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

Friday, September 12, 2003
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.


Thursday, September 11, 2003

It is a brand new day, a bright new morning, as the bright rays of the morning sunshine stream through my trailer window I feel there is hope for a new beginning for Iraq. I wake with a renewed optimism for what might be the future for these people. I go to my knees to offer up the gratitude of my heart for all that is transpiring around me as I personally witness the remaking of a nation, knowing we are not alone here. Humbly I ask for help in being able to do my small part in pushing this work forward, hoping I will be blessed with a glimpse of what the big – long term picture is for Iraq and the Middle East.

As usual, I was woken early by the sound of the date palm branches outside my trailer, scraping across the top of the trailer, dropping golden date nuggets on the roof, sounding as if we were being pelted by shrapnel from a near by explosion.

As I wait for my turn to use the shower in our 4-man trailer I am moved to write the memorable incidences of the night before. I can honestly say it was a night I will never forget, definitely on my top-ten-list of most special moments. Let me tell you why.

One of our sources we are working with brought his family of six up from their home in a small city called Hella south of Baghdad, for the sole purpose of having dinner with us, the two strategic debriefers. He and his family wanted to show their gratitude for all that we were doing to help him and to show their appreciation to the American soldiers who released them from the chains of their ruthless dictator.

Actually they originally came up last Sunday, but due to the demonstration outside our main gate they were forced to return without hooking up with us. Fortunately his mother-in-law lives in Baghdad providing them with a place to stay until we could get together, our rigorous schedule forcing us to push back the dinner until Wednesday.

At 6 pm, our appointed time, we made our way across the 14th of July bridge to meet them on the other side, outside of our green zone, waiting in front of the check point there. They were all, now 10 people, crammed into the cab of a small Nissan two-seater pickup, except for the oldest son who was sitting in the back with the food.

We motioned for them to follow us as we gained approval from the guards for them to enter. We took them over to the Rasheed hotel, my disco-dancing location, where we had arranged with the hotel management to have our dinner out by the pool. The Rasheed was Saddam's hotel, being the closest one to his government buildings, having been built by a Swiss company, I believe, to cater to Saddam's visitors.

The pool is large, surrounded by an immense open area, with plenty of white metal pool furniture for us to have our dinner on. The pool is a long straight rectangle, 3 feet deep at one end and 15 feet deep at the end where the diving platform is. There is a long bar serving a variety of cocktails, sodas and snacks. It was the perfect place for our gathering.

The seasonal heat wave having passed, now into September, the evenings are perfect with a slight gentle breeze providing us with a very comfortable environment for a dinner together. Date-palm trees, now swaying in the evening air, and many large shrubs hiding us from any outsiders, surround the pool area.

Our source's family was beautiful; him and his wife, their four children (two boys and two girls, ages 16, 14, 12, and 9), his mother-in-law, his sister-in-law and his wife's brother's wife with her 3 year old daughter. What a great looking bunch, beautiful kids, intelligent, well groomed, all nicely dressed, just outstanding people. All of them spoke enough English to introduce themselves and even understand some of what we were saying, which always helps, we brought all three of our interpreters just in case.

His wife had prepared the most wonderful feast for us to partake of; really out doing herself preparing so many traditional Iraqi dishes. My mouth began to water as the cover was taken off of each dish, displaying the culinary talents of the wife and mother-in-law, who obviously had spent hours preparing everything to the last detail. Some of the finest food I have ever tasted was laid out before us to the delight of everyone there, as we enjoyed each and every bite.

We enjoyed plate after plate as our source made his way around the table to insure that everyone was getting enough. He would continue to fill our plates with course after course in hopes that none of us would go away hungry. I ate way beyond my own limits, not being able to stop indulging in the tasty meal.

We continued to ask questions about his family, hoping to get to know them a little better. His oldest daughter spoke of going to college with hopes of even going to America to study. His son was just a typical young male teenager, thinking of sports and fun. His second daughter kept quiet but smiled at me and the others, appearing to be so curious about Americans and so happy to be eating dinner with us. The youngest boy sat on my lap anxious for us to take some pictures together.

We chatted through the meal enjoying each other's company, laughing and smiling at each other. The sound of the children laughing permeated the surroundings bringing joy to all those listening. I had almost forgotten what children sounded like, now yearning for my own granddaughter's smile and warm giggle of love.

At the end of a wonderful evening, as we walked them back to their car we commented on how nice this had been for our own emotional psyche, seeing a whole family interacting on a normal basis. This experience caused me to recommit my efforts on behalf of all the good solid family people in Iraq who were just hoping for a brighter future now in the absence of Saddam Hussein.

I knew at that moment for a certainty why I was here and what I was working for. My faith rejuvenated and my conviction firmed up, I am now more committed to our cause. There are many families just like this one, so much like any other family anywhere in the world, for we are all brothers and sisters in the same divine family, created in the image of our maker.

