Chief Wiggles -- Straight from Iraq
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The online journal of Chief Wiggles.

Friday, June 06, 2003
Hello folks --

I was moved by the letter from an Iraqi doctor to a Colonel in the US Army. As it is somewhat buried in Chief Wiggle's writings, I thought it would be nice to post it on it's own. Here it is for those that missed it:

I received a report of a statement an Iraqi doctor made to one of our colonels. I was moved by his comments and felt that it was worth sharing.

Colonel, I wan to express how I feel in my heat and if you can, I ask that you pass my words to your leaders and commanders and the marines and soldiers who suffered and are suffering for my country. I want all of you to know that the great majority of Iraqis applaud your coming, your success in battle and your efforts to be kind, decent people now.

We suffered for many years and no one would help us, not even our Arab brothers. Only America had the strength, not only in military power, but also in vision, in character, in moral authority, in love for its fellowman to come to our aid. I know it is hard for the soldiers now, they have no air-conditioning in their vehicles, they must live on our streets to protect us, and they are away from their families. I want them to know that we know the sacrifices they make for us. I pray to Allah that they will sacrifice no more: too many already have sacrificed so much.

I also want to apologize for some of our young people who are not mature enough o understand what you have done and what you have given us. We have not known freedom for a long time, so it will take time to truly appreciate what a glorious gift you have given us.

Many of us blame the sanctions for all our problems. It was not the sanctions that created what we see today, it was the regime that existed everywhere, to include this very building that I work in, the Ministry of Health. It was the regime that cheated the people out of what was rightfully theirs by God's laws.

When I talk with my family and friends, I tell them that what is going on now, with the shortages and suffering, is like a surgery for cancer. Saddam was a cancer. When one operates for a cancerous tumor, one must cut through the muscle and sometimes the bone, to get the entire tumor out. After the tumor is removed, the patient's muscles and bones hurt greatly and the pain continues while healing. Over time, the patient sees a change, the patient begins feeling and doing better. That is how it is in Iraq. The Americans came and took out the awful cancer and now we must work through the pain of recovery, but eventually we will enjoy a full life, free of pain, with no fear of cancer. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.


posted by Plunge 4:15 PM
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Monday, June 02, 2003
Sunday, June 01, 2003

I returned last night from the cages quite late around 1100pm. I was totally beat, wiped out, totally exhausted from the day's activities. Going out to the cage takes a lot out of me, seeing the depressing state the men are in. We had a nice talk though, informing them that we had decided to write a letter to President Bush to see if we could force a decision out of someone. It is as if we are punishing them for doing exactly what we told them to do. They had read our leaflets, asking them to lay down their arms, to surrender and that we would take care of them. They did as we asked them, then we threw them in to prison, where they have been for the past 72 days.

Since today is June 1, fast Sunday, we have decided to fast and pray for them

I hadn't slept well the night before, being woken up in the middle of the night by the wind sand blasting my face, forcing me to run for cover down below. The problem with going down into our room is that it is like an oven in there, causing me to sweat profusely the rest of the night. I just can't win sometimes.

I received a report of a statement an Iraqi doctor made to one of our colonels. I was moved by his comments and felt that it was worth sharing.

Colonel, I wan to express how I feel in my heat and if you can, I ask that you pass my words to your leaders and commanders and the marines and soldiers who suffered and are suffering for my country. I want all of you to know that the great majority of Iraqis applaud your coming, your success in battle and your efforts to be kind, decent people now.

We suffered for many years and no one would help us?not even our Arab brothers. Only America had the strength, not only in military power, but also in vision, in character, in moral authority, in love for its fellowman to come to our aid. I know it is hard for the soldiers now, they have no air-conditioning in their vehicles, they must live on our streets to protect us, and they are away from their families. I want them to know that we know the sacrifices they make for us. I pray to Allah that they will sacrifice no more: too many already have sacrificed so much.

I also want to apologize for some of our young people who are not mature enough o understand what you have done and what you have given us. We have not known freedom for a long time, so it will take time to truly appreciate what a glorious gift you have given us.

Many of us blame the sanctions for all our problems. It was not the sanctions that created what we see today, it was the regime that existed everywhere, to include this very building that I work in, the Ministry of Health. It was the regime that cheated the people out of what was rightfully theirs by God's laws.

