ALL THREE SECTIONS OF THE JOE RYAN ABU GHRAIB DIARIES
Ryan was a private interrogator under contract to CACI International Inc.; in early 2004 he was stationed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq as an interrogator.
He kept an online diary for KSTP-AM, a St. Paul, Minnesota, radio station. The last entry was made on April 26, shortly before the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke. Not long after that date, Ryan's diary was removed from the radio station's website.
I didn't save the three chunks of text from oblivion -- three different researchers did that, about five years ago. (The source links -- i.e., the independent media sites where I got these three chunks of text -- appear in the main text.) When the first chunk of text surfaced, the WASHINGTON POST did a story on Ryan's diary. To my knowledge, no one has yet posted all three entries in connected form.
What follows is an important historical document with deep moral implications, an important part of the story of what the US has done -- and has failed to do -- in Iraq.
Proof that this is a real story can be found in mainstream coverage of the first chunk of text, which I've identified as SECTION ONE. SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE, as far as I can make out, have received no Big Media coverage. Explanations of how those second and third pieces of the puzzle were retrieved appear in the source links at the end of each section.
Here come the mainstream links that covered the story when it first broke:
(Note: The diary entries go in reverse chronological order.)
26 April 2004
It was hot today! We flirted with triple digit heat for the first time this year and without a breeze, you can sure feel it! Things are also heating up in Al Fallujah. We are right on the flight path for the air support to the 1st Marines out there so we get to see all the different sleighs delivering packages to the bad boys. There were some intense firefights in Al Fallujah today and it will only get more intense. The fighters and Imams of mosques have now realized that if you shoot from a mosque, we flatten it. We have been leaving mosques alone and still do, but the rule is that if gunfire comes from a mosque or fighters retreat into a mosque, it is no longer a place of worship and is a combat zone. We just eliminated a huge group of safe houses for these fighters.
I was at work until 3:30 in the morning because we got a hold of some intelligence to directly support the Marines out in Al Fallujah. This is the stuff I have been spearheading with three other tiger teams working on it with me. (A tiger team consists of an interrogator and an intelligence analyst.) The Marines wanted to hit one of the houses I had reported on, but wanted more information. I went back in on the guy who gave me the initial information and he pinpointed the spot for me on a map. I am hoping to go into work and find out that they caught the target. Results like that make us feel great here because we are directly supporting the live mission on the ground.
Here in Iraq, one or two of the television stations are running again. The newspapers are in full swing again as well, but mainly only in the Baghdad area. This limits the messages that we can get out to the people since it is only for a small portion of the country. Information distribution in a country like this is tough. There are many places that do not have radios or televisions so it makes it tough to get the truth out.
I am sure looking forward to my first R&R. I will be leaving out of the prison on 10 May in order to catch my flight in Kuwait on the 14th of May. I will get to enjoy 12 days at home and see my son, my wonderful wife, and my newborn son. I probably will not sleep much so I can maximize my time at home.
25 April 2004
One thing I forgot to mention about yesterday; it got dark earlier than normal. This was due to a sandstorm that blocked out the sun. It was quite amazing that a wind storm filled with dirt can make it dark as night. It also makes it difficult to breath, even through masks.
The best thing today was that our Iraqi cleaners reopened. Finally, my clothes will be clean and not stained like what we get from the Brown and Root service.
Today was a short day. There were six of us that had to come in early and conduct long interrogations to ensure that certain detainees were only able to be seen, but not talked to. The Iraqi Governing Council came and looked through our mirrors into the booths to see some of the foreign fighters we have detained. They wanted to talk to them and film to show the international media, but we refused, due to not being able to interrupt interrogations. They were much more patient than we thought they would be so they tried to wait us out. Five and a half hours in the booth was a long time, but we finally outlasted them. The IGC left with only the satisfaction that we have foreign fighters from Morocco, Syria, Jordan, and other countries detained here. To be clear, they are not sponsored by their respective countries to come here, but it is due to their individual choices, be it religious or stupidity.
I got to take the rest of the day off after our long booth time. This gave us a nice evening after dinner to head to the roof and play a round of golf. Scott Norman, Jeff Mouton, Steve Hattabaugh, Steve Stefanowicz, and I all took turns trying to hit balls over the back wall and onto the highway. Since the club is a left handed 3 iron, I had an unfair advantage and missed a dump truck by only about ten feet. Not bad since the highway is about 220 yards. We do what we can to make it fun here.
23-24 April 2004
The LRS guys have started Friday Night Fights over here. A lot of the soldiers and Marines are getting into it. They have the padded sparring equipment and have had a blast setting up bouts and have even begun a ranking chart. The LRS guys do some warm up training out on our volleyball court, so we enjoy watching these young guys goof around while we relax on the porch.
Work is continuing to be brutally time consuming. I got home at 6:00am in the morning on the 24th and went right back to work at 1:00pm. I made it home tonight at a nice early 1:00am and have an entire 12 hours off. We have the Iraqi Governing Council showing up here tomorrow because someone told them that we have Syrian detainees here that were caught in Iraq. They are coming up here with news cameras and stuff, but they will not get a chance to talk to them because we will be interrogating them while they are here. We are pushing hard to get everything we can out of these guys because the situation in Al Fallujah is going to boil over shortly and we know it is due to the foreign fighters that have moved into the city.
It is becoming more obvious to the troops here as well as the Iraqi people that a lot of the problems here are directly caused by foreigners. This is not deterring the Coalition Forces and is slowly turning the populous against these foreign fighters. Iraqi Police are even starting to take action.
Time for sleep before another long day. I will be taking the rest of the day off after our Syrian interviews.
22 April 2004
I sure miss normal food. I look forward to going home and cooking whatever I feel like and hitting the grocery store and seeing the stocked shelves and wonderful fresh steaks! When I go home in May for 10 days, I will probably not sleep between spending time with family, eating, showering in a real shower, and using a toilet that actually flushes and does not have flies everywhere.
The mosquitoes are not bad here by Minnesota standards. Although they are heartier, they are not nearly as numerous. The flies on the other hand, are more populous here than people in China. The heat has really brought out the flies. It was windy today, enough to pick up small rocks and we had to wear our goggles whenever we went outside. You learn quickly why the Arabs wear Shamack wraps around their faces and heads.
Well, the terrorist are doing a good job of showing that they have no regard for life and are just as happy to kill innocent civilians and children as soldiers. The Basra attacks have marginally worked to our favor. It was a blatant attack against the civilian populous without regard as to who the victims were. I say this is only marginally to our favor because we are being blamed for not protecting the people of Iraq properly. My source told me that before we came here, the borders were controlled and there were never any bombing attacks like this in Iraq until the Americans arrived here. Another point is that we can call our being here anything we want, but "liberating force" is only a political name. We are an "occupying force" in the eyes of the Iraqi people and you cannot tell them otherwise because they are not conditioned to play to political spin like Americans are. There is nothing wrong with being an occupying force; that is what we were in Germany and Japan. As lon g as we can continue to make progress in rebuilding the infrastructure such as the power plants, we will prevail. I know that sounds like a weird objective, but envision your life without electricity or flushing toilets. Basic things we take for granted, but are essential to our standard of living. We have the ability to bring the people normalcy, it will just take time. We take steps each day, just sometimes we have to take one backwards due to the foreign fighters and insurgents.
It has been a long week at work and I will be taking tomorrow off. Scott Norman and I have been putting together the results of the interrogations from our recent guests. Scott has been putting together great association matrixes and I put together a smart book outlining all the intelligence gathered on this particular group to date. The Marines loved it and our stuff was 90% of their presentation to their Commanding General yesterday. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to put together stuff that helps the troops on the ground.
21 April 2004
We have been working hard on an intelligence project for the Al Fallujah area. We would probably be a lot further along if there was some support from Captain Todl. He is the Marine captain out there that wants all of our information post haste, but will not release any information they are getting so we can put the whole picture together. The Marines here are a fantastic bunch of guys and I am sure the average Marine in 1st Marine Division in Al Fallujah is great. I am just singling out one of the intelligence guys because he is our point of contact and an inept one at that. Scott and I put together an analyst package consisting of detailed association matrixes and interrogation highlights to put these guys all together. The command was thrilled and once again the CACI folks have set a high standard for the young soldiers to follow. Specialist Spencer overheard me saying one of the names. About ten minutes later, she came over with some information from one of her interrogat ions a week ago and we found a link. It is fun to see the excitement in the room when stuff like this happens. It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture, so when you get pieces to fit, it is great.
