Apparently yesterday was a holiday, well if it was I missed it. I am getting closer to going home for "Enviornmental Leave". Whatever they call it this week, I am glad to be going. Many of you have asked what my typical day is like. I really can't answer that, because there is no such thing as normal here. Allow me to qualify that, by saying this. Anytime that there exists the possibility that a mortar, IED, VBIED, or suicide attack against you, that kind of kicks normal in the gut. So there is no normal here. My days begin at about 0800, I get up, and go into the office, at about 0900 where (as I mentioned before) I am bombarded by many soldiers coming in telling me of this great piece of "intel" they got from this informant. Ok, first as an officer I listen to what the soldiers have to say. I have a duty to pay attention and to listen. So I do, I take notes, and then I file them. Again I have a duty to follow up on all credible leads. Having said that I'd like to quote a SGT who was a veteran of the initial push into B'dad.
"Everybody in this country knows something, but nobody knows nothing!"
That is never more evident than during questioning of a suspect. There are about fifty million ways for them to lie to you and they find more. The story changes faster than they can tell it. So, when I get this "intel" daily from the soldiers here my disposition continues to degrade. Everyone here wants to play 007, but none of them seem to get that in a year, I will be lucky if I can begin to piece together what happend. The expectation is overwhelmingly this.
Here is some Intelligence, make some magic happen...
Well, I have surpassed my allocation of space and time at the Military Intelligence magic lab. Sorry fellas, we have crack this nut the old fashioned way. It seems that in the CSI, instant coffee (Starbucks) world that is the American reality, I am supposed to be able to find Al-Zarqawi based on a source saying he was at this corner a year ago. Make some magic happen...
My commrades in arms here seem to be getting frustrated that there aren't enough (I decided on a name) Angry Men to "take down". They grow increasingly frustrated that the leads the follow up on, are not worth the dust on their boots. I for one, am glad things are realitively slow here. I like the quiet, I like sleeping through the night with out hearing the dull "whump" of something blowing up. But hey, that's just me.
I have been in Military Intelligence for a little over a decade now, and in MI a good day is pretty much when no one talks to you, in MI to expect praise leads to much unhappiness. I like it quiet. But, as I mentioned everyone likes to play 007. People come in my office and ask me things like, hey have you ever heard of this website (Global Security). Well today I sort of fired a shot across this CPTs bow, I'll call him gut truck. I said wow, no I've never heard of this site, wow, man you sure made my job a lot easier. Well, I think I know where Bin Laden is, man I just figured out who shot JFK, and I know what really went down at Roswell! He sort of blinked and said oh, I guess you've seen it. DUH... Make some magic happen....
Boomantribune...(a nice blog type site from Ohio. It is left of center (often way left), but some good readings nonetheless)
I saw a hit from this site on my blog, so I went to check it out, turns out there are some really smart and dialed in people there. So I posted a comment and offered to answer questions about "the war" from my perspective. Here is a sample of the shots I took "center mass".
- Do you think it is OK for your commander in chief to lie to the American public in order to gin up support for a war? Specifically, is it OK for him to say "There is no doubt" that Saddam Hussein has WMD when, in fact, there is a lot of doubt? Was it acceptable for the commander in chief to lie to his countrymen about "uranium from Niger" in his State of the Union speech?
As an aside: don't you think it would have cost a lot less in terms of both guns and butter if we had let UN Inspection teams do their job? If the US had undeniable proof that WMD existed, if there really was "no doubt", why didn't we tell Hans Blix where they were located? We controlled the airspace over Iraq - we could have easily paid a surprise visit to any suspected WMD location. If Saddam continued to cat and mouse us, we could've dropped a daisycutter on the installation. He'd learn pretty damned quickly.
- Why is it that when we took Baghdad, we surrounded the Oil Ministry with 57 tanks, stationed snipers on every floor of the building and did evrything we could (successfully) to prevent it from being looted? Shouldn't we have done that, with say, the Ministry of Defense? Maybe that would've allowed us to find those elusive WMD's... If we care so much about the Iraqi people, why didn't we protect their musuem - which was a world treasure, but specifically an Iraqi heirloom?
- We knew where the nuclear research installations were. We knew where UN secured nuclear materials ewre stored. If this war was about making the world safer, why didn't we secure those installations right away? Why did we allow them to be looted?
You see, this in particular, is disturbing. Because if we accept your premise - that the world is a better place as a result of Saddam's departure, ergo war=good war - well, we'd certainly have to ignore this inconvenient fact.
- Do you believe we will ever leave Iraq? I don't. I think we will have a base or two in Iraq that will be comparable in size to the bases we used to have in the Phillipines or Germany. Iraq is in the center of the neo-Cold war. Peak oil is approaching. China, India and the rest of the world are demanding more and more oil. We've now managed to stake a claim in the heart of the middle east - before anyone else could get there. Comment please. I'm especially interested in your bit about America being an unwilling empire.
- Knowing what you know today, do you think this was a war of aggression? If the answer is yes, then how do you feel about the "peace-loving" United States putting themselves in the same category as Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan? If the answer is no, then I'm going to make an assumption: that you must concliude that this was a war undertaken to "rescue" the good people of Iraq from the tyrant, Saddam Hussein. but then I gotta wonder... Why not get involved in Darfur? Or Saudi Arabia - where they still behead women in the public square for adultery? Or Pakistan - which has a record of nuclear proliferation AND still throws acid in the face of rape victims for "having tempted a man"?
Sorry Lieutenant - but I think you have allowed your political ideology to trump common sense and yes, your patriotism. You are fighting for George Bush. You aren't fighting for your country. (I will allow that you are also fighting for other reasons - your brothers in arms, etc - I was a Marine (enlisted) for four years...)
Ok, so my basic response was, those questions are above my pay grade. And man did I continue to get shot up. It was the comparrison to the Nazis that really annoyed the hell out of me. There were many more such questions I didn't answer, again above my paygrade, and I was getting tired of being beat up by the intelligencia. The intellectual elite who become so "seemingly" enamoured by their own intellectual prowess that they simply cannot be wrong thus there is no need to listen to the other side. I am fortunate here in Iraq, in that we can deal with those here who cannot be reasoned with. But in the US the 1st ammendment guarantees freedom of speech, even when the ability to know when to shut up is lost by diarhea of the mouth and mind. But, there are some very smart people I came in contact with there, so I shall take my licks and stay in contact with them. I got beat up in there, but I am still here. Sucking dust in Iraq, with a perspective on this war, that they the arm chair pundits will never have, but it's easy to second guess what we do here, when you're always right.
I did ask one of them, a very intelligent man, and veteran who has a chip on his shoulder, overshadowed by his enourmous brain. He is a self proclaimed pascifist. Where he sees the need for the existance of soldiers as a sad commentary on our society. Bummer, anyway I asked him if (and I dumbed way down for this one I put it in grunt terms. I love the infantry these kids are as real as Americans get) any way, I asked him if I punched him in the face, would he just take it? I am still waiting for an answer...
Well, he can sit on the fence and fight his intellectual fight, me and my guys will just wait for him to fix the worlds problems with talk... Because bullies just love to talk don't they. In simplistic terms, that's what Germany did to Poland in 39... "Say Uncle!!!"
7 days until I'm home...