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

Saturday, June 21, 2003
Friday, June 20, 2003

As expected the bliss of having an air conditioning unit in my work area, didn't last but about an hour, then the good old army equipment bit the dust and hasn't worked since. It was fantastic during the hour that it worked, but it merely gave us a taste of what it could be like, so now our expectation level has been artificially raised, with no hope in sight. Although they did say back in our command area, quite a ways from here that they might have another one they could send us. We actually went to a lot of work to try to seal up this building, so that we could control the environment in here, so hopefully we will get another unit to quench our thirst now for cold air.

But we make the best of it. We do have a fan that does quite a good job of moving the hot air around the room, giving us the false elusion that it is cooler, but in reality it is just very hot air blowing over the sweat on our bodies, that makes it feel cooler, at least until the sweat evaporates.

The captain in our office does have several hundred songs on his computer from the eighties, all eighties all the time. We do crank up the tunes and get our groove going here in the office, being the only rocking ops, or the jamming operations. We put in our requests to DJ captain, and make it happen, with tunes a blaring. At any given moment, depending on the song, you might catch a sing-a-long going on, as if it was Karaoke night in the operation building, and if that special song comes up, then you might even catch the office workers breaking into some new dance moves, as if Michael Jackson had just entered the office.

What are we going to do anyway? You gotta do what you gotta do, just to stay sane, to keep us all from going crazy. Most of our time is spent just trying to keep our network going, and the Internet up. Regardless of our efforts, we fail to keep things working long enough to get most of messages out. Needless to say we aren't able to keep the network up and running very long.

Changing what we eat is one way to feel like we are still alive. As you can imagine, the food at the mess hall, although not bad, is pretty much the same all the time, so once in a while it is nice to just taste something different, something we fixed ourselves. For example, yesterday we decided, since we never eat lunch (lunch is not fixed around here, so most of us never eat lunch), to cook up some chili, you know out of the can, good old American Stagg chili, with some jalapeno cheese melted in it and some Fritos corn chips, now there is a manly lunch. I can't begin to tell you how good that tasted even in the heat of the day, while sweat was dripping off our foreheads into our bowls; yes you know what I mean, down right good.

Today, we decided to cook a bowl of Korean ramen noodles, with some sliced up onions, some garlic, some Spam, or boy, now that is what I am talking about. Hot and spicy Korean style, with lots of red pepper, and you know it; sweat pouring off of our foreheads to add that special flavor. It was so good, and since we had some leftovers we grabbed two of the generals that just happened to be in the neighborhood, you know the Iraqi Generals, the two guys that we like the most, the two most unselfish ones, and had them over to my place for lunch. I don't know if they liked it, but they acted as if they did. That was quite a Kodak moment, three US army guys, sitting in my room with two Iraqi POW officers, eating Korean ramen noodles, now I am talking about the ultimate male bonding experience. I really don't know if they liked the food, but that wasn't the important thing. Of course we all sat around sweating together.

I have learned so much from these two individuals, who for now will go unnamed. It is interesting to see how individuals react to different situations, under different degrees of pressure and stress. It is like peeling back an onion, with all its layers, until you get right down to the core belief systems of the individual. All the facades come down, one by one, until you see the individual's true inner self, uncovered. So when I say I know these two guys and that I have learned a lot from them, I know what I am talking about, because I know the basic belief system of their inner self. I have seen them in the worst possible situations, to see what their own individual driving forces are.

I am playing my tunes as often as possible, just to keep my senses sharp, putting some enjoyment into the moment. It is amazing what an important role music can play and how music can add value to any situation. Its affects seems to be contagious, affecting everyone around me, each in a very different way, depending on the song. Each of us goes to a different place, that we recall when we heard a certain song for the first time. Once the music waves reach out into our work area, it is not uncommon for the music to call out to each person individually, so one by one they will enter into my room, just to hear that specific song, that takes them to a far away place from here. Music is one way that we stay in touch with home. It is s good thing that I brought quite a variety of music.

We are getting our group together preparing to go out to the pen for the night. We are meeting with one of the Iraqi air force commanders, to discuss some information that the bad guy gave us. We are trying to confirm his information by using the other prisoners that are willing to work with us. Actually the prisoner even wrote down some questions that he felt I should ask the bad guy. The generals are actually all against the bad guy, providing a wealth of information about him. At one point when the bad guy was in the pen together with the other officers, some of them wanted to kill him, for his involvement with Saddam's regime.

