Friday, July 02, 2004


For setting the European precedent.
The group that claimed responsibility for the Madrid train bombings warned European nations that they have only two weeks to withdraw troops from Iraq or face the consequences, a pan-Arab newspaper reported Friday.

The statement run by the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper referred to a 90-day cease-fire for attacks in Europe that the leader of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, declared on April 15.

"To the European people: only few days remain for you to accept the truce offered by bin Laden. Otherwise you will have nobody but yourself to blame," the paper quoted the statement as saying.

The paper said it had received a statement from the "Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri (al-Qaida)," the group which claimed responsibility for the March 11 train bombings in Madrid that killed about 200 people.

In the April 15 audio tape, bin Laden gave Europeans three months to withdraw their troops from what he called the countries of the Muslim nation. Bin Laden warned against any "aggression" against countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan.


One of them, anyway.
The rise of a secular, democratic Iraq could pose a threat to Iran's Shi'ite clerical establishment, which fears it would serve as a powerful model for moderate Iranians who seek change, clerics said.

Many senior clerics are particularly concerned about any shift in the center of gravity within Shi'ite Islam away from Iran's holy city of Qom, from which clerics wield immense political authority, toward Najaf in neighboring Iraq.

And it only took two days since I asked the question.
Baghdad's decision to re-establish the death penalty ahead of the war-crimes trial of Saddam Hussein evoked a mixed reaction in Europe, recalling the split across the continent over the war that toppled the Iraqi leader.

Germany and France, two of the most vocal anti-war opponents, strongly stated their opposition - without exception - to the death penalty and called on Iraqi authorities to ensure Saddam a fair trial.

In Berlin, the government's top human-rights official, Claudia Roth, criticized Baghdad's move to reinstate capital punishment, which was suspended during the U.S. occupation.

"To start out this way does not send a good signal," Roth told The Associated Press. "I think it would have been a signal of democratic strength had they not reinstated the death penalty in Iraq."

Leave it to Reuters to be first on the street with this headline.
Some Iraqis want Saddam freed
At a local coffee shop in downtown Baghdad, 50-year-old el-Hajj Hassan said his heart raced when he saw Saddam on television.

Saddam Hussein sits inside courtroom, Thursday
Mr. Hassan says this is a "historic" day for all the people of Iraq, and he says he feels very happy to see Saddam in what he called, "the cage" - meaning the defendant's chair. Mr. Hassan says Saddam crossed all the lines of humanity in his harsh treatment of the Iraqi people, and he should be punished for it.

(S)ince the handover of power, U.S. soldiers have seen improvements and enthusiasm among their Iraqi counterparts -- the security forces intended to take over so U.S. forces can go home.

They say that the Iraqis are showing greater pride and initiative under a sovereign government than under the U.S.-led occupation, even though the U.S. military remains in charge of security.

Lt. Col. Mohammed Faiq Raoof, commander of the 303rd Battalion of the Iraqi national guard, is increasing the number of patrols his men conduct.

"I want to show people that we are in power now," he told his U.S. commander during their weekly lunch, the first since Monday's transfer of power.

Raoof said Iraqi civilians seem to be taking pride in their security forces.

"Today, while on patrol, I saw people on the street clapping for them and smiling," he said. "The people are happy to see the Iraqi national guard."

When some Iraqi troops balked at carrying out combat operations in April against insurgents in Fallujah, questions arose about the reliability of Iraqi forces. Since then, however, Iraqi troops in the Baghdad area have repeatedly fought insurgents.

The Baghdad Diet is all the rage.

She is optimistic. She pokes a finger in the UN's eye. She is a she.
Iraq's ambassador-designate to the United States, Rend al-Rahim, says Iraqis have high hopes after the United States turned over formal sovereignty this week to a new government in Baghdad.

Al-Rahim says that for nearly a decade and a half, the UN Security Council passed one resolution after another about Iraq. During this period, she says Iraq lacked an authentic face or voice to present to the international community for the simple reason that the government of Saddam Hussein was discredited.

Now that sovereignty has been returned, she says Iraqis can begin to feel that their government has a real commitment to them.

Al-Rahim refers to Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's priority of combating terrorism and promoting security: "In a way, Iraq has become terrorism's last stand. I'm sorry it has had to be Iraq, but I think this is where terrorism is going to be defeated, and this is why we must devote all our resources to confronting it."
Decked out with hand grenades, daggers, a walkie-talkie, binoculars and an AK-47, and with a chubby plastic head topped by a beret with a skull badge, the doll dances to the Hippy Hippy Shake when turned on.

"It's funny, isn't it?" Mustapha al-Kadamy, a young father,said as he browsed through a toy store in the wealthy Mansoor district and prepared to buy one of the dancing dolls.

"Tomorrow Saddam will go before an Iraqi judge, and so today is a good day to make fun of him: We need to be able to smile after all the horrible things he's done to us."
A large Iraqi flag flapping on his Soviet-era jeep, 1st Lt. Shehab Abdul-Jabbar led an Iraqi National Guard patrol down Baghdad's heavily commercial Karrada Street. As he passed, merchants and shoppers smiled and waved their greetings. "Way to go," one man shouted from behind the small charcoal stove where he was grilling a splayed fish for lunch.

"People are comfortable with this," said Abdul-Jabbar, 38, an officer freshly minted from a U.S.-provided training course for the 35,000-man paramilitary force designed to bring internal security to Iraq.