It is getting hot over here, at least for my Minnesota blood. The heat is not too bad when there is a breeze, but when there is no wind like today, the sun beats pretty hard. The rain from the other day briefly kept the dust down, but it blows around even without the slightest breeze.
The tenuous peace agreement in Al Fallujah will not last. The Mujahideen foreign fighters will not allow that. Although there are not many of them compared to the population of the area, they are well armed and dedicated to keeping Iraq unstable. Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Iran, all border countries, do not want to see a stable Iraq; especially one that is on good terms with the United States. Just as South Korea is known as the fulcrum of the east, Iraq is the fulcrum here. If we have good relations with Iraq, the countries that surround it will have to behave because the world's only superpower, us, will be here.
20 April 2004
Nine mortars today...while I was in the shower. Not exactly the favorite place to be. I finished showering, cleaned up and came strolling out. The mortars were over by that time and the army folks that I work with were at their main bay doing accountability. They all started laughing because they were all in their gear and I came out in flip flops and shorts. Then we got the news. Five of the mortars landed in Ganci, one of the two detainee camps. Initial reports were 21 dead, 31 critically injured and another 60 plus injured. No Americans were injured or killed. All casualties were detainees. It is disturbing that Al Jazeera had the article typed and on their web site less than thirty minutes after the attack. I am tired of a "news" service being on location every time Americans are attacked. Nobody can tell me that Al Jazeera is not intertwined with these insurgent groups. The insurgents are trying to accomplish two things with these attacks; first, to draw attention to our f acility and be able to say that we cannot protect the detainees and secondly to try and incite the detainees to try and riot and overrun the prison.
I ask that everyone say a prayer or two over the next 48 hours for PFC Keith Maupin, KBR employee Thomas Hamill, and for the Marines in our area. God willing, all three will make the media and give a good story to report for a change. Enough said about that.
Work is fast and furious, but we are more productive right now than we have been since I have been here. Some intelligence things are really coming together and could shift a few things to our advantage, at least west and north of Baghdad. The Al Fallujah situation is being guided by results from the intelligence gleaned from here as well as at their division cage. We are making progress on rooting out foreign fighters as well as those individuals that are helping/hiding them.
Christine Chaney is another of our three CACI females here. She left the army last fall and was actually in the 202nd MI BN that we are working with here. Christine is tall like my sister-in-law, so my posture always improves like when I am around my sister-in-law. She also was in Afghanistan last year with the 202nd and is a fluent Farsi and Pashto linguist in addition to being an experienced interrogator. It is impressive because the three women we have here are all former army and hard chargers. They are more professional and tougher than most of the female soldiers here.
19 April 2004
Today we had to make a run to BIAP/Camp Victory. Since we have gotten in good with the LRS guys, they loaned us an up-armored Hummer to make the run. The Marines who serve and the convoy escorts/big guns, were teasing us because Scott and I have been very resourceful in our networking and are better armed than the average traveling vehicle. The trip down and back was thankfully uneventful. Of course, the two Hueys and the Cobra gun ship that were flying up and down the highway helped as did the Bradley fighting vehicles staged every quarter mile. It was probably the safest trip we have made with the firepower on the road. It is too bad that the army was not proactive and set up the extensive security before the attacks over the last couple of weeks. The road looked like a scene from a Mad Max movie. There were six fuel tanker trucks along the road that were burned out hulls. One of them was actually still burning this morning. Since they were filled with JP-8, the military ve rsion of diesel, they only burned and did not explode. On the return trip, the highway had a crater in it that eliminated the road from the right shoulder, through two lanes and was 30 yards long and two feet deep.
While down at BIAP, we stocked up on supplies for everyone here since we are not planning on making another trip down there for at least a month. To look after the guys here, I decided to buy Whoppers at the Burger King for everyone. I came back with 40 Whoppers with cheese. No CACI people ate at the chow hall tonight. It felt good to do that for the guys and it was well received, at least I think it was, the burgers only lasted about 15 minutes.
I learned two things at work tonight. Pigeons only mate for about five seconds and interesting insight about Al Fallujah. Ok, I better explain this. Christine, Dion and I were sitting outside in the break area at work and two pigeons landed on the MP guard tower directly in front of us. This went Nature Channel gone awry, but funny to see in the middle of a combat zone. It also gave us something to joke about the rest of the night. On the more serious subject, I spoke at length with one of my detainees about Al Fallujah. He explained that the people of Al Fallujah were not favored during Saddam's regime. Saddam kept the area under control by brute force and paying off the tribal leaders. Since the fall of the regime, Al Fallujah has been a hotbed for foreign elements funneling into Iraq to cause trouble. I asked him how many foreign fighters he thought there were in Al Fallujah and his answer was simple, "too many." He expounded by saying, "many of the people in Al Fallujah j ust want to try and make a life for themselves and their families, but these foreign fighters are ruining it for them."
On the trek back through the mud from work tonight (it rained just enough to make the dust into molasses), we watched eight 5-ton trucks roll in with detainees loaded in them. By the look of the vehicles, I think they were from the Marines in Al Fallujah. This will mean that we will probably be pulling long shifts for a while now.
18 April 2004
Today has been a tough day of fighting in a few places here. Down south, Sadr's followers have launched an offensive that is being repelled. Over on the Syrian border, the Marines got hit by foreign fighters in Husaybah. Yes, I know these are headlines. The fact is that these are two locations in a country the size of California and population of 25 million. Remember that when you hear the news. How many people protest in America each day? How many shootings occur each day in America? Sadr has been living and getting supplied by Iran for the last eight years. His financial support is estimated to be in the millions of US dollars. I will bet a paycheck with anyone that the 150 fighters that set up the ambush along the Syrian border were Syrian Mujahideen fighters.
Here is a little background on each and their psychological mindset of tactics:
Al Sadr's people are Shiites that are aligned with the Iranian Shiite extremist movement. They do not represent the majority of the Shiites. The Syrian Mujahideen fighters are jihadists, plain and simple. These are people that are recruited specifically to kill us infidels in the name of their Allah. Not the same Allah most Islamic people pray to. The strategy of these people is to try and cause an uprising among the people in Iraq. They do not have the numbers to mount a serious or sustained resistance, but are hopeful that they can gain support from the populous. Considering Al Sadr's militia attacked at the same time as the Syrian fighters attacked on the other border, I cannot believe that the Iranian network and Syrian network did not coordinate it. I am proud of the Marines that fought out west today. They were ambushed by a sizable force and 14 hours of fighting later, crushed the ambush and suffered minimal losses. I do not mean to minimize the loss of five Americans , but considering they rolled into an ambush, we were fortunate. The tactic of an ambush is designed for a small force to be able to engage and incapacitate a larger force. Those Marines were outnumbered and prevailed in a serious statistical advantage.
Many Iraqis would just like to see stability. They have been involved in three major conflicts in the last 13 years and would like to live their lives without war. As such, the intelligence network that started with no sources in Iraq, grows daily from Iraqis supporting what the coalition forces are doing. This does not get reported because it might suggest that we are making progress and does not have shock value for sound bites.
Pay attention over the next few days. There will be some changes over here and we may be showing our "big stick."
17 April 2004
I wanted to kill Scott Norman and Meyer Gilbert this morning. We have been getting up every morning to go work-out. Usually, I am waking Scott up. This morning, after the two long nights I have had in a row, I decided to skip this morning. They would have none of that and pounded on my door until I got up. When I opened the door, there they were, Meyer standing there with his usual friendly smile, and Scott with his smirk of vengeance. I ended up getting up and working out, but am paying the price for not getting enough sleep. At least tonight should be a decent night for sleep.
My smuggler friend just keeps on talking. I have nick-named him Han Solo since he is a smuggler extraordinaire. I have received information regarding the entire network from start to finish on how foreign fighters are coming into Iraq; who is paying for it; how they communicate; how they get their weapons once here; and how they move to their target locations. This will never make the papers, but it sure is exciting to know the information.
