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

Saturday, August 02, 2003
An era comes to an end!

The end of Chief Wiggles? NO! But, it is the end of Chief Wiggles at this address.

Chief Wiggles can now be found at http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com .

Or, just click
here.

Let all your friends know!


PS - While this site will remain up, it should be known that ALL archives have been moved, so all previous entries will be available at the new site.


posted by Plunge 4:42 PM
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Tuesday, July 29, 2003
A new voice is going to be heard here at Chief Wiggles blog on occasion. This new voice is another soldier serving with the Chief. He will be known as "Orpheus." We hope you appreciate what he has to say.


posted by Plunge 2:38 PM
. . .
From Orpheus --

"The keyboard is mightier than the Abrams." Despite the jarring modern wording, this sentence expresses the same concept as its originating phrase involving plucked feathers and pointy metal objects; namely that, to a great extent, reality is shaped and crafted in the collective minds of those who participate in its interpretation. What does a sword in your enemy's hand matter if he learns to be your friend? And how can he become your friend unless his will and his mind collaborate to form a new understanding of the small (but doubtless important) part of his world which defines you in his eyes? It is the Greek word logos, meaning "word," from which we derive our English "logic." Words and concepts form the foundations of reason, on which most sane individuals primarily base their actions and beliefs.

And thus it is a grave responsibility and awesome power we wield in the ideas, the concepts, the logos that we share with others, because with them we can change the nature of a man. When a journalist writes a story, the objective truth remains the same, whatever he has written, but the understanding of that truth held in people's minds can be twisted, hidden, or overwritten. How dangerous, then, is a sword in the hand of a friend who thinks you are his enemy?

It is with this understanding that I am deeply concerned, dismayed, and often angered by the personal, skewed agendas which taint so many of the articles written about this war. Allowing most such transgressions, however grievous, to pass for the moment, there is a particular area which comes to mind, the area which has been my world for the duration of Operation Enduring Freedom. I am furious at the blatant disinformation, the self-righteous arrogance and casual destruction of the work and life that we know here at the interrogation facility thousands have become familiar with through the Chief's vivid descriptions.

Part of my job as an intelligence analyst is to maintain a comprehensive understanding of the region and situation we are responsible for. This includes studying and finding trends in not only the classified reports and documents which pass through, but also keeping a finger on the pulse of how the world at large understands, and thus, is likely to respond to, that same region and situation. Over the course of a few weeks, the military forces led by the United States swept away the political authority and the vast majority of the armed might of the Republic of Iraq. Nonetheless, for some it is the errant belief in the resurrection of a destroyed government, or the misunderstanding of what the Coalition is working to accomplish in Iraq that allows for the continued violence. It is the belief of those individuals, however incorrect, that prompts their actions.

While, one hopes, not quite so prone to the use of deadly force to express their opinions, the readers of articles such as a particularly maliciously crafted example of verbal detritus from the London Times which I came across in the course of my research could nonetheless find themselves with a wholly incorrect impression of the nature of conditions for prisoners at holding facilities such as ours.

The only words for the journalist's work are willful deception, misrepresentation of information, and deliberate intellectual sabotage.

And here shifts this essay. His account of living conditions for prisoners was almost laughable. He attempted to paint a picture of misery and abuse through his description. You know what? He may have been right . . . but there are several hundred thousand Americans and allied soldiers living in the same conditions or worse that he cares absolutely nothing about. Spoken of are prisoners who are held in tents with temperatures reaching "up to 122 degrees" with no relief. There's a reason why it's 122 degrees inside the tent, and that's because the outside ambient temperature is 131, and there are precisely the same temperatures in my tent, and every soldier's tent in this country. I know well what it is to wake up in the morning lying in a pool of sweat that the taut material of my cot cannot absorb. There are soldiers even now who don't have tents to provide shade, who are rationed two MREs a day, who preciously horde their allotment of water, trying to figure out how keep enough water in their bodies when anything they drink immediately sweats out. For well over two months at the camp here, latrines consisted of ditches with wooden planks and tubes half-buried in the sand for urinals.

There is much discussion right now about the beatings of prisoners which took place at a holding facility, but it should be noted that the event stands out as it does because of the very fact of its aberration from the norm. The prisoners do not always have the red-carpet treatment, and it's a trifle difficult to summon the will-power to fetch a rapist his slippers and pipe in the evening, but every day soldiers put themselves in danger to prevent prisoners from beating or killing each other, as the type of prisoner we hold has shifted from the early days of EPWs who would endlessly thank us and us give praise for overthrowing "the monster," to the new breed who are primarily street criminals with a smattering of Fedayeen and other choice groups. American soldiers lose their temper when the prisoners' water supply is not replenished fast enough. The reason anyone knows about the inexcusable behavior of those few MPs is because another unit of their fellow soldiers called them out on it, in effect, policing themselves. There is no other army in the world which goes to such great lengths as we to provide humane treatment to those we were prepared to unflinchingly slay in the midst of combat, and to those who believe our very compassion is one of our failing weaknesses.