So I will see you again journal.

posted by Chief Wiggles 10:11 AM
. . .
Thursday, June 19, 2003

The sun has finally made its way across the sky to torment another part of the world with its relentless rays of penetrating heat, giving us a breather for a few hours, making life feel somewhat bearable again. Along with darkness, came the turning off of the huge blow dryer that I am sure has been installed some where in this country to torment the inhabitants. Today, the winds picked up, blowing hot sand in every direction, making breathing a difficult process. There have been a few individuals that as a result of ingesting so much, finer than finely sifted flour, sand that it has actually clogged up their urinary track, to the point that they can't urinate.

Of course the camp rule is never go into a porta-potty during the heat of the day, if you want to live to go another day. If you think it is hot outside, just climb into one of those portable saunas and see how much weight you can drop. No body takes any reading material in there, because nobody is planning on staying longer than a minute, unless you feel like dieing. It has been into the 130's here, so I am sure that inside there it has to be 140 or higher, causing anyone to sweat profusely with in just a few minutes of sitting down.

I can tolerate just about anything, even the scorching heat, but the sand storms are another matter, with out exception the most difficult part of life here. The blinding hot sand, forces even the strongest creatures in this environment to run for cover, with out much success, for there is no escape to be found anywhere, especially in a tent. Fortunately, we have a building that we batter down the hatches in an attempt to reduce the impact of its unforgiving blasting.

As usual, I ventured out to the generals pen last night, to make my evening rounds, thinking of whom I should speak with. But, the prisoners were waiting for me. They were so upset from the events of the day that they just wanted to vent. The two of us, one native Arabic speaking interrogator and I, took the brunt of their venting, which we were ok in accepting. We had nothing to do with the events of the day, but we understood that there was really no one else for them to discuss their frustrations. They had been called up by CID to be questioned further, forcing a number of them to be stuck in a hot tent all day waiting. That in and of itself was not a bad thing; quite on the contrary, it was a normal event. But, the thing they didn't like was that in transporting them and while they were waiting they were put in with all the common criminals we are getting now at this location. They were offended and hurt to think that we would mix them with these people and treat them as if they were one of them.

In the last couple of days we have received over 600 criminals from other areas in Iraq, where there is either no room in other prisons or a new prison is being built, which is the case in Baghdad. So we are getting all kinds thieves, rapists, violent ones, etc. We don't have a lot to do with most of them, but a few we still want to talk to about things that have been and are going on in this country. So right now we are just screening them one by one, to make that determination. I am hoping that we don't get stuck here just dealing with criminals to try to extract any information from these people, who are the lowest of low, the worst of the worst, badest of the bad. So far in just bringing them here, many have tried to escape without much success, several were shot in the process.

The generals were just disgusted with the treatment, not fully being aware of the problems that exist, preventing the guards from being able to segregate the prisoners. This morning I went over and spoke with the MP's and the CID to explain the situation, hoping to be able to come up with a solution. They were all open for feedback, actually initiating some solution development. I am sure they will be more cognizant to the needs of these men.

posted by Chief Wiggles 10:10 AM
. . .
Friday, June 20, 2003
A very nice
tribute to the men and women guarding our freedoms.

posted by Plunge 11:17 AM
. . .
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
The Chief told me if I found something interesting, I could go ahead and put it here. So, the
404 error message that all the blogs from the warzone should have. Way to go Winds of Change.

I also want to give a big WELCOME BACK to Stephen Green. His unique style and wonderful prose has been missed.

posted by Plunge 3:24 PM
. . .
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
As Chief Wiggle's buddy, I wanted to give a shout out to what I feel is a very important blog.
The Marmot's Hole is a must read for any concerned about what is happening in Korea. I know Chief Wiggles, a Korean linguist among his other many talents, watches closely what is happening there knowing it could be his next assignment.

We also want to kindly thank those who have read the Chief's words and enjoyed them enough to send others.


posted by Plunge 6:35 PM
. . .
Sunday, June 15, 2003
Sunday, June 15, 2003

The Red Cross actually came through this week also, with messages back from a few of the officer's families. What a miracle. I couldn't believe it when they came bearing return letters, with good news from all. The prisoners were so relieved that so far all the families we have made contact with, are all-fine. What a load off of my shoulders, to hear the good news. Another Wow!!!! Give it up for not losing hope for the Red Cross.