The air and weather was nice today. That little bit of rain that took the dirt out of the air really made it nice to breath again. Although the temps are starting to rise, the breeze is making is quite nice. We have all of our Iraqi national workers back here except for the dry cleaners. They apparently tried to return a couple of days ago, but their car got shot up in Baghdad so they do not have any means of transportation right now.
Meyer Gilbert is an analyst here. He spent several years as a police investigator and just got done serving a year in Kosovo working for the UN. He is definitely from the south with his accent and is a regular at Rico's Tanning Salon on the roof. Meyer brings some great insight to the analysis of information from a criminal investigation standpoint which is so unlike the military analysts.
Time to enjoy some sleep.
16 April 2004
Today it rained mud. Can this place be any more undesirable? For those of you that have been seeing the pictures circulating the internet of the camel spiders, yes, we have had a couple here and they are the ugliest things I have ever seen. Fortunately we have not had any near our living area.
Don Simpson, one of my roommates when I first got here, is deathly afraid of camel spiders. He hates bugs in general so it is hilarious because we keep telling him one of these things is going to crawl into bed with him one night. He is one of the three members of the "lollipop guild" due to his lack of height. Don is retired from the Air Force and is a great guy who will do anything to help. The LRS guys took care of getting him to BIAP so he could fly out on R&R a week ago. They received small arms fire all the way down and were shooting back the whole way. Don was sitting in the middle of the HUMMER loading M-16 magazines faster than the LRS guys could shoot the rounds. Don is an analyst here and a darn good one. He just transferred to work with the British guys we have here and is doing the analytical work for three of them.
I worked the guy from the Ar Ramadi area again tonight. I got home about 3:00am after writing reports and putting together the associations with the others in his group. It was great because my guy knows where the forged citizenship papers are made and by who and the real names and origins of the other detainees captured with him. It is hard for the other guys to lie when I already know all about their backgrounds, but they sure are trying.
We watched the Al Jazeera footage of the two American soldiers that are being held hostage. CW3 Dan Adkins said to the television, "kill 1,000 for every hostage killed. No need to discriminate either." We know they were captured right down the road from our location. We also know they are still in the general area. The first thing that needs to happen is to stake every Al Jazeera reporter in the middle of the desert and let the buzzards have them. This probably would not work since the buzzards would not touch them due to professional courtesy. Al Jazeera is known to work with and pay international terrorist groups for the "privilege" of filming their activities. It is also the largest Arab media source in the world. SFC Paul Edwards put some perspective on it when he said, "I would rather see them as hostages, than what we saw in Al Fallujah a few weeks ago." I concur.
The fact is we are not seeing resistance from Sunni Iraqis in our area. It is foreign elements coming in for a big push to try and get us to turn tail and run like we did in Somalia. In fact, they cannot figure out why we have done so yet. Down south, it is similar, but there are Iraqis involved as well. These are the Shiite Iraqis that are more loyal to Iran than they are to Iraq. It is important to remember that the Middle East is similar to Africa in that geopolitical boundaries mean nothing. Tribal and religious sect structure and power are much more important. Also, some of the rivalries among the tribes and/or religious sects date back hundreds if not thousands of years.
15 April 2004
What a long day today was. I did not make the mile trek back to my prison cell in the dark until 4:30 this morning. I was tasked with a new detainee that we just received from Ar Ramadi, which is a sister city just west of Al Fallujah. This guy is my age and has a background in smuggling stuff into Iraq from Syria. It actually did not take long to get him talking, the problem was how much information he had. I would give anything to make the information I received last night public. The support for what we are doing would be unbelievable. Sometimes it is frustrating knowing the truth, but not being able to freely share it. There is good reason for classifying material, but at the same time, it would be nice to rub a few faces in some of this information. We are starting to get some of the people detained by the Marines. Not all of them are from Iraq either. We should really start getting some interesting intelligence now.
Some of the foreign nationals have returned to post to resume their jobs, but not all yet. I am hoping the guys that own the little dry cleaner come back soon. It is nice being able to get laundry done same day and not have to do it on my little bit of down time.
Berryl Jackson is one of the three females we have here. She is a retired Chief Warrant Officer 3. To show you what a small world it is, she was my interrogation instructor when I went through the school 13 years ago. BJ is from Costa Rica originally and is a real character. She sometimes forgets that she is no longer in the military and is not in charge of the soldiers that she works with, but she is a wealth of knowledge and one heck of an interrogator. She is going to be heading to the 1st Cavalry Division cage at Camp Victory in another week or so to work there.
It has been announced that several units that are over here are staying longer than their original year. We already had the MI people extended here, but now they are extending other active duty units such as the 1st Armored Division for at least three months. It is difficult on the families, but the troops as a whole know that they are needed and have a job to do. Most soldiers that are on active duty recognize that this is what the military is all about and being deployed means doing your job. It is also the price we pay for downsizing the military and then truly needing it.
The weather here has been weird. It was in the mid 90s today, but there was a breeze and it was overcast. I learned that the overcast look was indeed not clouds, rather dust in the air and one of the interpreters was telling me to wait until it rains a little because then little droplets of mud come down. Hopefully the wind will carry this stuff east and dump it on Iran, not us.
13 April 2004
The June 30th transition of power to the Iraqi people is a convoluted topic. On June 30th, the provisional Iraqi government will take control of Iraq from a governing standpoint. The coalition forces will continue to be responsible for security and maintaining peace. The government will be responsible for their infrastructure, economics, government, legal system, etc., with our assistance as needed. We of course will assist in making a free election possible, but it will be up to the provisional government to decide exactly how they will want to proceed. Part of these standards are written within the constitution that was passed several weeks ago.
Now here is the blunt version; with a government in place, Iraq qualifies to appeal to the world bank for financial aid and other world relief organizations for grants, loans, etc. this will lighten the financial burden for the coalition forces, namely the United States. Besides this, nothing will change over here from the perspective of the soldier.
Yesterday when the LRS guys went out, LTC Edwards insisted on going on their patrol. He is the MI Battalion Commander and not well liked or respected by anyone on this post. The LTC and his driver did not see fit to actually go to the mission briefs prior to rolling out. A blocking position was set up on one of the overpasses and when a vehicle approached, the LTC's driver opened fire without provocation. As such, the LRS guys, upon hearing fire, traversed and opened fire as well. The Rules of Engagement are that no warning shots are fired. You either fire at a known threat, or do not fire at all. This is established so your fellow soldiers can immediately lay down suppressive fire upon hearing shots fired. Fortunately, they did not kill the driver of the vehicle, only wounded him. His truck is completely uselessthough. The poor Iraqi was treated by our medical staff and then LTC Edwards made the LRS take the guy back to his home with one of the vehicles from on our compound , plus $500. Now LTC Edwards is downgraded to despised and a joke.
"Wild" Bill Armstrong is one of our interrogators. He and I are both in the Force Protection section. Bill is married with five kids and a devout Christian, father, and husband. He arrived here two weeks before I did. Bill knows interrogation and reporting doctrine better than anyone here. Of course it was his career in the army and now he teaches at the school house in Arizona when he is not over here playing in the sand. I see Bill and know there are some incredible people in America. Here is a man who has already served in the military for 22 years, has a bunch of children, good job, and decides that he is needed over here so heads over to contribute. Politically, Bill makes Rush Limbaugh look like a flaming liberal by comparison. He is also leaving here after his R&R and will become the division cage site lead out in Fallujah.
12 April 2004
I want to start telling you about the people I live with, so each day, I will talk about one person in addition to the daily happenings.
Todd Preston is a retired Navy diver who spent the majority of his career in the Marine Corps. He is here as an analyst and sends me daily clips about Special Forces activities via secure e-mail. We call him Hugh Heffner because out of the 1900 or so men here, he is the only one with a bathrobe. It is also a white terry cloth that really should have a little longer hem line. Todd still runs every day to the behest of the military because he does it without his body armor on. Personally, he reminds me of Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood's character) from the movie Heartbreak Ridge.
There continues to be fighting around us. I heard from Brent Jones last night. He is the division cage team lead for CACI down at BIAP with the 1st Cavalry Division. They were in the chow hall down there and received incoming small arms fire in the area. Everyone was hunkered down in the chow hall while the insurgents from the Mahdi Army (Al Sadr's group) were dealt with. They apparently tried to infiltrate Camp Victory and BIAP in several places yesterday. Fortunately, most places they tried to infiltrate, they were caught as they were entering. A few others got in, but did not make it too far. Word of advise, do not try and break in to a place where there are US soldiers all carrying weapons and ammunition, it can be bad for your health.