One of the interrogators here, a tall, well-muscled young soldier with a square jaw and a strong yet tempered and considering voice, told me of a conversation he had with one of our allied interrogators. This compatriot of ours commented to my friend, "You Americans are strange, the way [these prisoners] seem to matter. What are they? They're animals."

We are deployed around the world, fighting to give others the same opportunities that we ourselves have been granted. Sometimes other nations agree with our cause, other times they do not, but alone or with other like-minded souls, we fight our consciences. No one may excuse certain things our country has been responsible for, but we invariably self-correct the problem and drive on, a stronger and wiser country for it. We confront our demons, no matter how difficult or shameful. Several months ago some of our soldiers abused their power, and several months ago, other soldiers put an end to it. This is the way of our people.

The article I alluded to went on to say that prisoners are denied mail and contact with their families. Mail is the responsibility of the Red Cross, but no one is going to publicly call the Red Cross to task for their failings when it's far simpler and more acceptable to pin the blame on us occupying military imperialists. Heaven forbid the author employ a bit of journalistic integrity and do the slightest bit of research necessary ("Hey, soldier, who delivers the prisoners' mail?") to determine culpability. I can speak authoritatively of the way I have seen officers curse in frustration at occasional regional lock-downs which prevent family visitation on any of the three days per week prisoners may see their families. I cannot understand how one's choice of three days per week, better than many American prisoners are allowed in our own prisons back home, translates for journalists into prisoners being denied family visitation. Yes, there are certain prisoners who cannot have visitors—murderers and rapists for example. I can speak of the packages of food and hygiene items I helped Chief Wiggles give to prisoners from their families, eerily reminiscent of the very packages I receive from my own family. We constantly receive requests for information as to whether one prisoner or another is at our camp, so we can let his family can know he's safe and tell them where to find him. I see the way the Chief fights to win the release of prisoners who have not committed crimes and have already contributed their knowledge to the Coalition.

Everything I have witnessed and know to be true is the antithesis of the scenario painted by the author of the article in question and many other articles in newspapers around the world, including those at home in the United States. It's very much in vogue to identify and decry mistreatment of prisoners, and there are in fact many systems which could be greatly improved. But by and large, it is a far better thing to be captured by the United States of America than most other countries, perhaps any, and we are continually working to improve our capacity for humane treatment.

It would be wonderful if the Red Cross were as concerned with my brothers and sisters-in-arms who hope they can stretch their water until the next shipment comes through as they are with the prisoners who see their families weekly (any one visit of which is more than we soldiers have seen our own families), who have us to fight for them and protect them, who are guaranteed water and food, who have tents to live in and showers. During the first months of this camp's operation, soldiers would sometimes enter the prison compound to bathe with the EPWs because they had facilities before we did.

We have sacrificed to allow the prisoners to live in some cases even better than ourselves, and yet one reads almost daily these fraudulent, slanderous, malignant claims of abuse and malicious twisting of the facts.

Where is the Red Cross, ensuring that we can see our wives and husbands at all, much less weekly? Thousands of soldiers have spent the war and period thereafter without any means to contact their loved ones, relying solely on a mail system which may or may not deliver letters within two months of their mailing date, although this has improved steadily and the last letter I received made it to me in seven days. At least the Army gets the mail to its soldiers eventually, whereas the Red Cross more often than not fails to transmit the correspondence between prisoners and their families at all. Until I and those with me can see our wives and husbands again, we'll keep fighting to protect the ability of the prisoners here to see their own.

I would recommend that the journalists who so perversely attempt to conceal and eradicate the knowledge of the good we have done examine their purposes for doing so, and weigh once again the awesome responsibility they have in crafting perceived reality for millions. Reality is often not what we wish it to be, and frequently contains elements we wish it did not, but where is the value in embracing a world of falsehood, however we prefer the lie? Now that the sword has done its job, it is time for the pen to convey, in brilliant ink unspoiled by the tainting hues of ignorance or malice, the ongoing work in its most objective truth, so that the deeds of history, good and ill, may be more fully judged, and the world we and our children shape be founded on pillars of truth.


posted by Plunge 2:37 PM
. . .
A new voice is going to be heard here at Chief Wiggles blog on occasion. This new voice is another soldier serving with the Chief. He will be known as "Orpheus." We hope you appreciate what he has to say.


posted by Plunge 2:28 PM
. . .
Monday, July 28, 2003
The following post is in response to various email messages received, including some incensed Brits who felt the Chief was being presumptuous to say our treatment of POWs was better than theirs.

