CONTRACTOR WAS A BULLY
By Jon Christian Ryter
June 20, 2004
David Passaro, a 38 year old CIA interrogation contractor was formally charged with two counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon on Thursday, June 17. Passaro is charged in the year-old beating death of Abdul Wali, an Afghan who surrendered to the US military on his own accord when he learned that he was wanted for questioning by the American soldiers as a possible participant in rocket attacks against the US military.
Three days after he turned himself in, professing his innocence of the allegations, Wali died in his cell after being severely beaten by a CIA contractor. A recent JAG investigation revealed that Passaro was the interrogator. The report verified that Passaro beat Wali with his fists, kicked him several times, and used a large flashlight as a club to beat him into submission. Because Wali was a suspected terrorist, his death was not investigated until November, 2003 when the scandal at Abu Ghraib was first uncovered and several other interrogation deaths at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo came under investigation. Four unexplained deaths at detention camps in Afghanistan also came under scrutiny. Wali's death was one of them.
Federal prosecutors said that Passaro was not charged with murder only because no autopsy was done to determine the exact cause of death. While many Americans will be convinced that Passaro has become a scapegoat of America's fear of facing war crimes accusations from the United Nations, there is a more bizarre underlying motive for the charges that Passaro now faces.
When US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the indictment of Passaro on Thursday, he said that the indictment will send a message to the world that the "...United States will not tolerate criminal acts of brutality against..." detainees. If he is convicted, Passaro faces up to 40 years in a federal prison and up to $1 million in fines. Passaro is the first civilian charged in the abuse scandal.
The decision to charge him was based more on Passaro's personal life and demeanor rather than on the fact that a prisoner died at his hand. A former Green Beret medic and Army Ranger, 38-year old David Passaro was an ideal poster boy for his job. The CIA jumped on the chance to hire him on December, 2002. They should have checked his background a little more thoroughly. Or, maybe they did. Passaro was more than just a little rough around the edges. But it may be the CIA felt those were just the qualifications an interrogator needed. Passaro was a confirmed wife beater—and more. In October, 1990 whilee serving as a probationary police officer in Hartford, Connecticut, Passaro was arrested by the Connecticut State Police on felony assault charges for severely beating a neighbor who ticked off Passaro. Passaro plea-bargained the charges down to a breach-of-peace misdemeanor and, in July 1991, pleaded guilty to the reduced charge and was fined $100. Passaro's wife (who is now his ex-wife) said her former husband had a violent temper. "He was violent towards me throughout our marriage," she said. She divorced him in February, 2001. A year later, in March, 2002 he remarried.
Passaro's neighbors around his Fort Bragg, North Carolina home (where Passaro held a civilian Army medical job before going to work for the CIA) spoke about Passaro with mixed emotions. One neighbor, Diana Chrostowski, said that "...anytime we spoke, he seemed to be a really, really nice guy." Of course, Chrostowski is not one of those who "crossed" him. Theresa Smith, who lived across the road from Passaro had a slightly different perspective of the civilian nurse. They had a falling out with him after her children and another neighbor's child rode a golf cart up and down the dirt road between their homes, causing Passaro to claim that the dust they were raising damaged his property. "He kept to himself. I kept to myself," she told the Associated Press. "If I needed help, I wouldn't have [gone] over there just because of his temperament."
Another neighbor, Rebecca Rodriguez, said she had a lot of problems of Passaro, adding her nightmares with him began when her dogs dug under her fence and got into his yard. Passaro claimed that her dogs spooked his horse and caused the animal to injure his leg. He filed suit in small claims court and won a judgment of $400 against her. Not long after the horse incident, Rodriguez reported to the Harnett County Sheriff's Department that someone fired a bullet through the windshield of her car. She suspected that Passaro fired the shot, but she couldn't prove it. Rodriguez was so intimidated by Passaro that she would not go into her fenced-in back yard if Passaro was anywhere in his yard.
After investigating his private life and his propensity to fly into violent rages, the investigators from the military and the Justice Department determined that Passaro's hair-trigger temper suggests Passaro flew off the handle and, in a fit or rage, beat Wali to death. A jury of his peers will determine whether or not the allegation is true.
© 2004 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved
Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website. E-Mail: BAFFauthor@aol.com
When US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced the indictment of Passaro on Thursday, he said that the indictment will send a message to the world that the "...United States will not tolerate criminal acts of brutality against..." detainees.