a Someone should care, maybe not you....: December 2005 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Someone should care, maybe not you....

My thoughts on many things including the army, war, politics, the military corrections system, chaos, life, books, movies, and why there is no blue food. Feel free to comment on what I say. Feedback is nice.

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40+ year old former teacher, linguist, interrogator, soldier, and lastly convict. We all do stupid things every once and awhile. I am an economic conservative and a firm believer in civil rights. Starting a new life now and frankly not sure what I am going to be doing.

30 December 2005

Guard duty

When we arrived in Camp Udari Kuwait we were sitting there without any ammunition for our weapons.  This was still early enough that some sort of raid was considered a (slight) possibility.  Udari is close enough to the Iraqi border to see the glow (and sometimes the flames) from burning oil wells.  So not having ammo was considered by us to be a very bad thing.  Since the active unit we were attached to had already expressed a certain lack of interest in us (Oh Well) we were not confident of getting ammo issued to us soon.  Thus when we were asked for a volunteer to take guard duty I raised my hand because I knew if I was a base guard I would have ammo.
I was assigned to a night shift duty in a tower initially.  I did get my ammo.  I quickly realized that while we considered the possibility of a raid it was pretty obvious that the “post” didn’t.  Or if they did, they had a real strange way of showing it.  There were two of us in the tower; we had a radio that didn’t have a big enough battery to leave it on all night.  So we were supposed to leave it off unless we had something to report.  Now the problem with this is that if something happened at a different tower or at the gate that should put us on alert we wouldn’t know it unless we actually heard shooting.  Also, if something happened, we would call in and there may or may not be someone hearing us.  The reception on the radios wasn’t great.  In addition to that little detail we were on guard duty in a tower in the middle of a dessert at night.  We couldn’t see a damn thing.  We would know the Iraqis were attacking us when they came over the berm in front of us.  In theory we had night vision gear.  In fact my unit had it.  (My guard unit that is) Of course it was in Kuwait city.  The active duty unit we were attached to didn’t give us any.  I suspect their stuff was up in Iraq.  So we sat in the dark (do you know how cold it can get at night in the dessert in April?)  The answer is COLD.  Of course as soon as the sun came up it got hot as hell again.  In the tower it was interesting.  In fact it was beautiful.  The sky was brilliantly clear and the stars were so bright you could see by them.  The graffiti in the tower was interesting too.  Guys writing about where they were from, what they saw, how they felt.  About a week before we got to Udari there had been a green on green incident.  (that means friendly fire) a British Tornado fighter bomber was shot down by a Patriot battery right outside Udari.  (During the day light you could see the wreckage from my tower)  The graffiti in the tower from the incident was telling.  I am going to paraphrase it.  “Airburst north east of the tower, altitude about 500 feet.  GAS! GAS! GAS!  Life sure sucks.”  That was a soldier who figured he had just seen the chemical warhead blow up and at that instant some nerve agent or something equally vile was drifting down on him and all of his buddies.  Most of who were sound asleep and would die in their sleep in a truly horrible manner. (The chemical alarms at Udari were not terribly effective)  That graffiti was written by a soldier who had just climbed into his chemical suit and was waiting to see if he or the guy with him would begin to twitch and foam in a few minutes.  He was scared to death.  Probably.  Interestingly enough something similar happened to me later in the week.
I had been switched from tower guard to gate duty.  They needed an NCO to run the shift.  I was in charge of about 8 other soldiers and more importantly in charge of making sure that no one snuck a bomb onto the base through my gate.  Hundreds of trucks came in every day (not counting military convoys) all of these trucks were driven my third country nationals, each driver needed to be searched, his papers checked, and his vehicle searched.  There was of course absolutely no way a thorough search could be conducted on all of the vehicles coming in without everything down too much to survive.  But we did the best we could.  We were lucky in that on the night shift very few trucks came in until daylight.  The dayshift guys got hammered all the time.  We never go busy except for the last three hours of the shift.
One day it was after dawn and we had a long line trucks waiting to get in and a long line of vehicle waiting to get out.  For some reason I had the radio on and heard some squawking.  I held it up to my ear and heard “garble garble confirmed mustard garble” This was not a good thing to hear.  I got on the radio and asked them to say again and it came back.  Confirmed mustard agent, gas gas gas.  Now official policy is that when the gas call comes in you drop everything and get in your MOPP gear.  There was no way I could let all of my guards stop doing everything and get dressed, so I pointed to three of them and told them to MOPP up, then the next three, then the next set and me last.  While this was happening we sealed the gate.  No vehicles in or out.  As this was going on a reporter in a vehicle that was no stopped at the gate rolled down his window and rather timidly asked me “Should I be worried?”  I told him “Yes, roll up your window and stay in your car.” as I was putting my chemical gear on (at last).  Then, there in full MOPP, we all went on full alert and sat for about 2 hours wondering what in the hell was going on.  Nothing further came over the radio.  No vehicles came from the interior of the base, no word at all.  After about two hours of keeping an increasingly restive group of truck drivers and an even more restive group of civilians parked at our gate I go the word that it was all Clear.  We could undress and start traffic moving again.  This pretty much happened as our shift ended so we left.  It turns out that a helicopter came in from Iraq and as it was landing all of the chemical detector around the airfield went off at once.  For a mustard agent.
Now the interesting thing is that when the word came in there was a “confirmed Mustard agent” you would think I would get scared.  But I didn’t.  I remember going “OH SHIT!”  but then it was all work.  How to get the gate sealed and get my guys into MOPP as fast and efficiently as possible.  I remember standing there in the gate watching my guys get into their gear and wondering if someone was going to try and rush the gate while it was going on and if I was going to suddenly feel a burning sensation in my eyes and lungs.  But I wasn’t scared.  I guess the training actually worked.
We never did hear why the chemical detectors all went off.  I have kept that in mind all the time I heard about “No Weapons of Mass Destruction.”