The Mahdi Army is the militant wing of the Shiites in the south. Many of their fighters are either Iranian or Iraqis who have been living in Iran for the last several years, hiding from Saddam. Al Sadr, the guy who just made our most wanted list over here, is their leader. He is a bad egg. He lived in Iran for about eight years to avoid Saddam and also build up an insurgent force. He is a radical who had his father and brother killed so he could ascend to power faster. Al Sadr is only about 26 years old. He does not represent the Shiite population in Iraq and Sistani, the unofficial Shiite leader, does not get along with Al Sadr. Of course, the reason Sistani has so much power within the Shiite community is that he kissed up to Saddam so that he could keep the power down south. Neither man is worthy to be considered to lead Iraq, however, Sistani is the one who really wants it. That would be a big mistake.
We received some incoming weapons fire tonight, but since these people shooting at us are not very good at math, they could not figure out that if you shoot up to clear an 18 foot wall, the bullets will not fall inside the compound. The towers fired back and it was all over in about a minute. It was kind of cool to see the red tracers about 100 feet in the air. I guess it was an early 4th of July.
Work has gone really well the last two weeks. Tonight was the first night that I did not actually get reportable information from a source. The nice thing is that means an early night.
11 April 2004
The hostage situation was one that we have been receiving reports on for the last month or so as one of their tactics. Fortunately, they have not been repeating the Somalia Scenario with the hostages. It is difficult to see contractors taken hostage, especially since there are in the neighborhood of 50,000 contractors over here supporting the cause. Tom Hamill, the KBR driver that was taken was en-route to our location with a fuel supply. I never saw him, but some of our guys recognized him from prior trips with other supplies. We pray for his safety and hope that the Special Forces elements working our area find him and bring him home.
Our LRS guys went on a road clearing mission again today. More than 8,000 rounds of ammunition were expended on their little excursion and the only casualty for the LRS was one of their guys received a grazing on his arm from a bullet that only required a band-aid. He did not even realize that he was hurt until they got back. Things outside are pretty hot in this area especially since the cease fire in Fallujah. Since we are only 12 miles away, they are hitting this area since the main supply route passes right in front of our compound. We are still enjoying not being attacked directly, but it is all around out facility.
Today a battalion commander was wounded on a convoy right outside our walls and the Apache gunship that crashed was only a few hundred meters from our wall. It is somewhat surreal to see the fighting all around and we feel like we are on an island within it all. Every convoy that is coming in and out of here is receiving resistance. The convoy returning from Camp Victory today was hit. The vehicle that was hit carried the mail for our compound and apparently some of it was damaged; worse, one of the Marines pulling security for the convoy was seriously wounded.
These pockets of fighting are fairly intense, but are being dealt with. I am optimistic that this will not last more than another week or two. I know that one of the things that is being reported back home is how taxing this mission has been on the military; active duty, reserves, and guard. It is important to remember that 10 years ago we had a lot more active duty forces, but a prior administration made downsizing the military a priority. As such, we pay the price now. Yes, this is taxing, but the vast majority of the forces over here are supportive of why we are here and know we are doing the right thing.
Source for above section of diary: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Joe_Ryan_Abu_Ghraib_diary_April_2004
02 April 2004
The Rules of Engagement have changed over here. If someone throws a rock at a soldier, they are now considered a combatant. We are changing to a zero tolerance policy so incidents like two days ago do not happen again. For four thousand years, he who has the biggest stick is in charge and respected. That is the way of life over here. The Marines have unleashed the big stick and will be very aggressive in Fallujah now!
The MPs were told to talk about what happened in Fallujah inside the camps, knowing that the detainees would over hear. It worked well. They know we are outraged and ready for revenge. Virtually everyone came out of the booth last night with reportable information. I knew I would because the guy I was scheduled to talk to has been giving me good information. The scary part is what he gave me. The first thing he said when he came into the booth (he speaks English well), "Mr. Joe, I am sorry to hear what happened in Fallujah, let's talk about what I can do to help." He proceeded to tell me about information he had seen and heard in the mosque by his home.
After the interrogation, Hussein, one of our interpreters from the Sudan and a man I am proud to call a friend, asked me, "How can you control your anger in the booth." The information we got from my detainee made my blood boil, but composure is paramount since I need the information. I ended up writing three reports yesterday and if people were able to read one of them, there would be public outcry for a nuclear attack to solve the issue over here...I had to calmly sit there as he told me of filmed footage of the murder of Americans with all of the details; time, place, method, and who.
Someone asked me about why we do not just shut down the Sunni triangle and also shut down the borders of Iraq. To put it simply, shutting down the borders of Iraq, where you can cross anywhere in the desert, would be like trying to stop anyone from crossing the border from Mexico; just not possible. As far as the Sunni triangle, it encompasses major metro areas as well as desert area and cannot be easily controlled. The other aspect of that is not all of the people there are bad, it is just where the bad people hide. We have a lot of firepower in the area, so will deal with it in accordance with our overdue new Rules of Engagement.
I want to publicly thank WickedJester.com. I wrote them to ask if they would make up a t-shirt for us over here that we have been joking about. Not only have they agreed, they are sending them over here for a huge discount in support of us. Several of us have enjoyed their t-shirts in the past and will definitely continue to be patrons for their support of us over here. The shirts are black with white lettering and say:
I spent a year in an Iraqi prison
...don't piss me off
01 April 2004
This e-mail will be sent early since I was up most of the night and am going back to work after a couple hours of sleep. You cannot pry people out of our shop right now and so Chief Cope and Chief Adkins are kicking people out for a little sleep as necessary.
With regard to yesterday, this is something we knew the terrorists were trying to do for
the last month. Our intelligence had come across some folks that admitted to knowledge of some of the insurgents wanting to try the "Somalia Scenario" because America pulled out of Somalia right after it was done there in 1993, so they figured maybe it would work here.
Giving coverage to this at home should consist of the fact that nine people were killed. Yes, horrifically. No pictures should be shown of the desecrated bodies; that is disrespectful to their family and their memory. I have little faith that the news media will be showing pictures of them in an honorable memorial way. I sure hope they prove me wrong. Furthermore, anyone who repeatedly views this tragedy is playing right into the hands of the terrorists that did this. The more attention this gets, the more it will encourage the terrorists to try it again. Instead, show resolve. Pay respect to the families affected by the tragedy. Every American over here volunteered to serve. Whether you agree or disagree with what is going on, they volunteered with pure heart and courage. That deserves the upmost dignity and respect to them and their families.
"We are a country that has suffered great tragedies and known great victories. Through each, we have grown and never wavered from our founding principles. America does not start fights, we finish them. Throughout history, others have given America a bloody nose. They drew first blood, but were never standing when the final bell rang. Our men and women serving this country will not allow anything less than success; this is why we are the United States of America."
31 March 2004
Today was my day off so did laundry and general cleaning. The dust here is so bad that is settles on the places you just dusted as fast as you dust. A couple guys and I went on the roof this morning and I was 3 for 5 hitting golf balls over the outer wall. It is about a 120 yard shot over the wall and the highway is pushing 200 yards. One of my shots made it to the highway. It was really cool. We then got together with some of the LRS guys and played volleyball. Then the news came.
Four of our CACI people stationed out in Fellujah came over to pick up some cases of water we acquired for them. Not soon after they left to make the 13 mile trek to their base, we got the word on what happened earlier today in Fellujah. I went into work so I could read about it. The mood was somber, yet steeled. "Shit and damn" were the common words uttered as we read the messages and saw the images on the television.
This reminds a lot of us of the images from Somalia. Fellujah has long been the hotbed of insurgency since the coalition troops came into Iraq. The summary of our sentiment was when Todd Preston turned away from the television with his face showing determined anger and said, "Unleash the dogs of war." There was a lot of nodding in agreement throughout the room. These people are cheering and celebrating the death of Americans in the backyard of a fresh Marine division. Should the devil-dogs be unleashed, there will be hell to pay.
It is time to send to politicians home and let the military do what they do best. It is time to fight this war like it should be fought. Show our military might. Reveal our viciousness, just once, and it will quell these types of attacks.
It does not seem right to write anything else and it is time to go back to work tonight to provide whatever we can to support them out there.
