Monday, February 28, 2005

The Cider Revolution Is Winning

"I grew up in the Middle East. During the Lebanese civil war, I was obsessed with following its news. I read everything I could find about Lebanon to understand why that beautiful country turned into a war zone. I discussed it daily with my Lebanese friends at the university. I read "Beirut Nightmares" by Ghada Samman, where she took the readers into a journey inside a city torn down by bombs. I still couldn't understand enough."
Live from Dallas
Please go read this touching first hand account from Fayrouz, of what the Syrian presents in Lebanon was really like. Thank you Fayrouz for this excellent blog
"In my daydreams before I met Khawla, there were occasions when I faced my interrogators and executioners with such a show of fortitude that I converted them into adherents of my cause, and times when I killed them all in a single thought, and times when I died gracefully and quietly and left them simply shattered.

But in my daydreams these days, I seldom dwell upon such themes. I find enough victory, glory and fulfillment in the simple thought of waking up peacefully, and having nothing to worry about in life but the mundane things of daily subsistence. God bless the meek indeed."
So it would seem to be true, you can find gold in a led deposit
"BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 27 - Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syria had captured and handed over a half-brother of Saddam Hussein who has been accused of playing a leading role in organizing and financing the insurgency that has tormented Iraq since Mr. Hussein's overthrow nearly two years ago.

Syrian officials in Damascus confirmed the transfer, and said the half-brother, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, once the widely feared head of Iraq's two most powerful security agencies, was one of a group of officials from the former Iraqi government who were arrested in Syria and delivered into Iraqi custody. An Associated Press report, quoting unidentified Iraqi officials, said there were 30 men in the group"

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Combat Patrol?

"Yesterday was a VERY long day. We did a 15 hour patrol through our sector in Baghdad. It was boring sometimes and nerve racking at other times. We patrolled some of the hot spots. You could tell by the looks on the locals faces they didn't want us there. Some smiled, but that wasn't common."
Boots on the Ground

Saturday, February 26, 2005

About Building Bridges - Friendship Groups

"Fayrouz , is a very nice lady , she is an Iraqi origin lady , living with her husband in America , she always wrote in her blog (Live From Dallas) a great things that keep upper grade of nobel humanity active in people in a very calm and cool way , for which i am very gateful.
She replied to my last english post very quickly , so that i decided to post what she wrote in her blog , I hope this effort will be the first stone in our cooperating among nations ."
A Free Writer
`When it rains, it pours.

Blogging Vs Terror (Part 1)

"I had a date with Najaf yesterday. The trip this time was a special one because I was there to give lectures to spread blogging and to talk about the importance of blogging and the ways to get blogs and use them. It is a part of the Arabic blogging project of the Friends of Democracy that aims at connecting intellectuals, students and NGOs (especially women NGOs) through a network of blogs that facilitates communication and gives democratic debates a push forward through exchanging opinions and sharing ideas among all the parties and the communities in different cities, all through blogging."
Speak of the devil.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Under Mars
Warning some graphic pictures of the war. Not for the squeamish.

the First Amendment

Can any of my reader(s) tell me what five freedoms are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America?

Personal Iraq Diary, 12 April 2004

"There is no way to describe the last three days in detail. On the 9th the attack started with a car bomb going off across the river in 2-3's FOB. They say it blew up a fuel truck. We were sitting in the CP watching the news when BOOM. It felt like the building flexed. I was on QRF and was in the vehicles with the other guys in 2 minutes. Between RPGs, car bombs, and mortars I lost count at 30 in about an hour and that continued for 8 hours non-stop."
A Candle in the Dark

Afghan elections DELAYED

"This is not "news." It's confirmation via the UN. I don't know how much impact the delay will have on the chances of independent candidates being able to run without intimidation. The DDR process is 80% complete. HOWEVER, there are still powerful figures and a lot of money (drug money included) that can intimidate dissident or independent candidates - and guns of course."
About Afghanistan
Roya has been really busy posting article after article about Afghanistan. I have linked to this one of the most resent ones, but if your remotely interested about what's going on over there with the cold winter and everything else that's happened read the whole blog, you won't be disappointed.

What reconciliation?