A few days earlier with the same source I found myself in a discussion regarding a number of attacks on US forces. We were speaking about how well the criminals and terrorists were organized, with resources of weapons and money.

I asked him how many people would he be able to bring together to fight for this just cause. I spoke with him of coming up with a plan for action to give the good people of Iraq a mission they could unite under, bringing together the numbers to fight against the evils infesting their land.

Being part of this struggle caused me to reflect on the movie “Lord of the Ring” , seeing this as the typical war of good and evil, not sure at this point who is winning, but assured that it was going to take a coordinated consolidated effort to be victorious.

At that moment the solution flashed through my head, as I knew we could not do this on our own. We can not be victorious with out the divine assistance of our Savior Jesus Christ, who‘s powers need to be invoked to fight against the evils of this land. I have always felt this was going to be an essential part of the solution but it was further manifested to me at that moment, that the only power capable of bringing the right future to this and other good families was going to be Jesus Christ.

Pray for his help.

To update you on the generals, we are seeing some movement, things are starting to happen but we still have a few hurdles to get over. At least there is some noise and people appear to be doing something. We have everyone talking about it, hopefully that will bring about our desired result. I just don't get it. This is such a no brainer. Why can't someone just give the word to get these guys released and back to their homes? Come on!

Well the sun is now retreating beyond my view, leaving only its glow as it gradually dims bringing the darkness of another night.

I just want to wish my son Matthew a very Happy 16th Birthday last Sunday and also to Dana my daughter Happy 26th Birthday, the best to both of them.

A moment of silence for all those who lost their lives on this day, 9-11. We are all indebted to them for their loss and the loss to all their loved ones. God Bless America as we fight for the freedom of all mankind.

Good Day


posted by Chief Wiggles 7:31 AM
. . .
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

I would like to thank all of you who have responded to my request for prayers and letters for the Generals incarcerated at a camp in southern Iraq. They have been there since the first day of the war now well over 5 months. I recently spoke with the leader of the generals, informing me that they are very tired from this terrible ordeal and we are losing their support, being discouraged by the way they have been treated after following our advice to lay down their weapons and surrender.

In their minds they would have been better off had they just ran to their homes like the other 9,000 plus brigadier generals in the Iraqi military. They regret having trusted us enough to turn over their bases, their ships and aircraft, and their men, in hopes that we would reward them for doing so. They just want to see their families and do their part in reconstructing their country.

The meeting was held on Friday, the general's issue was discussed and it was turned over to his staff for a decision. At this point we just need everyone that can to write the Secretary of Defense's staff, requesting this issue be resolved, especially now that they have a job waiting for them the minute they are released.

You might be wondering why I care so much about these men. If you have been reading all of my journal entries you probably have a better understanding of this but let me say a few things to clear the water.

Prior to coming to the palace a month or so ago, I lived at the EPW camp in southern Iraqi with these men for about 3 months, interacting with them on a daily basis. I spoke with them day in and day out, sitting with them in their tents, eating their food, talking with them in groups and one on one, meeting their families, and seeing them in their highest and lowest moments. I have personally questioned each and every one of them extensively.

For the most part these men have been waiting for our arrival since 1991, hoping we would come to release them from the chains of Saddam Hussein. Yes they are career military men but not hand picked by Saddam, but just a handful  of some 10,000 Brigadier Generals who just happened to chose the military as their livelihood, over the years having moved up the ranks like anyone else. Many of these men had been retired, only to find themselves activated before the war. Many were in the Navy and Air Force, not highly regarded or trusted by Saddam. Many were sent to the southern part of Iraq to serve out the remainder of their terms, having fallen out of favor or by choosing not to participate with the doings of their leader. None of these men were serving in the Republican Guards or the Special Republican Guards, where allegiance to Saddam is required.

As some might suggest this is not a case of the "Stockholm Syndrome", where the captor begins to like or side with his prisoner.  This is a matter of knowing deep in my heart that these men, for the most part, are good – honorable – upstanding- men, desiring to do what is right for their country, having understood the freedom we were bringing them. These are highly educated men, with special skills and abilities, prime candidates for positions in the new government and the new military. Men that I have grown to respect and admire, hoping that they would be allowed to participate in this reconstructing process.

Hope that helps in understanding my obsession for their release.

It is now Sunday night, the day finally coming to a close. The steady flow of sources, phone calls, and messages has now been turned off for another day. Except for one last message regarding a debriefing we have yet to do tonight at 1830, a special request from a general, unfortunately we obligingly said yes to.

My head is stuffed up from a head cold, feeling like it is going to burst at any moment. My nose has been flowing all day as if connected to some secret water source somewhere in my head, I guess usually damned up at any other time. I had to leave the room several times during a debriefing to keep up with the steady stream.

The howling wind outside has stirred up a cloud of dust covering my view of the city beyond the trees of our palace. Since yesterday there have been Apache helicopters circling the building, indicating the presence of important visitors at the palace. Perhaps their chopper blades have upset the wind gods, who now, in some type of a competitive battle, are attempting to prove nature is still mightier.

