Since the peak of Occupy Wall Street in the fall of 2011, New York activists have become familiar with Deputy Inspector Andrew J. Lombardo. He’s referenced in numerous tweets, YouTube videos, and news reports. His tactics of seemingly arbitrary arrests, intense questioning, and what some have described as “mind games” have been documented by activists and First Amendment organizations for years.
What isn’t known is that before he rose to be one of the NYPD’s most prominent point men on NYC protests, Lombardo, or “The Lombardo” as many activists not-so-lovingly call him, was a prison guard at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq for the 800th MP Battalion during the time of the prisoner torture scandal.
The internal Abu Ghraib report matches an “Andrew J. Lombardo” whose picture can be seen on a US Army Reserve Facebook post from 2011 in reference to an NYPD Captain (his rank until very recently) of the same name who held the same position, in the same brigade, at the same time. The Taguba Report, carried out by Major General Antonio Taguba in May 2004, verifies that Lombardo was part of the military chain of command during the time of the notorious human rights abuses.
Though Lombardo, and several others of the 310 Brigade 800th Battalion were evidently not accused of any wrongdoing, his time at Abu Ghraib is consistent with a broader trend of the way our wars abroad have, in the words of the ACLU, “come home” and have a potential chilling effect on First Amendment activity. From the importing of armored MRAP trucks through the 1033 Program to a spike in sound cannon purchases, the use of methods developed in Iraq on peaceful protests at home is increasingly making civil libertarians worried.