"Al Mehdi Army demonstrates in Basra From Al Qabas Kuwaiti newspaper (Arabic link):

4000 men of Sadr's militia, Al Mehdi army marched through the streets of Basra in a demonstration of power. The militia men were dressed in black shirts and khaki trousers and had their ammunition on.
The American, British and Israeli flags were painted along the road where the demonstration took place for the militia to step on them. This happened despite that some of Sadr followers joined the elections and actually won some seats under the banner of the "Unified Coalition list". The Iraqi and multinational forces did not respond in any way to that demo.

Why is this happening and how should we react to it?
Free Iraqi
Ali offers his opinions on Iraqi reconciliation, and ask the important question, Reconcile what? read for yourself his words

The In T View: Fayrouz Hancock

"The In T View: Fayrouz Hancock

Fayrouz Hancock, the delightful doyenne of the Dallas - Fort Worth metropolitan
area is one of the premiere Iraqi Christian Bloggers in the world through her Blog: Live From Dallas . In the In T View, she details her thoughts on Iraq and a wide variety of subjects:

MG: How are you?

Fayrouz: I can't be better :-)"


Alzarqawis days look numbered

"Day after day the way leading to Zarqawi becomes shorter. The corners he may use become very few and disclosed.

Talib Minkhlef Airsan (Abokotayba) one of the top cards just beside Zarqawi has been arrested 4 days ago near Aana which is close to the Syrian border. He is one of the most dangerous terrorist in Zarqawi group. He was responsible for the personal security of Zarqawi!"

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Al Iraqia, the local T.V. network has been showing confessions of terrorists captured in Mosul. Truly horrible details are emerging. They are so horrible that I hesitate to recount to you some of what has been said. And Syria seems to have been behind this particular network of terrorists. Watching carefully these confessions, I was trying hard to figure out whether they were genuine or fabricated. After very attentive observation of every gesture and carefully weighing every word, I reached the conclusion that they are most likely genuine."
The Mesopotamian

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Frontline: A Company of Soldiers or Why Tell the Tale if You're Going to Tell It Wrong.

"You have all heard some of my story in Iraq. Seeing this documentary made me feel netter and at the same time worse about what all of you see."
A Candle in the Dark
Go read Combat Doc's critic of last nights documentary of life in Iraq.

Monday, February 21, 2005

one + one

"So, the “Arab and Moslem World” is furious with U.S. for the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, the peoples most directly concerned, i.e. the Afghans and the Iraqis are behaving in a very strange manner. The majorities in both these two victim countries of “American aggression” just do not seem to be sufficiently outraged. Of course, they said, what do you expect of “puppets” installed by the “occupiers”? But, Lo & behold, these very same puppets get elected by majorities in fair and honest elections, which probably, were the first of their kind in the history of the region."
The Mesopotamian

Lebanon's Red and White Non-Violent Revolution

"Belgrade 2000. Tbilisi 2003. Kiev 2004. --Beirut 2005?

As some of us who watched the popular standoff against Leonid Kutchma’s government in the squares of Kiev might have observed, someone’s deep pockets must have paid for those thousands of color-themed caps and scarves! Surely people didn’t buy them from surplus orange inventory at Benetton or Oxfam! Well, there is money. "
Nur al-Crbicle
Who said I was not an equal opportunity blogger

Talking with the Enemy

Talking with the Enemy A time story about the US talking to the insurgents and looking for a way to end the insurgency.
Thanks to John C. a poster at Abbas comments pages for the tip.

better & stronger Iraqi Security forces

"The success of the Iraqi forces to keep the security during the tenth of Moharam in Najaf and Karbala was an excellent achievement. It proved that the Iraqi forces are capable of keeping the security even during the difficult time. The security plan in the holy cities was fully Iraqi based without help from the multi-national forces. More than 2 million visitors for the holy shrines came during the tenth day of Moharam. Many terrorists have been arrested before they were able to carry out attacks. Explosives and weapons were confiscated"
Read the rest.