We have really had a tough time trying to make contact with some of the families via the telephone. We have used cell phones, satellite phones, and local telephones, but with out any success. With the phone lines still being down in most areas, we just haven't been able to get through to anyone. The prisoners, after seeing an ad in the newspaper for Cell phones, with a number for the city of Mosul, they came up with the idea of calling that number and then having that person patch the call over to one of the prisoner's homes or having the guy with the cell phone actually go directly to the house, so that the family members could get on the phone. It really worked too, it was so cool. We were able to hook up the main officer, who was so worried about his daughter that had been shot back in 1995, who has had permanent nerve damage and a continually worsening condition.

He was quite upset to hear that his daughter was not doing well, but his family tried to smooth it over, so that he wouldn't worry so much. He was distraught afterwards, being quite rude to us that had actually brought him the phone. I understood his feelings but I was disappointed to see his reaction. In their bummed out state, the emotions ebb and flow, blaming us a lot of the time for the predicament they find themselves in. They just don't understand why they are still being held, having totally cooperated with us in every way.

Well on a lighter note, on Friday of this week, Friday the 13th, we did put quite a party together, one that anyone would be proud of, with all the trimmings. So here is how it all went down. Friday afternoon, we decided not to go out to the cages for our normal evening questioning. How could I go down, with all the stuff that had to be done to prepare for the evening party, anyway it was my belated birthday party. How could the guest of honor miss his own birthday party? So anyway, where was I, ok, with all the food in hand I went down to the living area to begin my preparations. I took out the steaks, cutting them up into nice big pieces, and putting some seasoning on them, I got them marinating. I then took the thoroughly washed chicken, one of our linguists picked up in Kuwait City, created a marinade sauce made up of Korean red pepper paste and other hot spices. We have a nice barbecue, we borrowed from the local hospital unit, made from 50 gallon drum cut in half, both halves connected by hinges, with a grill welded down on the one side, the other side forming the lid, welded to two iron cross bars to form the stand. We picked up some charcoal in Kuwait City, which was real charcoal, made form wood chips, which burns fantastic. The rest of the meal we picked up from the mess hall, which was the fixins from our night meal, the salad, the cake, the drinks, etc. So we had the food, the drinks, the barbecue, the charcoal, the steak and chicken, some sausage and all the rest. We even had some fresh pita bread, or flat bread, and some hummus, can't have a party in the Middle East without freshly smashed garbanzo beans.

We got everyone together, got the food out, I started up the charcoals, got things cooking, the people showed up, add some music and there you have all the fixins for a good time. All you then need is to supply some funny people, young at heart, with no inhibitions, and the party begins. We had the tunes, the pent up emotions of a group of frustrated people and the outlet to vent a bit. Needless to say we had a good time.
Once in a while this is just something we have to do, just to keep from going crazy. We really don't have a whole lot of outlets to let some steam off over here, we do have a lot of steam build up, as you can imagine. As usual, even after doing the party, I was so ready for bed, I hardly remember climbing the ladder and dusting off my baby crib mattress, throwing out my poncho

I just heard some good news regarding my work area; we have snagged another generator and an AC unit, which we plan to use to cool down our area, where our computers are and where we write our reports. This building heats up during the day, I mean everything heats up, everything you touch is hot, especially metal items, so we just fry in here. It is almost unbearable, as if we worked in a bakery around hot ovens. Our computers have been shutting down, due to the high temperatures. We are at this point, screaming for coolness, for cold water, for even a cool breeze, for temperatures even close to 100, not 130.

We are still running an approach with one prisoner, trying to get him to break. We have been working him for a while now, hoping to get some good stuff out of him, but it is going to be awhile. He is a tough one, but we will get him, you just wait and see. We will be cracking him like Christmas nuts. He is a pretty big fish, so we will keep him as long as it takes.

Well the crazies have moved in next door, but even on a full moon it has been pretty quite, surprisingly enough.