This is as far as I will go asking him to clarify anything he has written.

Regards.


posted by Plunge 12:42 AM
. . .
Monday, July 28, 2003

Just a quick note to follow up on yesterday’s journal entry.

To continue my remarks regarding our treatment of prisoners, I can only speak from my own experience and from my own perspective relating to the area of the process that I am responsible for. I am an interrogation team chief, senior interrogator, been in the Army National Guard for the past 33 years. I have been on two deployments, two wars, and been on over 40 exercises in South Korea. I have personally participated in or witnessed countless interrogations of all types of detainees or sources. In all my years I have never witnessed or felt a need to use inhumane or cruel punishment in order to extract intelligence from an individual. Quite on the contrary, I personally feel that the utilization of psychological approaches is by far more affective in obtaining true information. Gaining the prisoners' trust and respect is by far the most affective method

I have on every occasion seen nothing but the utmost respect for the prisoners' needs, in most cases going out of our way to insure they are being handled appropriately. If there is any mistreatment I truly believe it is an isolated incident that is not representative of the thousands of prisoners who have received the best possible treatment. I have personally witnessed so many genuine acts of kindness displayed towards the prisoners.

I hope we as fellow Americans don't allow the news media to focus our attention on the few negative incidences, allowing those to overshadow the countless incidents of love and kindness exhibited by our troops.

We have just been through a war, remember, and we are now dealing with the worst of the worst criminals of this Wild West like country.

As far as the Brits are concerned I don't think they want to get into any kind of a debate with me about who provides the best treatment. Please, just don’t go there. Remember, I have all the first-hand proof. Regardless, I think the Brits are great. I have really enjoyed working with them on this mission. We have formed some new and special bonds between us regardless of our differences in handling prisoners. We have always appreciated their support in our many endeavors around the world.


posted by Chief Wiggles 12:40 AM
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Sunday, July 27, 2003
Saturday, July 26, 2003

Wow what a whirlwind day it has been. I was jumping all over the place, like a Mexican jumping bean on drugs, just trying to keep up with demands of the day. I was in charge of family visits again, insuring each prisoner got to the visitation area, made sure each family got on the bus and made sure that if they brought any food or clothing they got delivered to the appropriate pen later.

Along with this duty I had to take care of the linguist who was to be stationed at the visitation area listening to all the conversations of the families. We have to make sure they are not scheming up some escape plan or something. You never know now that the mixture of prisoners has changed so drastically, with the arrival of all the criminals from the north. Lets just say it kept me hopping all day.

We have had a group of people here from Baghdad interviewing the generals to determine their intelligence value, which might be the last step in getting the book closed on these guys. We might be able to finally get someone to make a decision regarding their future. We are definitely looking for those trustworthy Iraqi individuals who have a desire to work as partners with the coalition forces. They are trying to make the final determination and recommendation for the generals. I am really keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Today, in my travels about I stopped out at Hoover 7 to drop off a few packages for the guys when I noticed a certain nervousness in the air amongst the generals. They were definitely worried about the outcome of all the interviewing, especially the Navy general our camp leader. He made me promise to come back later that night to provide him with an update on the outcome of the interviews. I believe he was feeling like a few were going to be chosen for release, the rest being detained longer for no apparent reason. He was also thinking that a few would be chosen for job opportunities, while the others were to be sent home.

The one bad general I have been working for the last month and a half, lets just call him dark eyes, is now ready to be yanked around like a puppet on a string. He is so hammered from this prisoner experience that he is ready to do just about anything. We have him eating out of our hand now. It has been a long road but he has totally come around, now finally ready to cooperate with us.

He actually has great value to us because of his high position in the Ba’ath party, meeting with Saddam Hussein and his sons on numerous occasions. If we are able to work with him as our partner, he might become our eyes and ears on the street at a very high level. It is amazing what you can do with the right amount of psychological pressure, the right strategy and the right conditions. Never at any time have I used force, torture or pain to accomplish my goal.

As of recent I have been reading a number of disturbing articles from Amnesty International and the Red Cross lambasting our soldiers for mishandling Iraqi prisoners. They are accusing the US of perhaps mistreating, even actions bordering on torturing of Iraqi detainees. Here is a statement right out of one of those articles.

"Detainees continue to report suffering extreme heat while housed in tents, insufficient water, inadequate washing facilities, open trenches for toilets, no change of clothes, even after two months' detention," Amnesty said. Amnesty staff heard complaints that included prolonged sleep deprivation and detainees being forced to stay in painful positions or wear hoods over their heads for long periods.