Here is a little part II for 31 March 2004.
Al Jazeera News was on location when these two attacks occured. Also, there were many computer generated signs being held up by the crowds. This was a planned attack and Al Jazeera was there to cover it. It is notable that we have been surfing all of the middle east news stations and not one of them are playing the footage or even talking about the tragedy.
The shock value at home must be tremendous. The anger and want for retribution among soldiers and marines is even greater. All I ask of people back home is to trust in the abilities of our military and pray that they are allowed to do their jobs and come home safe.
30 March 2004
Dinner has been great the past couple of days. No thanks to the cooks. My cousin Lucas sent some Habanero hot sauce and we have all been using it liberally. It is a tremendous improvement!!
The first CACI person to set foot on Abu Ghurayb Prison is leaving our location to go support the division cage for 1st Cavalry Division at Camp Victory. He will be missed. The man that half the detainees call "grandpa sheriff" is always good for a laugh and has brought a great sense, although redneck and warped, of humor to this place. His 12 year old joke of "pull my finger" is legend in that detainee camps as well as with the military when he made a detainee pull his finger in front of a whole camp. For weeks, the detainees would yell across the wire at him and laugh while pulling their fingers. He calls me "Cocomo Joe" in his never quiet voice when he sees me and I will miss the constant smiles he brings with him. This 55 year old big-eared redneck from Alabama has done amazing things here. I went to Colonel Payne this evening and discussed the possibility of James getting a unit coin. That was a done deal in 30 seconds so he will receive that before he goes. Along with J
ames, Kenny Powell, the man we affectionately refer to as Mrs. Mayo, will head down there with James as son as Kenny gets back from R&R. They have been good friends for over thirty years and are trouble in the making when they are together. I hope the 1st Cav is half as entertained as us and it will bring up morale down there without a doubt.
Clowns International, the CIA, has proven once again that they are incompetent boobs. I cannot go into detail regarding their latest SNAFU, but they not have Lieutenant General Fast's ire. If you think a woman scorned is bad, cross a woman with three stars on her shoulder!! They cannot set foot on Abu Ghurayb without her expressed permission (which will not happen anytime soon) after their latest stunt.
Today was an admin day for me. I went through my current caseload and widdled out the files of guys that need to be released and drew up plans on the others with my analyst. It was nice to play a little catch up. The other big news at work was a message sent to us from Ms. Rice, the National Security Advisor, thanking us for the intelligence that has come out of our shop and noting that our work is being briefed to President Bush on a regular basis. Now if we could declassify some of it in order to shut up these people who say we have no business over here, that would be the best day!
Scott Norman, my best friend over here woke me up yesterday morning like a little kid.
"Joe, if I got a car, could I keep it?" Like a little boy who found a puppy. He has procured us a BMW series 7. We spent a while getting it hotwired because it did not have any keys with it, but it runs great and now we have another vehicle for commuting to and from work. This will be great in the summer when that mile walk in 130+ degree weather would be unbearable. And no, neither of us have hotwired a vehicle before...that we would admit to.
29 March 2004
The following is a letter/speech that was forwarded to me. This is to the Marines 15 miles to the west of us in Fallujah:
"Letter to all hands; We are going back in to the brawl.. We will be relieving the magnificent soldiers fighting under the 82nd airborne Division, whose hard won successes in the Sunni Triangle have opened opportunities for us to exploit, For the last year, the 82nd airborne has been operating against the heart of the enemy's resistance. It's
appropriate that we relieve them: When it's time to move a piano, Marines don't pick up the piano bench - we move the piano. So this is the right place for Marines in this fight. Where we can carry on the legacy of Chesty Puller in the Banana Wars in the same sort of complex environment that he knew in his early years. Shoulder to shoulder with our comrades in the Army. Coalition forces and maturing Iraqi Security forces, we are going to destroy the enemy with precise firepower while diminishing the conditions that create diversarial relationships between us and the Iraqi people. This is going to be hard, dangerous work. It is going to require patient, persistent presence. Using our individual initiative, courage, moral judgment and battle skills, we will build upon the 82nd airborne's victories. Our country is counting on us even as our enemies watch and calculate, hoping that America does not have warriors strong enough to withstand discomfort and danger. You, my
fine young men, are going to prove the enemy wrong - dead wrong. You will demonstrate the same uncompromising spirit that has always caused the enemy to fear America's Marines.
The enemy will try to manipulate you into hating all Iraqis. Do not allow the enemy that victory. With strong discipline, solid faith, unwavering alertness, and undiminshed chivalry to the innocent, we will carry out this mission. Remember, I have added, "first, do no harm" to our passwords of "No better Friend, No worse Enemy." Keep your honor clean as we gain information about the enemy from the Iraqi people, Then, armed with that information and working in conjunction with fledgling Iraqi Security Forces, we well move precisely against the enemy elements and crush them without harming the innocent. This is our test--our Guadalcanal, our Chosin reservoir, our Hue city. Fight with a happy heart and keep faith in your comrades and your unit. We must be under no illusions about the nature of the enemy and the dangers that lie ahead. Stay alert, take it all in stride, remain sturdy, and share your courage with each other and the world. You are going to write history, m
y fine young sailors and Marines, so write
J. N. Mattis
Major General, US Marines
This is what we believe over here, where we are living it. The media can say whatever they want, this is the truth. This is all I am sending today because I cannot top this fine Marine's words except to say, Amen.
28 March 2004
Ken Cochran, our country manager who looks and sounds exactly like Jeff Foxworthy, was driving to Camp Anaconda yesterday and was shot at by a US Soldier. He and a Sergeant Major had been following behind a convoy for about 30 miles. As the convoy pulled in to Camp Anaconda, the Army E-4 manning the turret gun in the trail vehicle fired off a burst of rounds from the machine gun. Fortunately, he did not hit anyone in the vehicle nor did he hit any of the constant stream of civilians walking on the side of the road. The Sergeant Major got out of the vehicle, in uniform, and apparently did a very good impersonation of the Sam Elliot role in We Were Soldiers. The worst part is the convoy commander was a Lieutenant Colonel and told the Sergeant Major, "My soldiers are prepared to fight so he did nothing wrong." So apparently firing on US citizens is ok for this new unit.
This is prevalent with these new units coming in. They have been watching the news back home and seeing only the shooting and bombings before coming over here. As a result, they are very high strung and do not realize that the environment over here is not nearly as bad as the news is portraying. The fact is, the media is being very irresponsible. We have been watching the news via AFN and it is amazing how the only things they are choosing to report are the bad things. We are in a major rotation of units throughout Iraq. The logistics of moving the amount of troops and equipment in and out of Iraq is nothing short of a modern marvel. There are roughly 130,000 troops over here. With US civilian contractors, the number is over 200,000. The foreign troops push the number even higher.
This is a war, yet we have been losing an average of just over one soldier a day. There were weeks during Vietnam where the losses numbered in the thousands. Not quite a valid comparison. We have taken a country that had no water, electric, sewer or school infrastructure and have been creating all of them. Seeing the children walk to school every day, boys and girls, is a sight that shows daily success. Have you seen this on the news? I think not.
Tonight was another late one with a new source. He has been waiting for two weeks to talk to someone and was very detailed about diming out a bomb maker who set up and detonated a bomb outside one of the American bases in January. I thought it was ironic when we were going over the description of the guy and my detainee says, "He only has one hand. He was playing with a bomb one time and lit it with his cigarette, pulled it back to throw and BOOM." The hand gestures as he was describing it were great as he pulled his hand into his sleeve when he said boom.
27 March 2004
Are we winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people? Not really. Many mosques are preaching that we are an invading force and we must be repelled.
First, you have the Shiites; a sect that has been oppressed by Saddam and the Sunnis for 30 years. They are adamant that they are put in power since they make up 60% of the population. The problem is that Iran has the fundamentalist extremist Shiites and are trying to influence the transition of power over here. The Shiite people are happy that we are here as a whole, but are constantly receiving the propaganda from their mosques to fight us.
The Sunni Muslims are aware that simple numbers show they will be out of power since they are a minority. As such, anything they can do to delay or prevent a free election is in their favor. This is the group that spent 30 years helping Saddam suppress the rest of the population so fear retribution.
The Kurds up north just want their own state. They are the most friendly toward the coalition forces and are trying hard to establish their own region, even if it is a subpart of Iraq.