The Iraqi guardsmen -- venturing out for the last several days in their own vehicles and flying the Iraqi flag conspicuously -- have found a warm welcome from most residents, some of whom have showered them with chocolates. Judging by their comments on seeing Abdul-Jabbar's patrol come by Thursday, Baghdadis seem relieved to see their own soldiers taking over from U.S. occupation troops after nearly 15 months of foreign domination and violent disorder.

"It's the best thing that could happen," said Bilal Ismail, 34, a taxi driver who had just been stopped at a checkpoint and patted down by Abdul-Jabbar's men.

The eagerness to see Iraqis back in charge of the streets of Baghdad suggested that replacing U.S. soldiers with Iraqis could go a long way toward reducing popular resentment directed at the U.S. military presence here.
According to Post, when he spoke about the criminal being President Bush, Saddam emphasized, "I am an actor on the world stage. I am talking to the world. And I am going to persuade the world forcibly. I am in charge of Iraq. This is illegitimate, and my radical Arab followers should applaud my courage in still defying the West."
(Dream sequence...imagining this rant going on unchecked...)

I am in charge.
I am the Tooth Fairy.
I am the Easter Bunny.
I am the Beta and the Ypsilon.
I am the walrus.
I am your worst nightmare.
I am Sam, Sam I am.
I am one poor correspondent.
I am my own wife.
I am all out of love, I'm so lost without you.
I am better than you.
I am hungry.
I am not only the founder of Hairclub for men, I am also a client.
I am thoroughly modern Millie.
I am the very model of a modern major general.
I am I said, to no one there.
I am the cheese.
I am the morning DJ on WOLD.
I am not an animal!
I am woman, hear me roar.
I am a rock.
I am not a crook.
I am Weasel!
I am he and you are me and we are all together.
I am considering bankruptcy.
I am not a witch, I am NOT a witch.
I am opposed to mandatory helmet laws.
I am curious - Yellow.
I am a little teapot, short and stout.
I am expecting.
I am what I am.
I am totally devoted to you.
I am a proud friend of Israel.
I am stuck on 12 across, a seven letter word beginning with d meaning "no longer in charge".
I am so not kidding about this.
I am just a shadow of my former self.
I am an alcoholic.
I am not yours.
I am a Boxer.
I am not a multi-level marketing scheme.
I am not going to pay a lot for a desktop computer.
I am a fugitive from a chain gang.
I am concerned about the long term effects of Creatine.
I am the Central Park Jogger.
I am fit to be tied.
I am da BOMB.
I am currently accepting applications for first officer.
I am ready to be my own boss.
I am a Frank Zappa fan.
I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told.
I am unable to answer the phone at the moment.
I am mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more.
I am SO screwed.
I am a babbling idiot.
I am a nut job.

Perhaps its because of a lingering fear of THE POWER I haven't mentioned much about the preparations going on around here to be ready for the return of the 1st Brigade.

About 150 Soldiers have already returned...they are the so-called Advance Party...sent back to do things to ease the arrival of the main body.

I work on Ray Barracks in Friedberg...(Army home to Elvis back in '59-'60.) It is a fairly small piece of real estate, fenced off from the rest of Germany...our own little part of the world that is part German, part American in flavor. Some of the buildings that serve as barracks or headquarters actually date back to the 2d World War.

Being the home of this brigade, a part of the 1st Armor Division, this post is decorated with at least five different US Tanks (also WWII era) plus an Iraqi tank captured during the Desert Storm. We have lots of fencing here, because the tank units and the mechanized infantry units require pretty good space to park their tanks and their infantry fighting vehicles (when they are here!). These fences surround these parking areas...and have proven to be handy for the zillions of welcome home banners and yellow ribbons and flags that are springing up every day.

This morning I noted that the workers who normally look after the physical plant of the installation were hanging US and German flags from lamp posts all over the installation. The flags are mounted vertically, attached to a rod across the top (short) edge of the flag.

Perhaps it is just me but that way of displaying the flag strikes me as rather German or European or something. Nonetheless, all these flags add a certain continuity of special dressing-up to the whole place.

And then there are the banners. Hundreds of them, so far. Hung along the fences at each unit's motor pool. Some are store bought...some were designed by spouses but professionally printed, and some are hand painted or spray paint on bedsheets. Each to one's own level of artistic ability for sure.

OH...and I don't want to forget the "plastic cup art". I'd never seen this before but now we have American flags and yellow riboons, even a 1st Armor Division patch on the fences, made entirely from plastic cups. (See here if you've no idea what in the blue heck I'm talking about. Our are made from the Solo plastic cups one can buy at the grocery...not these special ones from this company.)

The parade field has been recently mowed. And every curb, parking lot stipe, even rocks serving as markers for this or that, all of these are newly painted courtesy of the rear-detachment soldiers who for whatever reason did not deploy to Iraq.

Out the back gate is the largest yellow ribbon bow I've ever seen. It is easily 15 feet across, at least 12 feet tall.

Small American flags seemingly have been attached to nearly every fence post, plus nearly any other stationary object on post. Where do these come from? In most cases they come from a couple of motivated spouses who have invested their time and money to make it look as it ought to look for Soldiers returning after 14 months.

We're getting close.

I won't mention the specific date I'm expecting my darling wife home...I'm still too superstitious.

I'll just say "soon". Not soon enough. But soon.

Everybody...this is Holly. Holly, this is everybody.