Today is Fathers day, a great day to be home, but here we are, mostly all fathers, with children of our own. It was a great day to think about my father and the great example he has been over my life. He has taught me many things, of which I am extremely grateful for. I hope that he knows the many good things that I have learned from him. I hope we have a chance to spend some time together when I get home. Lost time is one asset we can never recover. The old saying of it is never too late, is really not a truism, one lesson I have learned all too well, with my mothers passing. I miss her a great deal. There are many things I wish we could have done together before she left.

I had an opportunity to spend some time with one high-ranking officer, an air force commander, who actually is trying to make the best of the time he has on his hands. He has come up with a number of great ideas for solutions in dealing with the rebuilding of Iraq. He approached me one night on my nightly visit, with an envelope in his hand, which contained he well thought out plan of action in resolving a number of issues that face the coalition forces. There are so many hurdles to over in this process. We are faced with almost insurmountable obstacles in getting this country back on its feet, the least of which is not the religious fanatics and the still active Saddam supporters.

The commander pulled me aside to say that he had written down his ideas, which he would like to review with me. He stated he had no one else to talk to regarding these matters, commenting that the other officers in the camp are all so self consumed with the thought of getting out of here that, as he puts it, they are totally empty headed. He feels that had he not surrendered, being incarcerated for the last few months, that he might not have had the time to spend developing these ideas. On the one hand, he feels like he had better use this time wisely, since it was a God sent. I told him that I love his attitude, expressing my own ideas about taking advantage of the opportunities that come our way. It is being able to see the opportunity, which enables us to capture the moment, with full purpose and intent. God at times I am sure, is trying to teach us something, but we are too self-consumed with our own issues that we miss the chance to really become a tool in his hands. There is much to learn in this life and many ways to look at things. What a great attitude that enables the commander to take full advantage of even a bad experience.

Seize the moment, catch the vision of your life.

Good night. Sleep tight.

posted by Chief Wiggles 7:03 PM
. . .
Friday, June 13, 2003

Friday the 13th, what a great place to be on this day, out in the hotter than hell windy sands of the deserts of Iraq. I have chosen to hide out for the afternoon behind the walls of this old radio station, where at least I can escape the sand blasting of the outside, but now that the walls have heated up, I feel that I slowly cooking myself, as if in a large crock-pot. Now that the temperatures are up into the 120's in the shade, we have all decided to become somewhat nocturnal, as most of the other creatures, taking shelter in the afternoons from the blazing rays of the sun. We usually eat dinner around 5pm and then head on out to the pens or cages around 6pm, to work with the prisoners. I am sure that the prisoners would really rather not deal with us either during the peak heat of the day. I now really do know what it feels like to be on the inside of a giant blow dryer, zapping away even the smallest amount of moisture that would chose to show its head.

So far this has been an event filled week, full of all sorts of exciting drama. This place would really make for a good TV show, with a full range of characters and a variety of variable.

Monday was my birthday, just another workday or so I thought. I was not expecting anything different but things don't always go the way you expect them to. Over all it turned out to be quite good day for a birthday in the deserts of Iraq. As usual around 0630 I made my way down the ladder from my loft, to see if I couldn't grab an empty seat in front of one of the computers, hoping that our internet was up and running. I was lucky today, there was an empty seat and it was running. While sitting there doing email, a few of the guys came in singing happy birthday, holding a plate full of cake pieces, they had lifted from the mess hall the night before, with a lonely toothpick burning on top of a piece. One of them I will call Steve, who is around my son's age, had written me a small note, thanking me for my example and my leadership for the group. I was touched by his thoughtfulness and his kind words complimenting me for all that I had done. It was a great way to start the day, one birthday I will never forget.

I was also fortunate enough to hear from everyone in my family, who surprisingly actually remembered my birthday, taking the time to send me a birthday email, expressing their inner feelings about me. I was moved to tears by their expression of love and praise, as I felt the sincerity that accompanied each written word. I read several of them Monday morning, meaning that they actually sent them Sunday night or before. Which was as miraculous and startling. I was so amazed by the number of birthday wishes I received from both family and friends, further instilling in my heart a desire to do likewise and to make sure that I remember to remember. I just can't say enough about how touched I was by those that took the time to wish someone else a Happy Birthday.

