Ex-Carter law officer leaving military post

John Thompson • Sep 21, 2013 at 9:30 PM

ELIZABETHTON — After two years in command of the Department of Defense task force responsible for conducting criminal investigations on a global basis, Lt. Col. James Parrish will be returning home to Carter County to resume his law enforcement career.

Parrish said in a news release that it was a privilege and honor to serve with the task force, which he said supports “the most important and significant terrorist trials in our nation’s history.”

In a ceremony attended by about 175 people at Fort Belvoir, Va., on Sept 6, Parrish passed the colors of the Department of Defense Criminal Investigation Task Force to Lt. Col. Cullen Wright. Parrish’s wife, Tami, and their children, Zachary and Emily, attended the change of command ceremony.

Wright took command of the task force in a ceremony hosted by Col. John G. Voorhees Jr., commander of the 701st Military Police Group, part of the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Voohees said the task force, which was established in 2002, has built “hundreds of investigative cases that have been adjudicated within judicial systems functioning in Iraq, Afghanistan and the United States.”

Voorhees commended Parish for making the unit “an even more powerful tool against terrorism.”

“Because of the work of the CITF,” Voohees said, “terrorists have been treated like the criminals they are — professionally and ethically investigated to the point where a prosecutor can successfully take the case to a judicial process and receive an outcome that serves as a punishment and strong deterrent to others who consider doing harm.”

During the time Parrish commanded the task force, the unit made important contributions to the pending military commission trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other detainees charged as co-conspirators in the 9/11 attack on the United States.

Under Parrish’s command, the task force also:

  • Assisted prosecutors with the pending military commission trial of Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al Nashiri, who allegedly oversaw the planning and preparation of the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, in which 17 United States sailors were killed.
  • Deployed criminal investigation special agents to Afghanistan who assisted U.S. combat forces with the collection of evidence during sensitive-site exploitations, conducted law enforcement interviews of suspected Taliban insurgents and built cases for trial in Afghanistan’s terrorist court.
  • Identified and mitigated Taliban financiers.
  • Built important partnerships with and mentored Afghan investigative task forces.

Parrish was raised in Carter County. He enlisted in the Army in 1982 as a private. He attended East Tennessee State University and was commissioned a second lieutenant after his graduation in 1987. He majored in criminal justice.

Parrish worked as an officer with the Elizabethton Police Department after his graduation. He later moved to the Carter County Sheriff’s Department during the administration of John Henson and was promoted to chief deputy.

Parrish was called to active duty during the war on terror and served as a staff officer in the Pentagon, including assignments with the deputy chief of staff for logistics.

He was planning on a return to civilian life in Carter County when his tour of active duty was extended and he took command of the task force.

Parrish plans to return to Carter County and resume serving in law enforcement.

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