Holly is my friend and neighbor (note: don't get confused...her husband's name is Tim...)

I talk to Holly frequently in the little green space that serves as the common front yard to our little apartment complex. Talking to Holly helps me to keep my situation in perspective.

See...her Tim is also downrange. She is here, with her four children...whom she home schools...

Anyway...brave woman, who has just started her own blog (where DOES she get the time???)

She calls it "Household 6". You can read why at her place.

You might enjoy her relating the business of awaiting the soldiers' return to being 9 months pregnant
I would also like to venture that it is a lot like being pregnant. Stick with me here a second guys...

I have told my husband many times that the L-d knew women had to be preggers for a full nine months because before that you aren't totally willing to go through labor but by the end... That last month is soooooooooo long! It seems like you will never have that baby. Everyone keeps inquiring after your health and due date, and as you get closer the looks and words of sympathy start. You haven't had that baby yet???

And while the pregnant mum appreciates the thought she also is just as likely to strangle you for asking again!! She of all people knows shes STILL pregnant and wants it done.
How about drop by and encourage the new gal on the blog.

Day 418 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, one month, three weeks, three days.

She told me on the phone the other night about this daydream she had...that she returned home, we went down town to the Last Minute Vacation Travel Agency, and booked a series of vacations...each 2 days long. Spanish beaches, French chateau country, Tuscany...

She said "I was thinking of this because I think we have a lot of catching up to do...we've missed an awful lot of weekends..."

Yes, darling...we have. A lot of weekends...a lot of life.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

A nervous and thinner Saddam Hussein appeared before an Iraqi judge yesterday — insisting he's still president even though he was facing genocide charges that could result in his execution.

Dressed in a gray Arab gown, the deposed dictator and 11 of his lieutenants held their first meeting with Salem Chalabi, head of the tribunal that will try them for war crimes, as Iraq formally took legal custody over their case.

At the high-security U.S. jail cell at Baghdad International Airport where he will be held until trial, Saddam greeted Chalabi and aides with a "cold 'good morning,' " Chalabi said.

Then summoning his infamous pride, Saddam proclaimed, "I am Saddam Hussein al-Majid, president of the Republic of Iraq," The Times of London reported.

During the five-minute meeting, Saddam remained seated while everyone else stood, in a display of disdain.
Despite Saddam's haughty and defiant demeanor, Chalabi told ABC News that the man in the jail cell was a shadow of the fearsome Butcher of Baghdad that Iraqis were accustomed to seeing.

"He had lost weight. He was not the towering figure that we used to see on TV before. He was nervous — physically nervous — because he did not know what was happening," Chalabi told ABC.

Saddam tried to ask questions but was told more information would be forthcoming today at his formal arraignment.

Video of today's dramatic court session will be televised to demonstrate that the days of Saddam are truly over.
Adnan said he would definitely watch if the trial is televised, as officials have promised.

"It should be entertaining, I'll laugh about him," Adnan said. Then he paused and added, "It's not in my nature to gloat over someone's (misfortune)."

Asked if Saddam should be executed, Adnan said no -- that would "only give him relief. It would be better if he is jailed; let him try what thousands of us have gone through."

But Adnan's mother, Fatma Ahmed interrupted: "I wish I could kill him with my own hands."

"He didn't have mercy on a mother, an old man. He is a despot, the biggest despot, Iraq will be much better without him," said Ahmed, 43.

Millions of other Iraqis understand well what Adnan is talking about. No punishment for Saddam can bring back the thousands of fathers, sons, sisters, daughters and mothers who died in torture chambers, on the streets of dusty Kurdish villages or on the battlefields in Iran.
The U.S. military said yesterday an initial investigation found that an air attack near the Syrian border last month hit a legitimate military target, despite claims by Iraqi survivors and police who said it was a wedding party.

The attack on May 19 killed more than 40 people, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said the target was a suspected safehouse for foreign fighters from Syria.

A third of a million people turn out to demonstrate for their own democracy in Hong Kong.

This leads me to conclude that democracy is a precious thing to those who don't have it or to those who believe they may lose it.

Notably, I don't see reports of sympathetic demonstrations on behalf of Hong Kong in other democracies around the world.

Just as I don't see a whole lot assistance in the establishment of a democracy in Iraq by those in Europe who less than 65 years ago were, themselves, subjects of a megalomaniacal dictatorial, murderous tyrant.
According to organizers, 350,000 marchers turned out for a demonstration in Hong Kong Thursday to voice their aspirations for greater political freedom.
Why are so many who enjoy the blessings of liberty so cavalier about those who don't share those blessings?

Hey, I've been alerted that the CPT Patti site gets a mention in American Thunder magazine.

Anybody see it? Got a copy to spare?

Heh heh...
“But, that day (about 9 a.m. on June 7) there were a lot of people gathering at this checkpoint and it was very busy. So, I was asked to search some men, too,” said (PFC Jessica) Nicholson.

“While other soldiers were searching a car, the driver had stepped out of the car and I was searching the driver. He didn’t have any weapons on his person,” she said...

During the second search, the soldier spotted a grenade hidden behind the visor on the driver’s side. The soldier shouted, “Grenade!”

“I immediately got the man down on the ground, face down, and I remember pressing his face into a sandbag,” Nicholson said.

She continued to hold him down until other soldiers came over and zip-cuffed the man...