The Christians are a small minority and, as they did under Saddam, have kept quiet to ride out the latest storm here.
This is a war torn country. The people are weary of that, but not so much so that they are ready to work together. It is even obvious in our camps here. We have one compound with 25 detainees in it. They cannot agree on anything. This works to our advantage because they cannot even agree to work against the Americans. They have had major war for the last 25 years and most do not believe that the Americans will stay to see a real peace through. That is a major part of their skepticism. They remember 1991 when we came in and liberated Kuwait and stayed to help protect and stabilize that country. They also remember that we turned our backs on the masses in Iraq and did not help when they were asking for it. Most Iraqis are certain we are going to turn over the government to the wrong person and then just leave and it will be just as bad as it was when Saddam was in power.
The mortar attack the other night that killed a detainee and injured 11 others has really opened the eyes of some detainees. Our interrogators are getting more information than ever before. The detainees are mad that Iraqis would fire on them and are much more willing to make it stop by giving us any information they have that might help stop the mortars. We received 11 more this morning though. No injuries thank God.
26 March 2004
Today went great at work. I am continuing to talk to the same source I have been for the last few days and he just continues to be a wealth of knowledge. All of the CACI interrogators have a little competition as to who gets the most high value evaluations back on reports and this source may put me in the lead after this week. Bill Armstrong, a retired army interrogator who left his instructor position at the intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, AZ get the prize of the day though. He is a very passionate man who loves doing this work and always goes the extra mile. He did some linking from one of his sources and found that we have a high value target here that is registered under an assumed name. This guy has not been talked to because he did not seem to be a priority, but I am sure he will be on Bill's schedule tomorrow!
The marines in Fallujah are having a heck of a time. They showed up out there to replace the 82nd Airborne and are running out of all supplies. They did not plan their logistics well and when our team that works with them stopped by here yesterday, they loaded up on cases of water because there is none out there. On top of that, you may recall reading in the newspaper how the marine division out there was going to try the "mingle with the natives" approach and try to win the hearts and minds through kindness. The Fallujah and Ar Ramadi area, which is only about 15 miles west of us, is a major conduit for foreign fighters coming in from Syria and other countries. They have been getting hit hard and have suffered a few casualties daily as a result. Plain and simple, kindness works while talking to someone over here, but it is also a sign of weakness. I hope that the commander out there adjusts his strategy soon.
We just had the Brigade staff people move into our building the other day. First, they commandeered one of the LRS unit's living areas right after the LRS guys had finished building bunks and making it home. They were told they would just have to pack tighter in the space that remained designated for them. The LRS guys then ripped apart all their work and left a big pile of broken-up lumber in the middle of the bay rather than let these staff weenies get it. They continued to make enemies when I walked by our supply room today and saw a sign posted on it that read, "this room needs to be vacated by 28 March or the lock will be cut and the contents will become property of HHC 202nd." I went ballistic and there is a captain who is getting dressed down by Colonel Payne as a result. The Brigade Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Edwards, is in charge of force protection of the facility. He has decided that the LRS unit can no longer go outside the walls of the compound because it is n
ot a safe environment. Of course not, it is a combat zone! The LRS teams are furious because now they cannot do their job. None of the rest of us are happy because the attacks on this facility had decreased while they were out there.
24 - 25 March 2004
These days are getting rough. Three hours of sleep is a little harder on me than it used to be. Getting a source that is giving you tons of information is a blessing and a curse. It is great to know I am doing what I came here to do, but the report writing and follow-up is very time consuming. Specialist Shareese Clarke is my analyst. She has been doing a great job taking my notes and reports and doing follow-up research to try and keep a step ahead as we go. She is not overly experienced, but what she lacks in experience, she makes up for in diligence and perseverance.
The 24th was my day off. I ended up working part of the day and then worked on building a new bunk for my new room. Since Dan has officially gone to take the Special Advisor to the C2 position, I moved into his old room. It is nice having my own room and it happens to be the biggest room in our area, so I proceeded to build a nice big bunk and some shelving units. My parents would never believe this, but I actually am keeping my room organized and neat!! Steve and I had a nice long and very frank talk. I have noticed he has changed for the better since returning from R&R and think he just needed to get away for a bit and unwind.
I have to say, the chow hall food has improved since receiving the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce in a care package from my fantastic in-laws. I have shared with a couple of the guys and it is funny because we are putting it on literally everything, except the ice cream we were treated to the other night. They also served iced tea for the first time since I have been here. I can't believe it took this long since it is Brits that run the place, I figured iced tea would be a given. It is the small things in life that are so precious over here.
Tonight's interrogations were cancelled. We had a mortar hit in one of the prison compounds. It killed two detainees and injured eleven others. The detainees are in tents where as we are in hardened buildings. I was at work when it happened and it was the compound near our worksite. The mortar was fired from a passing truck that was fired on and hit by the towers. Once the all clear was given, we went out to tend to the facility. Since I am "unarmed," I did litter-carry duty and helped along with our other CACI guys in moving the injured detainees to the medic station. It was a somber evening, but sad to say, I am relieved that no Americans were injured except the MP who cut himself on the concerntina wire.
22-23 March 2004
I have to combine yesterday and today since I am not even sure when which started and tonight is not even over. I had to take a break so walked back to type this.
Last night's interrogation was amazing. I have never felt so unprepared or caught so off guard in my life. I get the guy in the booth and he says, in English, "sir, before you say anything, my full name is blah blah blah and I take full responsibility for the missile being fired at the American aircraft." Now, they teach you at the interrogation school to be able to think fast on your feet, and I pride myself in my ability to do so, but this was too much. I sat there for at least a full minute while I let this sink in.
I followed up with the above interrogation today. I will be spending a lot of quality time with this gentleman. He is being very open and giving me information that I could have only dreamed of collecting. Other interrogators have had this opportunity, but working on the Force Protection team, we generally do not get the high profile types. The Sheik is a special project that does not really count. I have written eight reports already based on this guy and I was told that at least one so far will probably end up in a White House daily briefing. The kicker is that I have only scratched the surface with this guy.
We received a couple of mortars today, but fortunately they landed in the middle of the field. As customary, they mortared us right after we received two new CACI personnel, so we blamed them for bringing the mortars.
It is official, Dan left today and I will be moving into his room tomorrow so will have my own cell. It was cool living with Marty Meadows and Don Simpson, but Don snores like a freight train and the peace and quiet of my own snoring will be a welcome change.
Scott Norman and I have been networking with the Marines that arrived a couple of weeks ago. They are a great group of guys and have been crapped on by the army since they got here and they are very eager to establish good relations with people here. Scott and I have been very successful in making contacts and using the barter system over here to get what we need. It is a relief to see that 200+ years of the military and the underground network is still running strong. It saves trees with the lack of paperwork.
They released 200 detainees today. It was an absolute media circus, but I was happy to see us get this release program started. There have been people sitting here for months that should have been sent home. The army has arranged for a local bus company to transport the released persons to their home towns.
Time to go write more reports, have a good night.
21 March 2004
I should specify the difference in some of the groups here. The Mujadin are holy fighters and martyrs, they are usually religious zealots that are foreign fighters and will use homicide bombing as a tactic. The Fedayeen fight in the name of religion, but are not willing to be martyrs. The Saddam Fedayeen are a non-religious group loyal to Saddam Hussein and his family. Most of the prominent figures within Iraq are supporting this group and are the ones paying the farmers to shoot at the coalition forces. Some of the Saddam Fedayeen attend mosque, but mainly because they know we do not raid mosques and they use them as a meeting place. The Saddam Fedayeen are not looked highly upon by the other elements because they drink, smoke, and tend to be womanizers. Three no-nos in the Muslim religion. The International Red Cross seems to like them well enough though. Please note the difference between the American Red Cross, a great organization, and the International Red Cross, the a
nti-American fascist organization.
We still have no showers, but they are working on it today and we are optimistic that by the end of the day tomorrow we will be able to use water again. Baby wipes are fine for now and we are all just happy this did not happen in July when the weather is really hot. We were pushing the 90s today by noon. The heat is moving in.