When I talk with my family and friends, I tell them that what is going on now, with the shortages and suffering, is like a surgery for cancer. Saddam was a cancer. When one operates for a cancerous tumor, one must cut through the muscle and sometimes the bone, to get the entire tumor out. After the tumor is removed, the patient's muscles and bones hurt greatly and the pain continues while healing. Over time, the patient sees a change, the patient begins feeling and doing better. That is how it is in Iraq. The Americans came and took out the awful cancer and now we must work through the pain of recovery, but eventually we will enjoy a full life, free of pain, with no fear of cancer. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.

This is very touching for all of us here, trying to make sense of this chaos that surrounds us, which is like a snake in a cage slithering around most of the time harmless and docile, but at any moment. Without notice, could rear up to sink its deadly fangs into any of us. It is like living on the edge of a razor blade, not knowing when you might slip and cut your self. It is at times that we don't even know we are living on the edge of a razor blade, perhaps because we haven't been cut yet. The doctor's remarks are not uncommon, but they don't speak loud enough for the media to hear. It is always the other side that makes the news, the side that perhaps in this case is not the majority, but is the outspoken dark side. The over zealous, fanatical fundamentalists who would rather stir up the pot then try to make the pot better. There are those that profess to be religious but are full of hatred and greed. Evil has many disguises in this part of the world and as it says in the bible can be at times a wolf in sheep's clothing.

There are many areas of conflict here; conflict in the army, amongst our selves, conflict with the system, conflict between us and our enemies, conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, conflict within ourselves as we struggle with our own problems and our own weaknesses, conflict with the environment that we live in, conflict with temptations, and on and on. I have spent much time thinking about the conflicts of life, the struggles that we go through from day to day. But that is another discussion for another day.

The Army finally came up with a laundry service here, so we don't have to do it by hand. The army has contracted with a local company to provide the service. I turned mine in a week ago, and then it came up lost or missing. But after a few days, it did finally show up, which was quite a relief. I will try the service again just to confirm that the first loss was just a fluke. That is one thing I won't miss doing, my own laundry by hand in a bucket.

Today we thought would be a good day to play Good Luck Fairies again. I felt the urge, felt the wings sprouting and I thought it would be fun. So we started out by coming up with a large box of apples, ok we stole them, no we procured them, along with a few small bags of ice and took it out to the prisoners, the high-ranking officers. It is worth doing just to see the looks on their face. Of course this is all part of our strategy to win their hearts and minds. We were also able to locate a few bags of pita bread to go with the other stuff.


posted by Chief Wiggles 1:32 PM
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Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Good morning Iraq. Another day of uninterrupted sweating, dripping from every pore like a leaky faucet all day. From the minute I wake up in the morning until I lay down at night, my clothes are soaked with sweat. I have been running every morning, around 6:30 with a fellow officer, running and then working out doing some pushups and sit-ups. After really getting heated up it takes most of the rest of the day just trying to cool down enough to stop the sweating. Fortunately, they have set up a mess hall that has air-conditioning, so at least while we are eating we are cooling down. But, even now as I am sitting here in my room, I am sweating and it is only 0930 in the morning. My back is soaked, my t-shirt is dripping, and it isn't really hot yet. My salt stained cloth folding lounge chair is proof that a whole lot of sweating has been going on here. Normally that would be a good sign that a whole lot of calories are being burned but I am sure it is just the loss of water. We end up drinking about 6 or 7 of the 2-liter bottles of water a day. There have been many mornings where just a simple task like putting on my boots will begin the process and within a few minutes have the sweat just dripping off of my forehead. It is so dry and hot here, that even though I mopped the floor of our room just a few minutes ago, the water has already dissipated. I washed my pillowcase about an hour ago, but you would never know it by touching it, because it is already totally dry.

Every living thing is looking for two things here, water and a way to escape the heat. You should see the flies around any standing water. From where I am sitting I can see a bird perched at my window with a piece of, what looks like, cloth for her nest that is inside my room. Her chicks are chirping up a storm in hopes perhaps that Mom will bring something to eat or drink. The lizards are still running around our room, but we have started to make a dent in the mouse population here, by killing three yesterday with the trap we set out. Peanut butter on a mousetrap seems to be the key drawing factor.