Support the Iranian Bloggers

I found this BBC story on the Iranian crackdown on blogging over at ITM and just wanted to point out that this is not the first that we have heard of this issue, I posted this link back in December 04 to a story that described all kinds of torture and abuse, just for blogging.
The EU thinks it can make a deal with these people, just as they are consolidating power and trying to silence all the dissent. The next step will be to cut the lines and make all use of the internet illegal. That will be their only way to quell the rising resentment that is, and will be fueled by this series of crackdowns.
We all have to do what we can to support the Iranian bloggers, or at least let them know that we are with them, so they can continue to do what all bloggers do. Blog.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Dear Colonel Hackworth

"Col. David Hackworth has a site in which he writes various articles, some dead on and some not, about various things in the Army. A lot of soldiers write him letters from Iraq and he posts them to his site. There has been a flood of letters and stories coming out of the base I was at in Iraq: LSA Anaconda. A lot of these letters were fairly harsh of my unit. So being the big mouth asshole that I am, I had to chime in with my two cents.
On The Sunny Side Of The 81st "


The far side

"we sat for something like 3 hours and brought the world into focus...things are the way they are...but he has put his mark in this world forever...he opened up more eyes then my own and i think that is why i am so honored that he would wish to meet with me while he visited our country...i can only hope that you have continued success in your life and you keep getting paid for something you would do for are amazing...
be safe salam..."

ING Needs

"A few of you have expressed interest in helping the Iraqi National Guard soldiers out. I asked them what type of things they wanted and got this list:

Socks- black wool and white
Arabic-English dictionaries- they all want to learn English
Cheap portable CD players
T-shirts, really with anything printed on them, or plain
Small flashlights

American women... haha- they love American women.

They all want visas to America, too, but I told them I didn't think I could arrange that, but hey, what's the harm in mentioning it.

If anyone wants to send something to the ING soldiers, you can mail them to me at the address on the right and I'll make sure they get to the right place. Thanks in advance."
Steven Kiel

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"A Company of Soldiers" and "The Soldier's Heart" on PBS

"A lady at PBS asked for me to post this up on the blog in case anybody is interested in checking it out:"
My War

President Jalal Talabani ??!!

"I don't know if many of you know this guy. He is the general secretary of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The reason why I am writing this, is that because he is the strong candidate for the post of Iraq's first elected President.
He is 72, and has been involved in politics since he was 13. So imagine 60 years of his life has been covered by politics.
Kurds are divided over his support, some see him as the guy who tries to please everyone first, then Kurds. Some see him as diplomatic, trying to silent everyone and do things undercover.

He is a law graduate from Baghdad's university, and he has his negaitve and positive sides of his life, which I don't want to go into.
What I must admit, is that he reads alot. I have seen him talking on special programmes and the amount of the information he knew is great. He is always referencing his qoutes, something which I like because otherwise you never know if the speaker is just talking or talking the truth.

He speaks around 5 languages, some say 7. His wife is also very active. Some accuse him of trying to take control of everything in his controlled region of Kurdistan, especially after it became a "law" to have his photograph in schools and other places, something which Saddam was doing.
Kurds call him "Mama" which is short for "Mam Jalal" or "Uncle Jalal".

So I have written a petition, I know it probably won't ever reach him, because I have already faxed and emailed this to his party several times, but just for the sake of the fun of it, consider signing.
Guess what it is ?!
An invitation for him to start his own blog !
Please consider signing if you want to read Iraq's president's blog !!"
Kurdo's World

Friday, February 18, 2005

I'm sick as a dog, got the flu or something and a toothache, wisdom teeth's coming out. Pray for me that I might survive this stage in my life.
Thanks for reading this blog.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The beginning of our work.

"Hi again ,dear friends here are one of the projects I started and its ,a very important project ,for the Iraqis ,it’s the projects of the HEALTH CLINIC CENTER ,and it’s a project consisted of 150 clinic all over Iraq "
Road to a Nation

Free Interactive Webcast

Free Interactive Webcast
"Paul down at asked me to help him out and announce this up on the blog for all who might be interested in checking it out:

On Thursday February 17th at 6pm EST, Operation Truth will host a free one-hour, interactive webcast featuring four Veterans of the War in Iraq! Please join us: Click here!

This is a great way to hear directly from the Troops! The panelists will talk about the latest issues surrounding the war in Iraq and present their first-hand accounts of the war, as well as their opinions on issues facing our troops."
My War

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

"Can you see how much hate is there in that Turkish soldiers eyes against that old probably 70 years old Kurdish man ??!

