Suzanne Swift's story begins in an all-too-familiar way. A dead-end job, a friendly military recruiter, a promise that signing-up as military police would mean no deployment to Iraq, a broken promise, and a trip to war. Then it takes a less commonly heard of turn, one involving a practice known as "command rape." Suzanne is back in the U.S. and is refusing to return to Iraq. Until a couple of days ago she was confined by the military and threatened with prosecution. The three superiors whom she has accused of various forms of harassment or assault have not yet been charged. Suzanne's mother, Sara Rich, spoke with me about her daughter's ordeal and recorded this 20-minute conversation. Here's a faster opening version, compressed by Peter Bricel.
She asks those concerned by this story to visit a website:
If you go there, please sign the petition. If you can, please contribute financially. And, if you are able to organize others to take part, please hold an event in support of Suzanne Swift on her birthday, July 15th.
This is David Swanson, speaking with Sara Rich, the mother of Suzanne Swift:
DAVID: Ms. Rich, how old is your daughter?
DAVID: Almost 22; and what is her background in the military? How did she get into the service and how long ago was that?
SARA: Suzanne graduated from high school in 2002 and she got a job and started working, and it was kind of a dead-end job, something that didn't have a lot of, you know, future, and she was home one day and Jerry, the Army recruiter, called the house because the recruiters, you know, have your home phone number, and they invited her out to lunch, and the courtship began from there. She started having lunch with them every week and telling her about the travel and the college benefits and the training she would receive from the Army.
DAVID: Did she receive those things?
SARA: Well, she sure traveled. She went right to Iraq right out of her training. It was within a month out of getting out of basic training that she went to Iraq, and the thing is that she was told that if she signed up to be a miliary police officer, she would not go to Iraq, but you could only sign up to be a miliary police officer if you signed up for 5 years instead of 4, so her line to me was, "Don't worry mama, you know, I'm signing up to be an MP, and they don't deploy MPs to Iraq."
DAVID: But she chose not to because it would be an additional year?
SARA: Oh no, she chose to be a miliary police officer and do 5 years so she would not go to Iraq.
DAVID: And yet they sent her to Iraq anyway?
SARA: That's exactly right. The first thing they said to her when she got off the bus at boot camp, was the sergeant yells, he said "You blankety-blank-blank all think that you're not going to Iraq? Well, your recruiter lied. You're all going to Iraq and you're all going to die!" Scared the hell out of Suzanne.