But let me tell you, those words confirmed chemical agent are words you NEVER EVER want to hear.

Addendum.  I read my journal after writing this.  This event actually took place the first night I was on gate duty.  We were in MOPP suits for 1 hour not two.  Otherwise, it is as I told it.

27 December 2005

Holiday discovery.....

What did I learn over the holiday? Well, a variety of things actually, but one of the more interesting is that a Sawzall is an amazingly effective tool for dismembering a body. It will cut right through the bones and flesh and unlike say a circular saw it has a relatively slow blade so there isn't a lot of gore sprayed around during the cutting. The blade is also easily removed for cleaning.

I'll leave you to make a guess at what kind of holiday I had from that. After guesses are made, maybe I'll give some more details.....
(or maybe I'll move to Costa Rica.)

23 December 2005

Thoughts on "Moslem culture"

I went to eat tonight with my family at a restaurant in Savannah Georgia called The Casbah, a Moroccan restaurant. The food is excellent, if you find yourself in Savannah go and give it a try.
But the point to this is in relation to the prevailing myth of some sort of universal "Moslem Culture". As I was sitting in the restaurant watching the belly dancer I couldn't help but wonder what reaction the bearded Warlords and Mullahs of Afghanistan would have to seeing that? Belly dancing certainly doesn't fit into the now common perception of how Moslems think does it?

21 December 2005

Oh well....

I had a variety of "burning issues" that could bear discussing. The governmental wiretapping of US citizens, elections in Iraq, a young man who as "exploited" to the turn of hundreds of thousands of dollars, (that is money he got by being "exploited", and more like all of these. Instead , I have a call for more war stories. Guess I have been too serious lately or something. Way back in July I posted about my first night in Kuwait. Rain-in-dessert I think I'll talk about the reception we got at Camp Udari Kuwait.
After a day at the Kuwaiti International Airport Two companies from our battalion were loaded on busses to get shipped out to Camp Udari. Udari is a tent city in the middle of nowhere just south of the Iraqi border. IT was a long bus ride in un airconditioned Kuwaiti busses. We got there after dark and were promptly split up. It seems A company, the interrogators, was going to be attached to an Active duty MI battalion for the war and H company (LRSA) was going to sit around with nothing to do. So we settled into a big tent as best we could in the dark without much light (this was early in the war and light control was still being enforced). The next morning we were called together to meet the Commander of the Active duty company we were attached to. He brought us in to a little clearing, sat us down and said, "I don't know why you are here. I didn't ask for you, I don't want you, and I have nothing for you to do. Any of you that speak Arabic MAY, no promises buy you MAY get called forward. The rest of you stay here, stay out of trouble, and don't bother us."
Needless to say none of us were excited. Activated, called off to war, taken from our jobs and lives to be told to sit down, shut up, don't bother us.
That pretty much set the tone for my time in Kuwait. A few of us did eventually get set to Camp Bucca near Basra, a couple of others got hooked to some other units and sent up to Baghdad. I spent a fair amount of time driving in convoys and a week on guard duty there at the camp. Exciting times.
In the upcoming days I will tell tales of the convoy (when I should have been killed) and the Guard duty, (in which I heard some fo the most terrifying words of my life. At least in retrospect, at the time I was too busy to be properly scared.)