Wind, in this part of the country, at least around the palace, has not been a frequent visitor. It has been a rare occurrence for me to see the trees outside my window swaying back and forth, usually quite still, as if scared to move, not realizing that the master of all, Saddam, has left the building. Of course the watchful eye of his four head sculptures remains to govern his palace grounds.

I drove out to the gate earlier today to welcome a source only to be turned away by an angry crowd of demonstrators, hoping to get their government jobs back, having been displaced by the change of rulers. There was quite an impressive show of USA force, as the tank had moved forward into position, usually hidden in the back behind a tree, the soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder with weapons grasped tightly against their chests.

I felt comforted by their presence, feeling safe enough to walk around looking for my source, who obviously had split due to all the commotion. I hung around anyway just to get an idea about the demands of the demonstrators, who were getting rather noisy with their chanting.

I ran out for a moment to get a bite of dinner, realizing that I better eat before our source shows up in about 30 minutes. I finished with the source, now ready to continue with my journal entry for the day. I have had a hard time getting to my journal with the hectic nature of our schedule. Most nights after working all day, I try to check my email and then crash on my bed for the night, especially now that I have a cold.

We are starting to feel buried by the constant barrage of sources with good information, leaving us very little time to write up the reports, so that the information may get disseminated. We are thinking of keeping a whole week free of appointments thus freeing us up to get our reports out. 

Yesterday at dusk Chief Authentico and I escaped in our vehicle to explore a few buildings in our green zone, vacated by the war. We went into a couple of what seemed to be schools at one time, but not sure if they had been used as such even before the war. There were no supplies, tables, chairs, or any indication that students once attended or even used these buildings. There were bullet marks on the walls and bomb craters as if a gun fight had occurred with the inhabitants. We didn't disturb anything, leaving everything in its place, only there to try to figure out what had happened.

It was fun to just cruse around in our vehicle, looking at different things, wondering what this place must have been like at one time. We both commented on what was sure to become of this green zone, a small city with in a city, inhabited by coalition personnel, with all the comforts of America. You couldn't pick a more prime piece of real estate in the center of this city. It was indeed the best place to run the government of this country, secured by high walls, open areas, lack of much housing, and controlled by military police.

We have had a week of non-stop appointments with all types of people from all walks of life, regarding all types of weapons, counterfeiting, and activities of all the pro-Saddam groups, assassination attempts, attacks and bombings, and on and on. There is no end to the activities that we are gathering intelligence on, being overwhelmed at times with the sheer number of reports.

Amidst all of this turmoil and all the changes that are swirling around us, both good and bad, it is fortunate that two things remain constant in my life. The first constant is my testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ, of his purpose and mission on my behalf, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of mankind and to pay the price for all our sins through his atonement. It is fortunate that even amidst the chaos of this land, I am able to retain in my heart the full personal meaning of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The testimony of this sustains me through thick and thin. It continues to give me great hope for this land and its people, in being a tool in the Lord's hand to spread his spirit. It motivates and drives me to share the knowledge of his atonement with people around me that are looking for something more in their life.

I ponder my own existence knowing that I falter and make mistakes, falling short of my calling in being his instrument, a tool in the master's hand. But, I also know there is forgiveness through his atonement, which continues to give me another chance to rise up once more in my continual struggle for personal perfection.

The other constant is my firm belief concerning my purpose for being here in Iraq. I am here for a reason. There is a divine plan of which I am a part of, which is unfolding before my eyes. I have seen many marvelous and wonderful things occur during the last 7 months of my life here in this country. I am awe struck by the miracles happenings around me on a daily basis, further confirming my testimony of the divine nature of this work. I am so grateful to be a part of this history making endeavor.

This is a land of diverse beliefs running the full gamut of possibilities, from one extreme to another, from unimaginable to the unthinkable. There is a certain degree of fatalistic, predestined and predetermined belief that is displayed in their attitudes about everyday life. If God wants it to be so, it will be, everything hanging on God, as if the individual has no part in the direction of his life. As one man expressed, "it doesn't matter if I smoke", he said, "It is already determined when I am going to die. I have nothing to do with it".

But I make every effort to be tolerant and understanding. I know there is one attribute that will sustain me here which is empathy. As in most things in life it is our ability to understand another's point of view, to be able to put ourselves in their shoes, which will help us cope with the diversity that life dishes out. Empathy is essential for success in this land and in all things, whether dealing with our personal relationships or international obstacles.

Without empathy we have nothing. For without it we are locked in perhaps our own misconceived views of the way things are or the way things should be. Without it we are inflexible in dealing with others; their cultures, their beliefs, their perceptions, and all things then become stumbling blocks.

It  is the very inability to have empathy that creates distrust, hatred, misconceptions, and much unhappiness in our relationships, as we continue to hold fast to our own beliefs of reality. Too often we become fixed and set in our own beliefs feeling that truth is as we see it through our glasses of perspective. We continue to believe that our thoughts are real, not allowing there to be another set of glasses viewing it entirely different.