“I really don’t remember exactly how I got him on the ground, but it was practically instantaneous,” she said, blushing. “I don’t remember the details of putting him down. I just remember, suddenly, I had him down on the ground with his face pressed into a sandbag and I kept holding him there.”

She said the man then started crying and someone said he might have been embarrassed because it was a shame for a man in Iraq to get beat up by a woman...

Asked the size of the Iraqi man, she said, “He was about my height, but heavier. I would say he was a little out of shape.”
(Thanks to Bobby Sr. for the link.)
Up to 5,600 IRR soldiers from all over the United States will get a warning mailgram starting next week, followed within days by formal activation orders that give the individual 30 days to report to his or her mobilization station, Robert Smiley told Pentagon reporters Wednesday.

Smiley, who is principal assistant for training, readiness and mobilization in the Army's Office of Manpower and Reserve Affairs, said the Army is working to fill 4,402 spaces in units bound for the third rotation to Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom 3) and the sixth rotation to Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom 6), both of which are due to start later this summer.

The IRR soldiers will spend about 30 days at a basic training site, where their basic soldiering skills will undergo evaluation and training will be supplied to fill shortfalls, Smiley said.

From there, the soldiers will be sent to their new units for unit training before the deployment begins.

Wow! This thing has taken off...I'm getting photos in (Thanks!) and I was up until midnight last night working on getting the pictures ready. At midnight I quit because of the time, not because I was finished.

The end result of this is going to be sort of like CPT Patti's own personal billboard welcoming her back to our humble little apartment.

I got famous faces, faces of strangers, faces of CPT Patti readers, faces of family members...and I've got include "Hey Everybody...Look Who Is Home!",

"Wow...You Look Terrific!"

"Have you lost weight?"

"Hey...What's with all the SAND?"

"Definite Bond Girl Material" (this one goes with the Sean Connery face...)

I'd still love to add your face to the mix (I'm marking all the readers faces specially so she will know.)

And I'll be happy to entertain your suggestions for witty comments to add to the project.

And certainly...I'll do my best to get a picture of the finished product and post it here for you to see.

This is fun!

This is day 417 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, one month, three weeks, two days.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I just got a note from Mike the film maker whose Gunner Palace film is still seeking distribution.

Be certain to watch CNN's news night with Aaron Brown and catch a glimpse. (Note: I suspect Mike's reference to 4:00 a.m. means Europe time...might that convert to 10:00 p.m. EDT in the USA?0
CNN News Night with Aaron Brown will air a five minute story about Gunner Palace tonight at 0400 Thursday morning.

I have no idea of how the story will be, hopefully lots of stuff about the soldiers. The interview was a little emotional... it hit me how much I've gotten to know these guys.

Hoping it shows a different--at least unique-perspective of Baghdad.

On other fronts, expect to hear about a deal soon. people have
responded well to the film: about 70% for; 30% against.
Brokaw: Prime minister, I’m surprised that you would make the connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. The 9/11 commission in America says there is no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and those terrorists of al-Qaida.

Allawi: No. I believe very strongly that Saddam had relations with al-Qaida. And these relations started in Sudan. We know Saddam had relationships with a lot of terrorists and international terrorism. Now, whether he is directly connected to the September — atrocities or not, I can’t — vouch for this. But definitely I know he has connections with extremism and terrorists.
(via The Corner)

Squirrel Steals Yellow Ribbons From Tree

You'll want to read this Marine Reservist/Professional Columnist critique of the Iraqi war coverage. Very enlightening.

(via Instapundit)

So...millions of Americans are flocking to see Farenheit 9/11, Michael Moore's version of the truth. Doubtless you have encountered those who believe he speaks with authority and keen insight when he opines about President Bush.

But has it ever occurred to you to ask what Michael Moore thinks of you?

You should.

Here is a sampling of him speaking to Europeans about you, me, and by association, every American (apparently exempting himself as the Diogenistic truth-arbiter).
Like Hemingway, Moore does his boldest thinking while abroad. For example, it was during an interview with the British paper the Mirror that Moore unfurled what is perhaps the central insight of his oeuvre, that Americans are kind of crappy.

"They are possibly the dumbest people on the planet ... in thrall to conniving, thieving smug [pieces of the human anatomy]," Moore intoned. "We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing."

It transpires that Europeans are quite excited to hear this supple description of the American mind. And Moore has been kind enough to crisscross the continent, speaking to packed lecture halls, explicating the general vapidity and crassness of his countrymen. "That's why we're smiling all the time," he told a rapturous throng in Munich. "You can see us coming down the street. You know, 'Hey! Hi! How's it going?' We've got that big [expletive] grin on our face all the time because our brains aren't loaded down."
I'm thinking you might want to read the rest.

Here it is.

I want to see how long it takes before this is cited as a reason by European nations to continue to not help Iraq to its feet.
Iraq's interim government has decided to reinstate the death penalty and offer an amnesty to Iraqis who do not have their countrymen's blood on their hands, President Ghazi al-Yawar has been quoted as saying.

Asharq al-Awsat newspaper said Yawar, speaking just after Monday's handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government, also said Iraq will reinstate a 1960s "national security law".

The decisions were taken directly after Monday's ceremony and will be formally issued in the "near future", he said.

Yawar said the death penalty would be reinstated "but with rules which comply with the norms in most countries of the world". It would apply to a limited number of crimes including rape, kidnapping, murder and terrorism.

