On his second night in Iraq, one month ago, Sergeant Pogany, 32, saw an Iraqi cut in half by a machine gun. The sight disturbed him so much, he said, he threw up and shook for hours. His head pounded and his chest hurt.
"I couldn't function," Sergeant Pogany said in an interview on Tuesday in his lawyer's office in Colorado Springs, not far from Fort Carson. "I had this overwhelming sense of my own mortality. I kept looking at that body thinking that could be me two seconds from now."
When he informed his superior that he was having a panic attack and needed to see someone, Sergeant Pogany said he was given two sleeping pills and told to go away. A few days later, Sergeant Pogany was put on a plane and sent home.
Now he faces a possible court-martial. If convicted, the punishment could range from a dock in pay to death.
The New York Times: Soldier Accused as Coward Says He Is Guilty Only of Panic Attack.
My flight arrived in New York at 2 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2002. I had a few hours to wait until my connecting flight to Montreal.
This is when my nightmare began. I was pulled aside at immigration and taken to another area.
Two hours later some officials came and told me this was regular procedure -- they took my fingerprints and photographs.
Then some police came and searched my bags and copied my Canadian passport. I was getting worried, and I asked what was going on, and they would not answer.
I asked to make a phone call, and they would not let me.
Then a team of people came and told me they wanted to ask me some questions. One man was from the FBI, and another was from the New York Police Department.
I was scared and did not know what was going on.
I told them I wanted a lawyer. They told me I had no right to a lawyer, because I was not an American citizen.
They asked me where I worked and how much money I made. They swore at me, and insulted me. It was very humiliating.
They wanted me to answer every question quickly.
They were consulting a report while they were questioning me, and the information they had was so private -- I thought this must be from Canada. I told them everything I knew.
They asked me about my travel in the United States. I told them about my work permits, and my business there.
They asked about information on my computer and whether I was willing to share it. I welcomed the idea, but I don’t know if they did. They asked me about different people, some I know, and most I do not.
Statement to the media by Maher Arar, Nov. 4, 2003.