In that I am an Intelligence officer, senior interrogation chief and have now worked in two different internment facilities in two wars, I can speak from a position of authority about this subject. I am very perturbed about these allegations attacking our efforts to provide the best possible treatment and conditions for these detainees, while still trying to get the information out of them that would save lives and prevent further acts of violence against other human beings.

I cannot speak for other facilities throughout the country but as far as this location is concerned these allegations are totally false. We have had up to 8,000 prisoners here at one time, now our numbers are down around 1,000. If you were to be able to read the entire circumstances of the sited events, you would know there is no truth to these vicious rumors.

Yes they live in extremely hot conditions, where the mean temperature inside the tent is over 120 degrees. Well welcome to our world. Hello, we live in there country right along side them, where the mean temperature outside is over 130 degrees, what do you expect. We all live in the same kind of tents under the same conditions with out air conditioning. Why isn’t someone complaining about our conditions?

Yes we have thousands of prisoners, there was a war here you know and now we have criminals running around out of control. Most of the military personnel have been released (except a handful of generals) leaving only the criminals who have been out murdering, stealing, and committing crimes against humanity like rape. What should we do just let them out to run through the streets committing additional crimes. Hello, we still have Americans being killed, give me a break. Whose side are these people on?

Even so, regardless of their crimes, we feed the prisoners plenty of food twice a day, food prepared right next to where my food is prepared. We make every effort to provide them with food of their own liking, ethnic food as close to their own as possible. Prepared by people from this region of the world. We buy food right off of the economy in this region.

We give them new t-shirts, new jump suites, additional clothing when ever needed, slippers, flip flops, socks and on and on. They get plenty of supplies, so much that many of the prisoners save the additional items for their families. They have soap, shampoo, towels and all the other stuff necessary for their needs. Many of the prisoners have had huge boxes of saved up supplies they would like given to their families when they come to visit. We provide them with cots to sleep on, blankets when necessary, and cot mattresses if wanted. The medics come by every morning to see if they have any ailments. They have showers, plenty of water, soccer balls, and many other items for their comfort.

This is a prisoner of war camp, now transitioning over to being a prison. If you were to look at a list of why these men are being detained you would see that most of them are here because they have either committed some violent crime or have attempted to attack or kill an American. Regardless of their crimes we continue to believe in their human rights and make every effort to consider their needs. How many people in the world would believe in the rights of a criminal who has just been arrested for trying to kill one of their own? I have seen interrogation teams from all over the world conduct interrogations, witnessed first hand their approaches and techniques, which has only reconfirmed by belief that we are the only nation following the Geneva Convention, and with out a doubt we treat our prisoners better than anyone else in the world. Go be a prisoner in somebody else’s camp. Even the Iraqi generals have commented in amazement for the treatment they have received from us.

When are we going to get true and honest reporting that doesn’t have some twist to it put on by some self-promoting special interest group. Why do we have to put up with the inaccuracies of these myopic self-proclaimed voices of the people?

Even in our interrogations I have yet to see any abuse of the prisoners. We do not and have never used torture as means to acquire information, unless you call taking aware a prisoners cigarettes as cruel and unusual punishment. Lets see, I did make a prisoner sit out in the sun once for an hour. All of our approach techniques involve psychological methods of extracting information, seeing torture as an inefficient method to break these people. You might get information but its truthfulness might be in question.

I am always so astonished at the extent to which these special interest groups will go to promote their cause knowing full well they are not divulging the whole story. Now with the Internet enabling all of us to connect directly with the source of the information, we can call these would be informants on the carpet. They make a claim of prisoners being shot and killed but they fail to divulge the rest of the story. The fact that the prisoner was coming at the guard holding a large piece of wood in an attempt to strike the guard after being warned to stop, the guard firing several warning shots into the air, what would you do?

These criminal prisoners here are unruly, undisciplined, have a total disregard for orders and authority, and just flat out don’t care. Many of these guys have spent many years in some type of a prison environment, having been released just prior to the outbreak of the war. Yes we do have those that are here for minor infractions, many whom will be released very shortly after their arrival.

Prisoners do have a tendency to get lost at times, due to the fact that we don’t have some wide area network with one master data base with file sharing for all entities involved. If any thing, that is the responsibility of the Red Cross to insure that prisoner letters get delivered and a response returned back to the prisoner.

If I were to identify one agency that has let the prisoners down it would be the Red Cross. Don’t even go into Hoover 7 talking about the Red Cross. The Red Cross is totally detested, the generals will turn around and walk away from you. They have lost total confidence in their ability to perform any type of humanitarian service for the prisoners.

So I guess it is all a matter of what side you are on.

I received an email requesting my presence up north, so within the next few days I will be moving to a new location.

Stay tuned, coming at you live from somewhere in Iraq.


posted by Chief Wiggles 6:07 AM
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email
plunge(at)mac.com

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