We have been busy extracting very real and pertinent information from the prisoners we have here. The time spent with the prisoners building up a rapport has been time well spent and very productive. Some of the things we are discovering might perhaps be just the piece of the puzzle that has been missing. I can't say much more than that, but in time it will all come out. It is clear to all of us that the more time we spend questioning some of these prisoners, the more information they seem to remember or at least be more comfortable in giving to us. It is really a great feeling when they open up enough to share one little bit of information that might be the missing link piece.

A part of our group moved to another location, taking 4 vehicles, so now we are down to two vehicles for our group and one of those is red lined right now. This really cramps our style, especially now that we were looking at doing more humanitarian missions that would have benefited the local populace. We are going to have to get more creative, utilizing our network of contacts to come up with some transportation. We are going to have to call on some favors that people owe us.

We have been so frustrated by the number of opportunities we are forcesd to pass up one or ignore just because of the restrictions, rules and red tape that we have to go through. We really feel a strong desire to reach out and touch these people in so many ways. When people are hungry and thirsty, all they want is to be fed and to have their basic needs met. We do have the skills to go in and make a significant difference in the lives of these people, especially those of us that are citizen soldiers. The US government is going to miss out on a huge opportunity they could have capitalized on and taken advantage of, to bring about a lasting, long term change in the lives of these people.

As usual for the last couple of nights I have been going back out to the prisoner camp where the Iraqi high ranking officers are staying, in what is called Hoover 7. Two nights ago, when I was out there, the men were really down and discouraged, like I had never seen them before. There was a certain dark cloud hanging over the camp. You could see it in their eyes, their heads were hanging and many of the men would approach us only to shake their heads and walk away. You could tell they were really tired of their predicament they find themselves in. Being incarcerated really takes its toll on men, especially when they don't know what has happened to their families. That is the tough part; they just don't know where their families are. They know the cruel nature of the way the regime had been, but not sure if the regime was run out of town before they were able to kill the families of those who had surrendered at the start of the war.

We sat in our group with the prisoners, on some benches they had built out tent poles and tent stakes for our daily visits. Tonight felt different. Tonight they had no words to express, no way to put words to the feelings in their hearts. The silence was thick enough to cut, as if we were at a funeral, waiting for the casket to pass by. I had no words for them, which for those of you who know me is unusual. I am usually not at a loss for words, but this night was different. Words had been said in the past, words of encouragement, praise, suggestions, etc, but the silence seemed to say it all. We sat there looking into each other's eyes and after a few minutes, I felt it was time to go. As I departed several of them said, "Just having you come out to see us is enough" "It shows us that you haven't forgotten about us". I guess down deep inside they feel we might forget them. I realized at that time that it wasn't the words we share but just the impact of showing through our visits that we haven't forgotten them.

The red cross has really let these men down, promising to get in touch with each of their families and bring back word of their status. So far the prisoners have each sent out 3 letters, requesting some kind of a response from their families, but nothing has returned. They are quite disturbed about the Red Cross's inability to do much for the prisoners, after making them a lot of promises, even though their intentions have been good, they just haven't followed through. That was quite evident the other night when the Red Cross showed up and all the prisoners refused to talk to them. The Red Cross knew they better come back next time with some answers, with some letters back from their families. Some of the men live quite close to the area we are in, too.

I have been going out to the cages spending hours meeting with the officers, going over any type of information they might have that would answer our questions. We are still trying to put the pieces together. We are still trying to find the bad guys; the ones involved in doing all the terrible things that went on. This is like a big puzzle, with so many missing pieces. Unfortunately the pieces are slow in coming to the surface.

There are two sides to our world over here. There is a good side, with good people who really do want Iraq to be free, with all the freedoms that we enjoy. There is also a bad side full of the most evil parts of society. The way our attitudes form here is based on the type of interaction we have with the people we come in contact with. There are many of my friends in Baghdad having a much different experience than I, due to the fact that they see all the bad stuff that is still going on in Baghdad and this alone has jaded their attitude about this country.

The war of good and evil goes on day after day. The very worst of this society in all of its appetites, greed and lust, is still fighting against the goodness that is trying to rear its head after being suppressed for so long. There are still many evil men that have other plans for this place and have begun to fill the void left with Saddam's departure. Evil barely skipped a beat, transforming itself into another form or figure in order to continue the fight against what is good. It is as if evil's goal is to control the minds and will of all people, controlling another human being, which translates into power and wealth.