I have been given a new assignment at work. I am to finish off my current caseload and then I will be going through all the files assigned to our team and reviewing for whether or not the people have potential further intelligence value, or if they need to be released, or just reassigned to the common criminal element here. Hopefully I will not ruffle too many feathers among the interrogators on our team because I will actually be critiquing their work if I see something they missed. Fortunately, we have a great team and since I have more real-world experience that anyone else on our team, I get turned to when someone has questions.
Jim Matheson, a former counter-intelligence guy who came over here with me is on my team. He has never done interrogations before, but is a very experienced agent and has conducted a lot of investigations. He has done a great job as an interrogator here, but, by his own admission, cannot run a good fear-up harsh approach. He asked me to help out in the booth tonight with a good fear-up harsh. I was like a peacock strutting around when we were done because I scared the guy so much he wet himself. That will get talked about for weeks I'm sure!! The best part, when I walked out of the booth, Jim told the guy that either he can talk to Jim, or deal with me tomorrow. The guy broke and started talking to Jim.
Source for above section of Joe Ryan diary
18 March 2004
Last night was a shocking night. The hotel that was hit is right on the other side of the river from where the coalition forces patrol. That side of town is not secured. When the bomb went off, US forces sent teams over there to try and help, to include medical personnel. They were blocked off and turned back by Iraqis in the area. That was unexpected and sad because the engineer crews and medics sure could have helped. Today was even busier. Basra, in southern Iraq, had a hotel bombed. Fallujah received rockets into town that struck buildings and started fires. The "green zone" in Baghdad was hit again as well. It is weird seeing that Basra and Baghdad are getting hit so hard because those areas have been some of the more stable areas since we got here. Fallujah has not. I hope that this gets a little more under control in the near future, but I know that the attacks of soft targets will continue at least until the transitional government takes power at the end of June. Things have been pretty quiet here (knock on wood) and we have really beefed up our force here. Hopefully we will continue to keep our strong presence here and sufficiently deter attacks since it appears that they are only hitting areas that are easy targets. The International Red Cross arrived here today. They caused quite a stir when they started handing out these magazine type booklets to the detainees. In the booklet, it was all in Arabic and when one of the linguists started translating it, we found that it was anti-American propaganda. There was even a picture of a plane dropping a bomb on a child flying a kite. Needless to say, once this was discovered, the Colonel had the entire crew sent out of the front gate. They were supposed to be here a week, but he told them that until they account for their actions with Paul Bremer, they are not setting foot back inside our walls.
17 March 2004
Happy St Patrick's Day. My sister sent a great big leprechaun hat and I had fun wearing it all day. It was quite the site in the chow hall as everyone thought is was great. Since it was my day off today, I went into the chow hall early with the food coloring that also was sent by Diane and colored all of the water bottles on the tables. It sure is fun to make people laugh and smile in a place like this. Earlier in the day, Scott, one of the CACI guys that I have become good friends with, and I went down to where the military folks live and showed them how to build bunks like we have. It is much better than the cots they are currently using. Their Sergeant Major was against the idea until he came down the other night and took a look at our and realized that the soldiers could store their footlockers underneath and make everything look 'dress right dress.' This is the same sergeant major who's self admitted number one priority is soldiers wearing their uniforms in strict accordance with regulations. So much for common sense in a combat zone. Scott and I built two for them with them watching each step and then turned them loose. I bought a circular saw when ours gave up the ghost, so they are having fun actually using power tools. I took my clothes to the little dry cleaner shop we have on post. It is run by a local Iraqi family and they are a fun group of people. It sure is nice to have clean clothes. The Iraqis at the cleaners do not understand St Patrick's Day, but they sure thought the big hat was funny! The free Brown and Root service is not making many friends as they have been losing clothes and staining others. The problem is that they take them to another military installation for cleaning and do not have a whole lot of control over the service there. We are planning on having a game night with cards and some movies tonight. A little green beer and the night would be complete!!
16 March 2004
There is a Marine Division replacing the 82nd Airborne Division out in Fallujah over the next couple of weeks. For bearings, we are half way between Fallujah and the Baghdad International Airport. The airport is on the western side of Baghdad. Since shortly after we had the ambush on our reaction force, we have had beefed up security. I told you about the Bradleys that were here and tore up the mortar teams. We also have regular patrols of Apache gunships along the highway all the way from the airport to Fallujah. Since we are next to the highway, we get free patrols all day. To give you an idea of how powerful they are, I have a video from one of the gunships that has been passed around. From three miles out, the gunship auto-locked and took out three individuals in a field...at night!! Since we are the only permanent theatre detainee facility, there have been efforts to boost our security. As the two companies of 82nd Airborne guys have moved out as of yesterday, an entire battalion of Marines has moved in to replace them. The 870th MP company that lives down by us leaves next Sunday and their replacements are the Long Range Surveillance unit from Michigan that numbers 150 men. It is nice living in hard sites and seeing the firepower improve. We are now integrating a new computer system for our intelligence database. Although it is said that it has a lot more capabilities than the current system we are using, it is much less user friendly and has a lot of bugs in it. They have been trying to bring this system on-line for the last three years and it keeps getting kicked back due to failures. The technicians that are here to teach people how to use it are very thin skinned about pointing out deficiencies. The funny part is that the system will be replaced within a year anyway. That is the typical progression. We were out on the deck right after getting back tonight and heard a loud whooshing sound like a bottle rocket on steroids. There was no boom at the end of it. I went down and told the MPs and they rolled out a team and found an unexploded RPG round. It was sure a nice piece of dumb luck that we were standing out there to hear it so the unexploded round could be disposed of. 15 March 2004 The Ides of March. The downfall of Caesar and the success of American interrogators. I have been working a shift from noon to midnight. We usually run over when we get a decent amount of reportable information. As interrogators, we always are in competition to see who gets the best information from their interrogation. The other extreme is who had the person who should not have been detained. (Nobody even accused us of being sound of mind). Tonight I was sure I had the winning interrogation for information gathered. I came out with information to write three different reports. It paled in comparison to what two other people got tonight. I guess tonight was the night the detainees decided to all give up. The other end of the spectrum is the 4th Infantry Division. We have a little skit we act out for their Division Commander. We pour a cup of coffee, puff out our chest, and survey the room. Then you say in a thunderous voice, "Boys, today I want 150 Iraqis captured." Although this is our skit, it is all too true. The 4th Infantry Division thinks that there is a prize if they leave the country with holding the record for the most Iraqi prisoners sent to Abu Ghurayb. The facts are this; when they hit a targeted house, they arrest every male over the age of 16 within a mile of the house just in case. This is why nobody has EVER accused the infantry of being intelligent. We received three new people today. We also have six people that are heading out to Division areas in the next week. The three new people are pretty good and one is an interrogator. Thank goodness because we are starting to run thin on interrogators in theatre. We increased the number of translators here by seven in the last week, which lets us do our job better, but a few interrogators have been sent to Divisions so we have to make up for that. Manpower will be a constant issue over here. The simple fact is that there are not enough army personnel to accomplish the mission. I, to the surprise of many who know me, will admit that this has nothing to do with politics. The simple fact is that the intelligence community has made signals intelligence the "sexy" aspect of intelligence and has ignored the human intelligence (HUMINT) aspect as a result. Well, last time I checked, most people around here do not use satellite phones, cell phones, or even regular telephones. They do no t hook up very well in caves and sand dunes. The only way to obtain intelligence information around here is to have personnel on the ground. I would say only one if fifty of the detainees that I talk to have phones.