It is only when we are willing to accept the fact that there might be another set of glasses and are willing to try them on, that we begin to see the full spectrum of what life is. It is when we have empathy that we begin to see how very diverse the variables of life are, seeing that any different combination might result in a different way of viewing something.

Once we make this discovery or realization, we are then open to view life as something not set in concrete but a continuum of life altering variables impacting our very thought process and inner belief systems. Accepting the fact that there is always another way of looking at something, thus creating paradigm shifts in our own thought process.

Empathy makes it possible for us to accept another reaction, another behavior, another response, another feeling, another thought, and so on and so forth. We become open and willing to deal with the multiplicity of life, in all of its complicated messiness, for life is messy.

I believe this is a gift of God, as we endeavor to become more like him, we begin to see things from his perspective, from a perspective of love and understanding. We then can also accept the fact that we do not have the only view, we are not the only ones that understand, we don't know it all and don't see it all from where we are at. We then begin to acknowledge the differences and complexities of life in all that we do, in our relationships, our interpersonal interactions, our international encounters, etc.

I do believe that many problems in life are caused because we lack or are incapable of having empathy from one human to another, at times because we don't really care or we are self centered only concerned about our own needs, or we just aren't able to see it.

This is much to think about.

Good night. Pray for all of us here. We need it.
Write Donald Rumsfeld too about the generals getting released. Thanks!!!!!


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:23 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Hello again.

First, let me thank all who have responded with the outpouring of love, prayers, and well wishes.

Next, I think a quick explanation of the generals we are talking about is in order as many have questioned why the Chief would feel so strongly about this. For those new, the Chief, up until a month ago, was stationed at a POW camp. These places aren't pleasant. They are hot, sandy and uncomfortable. The generals whom the Chief is referring to are from this camp. He considers them to be good men, some to be heroes. These are men who followed our instructions to the letter from the very beginning of this conflict. These men ordered their troops to surrender without firing a shot. They saved literally thousands of lives, both Iraqi and American. Since that time, they have fully cooperated with the US forces, all the while being incarcerated in less than ideal circumstances. For 5 months now, they have languished in the camp, away from family and friends and living in a situation that is far from desirable.

The Chief has come to love and respect some of these generals. He knows their minds and their hearts. They are fellow soldiers; they are not the sadistic bastards that ran Iraq for so long. They care about their people and want to be part of the rebuilding process. They see the vision of a future Iraq, one that can take a prominent place in the Middle East and be a beacon of peace and prosperity for those around them.

The Chief has seen evil in Iraq. He knows what it looks like. He has seen the slime of the earth, the slickest of conmen. He knows we need good people in Iraq, good Iraqi people to help curb the evilness.

So this is why he is asking for your prayers. This is why he hopes and prays that Sec. Rumsfield will come to fully understand the situation and grant their release. It is hard, if you haven't been working with them and know they are part of the solution and not the problem, to grant the release of men that can hold the kind of power a general can. Yet, these are the types that we need if we are going to succeed in rebuilding Iraq.

Again, my prayers are with him, but, of course, my prayers are always with the Chief.

Regards.

Plunge


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:22 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.


I just received an email from the Chief who apologizes for not having enough time to do a proper post today. In his email, he asked me to post for him. I figure his words are better than mine so here is his request:

Hey bud:
Please put a word into my site for me. Today, Rumsfield is in country and he
needs to make the decision about the generals. He is the man and we need
everyone's prayers today to make this happen. Please have everyone that
wants to, pray for their release and pray that the right decision will be
made. Have them send a message to Rumsfield about the generals.

Thanks,
Wiggles

I guess I don't have any more to add to that other than to add my prayers.

Please remember, the Chief accepts all prayers, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever you believe. Good thoughts and vibes are accepted from those don't believe.

Thanks!


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:20 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

It is now almost 7 pm, the sun is heading to its resting ground somewhere beyond the horizon, the darkness of night trailing not too far behind. I can only imagine what will be happening tonight, never having ventured beyond the walls of the green zone once darkness covers the city. I am sitting wondering where the day went, having not even paused to catch my breath.

I have lost all track of time, dates, seasons, anything beyond today. I have no thoughts of tomorrow until tomorrow comes, being so overwhelmed by the rigorous schedule of today. I can honestly say I have not had a day off since arriving here at the palace, not to complain but only in retrospect as I ponder the events of the last month, which now seem more like several months.

Today while in route to refill my vehicle I traveled back down the road I first came in on. I commented to Chief Authentico that it seems like such a long time ago, our lives having been condensed into some fast passed timeless blur of semi consciousness. It is as if we are locked in some twilight zone, not being able to actually make contact with anyone in the real world.

I have no time for anything not relating to the demands of my busy schedule, now just trying to keep pace with the proverbial flow of Iraqi citizens. I have no time to watch the escapades of the nightly news broadcasters, or to listen to the negative twist put on everything we are endeavoring to do over here. We drive on with nothing but a single focus and deaf ears to all who might disagree.