The death penalty was suspended by the U.S. ex-administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer.
Geez...ya gotta wonder of ol' Saddam is longing for the good ol' days when Mr. Bremer was in charge...heh, heh, heh.
NATO's decision to help train Iraq's armed forces set off wrangling among the allies Tuesday as more differences emerged between the French and Americans on how to best help Baghdad's new government.

At a summit designed to emphasize NATO's unity, France and the United States also clashed over Afghanistan and Turkey's relations with the European Union.

French President Jacques Chirac stated his forceful opposition to any collective NATO presence on the ground in Iraq.

"It would be dangerous, counterproductive and misunderstood by the Iraqis, who after all deserve a little bit of respect," Chirac said.

American officials insisted the training program should be a centralized operation under a NATO command in Iraq, although they accepted that reluctant countries such as France and Germany could limit their contribution to training outside the country.

With all allies stressing the urgency of sending help to the fledgling Iraqi forces, the debate on how NATO puts its agreement into practice is expected to start when envoys from the alliance meet Thursday in Brussels.
Dangerous, Mr. Chirac? Certainly. But the US forces are no strangers to that, Sir. And frankly, Sir, somethings are worth making an effort that is neither easy nor entirely safe.

Counterproductive, Mr. Chirac? Ya got me on that one. I fail to see how NATO's on-site assistance to the world's most nascent democracy could be counterproductive to anything but your political career, since you staked your position in the wrong corner on this issue.

Misunderstood by the Iraqis Mr. Chirac? Frankly, Sir, I find that assertion to be just the sort of pompous, insulting elitism we've come to expect from you. Are you implying the concepts involved here are too complex for the Iraqis comprehension? Is this a nation of simpletons, Sir, who cannot contextually understand assistance from the one alliance in the world that has built its reputation on the support of liberty and democracy? Are we to understand the French motto of "Liberty, Brotherhood and Equality" does not apply to people trying now to lift themselves up by their own bootstraps, Mr. Chirac?

Sir, you are, and apparently will remain always, a weasel.

Just wanted to let you I peruse the hundreds of headlines today I am struck by the astonishinly negative tone applied to an equally astonishing bit of history transpiring before our eyes.

I'm seeing headlines referring to Tuesday, the day after Mr. Bremer handed the reins to Prime Minister Allawi, and those headlines read "No Celebrations Seen in Baghdad On Day After Power Transfer", and "Just Another Day in Baghdad".

Of course, these are headlines come from many of the same news outlets who, six, eight, or more months ago were editorializing that the US needed to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis with all due haste...

I don't need to reiterate my loathing for the agenda driven media. You know it well and many of you share it.

So...once again, here I am, in a tiny room in Germany, with only my internet connection through which to view the happenings in Iraq, and I am able to find the stories that appear to elude the half-assed efforts of Reuters, AP, CNN et al.

Consider these words, written by an Iraqi.
Some of us were celebrating regaining sovereignty, some were celebrating the end of occupation, others were happy because they think the new government will bring safety and order. I was celebrating a new and a great step towards democracy, but we were all joined by true hope for a better future and by the love we have for Iraq.

After wards we sat for a while discussing different matters. The hall was busy and everyone was chatting and laughing loud. They had Al-Jazeera on (something I never managed to convince them to stop doing). Then suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,”A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq”! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

I was deeply moved by this great man’s words but I couldn’t prevent myself from watching the effect of his words on my friends who some of them were anti-Americans and some were skeptic, although some of them have always shared my optimism. I found that they were touched even more deeply than I was. I turned to one friend who was a committed She’at and who distrusted America all the way. He looked as if he was bewitched, and I asked him, “So, what do you think of this man? Do you still consider him an invader?” My friend smiled, still touched and said, “Absolutely not! He brought tears to my eyes. God bless him.”

Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, “I must admit that I’m beginning to believe in what you’ve been telling us for months and I’m beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises.”
As always, I just thought you'd like to know what your media won't show you if they can help it.

Click through and read his entire piece.

UPDATE: Here is someone who says it all much better than I can.
Not to pick on Sherman, but she's a convenient example of how schadenfreude sometimes masquerades as diplomacy. Loosely translated, here's what Sherman was really saying:

Bush overthrew a brutal dictatorship; arrested and detained Saddam Hussein, soon to be handed over to Iraqi courts; killed the tyrant's murderous sons; restored or invented infrastructure while safeguarding Iraq's oil wells; and created and installed a new provisional government in just over a year following 13 chaotic months of insurgent attacks, with little international support and daily assaults by the media and the far left, while apparently preventing new terror attacks on American soil.

But he's got to go. Why? Well, because he's a Republican.

Even as I type, a CNN Insta-poll says a majority of Americans have little faith in Iraq's future. Yet another recent poll of 2,200 Iraqi households by an Iraqi firm offers a different perspective: Half of Iraqis interviewed believe Iraq is headed in the right direction; 65 percent think Iraq will be better off a year from now; 73 percent "believe the handover of authority to the Interim government will improve the current situation."

Such optimism following decades of tyranny, war and terror may be explained several ways, including the fact that Iraqis lived the war rather than had it interpreted for them by the American media. And possibly, they've caught wind of their reborn nation's new administrative law, which establishes inter alia that the people of Iraq are sovereign and free with rights of free expression, justice, thought and conscience.

Pretty heady stuff. Maybe the word will spread to others who need to hear it, including many in the United States.