14 March 2004
One of the guys who came over here with me, Jose Almanzar, headed out to work with one of the roving HUMINT Support Teams that support the individual Division assets. He will be missed. He is a good friend and kind of a celebrity in the intelligence world. While he was still in the army (he recently got out), he was with the first wave of military interrogators to go to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba when it was set up to take Al Quada detainees. He is also the one who identified and initially interrogated the person who is truly identified as the 20th high-jacker from the September 11th attacks. The story can be found in one of the January issues of Newsweek. The beautiful irony is that Jose is from New York City, so it could not be a better scenario for who got to look the terrorist in the eye. I had a very long day and did not make it back to my prison cell (I love saying that) until 4:30am. I did not anticipate this. I had a detainee tonight that we knew was somewhat involved with activities, but about an hour into the interrogation, he just started spilling his guts. Report writing became a large project tonight. We continue to enjoy nice weather and actually, the walk back to the living area was pretty cold tonight...a frigid 60 degrees or so. The mosquitoes over here are really coming out. They are not too numerous, but I think they have Kevlar exoskeletons because they just don't seem to die when you hit them. The prospect that I may be taking over the site lead position when Dan leaves is looking more like a reality. I found out today that James Mayo, a man that could run this entire war operation single handedly, gave Dan his recommendation for me to take the manager position. This is humbling considering that James is a 30+ year law enforcement veteran that has done some incredible things in his life. If I can be half as successful at life as he has been, I will consider myself very fortunate. 10 March 2004 Today was my day off, so I was busier than usual. We had to take Michele, one of the CACI personnel that came over here the same time I did, to the airport. She will be spending the next week in Kuwait getting her foot surgically repaired. The medics thought it was a planter wart, but when they could not get it to heal up with treatment and it became worse, they decided to send her to Kuwait to get it looked at and fixed. She has been a real trooper. She has been battling with this since we got here and she has not missed a day of work. This includes the mile walk to and from work each day. This is the mentality and heart of the people working over here. While down at Camp Victory, I learned that they received a few mortars the other night and one of them hit the AAFES warehouse. It sure made for slim pickings at the post exchange store. I dropped off the timecards for our guys at CACI headquarters while down there and found out that Dan has not checked in with them for more than 48 hours. He was supposed to be on a plane from Ramstein Air Force Base two days ago. There is a little concern from us that he has decided to not return. Hopefully this is not the case. He is a good manager and good man. Above all, we hope he is doing ok. We had an incident with one of the interpreters this afternoon. He is actually not an active interpreter. He was fired back in December, but since Titan does not have a place for him, he is still here. He decided that he could help himself to our resources and just came sauntering in and hooked up to our internet connection. He was asked politely to leave by one of our guys and after he answered in a very rude manner, they came down and got me. After he told me to exercise a few expletives, I proceeded to go get CW# Dave Cope who is in charge of the interpreters before I throttled this punk. Come to find out, this interpreter has picked fights before and is why he was fired. He was told his bags better be packed and ready to go tomorrow when the Titan country manager gets here. The issue with Titan is that CACI spent $21,000 renovating the area where the interpreters reside under a verbal agreement that they would reimburse and also pay for half of the kitchen, tv room, and c omputer set up. When the bill came, Titan said they were no longer interested. I guess they want to keep in normal modus operandi with their current SEC fraud, waste, and abuse investigation. It is pathetic the way they treat their employees. To date, they have yet to provide a single thing to their folks up here. We received the four persons responsible for the Karbala bombing tonight. I have already been informed that I will have the pleasure of dealing with them tomorrow. They found the remains of the Marine Lieutenant Colonel and the Coalition Provisional Authority representative in the trunk of the car that the four detainees were caught in. Rest assured, these four will be turned over to the new Iraqi government when the time is right and dealt with more harshly than we ever would be allowed. 09 March 2004 The weather is holding quite nice. I know it is too much to hope avoiding the blistering summer heat, but we sure are not complaining about the nice temperatures now. I was asked what the booth was. We have two steel Connex containers (like a semi trailer) with doors cut into the sides. The containers are partitioned into three sections that are about 10 feet by 10 feet. In each booth, there is an air conditioner/heater, table and a few chairs. There is also a one way window for observations and, since the investigation last fall, there are also video cameras in each booth. With every interrogation, I have just the interpreter in with me, but sometimes I will have a junior interrogator in with me to get them trained up. We also will periodically have someone else in the booth from another government entity if the detainee is of high value or specific intelligence value. I am still running the three ring circus since there is no word from Dan or our folks at Camp Victory. It actually has been going very smoothly the last few days now that we have most of the issues ironed out. The guys have been great in pitching in and helping whenever needed. It is frustrating trying to get through all of the detainees that we have here. The normal flow is when a unit detains someone, they go to a Division level cage (detention facility). They usually spend a week or so there and are assessed by field interrogators at that point. Once initial interrogations are performed, the detainee is supposed to be assessed. If they potentially have further intelligence value or there is strong evidence linking them to illegal activities, they come here. If they were the case of wrong place at the wrong time, they are supposed to be released. The problem we are encountering is that no one at the Division level is willing to release a detainee and so they send everyone here. Since we are a Joint Interrogation Facility, we have the responsibility to talk to everyone and have to send each file to the Detainee Assessment Board to be reviewed before someone can be released. Since we are limited on linguists, this is an arduous process. 08 March 2004 I enjoyed reading letters from a class of third graders today. I took them into work and passed them around for everyone to enjoy. It is a great reminder of why we are here. We had a mouse decide to take up residence in our room yesterday. Fortunately, he did not get into any of our food stuff before I set a trap for him with success. I found that mice in Iraq love EZ Cheese. Hopefully this will not be an ongoing problem, but since we live in prison cells in one of the most notorious prisons in history, I will leave the traps set from now on. We have a couple of guys from other government agencies staying here for a while. They were put up by the army, but went straight to the Colonel complaining that they have to be on cots while we have our nice area down here. I was called in and then proceeded to show them pictures that some of the guys took of this area before we moved in. after seeing how much clean-up we had to do and me telling them that we earned this area, they backed off the Colonel. I had a short temper when dealing with this particular agency due to dealings with these clowns in the past. They are arrogant and usually ignorant as well so none of us are in a hurry to do them any favors. They have already burned bridges here by coming in and removing a couple detainees without authorization. The result is that their agency had to send a couple guys to stay here or they could not come in and talk to any detainees. They also will have someone watching through the glass to ensure they adhere to our policie s. Some are asking about where I am located versus the news. The 'green zone' is the area from central Baghdad to the southwest suburbs that is under relatively stable control by American forces. I am not in the 'green zone.' Abu Ghurayb Prison is northwest of Baghdad right in the middle of the 'Sunni Triangle.' The Sunni Triangle extends from Baghdad to Fallujah and is the area that is considered the 'red zone.' The Sunni Triangle is the last area of any type of organized Baathist resistance. The last couple of days have been house cleaning as far as interrogations. I am letting my others stew for a couple of days as I have a couple of days of three-a-day interrogations coming up. Those will be some long days, but I have to admit it is an awesome feeling gleaning the intelligence to bring down these groups. 07 March 2004 It is terrible when the people working above you have no concept on laws or regulations. In reviewing our manning document with LTC Faust this evening, I noticed that we have three people doing interrogations that are not school trained or certified. This is a rather large problem. LTC Faust stated that Tom Howard, one of our CACI higher ups working at the C2, told him that we could use analysts that showed promise and turn them into junior interrogators. After recovering from my convulsions, I explained that I would like my next stop to be home, not Ft. Leavenworth. We brought in CW4 Olson and he concurred with my assessment. Now that is has been brought to the attention of the command, it will be there call to deal with it, but I know it will be dealt with swiftly. The guerilla movement over here is basically broken down into two groups remaining. The remnants of the Baathist government and the foreign jihadists who came in from other countries to fight the United States. The Baathist loyalists are secular and are the ones trying to engage the American forces in traditional guerilla fashion. The foreign jihadists are religious zealots are the ones engaging softer targets, in particular suicide bombers. The foreign jihadists could have been much more successful if they would have had a better coordinated effort with the former Baathists. The other shortcoming was that the Sunni Muslims are helping some, but the Shiites are not helping in mass and since the Shiites make up majority of the population, they hampered the resources available. I am sure not complaining that things are going pretty well over here. Here is sit in the middle of the Sunni triangle and we are not even getting hit very hard. We have not had a mortar attack since the Bradley Fighting Vehicles tore up the last attackers (literally) and we had small arms fire on our towers for the first time since then tonight. That fire tends to stop quickly when the Mark 19 automatic grenade launchers start firing and the 50 caliber machine guns let loose. The bombing tonight in Baghdad is a prime example of the total limit of operations that can be conducted. These bombings are conducted in areas that the military is not fortified and showing a strong presence. I saw that on the news they were reporting that the rockets attacks were around the corps headquarters. This is not exactly true. The Al Rasheed hotel is the one five star type hotel in Iraq and is where some of the theater generals stay, but there is no way for someone to get close enough to do serious damage. this would explain only one injured. We finished getting our internet hooked up here in our living area and it is great. Now I can stay right here in the area and work on the computer. I also do not have to worry about time limits.
Source for above portion of diary