We cannot afford to lose our positive energy, our hope for a different future, or our forward momentum that compels us to press on. We have to care, for we cannot afford to think otherwise. We have to believe for if we didn't we would be worthless, frozen in an endless state of depression.

Living and working in this green zone at times, seems like I am in an amusement park, manning one of the rides. Only those who have the right pass or ticket get to take their turn on my ride. These people come in out of nowhere and then return into nowhere, for I never really get to see where they come from. I explain the rules to this ride, hoping after listening they will agree to jump on, not fully understanding risks involved.

I live in an area of virtually no Iraqis, only soldiers living in the remains of this once great regime, bombed out areas and empty buildings. As I look out my window I see nothing but green trees covering my direct view of the city that is sprawled out all around me. I feel secure but it feels unreal at times, as I hear gun shots and explosions through the night.

I am not afraid to go out beyond our area, which I have done on several occasions, but there is that unpredictability of it, the unknown that keeps me on my toes and looking over my shoulder. I am sure there are people in America, in New York or LA, who can relate to this feeling.

Our record setting pace of the last few days as finally taken its toll on me, now totally exhausted with barely enough strength to push the keys on my computer. I have basically hit the wall needing now to recharge to greet the onslaught of another day. I am going to retire but felt inclined to pass on these words.

On a daily basis my emotions cover the full spectrum of possibilities, from sad to happy, to ecstatic to overwhelmed. This work is emotionally very draining, pulling on us from one moment to the next, from one emotional situation to another, as we try to determine the truthfulness of the very words we are hearing.

We also get the full range of people covering the entire spectrum of possibilities, from one extreme to another, from one fanatical or extremist group to another, from wanting to die for their country to wanting to make every dollar off of us they can. I have never been in a place where the people have such a wide range of personalities, beliefs, attitudes, motives, etc. It is a virtual buffet of emotions and personalities, mind-boggling and confusing at times.

As I mentioned before I was working with one of the Free Iraq Fighters, now with out his unit hoping to find a place in the new Iraq. He was so depressed, so down, not sure about his future, as if he was a little boy lost in a crowd with no hope for finding his parents.

I took him over to the headquarters for this area in hopes that I might find a job for him, something to get him started, a place to hang his hat. I spoke with a few people, gave them the details of his background and experience and asked for a special favor to help this young lost man out. They agreed to get him started in a new training program with a very positive welcome, stating they need people like him.

You should have seen the light come on in his face, the light of hope or belief that something good was going to happen. He was so excited about the possibilities, now feeling his life had some purpose and direction.

We ended our discussion and as I drove him to the front gate he leaned over from the back seat to kiss me on the cheek (which is customary over here) to thank me for all I had done for him. He was so appreciative; he could not stop blessing me and my family, my kids, my dogs and everyone else.

Another guy I met yesterday was from the village in Northern Iraq that back in 1988 was attacked by Saddam's republican guards, using chemical weapons, slaughtering thousands of people, including this man's whole family. He was moved to tears as he explained the details of that massacre and his plight since that time.

We never know from one minute to the next what the next appointment will bring us or what to expect from the next person we run across.

We have our moments, but for the most part we stay enthused, focused, and positive. Pray that we will stay our course till the end of our tour here, in order that in our own little way we may make a difference in the lives of these people. It would be just too easy to give up hope in such a plethora of crime, violence, dishonesty, ulterior motives, greed, revenge, you name we have it.

But that is about it for now. Good night, gotta crash. Bye Bye


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:18 PM
. . .
Please note. Chief Wiggles main website has moved to
http://chiefwiggles.blog-city.com. However, some people are not able to access that site. While we work out that problem, we will continue to provide his latest journal entries here. Please view his blog on his new site if possible.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Howdy, from the desk of Chief Wiggles.

We have had some great things happen lately, seemingly small things to most of you but huge in our eyes.  Just great things