ITS A QUAGMIRE! North Carolina...
Four separate shooting incidents, one man killed.

A firefight at a club left shell casings and bullets behind.

An apparent road rage incident ended up with lead flying.

Two guys got into it, and one took a bullet.

And one man was shot to death at home. He had plenty of guns in the house, but they didn't save him.

Meanwhile, back in the city, Wilmington police were investigating a drive-by shooting on Monday. Somebody let loose with a semi-automatic weapon on Ann Street. Bullets struck two houses, but for some reason, no people got hit.

Very, very cool.
The United States and Iraq have re-established diplomatic ties, after a break of more than a decade. The move came after the surprise transfer of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government on Monday.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte and his counterparts from Australia and Denmark Tuesday presented their credentials to Iraq's interim president Ghazi al-Yawar at a ceremony in Baghdad.


I'm not certain I understand the distinction...they have custody but we do the guarding.
The United States transferred legal custody of Saddam Hussein and 11 of his top lieutenants to Iraq's new government on Wednesday, a U.S. official said.

Saddam will remain in the physical custody of U.S. forces. He is expected to be formally charged on Thursday.
Another piece includes some additional detail...and even pokes a bit of fun at Saddam.
He told a press conference yesterday that Mr. Hussein will be tried before an open special tribunal. The 67-year-old defendant, who was captured by U.S. forces last December, will be free to speak and can appoint legal counsel or represent himself. "If he doesn't have the money," Mr. Allawi said with a smirk, "counsel will be provided."

Mr. Allawi said his cabinet is discussing reinstating Iraq's death penalty, which had been suspended by former U.S. occupation chief Paul Bremer.

Salem Chalabi, director of the Iraqi Special Tribunal that will try Mr. Hussein, said tomorrow's appearance at the tribunal, housed in a courthouse inside Baghdad's fortified "green zone," will likely be filmed for public release.

The 1st Armored Division memorialized nearly 100 task force troops who have died in Iraq during a ceremony at Freedom Rest on Sunday.

The resort-like rest and recuperation compound in Baghdad grew still as 1st AD soldiers somberly paid respect to their fallen brothers-in-arms.

A large wooden and brass plaque bears the names of the troops at the entrance of the marble and gold-plated hallways of one of the former officers clubs for Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.

This is the second memorial ceremony Task Force 1st AD has done at Freedom Rest. The names of about 40 troops who were killed since April, when the division’s stay in Iraq was extended, were added to the plaque listing the dead, according to Capt. Douglas W. Deucker, Task Force 1st AD spokesman.

“This gives us a chance to pay respect to those fallen soldiers ... not everyone will be going home with us,” said Pfc. Jeffrey Sweeney, a member of the personal security detail for the command of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.


There is a good, brief explanation of how the reserves work at the end of the linked article.
For the first time since the Gulf War, the Army is preparing for the involuntary activation of at least 5,600 soldiers who have long since hung up their uniforms, Pentagon and Army officials said Tuesday.

The Bush administration has mobilized thousands of reservists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But this call-up, to be announced as early as Wednesday, involves troops from the Individual Ready Reserves, or IRR — servicemembers who have left active duty or active reserve service but still have time left on their obligation to serve (see "How the Army Reserve works" at end of story).

President Bush cleared the way for the Pentagon to use the IRR when he issued a Declaration of National Emergency after Sept. 11.

The declaration allows the government to order to active duty up to 1 million members of the Selected Reserve, Individual Ready Reserve, and Inactive National Guard without their consent, for a period not to exceed 24 consecutive months.

And variations on that theme.

Oh my goodness...I'm amazed at the response and inquiries over my absence yesterday to work on a welcome home project!

However, I'm GLAD you are so interested...because you've given me an idea. If you'd care can participate in the welcome home project yourself.

Let me tell you whats going on. I actually have two projects in the is for all the officers returning who live in our "stairwell" (a total of 6 of them). The other is specific to CPT Patti.

To understand the project for my wife, you must understand that we live in a ground floor apartment in Army housing in a German style apartment building...buildings that have no known parallel in the USA. Due to the nature of the building, our apartment has windows on the east side and the west sides only. The former overlooks the greenspace and playground. The latter overlooks the long, circular drive in our housing area...and my parking space is directly beneath our apartment windows. In exiting from the car (as she will when she returns) one can't help but look at our windows on that side of the building.

So...I've decided to attempt something a little like the album cover from the Beatles' SGT Pepper's album and fill the windows with smiling faces looking out on our girl as she returns. I mean FILL the window! I think I'll need perhaps 100 - 120 faces just to cover one of the windows, as German windows tend to be rather large.

I will also add cartoon style "word bubbles" and "thought bubbles" scattered among the crowd of faces...remarking apprpropriate welcome home sayings, along with the occasional non sequitir just for fun.

Where do the faces come from? Frankly, I've collected photos off the internet wherever I can find them...of good, up-close pictures of folks smiling. Most are just idea who these people are...I've just snatched the pics off the net. I've also collected some celebrity or well known faces, including Elvis, FDR, Spongebob, Nemo, Pee Wee Herman, John Wayne, etc.

I'm printing these in grayscale instead of color...I think the finished product will be more interesting that way.

Where do you come in? Well, heck...many of you have prayed for CPT Patti and been concerned for her...why not let her see your face?