Hope eveyone is getting their gift buying done, Christmas is near for those who celebrate it and for those who don't, well, have a good time too.

17 December 2005


In a bit of unabashed theft I steal this from Mental Meanderings :
“I'm confident the president knows who the source is. I'd be amazed if he doesn't. … So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.”
This according to a CBS news story.

Novak is the first and primary person who should be asked about the leak. After all, he is the one who wrote about it. This kind of bullshit statement simply illuminates the arrogance of the talking heads of today's MSM. People like Novak, in their opinion, are above reproach and scrutiny. Their actions can not be questioned, so don't bother us is their attitude.

I would have to say I agree there. Novak is moving over to FOX News too. After his swearing incident on CNN they haven't put him on the air so he is moving. Good riddence.

In an almost related issue, a few men of principal allied with a lot of men who just want to keep President Bush from doing anything at all, kept the so called U.S. Patriot Act from becoming permanent. Three cheers for them all. This miserable violation of civil rights for "security" needs to be killed. Hopefully the anti forces will remain firm and the pro forces will remain intractable so no compromise will be reached and the whole thing will just die. (Wishfull thinking I know, but I can dream)

15 December 2005


I was watching the one of the morning shows today for some strange reason. (the one with Katie Couric whichever channel that is)nad they were making a big deal over some survey done by New York Magazine with 100 teens and 100 parents of teens. (not the same kids parents) The survey was about sex (no big surprise there huh)
Now there were some answers in there that could be cause for concern. But the one that the hosts were making a BIG deal about was "Have you ever had a sexual conversation on the internet with a stranger?" 25% of the teens said yes. 3% of the parents thought their kids had. This was of greater concern to these hosts than the fact that 29% had sexual intercourse without a condom, 61% had received oral sex, 51% performed oral sex, (who's giving that extra 10%?), and 55% had had intercourse.
Now maybe it is just me but I think all of those are a bit more important than if the kid has a chat with someone in outer slobonia "of a sexual nature". Of even greater concern might be the 15% who take pictures while having sex, and the 7% who have had someone else watching while they had sex.
But hey, the INTERNET (insert creepy sound effects) is the big thing. oooooooo.

Here is a link to the survey. Survey

13 December 2005

Saudi Arabia

I subscribe to a little e-newsletter from the Saudi Embassy called AboutSaudiArabia.net. I periodically get emails from them with current events in Saudi Arabia. It is pretty much a propaganda arm of the Saudi Embassy trying to show how much they support the US and oppose terrorism and such.
Altogether though, it is a fairly interesting little news blurb.
The latest issue I got started off with this sentence
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz had called for the meeting to discuss what the OIC can do to end extremist teachings and to promote awareness about the true ideals of Islam -– peace, tolerance and moderation.

Now if Saudi Arabia was REALLY interested in ending "extremist teachings" they would promptly stop funding the Wahabist Sect of Islam. This particular little group exports it's extremist conservative views around the world with money supplied by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. The Wahabists found Madrassas all over the world to teach their style of Islam. They are particularlyy active in places like Pakistan, in the Afghan refugee camps, and in Bosnia. Now they do some good too, they supply food and shelter for refugees and all of that, but in the process they teach an extremely fundamentalist view of Islam much like that of the Taliban in Afghanistan. (of which many of it's leaders studied in Wahabist madrassas in PK. They are sitting in Bosnia which used to be (and for the most part still is) a very secular Moslem state, but the schools this group sets up teach fundamentalism, intolerance, and extremism.
I'll believe the Saudi Royal family really wants to help when they start to reign this little(?) group of maniacs in. But it won't happen, the Wahabists are the dominant sect in Saudi Arabia, they are the reason for all those sharia law things there. For the Religious police that will beat a woman who is improperly dressed, or that forced girls back into a burning school because they weren't veiled when they came out. (note: the Saudi government denies this happened, witnesses and survivors say it did)
Oh well, just my comment for the day, if any Royal Saudi's read this, let me know when you are going to really step up to the plate.

12 December 2005

Tookie Williams again....

Well, the governor said no so it appears that Mr. Williams will die tonight. I am curious to see if riots break out when it happens. Rumors are circulating to that effect although some community leaders are calling for calm. We shall see.......