In the evening after supper, as usual, I took my team back out to the pens for our nightly screenings and interrogations with that group of high-ranking officers, who are like my children now. That is my group and I feel a lot of responsibility for their well-being. It is as if they are my flock of sheep, gathering around whenever I venture out to see how they are doing. It isn't just me; it is anyone that goes with us in our group.
I took out a list of names of individuals that had been cleared by CID, criminal investigation division, who does a background check and their own interrogation individually on each person. Each individual has to be cleared by both MI and CID, along with everyone up the chain, almost to the Pentagon, sometimes we have been told that the approval is sitting on Rumsfeld's desk, not very likely though. The minute I took out the list and motioned to my interpreter to begin explaining it, they began to swarm like bees around the mother bee. It was as if they were circling over a dead carcass, looking for their chance to dive in to check their name on the list. They were so curious; of course I can't blame them. I am sure I would be the same.

A few of the prisoners, once they say me, returned quickly to their respective tents, only to return moments later, holding in their hands a small envelope. One of them had taken the time to actually make a ribbon out of brown sack paper, that he tapped to the top of the envelope. They had been told by someone that it was my birthday, wanting so much to surprise and delight me they had written a small letter wishing me the best of birthdays and long life for many more. They apologized for not being able to give me anything, but I assured them that their friendship was enough, along with the thoughtfulness of the letters. One of them had given me a small box of breath mints, which he had wrapped in white line paper. It was such a moment for me, knowing that this was a true sincere expression of love, from one human being to another, forcing me to pause to compose myself, mustering enough control, I thanked them from the bottom of my heart for their kind gesture, putting my hand on my heart in hope that they will understand. I later read the letters when I returned to the privacy of my room, knowing I would not be able to hold back the tears. .

After being forced to sit, Indian style on the floor of their tents for several hours each night, we got smart and started taking out chairs for us to sit on out in the sand behind their tents. We really need total isolation during the questioning, so we have a space marked off, that everyone know is the spot where we ask questions. It is slightly removed from the group and their tents so that each person can feel comfortable in disclosing their information with us.

Usually every night when I go out there, I take something for the guards, who also have a hard time in being out there in the watchtowers, in the heat of the day, day after day, watching the prisoners. I know most of them by name, calling out to them when I arrive. One of them usually asks, “How long tonight, Chief?” and I usually respond by saying as long as it takes.

My team decided to leave earlier tonight so that we could party a bit, since it was my birthday. I had some reports to get out, but as soon as that was done, I went down to the living area, where the tents are, with my music in hand, to maybe relax for a moment. We have a tent with no sides; we have appropriately named the Desert Oasis, which functions as a hang out spot, where we can unwind. We cranked up the tunes as loud as we could, with some real lively stuff, you know classic Rock and Roll, like Santana, Chicago, the Doors, and started dancing around. It was quite a scene, 6 grown men dancing around in such an uncoordinated fashion, belting out the lyrics to songs we grew up with long ago (of course no one is as old as me). I am sure that if someone were to walk by, they would think the crazy bus had just dropped of a load of nut cakes. We had a great time, even without alcohol, for some it was quite a stretch and I could tell they weren't to sure about it. We put on a big show for the younger guys peering out from behind the walls of their tents, who weren't quite sure what they were witnessing, thinking maybe it was safer not to venture out. After a while, others were sucked in by the commotion, who decided to take part in the festivities and craziness. Most just watched the show, as a 51 year old did a pole dance on a tent pole, for those of you that know me, I am sure you can imagine. We hung out there until around 11pm, closing the night off with a few good old slow tunes, to bring us back down to earth, like some Garth Brooks, James Taylor, Eric Clapton Unplugged, etc. It was a great day, one I couldn't have imagined and one I will never forget.

We decided it was time to have another party, with the barbecue and all fixings. So we picked Friday the 13th of this week and started the planning for some steaks, some chicken, the music, the people, and on and on. I know it really isn't much but we tried to make it feel like a big deal, one worthy of our time and attention, especially since we decided that this would be my real birthday party.

We were able to make some connections with the Spanish troops who have a large boat in the port, with all the supplies for a good time. Fortunately there are a few members of our group that speak Spanish and really hooked us up. Spain has about 800 troops in this area, with a field hospital and a large humanitarian group, who are more then willing to help us enjoy ourselves a little. They all have been so hospitable with the US troops, never missing a chance, as they put it, to pay us back for all the things we have given them, while they have been here.