If you'd like to be one of the faces in the crowd welcoming CPT Patti back home, then send me a digital picture of you. For best effect this needs to be a VERY close up picture...(meaning your face fills the photo), you should be smiling, and you should be looking directly at the camera (this will give her the illusion that you are looking at her when she arrives.)

Send the pictures to cptpattiinbaghdad AT I will make sure she knows which faces belong to those around the country who have walked this journey with us.

Don't be shy!!! She'll get such a kick out of it.

Since I have much to do with these pics to have the montage in place and correct on time, don't wait too long to send the photos. I'd llke to have them all by July 6th.

Day 416 of CPT Patti's deployment. One year, seven weeks, one day.

Would have been Iraqis In Charge Day...but we all got slickied...heh, heh, heh.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


Hey...I'm working on a welcome home project for my sweet darling wonderful wife. That is taking precedence over blogging least until I see where this project is going!

Hey...I don't know if this will work, but it is worth a shot.

Jeff sent CPT Patti an e-card...and it is so completely wonderful I wanted to share it.

So...we're going to try to make that happen by putting the link here. sure to click on EACH envelope once it loads. Oh yeah...and have your speakers on!

Jeff - I'll pass it along to CPT Patti...and God Bless you for caring.

Day 415 of CPT Patti's deployment. And what an historic 415 days it has been.

It must be an awesome feeling, if one can even get one's brain around it, to play a role in the liberation of an entire country, and then to watch as they are given back control of their country...kinda like being tossed the keys to a brand new convertible and being told to take her out for a spin.

I'm proud of what my darling wife has contributed to all this.

Monday, June 28, 2004


One of our own tells us more than the reporters are. Specialist Roche of the 16th Engineers (based in Giessen) writes:
Sadr's Mahdi Army was backed by extensive foreign fighters and a huge amount support. Iran's formidable Al-Quds Army (named for the conquest of Jerusalem, Israel) directly assisted their attacks against us. They trained some 1,200 of Sadr's fighters at three camps they ran along the Iran-Iraq border at Qasr Shireen, 'Ilam, and Hamid. This was backed by what one Iranian defector to us has said was $70 million dollars a month given by Iranian agents to our enemies -- from which Sadr's forces were directly funded in just the past few months by up to $80 million more. The Iranian Embassy distributed some 400 satellite phones in Baghdad to Sadr's forces, while 2,700 apartments and rooms were rented in Karbala and Najaf as safe houses. Sadr's ability to influence the Iraqi people was further enhanced by 300 "reporters" and "technicians" working for his newspaper, radio and television networks -- persons who are actually members of the Al-Quds Army and Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.

We also faced Chechen snipers in Sadr's forces who were being paid anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on differing accounts, for each American soldier they hit. One sniper hit five soldiers in less then a minute-and-a-half, killing one with a shot in the neck. These mercenaries were sending this money back to Al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas in Chechnya to fight the Russians.

We also have constantly faced Lebanese and Palestinian Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon mixed in the fighting. Their claim to fame for the killing of 241 U.S. Marines in Beirut in 1983 is something we have had to consider every day and on every mission.
He also gives an inspiring account of the men and women serving in your armed forces in this war on terror:
Specialist Rodriguez is one example. He broke his leg some months ago. He was offered the chance to deploy out of Iraq. He chose to stay. When his unit was deployed to Karbala, he cut off his cast. A person told him today that "we aren't paid enough to do that." Immediately, he and the other soldiers responded that it isn't about the money; that we do this for much more important reasons...

One of those MP soldiers has been wounded in two separate attacks, shrapnel going through each arm. You might think he is full of fear and wants out of here. He was in fact offered the chance to leave Iraq. Instead, he chose to stay. His commanders told him that if he gets hit four times, they're going to force him to leave. He responded, "then I have two more to go."
And finally, he has this to say about your involvement on the home front:
The enemies we face are trying to wear us down, to demoralize us, and to take advantage of the political season now under way in America.

Don't let them succeed.

I think that the weakest point of our whole campaign is actually back in the U.S., because people are being impacted by so many negative and dismaying reports and political discourse.
A U.S. C-130 transport plane was hit by gunfire after takeoff from Baghdad airport Sunday and one person aboard was fatally wounded, the U.S. army said.

"While there was no significant damage to the aircraft, one person was wounded which caused the aircraft to divert back to Baghdad International Airport for medical treatment," U.S. spokesman Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said in a statement. "The individual later died."

The attack marked the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein that guerrillas have mounted a deadly attack on a fixed wing plane taking off from or landing at Baghdad's airport.

It just occured to me - now that Iraq is a sovereign nation - now any time the rest of the world says no to helping out in Iraq there can be no mistake about it...they will be saying no to the Iraqis, not to the USA.

So...those who make it their business to "first, hate the USA, second, hate George W. Bush" etc, now will have to come up with a new way to somehow justify not lifting a finger to assist the worlds youngest democracy.

Nothing would please me more than for Prime Minister Allawi to publically ask the Weasels for military assistance.
For Williamson, who finished boot camp in October and joined his battalion in January, it was his first firefight. He helped take out the enemy fighters and caused others to retreat.

He was happy that he didn’t choke.

“I was afraid we were going to get down to the nitty-gritty and I was going to freeze up,” he said. “It’s not something you want to do when you have [six other guys on your vehicle] worrying about you laying down fire or taking out the guy who is about to shoot an RPG at you.

“Your round can make a difference between something goes wrong and something doesn’t.”