1. We got wheels. We finally got a car, a Nissan Pathfinder, not new but it is transportation. We have been begging and borrowing cars anywhere we could get them. We have had to get in really good, doing special favors, with all the Ministries so that we could use their drivers/cars whenever we needed to run a source to and from the gate. We are forever running back and forth from all the gates into the green zone, the conference center, and a variety of other locations and facilities, especially to all the teams that we are working with now. I just went tooling around the green zone in our semi-new SUV ok like 1998, and it is a stick shift too. Yea baby.
2. There is a nightclub in the Rasheed Hotel and it's in the green zone too, so I have been able to go dancing. It isn't much but there is a DJ and he is spinning some tunes, you know me and music. I have been over there twice now dancing up a storm. I am dancing by myself but I don't care, it is all about the music baby. They even play different music on different nights of the week, country, disco, etc, and they are open until 2am. Now at least we have an outlet for letting our hair down, working up a sweat while we groove to some fast music, you know; disco, hip-hop, even some Middle Eastern music too.
3. I finally got approval to get a cell phone, which I should get any day now. We won't be able to call anywhere but another phone on the system here, but at least Chief Authentico and I will be able to stay in touch, coordinating our days. It will really make this job easier to manage.
4. Also, we are going to be getting more teams of our boys working here out of the green zone. We are so excited about getting these guys, hopefully enabling us to really get after some business. Right now we aren't even scratching the surface with just the two of us. This is a virtual gold mine of intelligence just waiting for us to strike it rich. The additional teams are really going to be a great asset to us. Major G is the main man that is making this happen along with our General who I am assuming came up with this brainchild after we continually requested additional support. Things are really coming together as if this was meant to be. Way to go General and Major G, you guy's rock, not really, at least I have never seen Major G really shake a rug, but he is going to have to now. If he is out there beware you are going dancing man, just you and me.
5. We now have 4 linguists, wow. We are really being blessed. This is a great team we are assembling. We are really going to kick some Iraqi butt now (sorry for the wording). One of them, the young 26-year-old Iraqi national, even has a car and he loves music, knows all the great stuff I love to listen to. This kid really rocks. He is a cartoonist too now sketching each of us; it is going to be like Mad Magazine when he is done.
6. We got a copier in our office too, can you believe it. Now all we need is printers for our laptops.

Little by little things are all coming together, shaping up, providing us with what will be needed to accomplish this mission. Miraculous things are taking shape and the pieces of this huge puzzle are coming together one piece at a time. All you have to do is pitch in and help make it happen.

The ball of progress has begun to roll, stand back and watch it roll-forth bringing freedom to the people of this country. You can either be part of the solution or get out of our way. Yes, there will be stumbling blocks, hurdles and many more difficulties but goodness will prevail.

I am sure the media is having a free-for-all with all the reports of the bombings, the shootings, the crimes and so on and so forth. I am sure there are plenty of people accusing us of not doing our job to make things safe and not being able to solve the problems of this country. We are making a gallant effort but you don't really understand unless you are here in the middle of it. You don't really understand all the numerous complicated aspects of this environment.

After 35 years of being totally controlled, fearing every move they make, the people here are protesting because they can. For the first time in 35 years they can say whatever they want with out any recourse, now using their freedom of speech for the first time.

This is a land that has been at war on and off for the past 20 years. They fought against the Iranians for 8 years and lost a million people combined on both sides. Saddam has encouraged them to have weapons and to use them. He has created a wild-west atmosphere using the gun to enforce his laws and to settle differences. This is the guy that used to fire his weapon into the air whenever he had something to celebrate, even inside a hotel room.

These people also feel that if they are not complaining about the progress of things then people will have a tendency to stop working on their issues. They are very impatient with progress and very emotional about their issues.

Also with their economy in shambles people are creating an economy based on commerce around anything that will sell. So now even ordinary citizens are getting into the weapons business because there is supply and demand. Saddam made sure there were plenty of weapons by unloading dump trucks full of weapons in every neighborhood. Everyone here is getting into the business. We just need to develop other industries that will give the people jobs and another source of income.

Today was Sunday normally a day of rest, but it was like the floodgates were opened dropping on us a continual flow of sources all day long. It was unbelievable, person after person, dropping in on us, people we hadn't seen in a long time. We accomplished many good things today.


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:17 PM
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Saturday, August 30, 2003

It is now almost midnight the end of another very busy day here in downtown Baghdad; my head now so full of information that the day along with others is just a blur, a long stream of timeless consciousness. My head starts to spin as I begin to ponder the activities of the last twenty-four hours, not necessarily unlike any other twenty-four hour period.

My days are full of activities and unexpected occurrences intermingled with pauses allowing us time to eat or time to catch our breath. We grab what time we can at either end of the day to run or exercise, or to catch up with friends and family through my journals, the latter being what is most often skipped, deciding that sleep is more of a priority.

As I think over the hours of just one day I am amazed at it has transpired, not fully grasping the total meaning behind our activities, not always sure if I have made a difference today. At least I take the time to reflect on how the last twenty four hours was spent, hoping that something of importance has happened, or something was affected by the doings of two strategic debriefers in a palace somewhere in Baghdad.

Right now I am finally putting typing my journal on my priority list for today.

Let me give you a glimpse of what the last day has been like. I am sure my words won't convey the full picture but might give you an idea of how my world is from day to day.

Last night at this time the five of us, Chief Authentico—our three interpreters – and myself, had just finished dinner in our dinning facility, more commonly known as the DIFACT, with our three sources, who will go unnamed. The eight of us made our way through the dinner goers to our office to conduct a debriefing. I was already somewhat tired and had asked Chief Authentico to take the lead on this one.

I had previously met with one of the individuals on several occasions to discuss originally his desire to sell weapons to us for a friend of his, or so he said. His tune changed after I told him we weren't in the weapons buy back business and would only give him a reward for the numbers he would turn in (I think I mentioned this story a journal entry earlier).

