culture within the Army: “People say things like … ‘why are you looking at me like you want to have sex with me?’ And, you know, this is your supervisor that’s four ranks above you. It’s just a huge shock, and you don’t know what to do.”
After Swift went AWOL, she was eventually arrested by the military at her mother’s home in Eugene, Ore. She is now on active duty at Ft. Lewis.
The Army’s sham investigation
Suzanne Swift complained to her superiors about the sexual harassment that she suffered, both in Iraq and later in the United States. According to her lawyer Keith Scherer, “It’s pretty clear from the language in the report that they didn’t do a diligent investigation.”
According to Sara Rich, Suzanne’s mother, the Army investigators “interviewed Suzanne for one hour, in which time they said to her, ‘You don’t need to go into detail. I don’t need to know what he said.'”
Scherer also raised the question as to why she is being charged now since the report from the sham investigation had been completed months ago.
The Army has decided not to go after the predators who abused Swift. Rather, the brass has decided to make an example out of Swift, hoping to discourage the other women who have experienced similar abuse from speaking out and resisting the war.
Sit-in demands real investigation
Iraq Veterans Against the War held a sit-in on Sept. 12 at Congressman Peter DeFazio’s (D-OR) office in Washington, D.C. DeFazio then pledged support for a Congressional investigation into Swift’s case.
The horrors of being part of an occupying army in a nation resisting colonial occupation are bad enough. But Swift, like many other women in the military, experienced sexual harassment, brutality and command rape. As a result, she is experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
In her interview with Democracy Now, Swift was asked if she had advice for women in the military who had experienced command rape. She replied: “For the women who are already in the military or in similar situations, write it down, report it, contact your congressman, be as loud as possible.”
To women considering joining the military, Swift had some very simple advice: “For the women who are considering going into it, don’t.”