The Marines know they’ll win almost every fight against the insurgents. Usually the score will be lopsided. On Thursday, members of 3rd and 1st platoons killed an estimated 20 members of the enemy but themselves suffered only a handful of minor shrapnel wounds.

Yet the enemy fighters kept showing themselves, only to be killed.

“They know [they can’t win], but in their minds what they’re doing is right for them,” said Lance Cpl. Ken Torok of Redding, Pa.

Yet the enemy runs for cover. Surely those men who were running must have wanted to live, Torok is told.

“They’re just running away to try to find a better spot to attack us,” Torok said. “And it doesn’t work.”

Where, oh where has this coverage been for the last 14 months?

The Washington Post has a good story featuring some of our 1st Brigade guys.
By May 11, Sadr's militants had withdrawn into a square-mile area around Karbala's shrines. For the first time, Bishop's soldiers contended with an exclusion zone of their own.

That evening Bishop sent hundreds of soldiers into buildings around the Mukhaiyam mosque. Sgt. Shane Hill, a 24-year-old from Chicago, entered a boys school a block west of the mosque. He found tank rounds and four men who identified themselves as Iraqi police officers bound and gagged, badly beaten and smelling of urine.

As Hill worked to clear the school, mortar shells fell in the courtyard, fired by teams of insurgents who faded into the old city. Bishop, observing from a few blocks away, would not let his men pursue them into the exclusion zone. Asked how he made the decision, Bishop said, "By being here a year."

The battle moved to the shrines. Over 10 days, Bishop's soldiers played cat-and-mouse with insurgents who took cover among the city's alleyways, covered archways and low rooftops. Residents were caught in the fighting. The soldiers estimate that 20 civilians were killed in Karbala during the fighting, a figure that could not be independently verified.

Squeezed into a few downtown blocks, Sadr militants began using children to shuttle ammunition, soldiers said. Youngsters carrying large plastic bags darted from corner to corner, and the soldiers would not shoot them. "We all grew up knowing you don't hurt women and children," Taylor said. "And they used that to their advantage."
Go read that entire story...its a good one.

(And no doubt any minute now we will be witnessing massive protests in the streets of San Francisco and Seattle and Paris and Berlin condemning these insurgents' tactics that violate....nay...obliterate the Geneva Conventions. Doubtless Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi will be calling for congressional hearings just any cotton picking moment...)

And if you like that story, you may also like this one by the NY Times (I can't believe I just wrote that phrase!), or another couple of stories from the Washington Post here and here.

Amazingly enough (for media coverage) the 1st Armor Division appears to be given credit for making a huge difference during the period of its extension.

(Thanks to Bobby and John for the links)

Surprise! Oh my goodness...we all fell for it. All of us!!

We've been hearing "June 30th" for so long as the handover date...we all bought it.

And then, this morning, we got suckered. Two days early, Iraq is a sovereign nation.

Iraq is being goverened completely by Iraqis.

Iraq became a sovereign country on Monday, 15 months after the U.S.-led invasion of the country and two days before the June 30 deadline for its return to sovereignty, FOX News has confirmed.

"This is a historical day," Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said. "We feel we are capable of controlling the security situation."

Coalition officials told FOX News President Bush had already sent an official letter to Allawi formally requesting diplomatic relations with the government of Iraq — signalling that the United States recognizes Iraq as sovereign. The new Iraqi ministers were to be sworn in later in the day.

The surprise transfer of power occurred in a small ceremony in Baghdad's Green Zone.

Mr. Bremer has no more authority in Iraq. Only Iraqis have governing authority.

And with that action ours went from an "occupying force" (if it ever was one...) to a foreign Army in Iraq at the invitationa and consent of the Iraqi government.

It was an affair of understated pomp but incredible importance.

The transfer took place in a formal room in an office in the building formerly used by the Iraqi Governing Council. Officials were seated in gilded chairs around a table.

Just before the handover occurred, everyone stood up, and documents were passed to the Chief Justice Midhat al-Mahmoudi at 10:26 a.m. local time, at that point, legal sovereignty was passed.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition deputy operations chief, was the only U.S. military official present.

Bremer sat with Allawi and President Ghazi al-Yawer.

"We'd like to express our thanks to the coalition," al-Yawer said. "There is no way to turn back now."

But what tickles me to pieces is that I am certain this just RUINS the fireworks that the terrorists had planned for Wednesday. Whoo Hoo!!! Take that, stupid terrorists...the chance for that very symbolic mayhem you had planned...that chance is gone! can still blow up a bunch of stuff today...or Tuesday or Wednesday...but your carefully coordinated, multi-pronged chain of car bombs and such that you had scheduled to make a statement on the occasion of Iraqi sovereignty...well, a tiny bit of sleight of date happened, and your opportunity is gone!

Day 414 of CPT Patti's deployment.

One year, six weeks, six days.

And the momentum is building, as is the excitement. The first 150 soldiers returned to our community over the weekend. They comprised the ADVON, the advanced echelon sent to prepare the way for the others.

You may recall that just prior to the extension the ADVON was 48 hours away from being home. But they never left Baghdad.

Consensus around the picnic table last night is that the arrival of the ADVON makes some of our folks who had been saying "I'll believe it when it happens", well, some of them are now tilting toward believing.

Me...I believe. And I spent the weekend putzing around the house...I've got about half the apartment "reunion worthy".

I saved the other half to give me something to do next weekend.