10 December 2005


I forgot to put my link to something just plain weird yesterday.
so, Here it isJust weird.
Do not click this link if you are easily unsettled or get offended when strange things are done to the bodies of innocent dead animals.
Otherwise, have fun.......

09 December 2005

A variety of interesting things.....

Well, enough direct politics for awhile. Here are some sites and things of interest, humor, or just plain weird.

The first is the site of yet another Zombie. This one hangs out in San Francisco and takes pictures of political rallies and posts them along with commentary of what he see. It is pretty interesting.

The Robo raptor this wonderfull little toy is a dinosaur that will wander around your house. Mostly radio controlled but descriptions make it seem like it will wander on it's own. I can just imagine the chaos that would ensue if it were turned loose in a house full of cats and put into "Hunter" mode. Especially if it would track and follow moving objects. In my house the cats would panic and flee, one of the dogs would kill it pretty quick, but it would still be fun. Unfortunately it is considerably less capable than one would hope judging from the reviews found HERE

Here is an interesting blog on Afghanistan. The first post you will find, (at least until she updates)involves What to do if the Taliban come knocking

Here is a neat biology site with cool pictures of bugs and similar creepy crawlies.The Urban Dragon Hunters Learn about strange things that probably live in your house and yard.

And here is a site that is just Damn Interesting. It is a collection of strange and interesting facts and stories. Learn something new every day.

You know, I probably shouldn't be posting these, I am giving away the source to many future posts. But hey, I can still do that because most people are to busy/lazy to follow up on all the fun sites out there.

08 December 2005



Ok, here is an issue I am torn on.  Tookie Williams.  Awhile ago on Bluegirl in a Red State’s blog she made a comment about this and then wondered why no one commented on it.  I hadn’t because I knew nothing of it.  Now I know something.

Tookie Williams is about to get executed in California.  A more deserving candidate for death is in many ways harder to find.  He is one of the founders of the Crips gang.  AS such he is in many ways responsible for multiple deaths through direct killings and innumerable deaths from drug use, prostitution, and who knows what else.  He set up and ran an organization that has destroyed thousands of lives across the country.  He was sentenced to death for killing a few people in a robbery.
So, why is there any question about his execution?  It has to do what he has done since then.  From prison he has set up a very active anti gang organization.  One that actually seems to accomplish something unlike most groups like this.  He has written books, given speeches (via phone) been very active in trying to change and destroy the organization that he helped found.  

There was a time in my life when I would have said tough.  He did the crap so he must pay.  I still believe in the death penalty, I think there are people that deserve to die.  I have become convinced in many ways that he perhaps is not one of them.  Why?  Because I personally believe in redemption.  I guess this has a lot to do with my personal issues in the legal issues.  I have become convinced (probably for personal selfish reasons) that no person should have his or her life destroyed for one action.  I am not willing to say Mr. Williams should be set free, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and keep him alive for now.

05 December 2005

Blog stats....

Not that any of you really care but I think it is interesting.
IN November I had 194 visitors to this blog. My biggest month was Sept. with 224. You 194 visitors looked at 646 pages on my blog. Weds, got the most visits last month, Saturdays garnered the least.
57% of the people who visited me last month used Explorer, 36% used Firefox,5% used Safari. 2% used AOL. (I also had one visitor who used Opera, and one who used Mozilla)
82% of the visitors were from the US, 8% are "unknown", 3% each for Canada and Australia. I also had visits from the UK, Chile, Denmark, New Zealand, and Mexico. ( I know that I had visitors from Afghanistan too but they seem to have fallen into the unknown category) Visitors cities are many and varied including such places as Cathedral city, Ephrata, and Tomball. (who knows where these are without looking them up???? Not I.)
I got the most pages views out of California, the most visitors out of North Carolina. (Well, actually I go the most from "other" but.....)NC followed closely by Texas and California. I also got a visitor from Ringkobing. Wherever that is.
70% of the visitors use Windows XP, 22% Windows 98, 7% are OSX users, the rest, NT.(no Linux, interesting....)
In November there were 54 clicks on my googol ads and I made $11.04, this brings me to a grand total so far of $40.24. I am still less than halfway to the magic $100 when I get a check. (doesn't help that in October I brought in a grand total of $2.51.)

It is clear that I am not becoming one of the massive shaper of public opinion blogs nor will the blog make me rich. (sigh....) but it seems to be doing fairly well.

02 December 2005

Torture 101

Torture 101.