This was today during a march by the Kurdish Democratic People's Party in Turkey (DEHAP). "
Kurdo's World

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"James J. Na. who's a senior fellow in the "Discovery Institute" sent me this great article that he had wrote about Al Alousi and his visit to Israel. I thought I should share it with you and say that I agree totally with Mr. Alousi on his views about the future of Iraq. You'll find some updates about Al Alousi on James's blog."
Free Iraqi
"Nerts to Harrison Ford and his movie. Here's the REAL deal on Fallujah. U.S. ARMY's TF2-2IN created it. Combat Engineer - SPC Ronald Camp edited it. S2 blessed off on it. Jonathan Hanson is hosting it. Thanks."
Armor Geddon
After seeing the movie drop on by redsix's and read the rest of his post and see all the pictures.
A touching look at the cost of war from Ladybird

Saturday, February 12, 2005

World Exclusive !!! Blogger Interview !!! Blogger Interviews Blogger !!!

Cecile Landman, pajama'd visionary behind Streamtime, interviews Salam Pax in World Exclusive Iraq Blog Audio Broadcast !!!

Comprehensive, shocking, down-to-earth (like a gravity bound shell) yet blogger-mystiqueful and hidden revelational. Read the whole thing here, listen to the whole thing here.

Impress your friends and translate the transcript !!! Cecile is looking for someone with time to translate the text into Arabic, if you'd like to help contact Cecile at streamtime. "
My friend and fellow Cuban blogger Yoan Hermida, whose blog header is simply his name and reads:

Cubano, capitalista radical, soldado americano, exterminador de islamofascistas y comunistoides.

"Cuban, radical capitalist, American soldier, exterminator of islamofascists and communists."

Is shipping out to Iraq in a few days."
Babalu Blog

Thursday, February 10, 2005

"Dear friends ,I told you that I am so busy that I don’t have the time to write for you about these great time that we have in Iraq ,but also u don’t want to miss this great chance ,to speak about what we are doing here ,there for I will try my best to speak as much as I can about ,the construction side in Iraq ,and this side is very important for both side ,because we are in together ,I mean you already are paying for these projects ,and you need to know where your money is going hoping ,that this will help to be as a reference for some of the major projects ,and also might help to engorge more people to participate in this processes "
Road of a Nation
Sarmad post again, and with some great news. Best of luck in your new business.
The electoral commission announced then that the main Kurdish coalition had a quarter of the 4.6 million votes tallied so far, behind the leading Shiite slate of candidates but well ahead of the other parties. The Kurds are expected to take at least a fifth of the 275 assembly seats by the time the final count is announced.

Securing the president's office would give the Kurds enormous power in appointing key members of the new government, including the prime minister, and would bolster the standing of Kurds in the Middle East, where the governments of Turkey, Syria and Iran are fearful of any moves toward independence by minority Kurd populations in their own countries. "

It looks like the Kurds are well on their way to becoming the new powerbrokers in the region.

I think that within just a few years you will not be able to recognize the place. The Kurds are on the move and like a runaway train, there's no stopping them now.
"The Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq finished its investigation on what happened in Mosul on election day. It published the investigation results two days ago:"
Live From Dallas
Fayrouz has the latest info on what's happening with the election results

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Here are what I thought were interesting stories this week. Mainly cos I'm fed up with having stories about the poor resistance (who just so happen to be murdering thugs and criminals) rubbed in my face mercilessly.

Remember Amar Mohammed, the down syndrome kid who was used as a human bomb on election voters, well his family have been interviewed and they explain how the criminals lured him.

His mother is unable to forgive herself for mistaking the intentions of the strangers whose promises of help for her desperately poor family ultimately led her 19-year-old son to his fate as a weapon in the war against America.

The family spent the last 12 years of Saddam Hussein's rule on the run because Fatima's 50-year-old husband, Ahmed, was an army deserter. They fled to Baghdad from the southern city of Basra, but without local residency papers he was unable to find work.