On Wednesday of this week, we were able to break away long enough to get down to the port to meet with the main guy on the Spanish ship. Once we started talking to him, we knew that we had really met the right guy. He was so happy to help out, sharing with us whatever he had that might add to our party. He got us some steaks, chicken, sausage, some bread and even a few bottles of wine for us to take home as a souvenir, knowing that we weren't allowed to have any type of alcoholic beverage. He offered to give us a tour of the ship, asking what I would like to see first, of course I quickly answered by saying the kitchen, knowing that it was lunch time and we might get lucky. Oh boy did we get lucky. He gave us a whole tray of Calamari, Halibut, and assorted other fish, breaded and pan fried, along with some freshly baked bread, wow what a treat that was. Unbelievable. I felt like I was participating in some huge Spanish Thanksgiving festival. He told us to come back the next day if we wanted some really fresh bread and some home made empanada, of course we agreed that it sounded like a good idea and returned the next day.

The ship is home to about 800 troops, whom our friend is responsible for feeding on a daily basis. They refer to him as chief also; no one seems to be questioning his authority, ruling supreme in the kitchen. As expected, when we arrived the next day, there were two trays of empanadas waiting for our bellies. We could hardly wait to get them out in the hummer, so we could sink our teeth into them. The empanadas were freshly baked, still hot from the oven, made with love and affection by the designated Spanish young baker. There were so goooooood, what can I say. I have to admit my first thoughts were to keep them all for myself, but after I ate my full, there were plenty left to take back to the others. Ok, that wasn't the best thing to do, but I just had to indulge myself, with top (our first sergeant, who is the one who actually hooked us up with the Spanish lingo, and Steve who is the young buck we are grooming to take over my position as chief moral officer. The minute we got back in our vehicle, without hesitation, we dove in like hawks, devouring up the first tray of empanadas. We couldn't believe how good they tasted. Oh boy, I was in hog heaven, snarffing up the goods.

In return for his kindness, he wanted some of our MRE's, what a trade, fresh baked goods for prepackaged dog food, ok not dog food but almost as good as canned food. I guess to others they are a novelty but to us, just taking a whiff of one sends me into MRE nausea land. We all have pretty much overdosed on MRE's and are glad to give them up for just about anything, except an extended all expenses paid vacation in Baghdad, although that might be tempting. I also brought our friend a copy of a Latin CD my son made for me. Our Spanish chief is quite into music, with a respectable collection of Latin music. Of course I invited him to be my guest at my Latin dance club, next time he is comes to the USA. He was quite interested to know that I owned a Latin dance club, playing nothing but Latin music. His first question was about how many young beautiful Latin women do we get on any given night, just kidding, but he is single and I got him thinking by talking about it.

While on the ship, he took us around to a few other places and gave us the whole scoop on the history of the ship. Unfortunately he mentioned that they would probably be leaving next week to go back to Spain. I was definitely impressed with his generosity, later expressing to him that I was proud to serve with them during this Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spain has been with us from the beginning, somewhat low key, quiet participants, in a just cause to help free another group of people from an oppressive situation.

The best part about the whole experience with our Spanish Chief is worthy of mentioning in a new paragraph, set apart to add additional emphasis. He gave us a heavy bag of food, so heavy it was even difficult for one person to carry, expensive meat no less, but he wouldn't accept one penny from us for it. Actually he stated that is was the least he could do for us. We actually had collected money from each of our soldiers to compensate him for the food, but he refused to take it.

I was totally overwhelmed by his attitude towards us; such generosity is highly unexpected in a world full of hatred, expressed daily towards Americans. In a world where the only thing that makes the headlines is the American bashing going on all over the world. Why is there such a thing as the quiet majority, who never makes the news, but desperately wants the same things that we want? Maybe there is a majority of people on our planet that do appreciate our willingness to serve for a just cause and our love of freedom for all people. I wish for once that all the good people of the world would stand up, united, loudly for true principles, for the basic God given rights of freedom to make choices, free agency to choose for ourselves in the pursuit of happiness for all human beings. Where is their voice? Why should be stand by listening to the loud minority, reading their news stories, as if they represented what the majority really wants. Why does the news media continually attempt to make it appear that they are informing us the views or attitudes of a group and not just the views of the sad individual they randomly grabbed off the street. It is as if they are looking for that one odd ball, that loose cannon, that odd duck, who might say something inflammatory or something so alarming, making the news just fly off the stands. Is that what this is really all about, selling the news? If so, then our news media is no better than the Inquirer or the Star with all their pages of alarming trash.