During my first meeting with this guy he went into his spiel on how the US is doing everything wrong, blaming us for all the crap going on here, asking me why we weren't doing more to get the power on and establish security in this country. Well it had been a long day and I was in no mood to sit there listening to this Iraqi, arms dealer, get on my case about establishing security in his country. So I let him have it. I asked him why he wasn't doing something, why he wasn't out there trying to solve problems and so on and so forth.

The long and short of this is that he has now been reborn, sort of. All of a sudden he is totally interested in doing what he legally can to help, doing what is morally right to bring about solutions to these problems facing his country. So now he is singing a different tune, actually attempting to act as somewhat of a partner with us, suggesting to bring in his relative, an Iraqi Intelligent Officer.

So back to the dinner engagement and up to our office. All of us sat down around the mother of all desks in our office, the born-again weapons dealer, who had majored in black magic and parapsychology, the Iraqi Intelligence officer, his nephew and the five of us.

We spent the next two hours listening to all the great things this guy had done for the regime and how badly Saddam had treated him in return. So basically we had a disgruntled regime employee now taking this opportunity for some payback to his old buddies from the intelligence agency. It was painful at times just trying to stay awake as we gave up trying to direct this discussion with our questioning. It was venting time for this very heavy set Mr. Agent, who continued to eat all the treats we had laid out and smoked one cigarette after another.

After he was finally finished I grabbed by Kevlar helmet and flack jacket to drive him back to the front gate of the green zone where he had parked his car. Reluctantly I set up another appointment with him knowing how difficult it was going to be to get the information out of him.

It was funny during the meeting that the parapsychologist was sending me cues and signals, one time even motioning for me to step out side to discuss how he thought we should proceed with his Uncle.

By the time I got back to my office it was about 9:30 pm, now it was time to discuss how the meeting went with Chief Authentico and to knock out some reports.

In the morning I got up around 6pm to run a couple of miles down to the edge of the green zone and back. After eating some breakfast I made my way to my office to work on several reports that needed to get out. I am constantly frustrated by my inability to get my reports done, due to the continual interruptions of unexpected sources.

As expected my report writing was interrupted by a call from the front gate regarding some people who had shown up to talk to us. Grabbing my gear and interpreter we went out to pick them up.

There were two individuals, one a former Brigadier General and the other a former Intelligence officer. The Intell officer started out by saying he had some Saddam tapes he had looted from a government building during the fall of Baghdad, now hoping to sell those to me. He had 100 tapes, thinking he could solicit $50 a piece from me.

I lost interest in both of them, prejudging that they were just there to make a quick buck, disappointed in their motives and tired of the continual barrage of people pretending to help their country by selling me something.

I was not interested in paying $5,000 for tapes, which even he hadn't listened to. It was a common attempt to make something for nothing, but fortunately that wasn't the end of the story. I did nip the tape sale in the bud, asking him to bring in a sample for us to listen to.

Now it was the Brigadier Generals turn, as he proceeded to tell us of his terrible ordeal with the old regime. Back several years ago he had spoken out against Saddam, attempting to gather support from the other generals he worked with. Unfortunately one of them turned him in to Saddam.

He was kept under surveillance for some time, ultimately being sent to solitary confinement in the very palace we were meeting in. He spent 3 years of his life languishing away in a small room in the basement of this building.

He described in detail the extent of his ordeal, showing us while he spoke the scars of the electrical torture he was subjected to. My interpreter and I sat in awe as we listened to the horrifying experience.

At the end of three years he was given a chance to recant all he had said and done against Saddam but he wouldn't, consequently being sent to the famous Baghdad prison for another 2 years. At least he was alive and was finally released, but at a great cost.

He was stripped of his rank and retirement, so upon his release he had no job and nowhere to go. Due to the embarrassment his wife had taken the two kids and moved away to another Arab country. He had lost everything.

Now with the fall of Saddam he was finally able to step forward openly expressing the desires of his heart. Now he is unshackled, free to fulfill the rest of his destiny in serving the people of Iraq. He had come to my office to offer up his assistance, not sure how to proceed.

What a contrast in the two individuals sitting before me, one wanting to sell his loot to make a quick buck, the other humbly offering up his support for our efforts, anxious to assist us in anyway he could. I was quick to point out the difference to both of them, hoping the tape salesman might have a change of heart, which he did. 

I was moved to comment on my feelings as I attempted to express how courageous the general had been, at the cost of losing it all even perhaps his life. Saddam had killed people for much lesser crimes and many others that had spoken out against him.  I was impressed that he had not given up the fight even when he had the chance to gain it all back by just renouncing what he had said, he stayed the course and would not give in.

As I began this expression of my emotions, I could see my interpreter struggling to get out the words as she was moved to tears. With tears running down our faces we tried to communicate our appreciation for individuals like him who continually made an effort to do things for the right reasons, for no personal gain or thoughts of compensation. He was true to the cause and he did not waiver in his efforts to bring freedom to the Iraqi people. It was a moving experience.

