U.S. military officials are refusing to provide the most basic information about the death of an American contractor in Iraq, for which two Marines and a sailor are reportedly under investigation.
The Daily Beast has identified the contractor as former Green Beret Rick Rodriguez, who worked for Lockheed Martin in Irbil. Rodriguez died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, on Jan. 4, reportedly from injuries that he sustained during a fight with U.S. service members.
A Lockheed Martin spokesperson confirmed that one of its employees had been “fatally injured” while supporting U.S. special operations forces taking part in Operation Inherent Resolve, but the company is not releasing his name “out of respect for the family’s desire for privacy.”
The New York Times reported that the two Marines and Navy corpsman under investigation for Rodriguez’ death are assigned to a Marine special operations unit. A spokesman for Marine Special Operations Command had little information to share on Tuesday.
“We’re aware of the non-combat related death of a contractor supporting a forward-deployed MARSOC unit in the Operation Inherent Resolve theater of operations,” said Maj. Nick. Mannweiler. “MARSOC is providing all requested support to investigators as they look into this incident.”
Officials with Operation Inherent Resolve and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service declined to comment on Tuesday because the investigation into Rodriguez’ death is ongoing.
Rachel VanLandingham, a former military attorney, said she did not think there is a legal policy that prevents the Defense Department from discussing this matter.
“As far as I know, Congress has never passed a law explicitly requiring the federal government to share information about an on-going criminal investigation prior to the formal charging stage (when pre-trial discovery obligations kick in),” said VanLandingham, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.