OK, I just stepped down off of my soapbox, but lets keep in mind this is my journal, so I do have some liberties.

I am a little annoyed by the bystanders who are like vultures, waiting for the US to fall on our face or trip up somewhere, so they can pounce on his with all their emotions. So quick to find fault, so quick to try to ensnare and trap. I am appalled by the noise I am hearing from the states about the vultures who have begun attacking the president for his actions of war. Are they just ignoring the fact that everyone in the world has known for years that Saddam has had a chemical, biological, nuclear weapons program, which he was purchasing from France, Russia, and China, and also developing himself. He has used those weapons on numerous occasions over the years and would not hesitate to use them again. Everyone we speak with here knows that he had the programs; they just don't know where they are or what happened to them. Who is to say that he didn't just kill all the people related to these programs? We have found several mass graves, with thousands of unidentified bodies, who knows who those people are.

It should be said by our news media, that Saddam Hussein was all about secrecy, a whole regime built around deception and denial, secret organizations, secret police, secret guards, and for all I know secret scharma food vendors or secret camel jockeys or even a secret hair dresser.

Saddam Hussein had one weapon against us and that was to not use chemical weapons and hide everything relating to them. His only weapon was to make us look bad, by continuing his program of denial and deception. This is exactly what I expected. I have much more to say but it is somewhat classified and I can't kill all of you. He has been burying weapons for years, in places all over Iraq, that is a fact. Why is it that we don't ever hear in the news about all the atrocities that have occurred at the hands of Saddam and his band of thugs? So many of our prisoners have lost members of their family to his ruthless practices.

Why is it that we, who are here, haven't lost our patience in this process of searching for these weapons, WMD, We are still here, day after day, asking questions, searching for any lead, any clue that would help us put the puzzle together. Why are the people back home so anxious to point their finger at someone? Do they think it is really that easy to find things buried in the desert, out in the middle of nowhere, with all the people who might know, killed or sent away? We will continue our job, with or without the support of everyone back home. I would rather error in the favor of positive thinking, instead of being so quick to move towards the negative zone. It is too easy to find fault, to point a finger, without any facts or proof. How convenient?

Enough already. Stop.

On a good note, there were two families that found there way to our camp, looking for their imprisoned family member. I was so excited for those two officers, that I just couldn't contain myself. I threw my arms around them, with all the joy and happiness that I could offer. They were both overcome with emotion, just sobbing uncontrollably. I tried to reassure the family that we would take good care of them and have them released as soon as possible. They both had just beautiful families, with all their children and some of them even spoke English to some degree. These are the good moments, the moments that will stick in my heart for the rest of my life. This is what it is all about. Unfortunately, the affects of war are many fold, both good and bad, with little regard for persons or individuals. They are military men, consequently they have to face the music and deal with the outcome of that decision they made years ago.

What can I say; this was a great week, the week of my birthday. This week was especially wonderful for me, in that two of my gaggle of high-ranking officers, actually went home. Wow what a feeling. After all this time, we were actually successful in getting two of them released. I couldn't hold back the excitement. A few people that have been involved with the officers and I went out to the camp to let them know the good news. It was quite a moment, seeing their faces and the happiness in their eyes; one of them only had one eye, so maybe I shouldn't say that. They hurried around throwing their stuff together, of course how much stuff can a prisoner have, dashing out to jump in their ride. They were so ready to leave.

With the departure of these two men, I was able to take part in an Iraqi tradition, which I call the rock throwing ritual. Every one picks up seven rocks, which they throw behind the person who is leaving, expressing the message to leave for good, never coming back. So I really go into the spirit of the moment, picking up the biggest rocks I could find, I chucked seven rocks at each person, telling them to leave and never come back. We took them down for out-processing, then to wait for their ride. We were able to say our goodbyes and take a couple of pictures together. It was a great moment. One by one we will be getting rid of most of these officers.

posted by Chief Wiggles 7:00 PM
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