Later that day a young Iraqi man, whom we had met with on several occasions, came back into our office to see if we had been successful in arranging a linkup  with him and one of the teams. He was concerned about his family's well-being now being persecuted by a local gang in their area.

He was a palace worker a member of the cleaning crew, being threatened because of his job with the Americans. The gang was threatening to kill him and his family if he did not resign his position. 

He came to our office to offer up any information that might help us in taking down this gang. We were attempting to hook him up with a team to do a drive by identifying the gang member's houses. The gang was involved in selling weapons, drugs, extortion, etc.

But, that isn't the real story. I knew the young man was engaged and due to be married two weeks from today. I had seen his engagement party pictures, talked to him about his future wife, but felt something wasn't right with him. He wasn't excited, quite on the contrary he was afraid and nervous.

As we delved into it further, feeling some fatherly instincts I discovered he was not in love; in fact he doesn't even like his wife to be. His mother arranged the whole thing with the parents of the young lady who was only 18. This was part of their culture, the mother or the father selecting the mates for their sons and daughters.

He had met his wife-to-be on several occasions, actually making every effort to discourage her from wanting to marry him. On his visits he would go in dirty clothes, not cleaned up at all, actually smelling badly. He would be rude to her, impatient and obnoxious. He said he did everything he could to change her desires, but to no avail.

He described her as being somewhat spoiled, annoying and even quite a nag. He said he couldn't get her to shut up, constantly getting on his case about a variety of things. As he put it, he was doomed, for there was no way to get out of this predicament. He had even told her that as soon as he found someone he was truly in love with, he was going to marry a second wife (they can have up to 4 wives here you know).  Even so she was not budging and not changing her mind.

He explained his mother had already found wives for his two older brothers, who were totally unhappy with her choices. I felt bad for him, knowing his life was going to be difficult and that I could not offer up any words of advice to help him, other than asking him to promise not to hit her (which his a common thing over here).

Another gentleman walked in who is running for the future president of Iraq, to be determined in their next elections. He came in with his wife to see us after not being able to make contact with him for a period of time. After our last visit, him and his guards had been arrested on some unfounded charges and later released, but his weapons and equipment had been confiscated.

We are both very impressed with this man, enjoying his pleasant demeanor and courteous nature. We are pleased with some of his plans for the future of Iraq and appreciative of his desires to rid Iraq of the problems they are all facing. His thoughts are unusually well organized, appreciative of his linear thinking and ability to convey he concepts. It was an enjoyable meeting, wishing him success in his future endeavors.

We said good-bye to our sources, now hoping to get back to my report writing.

We had a couple of other appointments earlier in the day but due to the crowd of protestors at the front gate we were unable to bring them in. There were about 2,000 protestors complaining about the recent bombing of a mosque that killed over 100 people, including the main Shiite Muslim leader, outraged by the death demanding the perpetrators be arrested, also insinuating that the US was involved somehow. This protest lasted most of the morning forcing us to close the gate at times due to the potential dangers at hand.

Once the gate opened up we got a call that another source was waiting to speak with us. Once at the front gate I decided just to speak with them, two people showed up together, in one of the rooms there, as opposed to taking them back to my office.

One of them said he wanted to talk to Chief Authentico, whom he had met a month or so ago, so I rescheduled him for the next day.

The other young man was very upset and emotional, at times breaking down into tears, as he attempted to explain his situation. He had been a freedom fighter during the first days of the war working with one of our Special Forces teams. He claimed he had been left behind, now all alone, wanting to get back to him team. Also wondering why he did not get paid for the months of his contract. I had to settle him down on several occasions just to get to the bottom of the story. Promising to look into it, I set up another meeting in a few days, giving me some time to follow up to confirm his story.

We made a few phone calls, worked on some reports and performed some other daily office duties. It was now dinnertime. I wasn't going to eat much for I had a dinner engagement later at 8:30, but I ended up eating a full meal anyway, just out of habit. 

After dinner I went back to my office, locked the door, turned on some Jackson Browne and proceeded to type up my next journal entry. No sooner had I started when the phone rang informing me that a source had walked in, now waiting to speak with us. Chief Authentico said he would take it, so I could get to my dinner appointment, but I pushed the time back so I could help out.

A middle aged – heavy set man begins to provide us with information about his sister being kidnapped and the bombing of more US vehicles, always listening with one pessimistic ear, not sure if what the source is saying is true, many times it is not. It was strange that he had gone to work and came to see us; right after his sister was kidnapped by a gang of thieves and murderers. We took down the info and will follow up tomorrow.

It was now 9:30. I went off to my dinner appointment, Chief Authentico went off to exercise and another day had come to an end. Aside from a few other conversations, discussions, meals and such that was the last 24 hours of my life.

Good night.


posted by Chief Wiggles 2:16 PM
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