Organized crime took over the minute Baghdad fell. They were up and running in so many parts of this society, snatching up opportunities to exercise unrighteous dominion over another person in order to get personal gain. It is just amazing the number of groups of opposing organizations that exist here, that are in constant turmoil, jockeying for position.

As one of my friends said recently, what this country really needs is good solid, rigorous, non-religious education. Not Islamic Saudi religious schools that produce more terrorists than engineers, but solid Japanese-style schools that emphasize math, science, reading, discipline and personal accomplishment. Education is the key for these people, which shows in the attitudes of those who have achieved some level of higher education. These people need skills and trades and they need jobs, not some over zealous religious leader promoting hatred of all that they actually are jealous of. They need to learn a way to better provide for their families, in a way that promotes the overall betterment of the society, so that levels of health care improve and these people start living a higher standard of living, which is well within their reach.


posted by Chief Wiggles 1:31 PM
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Saturday, May 31, 2003

I am trying to live more deliberately doing the things that I feel will have the greatest amount of results for those around me and for me personally. Let me give you an example. Now that the war is over our focus has changed from a tactical mission focus to now one of a more humanitarian mission focus. We are now engaged in our own little way, in an effort to try and win over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. So the way in which I am approaching the questioning of the prisoners is changing. I am now more concerned about how are we going to shake out all the bad guys, who have proven through their past actions that they are only interested in taking from the Iraqi people. The bad guys are still hanging around, like circling vultures waiting for the right opportunity to pounce on their prey and regain some of their previous power or position. We need the help of the good people to identify who these bad guys are. But the problem is there is a serious amount of loyalty, even with the good people, at times, who play lip service to us, by proclaiming their allegiance, but at the same time are not willing to rat on these same bad guys.

I interviewed several people today, all of which proclaimed their allegiance, but continued to say they knew nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, to the point of just being totally ridiculous. Do they really think I am that stupid? They must think that if they say enough "I don't knows", they will get a bus ticket home. I had to get somewhat tough today with one of the prisoners and although I didn't touch him, he began crying when I started talking about his family. Another guy I was just not buying his story and told him that he better start coming up with the right answers. So much has gone on in this small country over the last 30 years, and there have been so many years of fear, that the people are still not quite sure what is going to happen if they start talking. You can see the fear in their eyes. You can see what being controlled for so long, has done to them, along with the cultural aspects that prevent them from ratting on someone from their city or tribe.

I became somewhat upset with their answers today. I asked them why should I care enough to come over here to help them, if they do not care enough to help themselves. If they don't care, then maybe I should just pack up and go home and leave them to live in this cesspool they have created. After I got down off of my soapbox, I pulled the so-called mayor of the camp aside and told him I was not happy with the answers I have been getting. I told him that people need to start talking and giving me the straight scoop on what was going on. I told him I wanted answers and I better start getting them soon. He at once told me the names of some people in the camp that are suspect and should be able to provide me with some information.

This is very interesting work to say the least.

This is like a huge puzzle, with thousands of piece, big and small and we never know what piece might be the next really important piece that might help us connect the dots to many other pieces.

Some of the people in our group are being re-located tomorrow, so we had a little get together last night, with some food I picked up from the mess-hall and we also got some help from our contract linguists, who are native Arabic speakers. They put out some traditional dishes that they could get their hands on. I brought the tunes, the boom box, and my own box of fun and we had ourselves a party. We were belting out some good old Garth Brooks country tunes at the top of our lungs, just to let off some steam.

We have started taking the boom box into the shower trailer and we have really noticed a difference it is making in the quality of life for these men, who really enjoy singing in the shower to a few of their favorite songs.

Well I have done my interrogations for the day, I have written my reports, but hold every thing Batman, a message is coming in, I just got word at 9:30 pm, that we are going back out to the cages to talk to the officers. We have some information we want to relay to them. It is not necessarily good news but we try to keep them informed of what is going on. Without exception, each and every time we go out there to see them, they express how we are their brothers and they will always remember all that we have done on their behalf. You should have seen them earlier today when I was able for the first time to take a bag of ice out to them.


posted by Chief Wiggles 1:31 PM
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