I was recently asked to go to a politically left leaning blog type thing and join a discussion on torture.  The reason for this is that I have repeatedly stated my opposition to the use of torture by interrogators and the lady who invited me wanted me to weigh in against those who were proposing the “ticking bomb” rational for using it.  I went to the blog and read the initial post and some of the comments.  I decided not to post there for a few reasons.  One reason being that I have no credibility there.  The conservatives would view me as a liberal poser and the libs would see me as one of them in hiding.  Also, there were already almost 200 comments and I felt it was too late to join the discussion and do any good.  I did bookmark the site and will go back and probably join the discussions.  I may become one of the rightwing “trolls” that were causing the problems.  We shall see.

That being said I have decided to address the issue of torture and why I am opposed to it in practical terms as an interrogator.

First, I was an army interrogator.  I never did anything that I would consider to be torture.  I have though, studied the history of the art of interrogation.  (And it is an Art, some people can do it, some can’t)  In that study I included the history of torture.  I have learned things that can curdle the brain.  More than once I have stopped a conversation cold and left other interrogators staring at me.  Quoth one of them, “You know WAY too much about this stuff.”  (Bonus points for anyone who can tell me why you want to hang the person upside down if you are going to skin them alive.)  Historically the torturer was a skilled job position.  It took training and experience and good ones were sought after.  Why you ask?  Well, anyone can torture.  But it takes skill to do so and keep the subject alive long enough to get the information you want from them.
What is torture?  This is not a facetious question but a very important one.   Surprisingly enough, it is not a question with an easy answer.  It is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as the infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.  In practical terms every country on earth defines what is and is not torture differently.  I know that what was considered legal for British interrogators to do would have gotten me arrested.  I personally do not consider most of what went on at Abu Ghraib torture.  Stripping people may be humiliating but it isn’t torture in my book.  I have personally seen the results of real torture.  That wasn’t it.  I am not going to go into torture techniques.  The information on that is available for anyone that really wants to find it.

Torture is morally, ethically, and (in the US and the civilized world) legally wrong.  There are no ifs ands or buts about it.  It is banned by international law, by treaties which the Presidents of the US have signed and the Senate has ratified, the Constitution forbids “cruel and unusual” punishment and torture surely falls under that category.  So it would seem to be a moot point.  The debate is already answered.  But humans being what we are we continually try to finagle our way around rules that inconvenience us.  People keep thinking “Well, in this case surely it is ok.”  

So why do I oppose the use of torture?  Well, first of all, it isn’t a very reliable way to get accurate information.  I know this flies in the face of every Rambo film and every episode of 24 but the sad fact is, torture just doesn’t work as a RELIABLE method.  Why not you ask?  Because, torture is designed to coerce the subject into talking.  And, often, the subject will.  In fact if you apply sufficient pain the subject will tell you whatever you want to hear.  That is the problem.  They will tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily the truth.  A professional interrogator is not looking to prove a point; he is looking for the truth.

Those who choose to pull out the great “ticking bomb” excuse have a few good points.  There may come a time when circumstances will require you to do things that you would not otherwise do to save a great many lives.  The problem with this of course is finding the right person to torture to find the bomb.  You get info that a bomb plot is on, and you start rounding up suspects.  How do you know who is important, who knows about the bomb.  If you follow the “ticking bomb makes torture ok” theory, then you begin torturing everyone.   And people begin talking, some of them maybe telling the truth, some of them telling you what you want to hear.  And who is going to be talking?  The highly trained and motivated Al Qaeda terrorist cell leader or the low level flunky who knows nothing but will tell you anything?  Here is a secret; Intel is very time sensitive, especially ticking bombs.  The motivated, trained, skilled, cell leader knows exactly when the bomb is going to go off, thus he knows exactly how long he has to resist before it becomes irrelevant.  This makes resistance a lot easier.  He knows when the pain is going to end.  The guys who know nothing are scared, confused, suffering, and have no idea what is going on.  Combine that with no resistance training and they will confess to ANYTHING as soon as it becomes clear that their protestations of ignorance aren’t going to be accepted.  Thus false information begins to cloud the picture fast.  So while the ticking bomb scenario is the best rationale for torture, it is also one of the least productive times.  If you don’t get lucky with the right guy and the right situation, it just becomes pointless.
I could give some situations where torture may be effective but I’m not going to.  At least not now. These situations would be rare and even then I don’t think torture would be the best option.

The other reason of course that torture should be avoided is because we are supposed to be the civilized ones in this war.  The US has always had the higher standards.  Now is not the time to lower them.  Just because the enemy creeps in the slime and does inhuman things, does not mean we should.