Accustomed to living on charity, they were not entirely surprised when, 10 days before the election, two men got out of a car that pulled into their alley to announce that they were from the local Sunni mosque and they wanted to help Amar.

"Sunnis had helped us before so I didn't think it strange. It felt good that these men cared for us and they were so affectionate to Amar."

She recounts painfully how a neighbour told her Amar was definitely the bomb carrier because he had recognised the teenager's decapitated head where it lay on open ground

"We went to the Sunni mosque but the Imam was crying too. He said he did not know these men.""

"our history will be marked from before the election and after"

"I saw and heard in the media most of the reactions of the Iraqis in this election. But the most interesting comments that took my attention was that one of the Iraqi journalists who appeared in Al-Fayhaa TV said that this election marks the beginning of a new generation for Iraq. It is like we started a new Calendar for Democracy. As if the 30th of January will be 01/01/01 of the new Iraqi Calendar. Yes I agree with this journalist that it is a new age for Iraq. It is a new calendar and our history will be marked from before the election and after. It will be a turning point for Iraqis to refer to the events of their time as either being before democracy and after democracy. That was how we won the challenge and how we will make the new Iraq."
Iraq Today
"It is time to involve the Iraqis themselves, to give them the final word. Iraqis do not wish for their country to be a "frontline on the war of terror", as Bush recently stated. Iraqis do not wish for their country to be a battleground for reactionary bearded cavemen waging their holy wars. Iraqis do not wish to be fuel for the wars of neighbouring countries. Iraqis want to live and let live. Iraqis want what you have."
Healing Iraq

Saturday, February 05, 2005

"I just had my dufflebags inspected by customs and loaded to go to the airport later today. All I have left is my backpack.

The time in the camp flew by. I entertained myself yesterday hunting giant gerbils.

I've been talking to some of the incoming guys. Lots of Hawaii National Guard guys. Some of the companies came from American Samoa and Guam.

Well I'm running low on Internet minutes. I'll write more from Fort Drum.

Thanks for everyone's support. It encouraged me a lot during my time here.

Looking forward to Home.

Signing off from Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

Iraq calling
Well now all my favorite millbogs are gone. Anyone got any new suggestions?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

"The anecdote on Election Day is just a tiny slice of the longest day in Iraq. By 20:00, I felt like I was dreaming. I’ve chosen to omit much of the day because nobody will ever understand unless they were there, but I thought the incident towards the end of this post was funny."
Armor Geddon
This is just unbelievable, that they could be going around looking for the mentally handicapped to carry out their attacks is beyond the pail. But reading it I'm reminded of a similar thing that happened in Palestine a while back. A young kid was stopped when he was approaching a check point, when confronted he told the guard that he did not want to die, and wanted help to remove the bomb, or something to that effect. They sent him a pair of scissors with a robot, I think and then made the guy strip to prove that he did not have any more bombs or weapons. His family had said that the kid was slow and that he had been promised some stupid amount of money to be paid after the attack.
"During the last two days, I've been following the news of the Christian villages in Mosul that didn't get the chance to vote. The real reason is still unclear. There are 100,000 eligible voters in those villages. Those voters are disappointed by not being able to vote. I don't blame them."
Live from Dallas
I wonder if theses are the same people Kurdo was talking about, or if this happened in more than one place.
"One scenario has Iyad Allawi's party getting over a third of the vote, allowing him to block the formation of a presidential council unless he is promised the prime ministership. Initial reporting of the election results, which is admittedly still vague, however, does not suggest that Allawi's list did that well."
Juan Cole
Even Cole don't know what's up with the results yet, this has to be the best kept secret of the century. Were are the leak'ers when you need one.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

"The referundum card which was given out outside polling station on Sunday, 30th January 2005.

Around 95% of the participants in the informal independence poll in Kurdistan have voted for an independent Kurdistan.

This comes as reports suggest that the Kurdistan Alliance List has won %30 of the votes in the Iraqi Electoins.
The Kurdish-Turkmen-Arabic-Christian Brotherhood has also won %68 of the votes in Kirkuk. In some some neighbourhoods, the original Arabs of Kirkuk have also voted for the Kurdish-Turkmen-Arabic-Christian Brotherhood list.

Kurdish newspapers also reported on 2/2/05 that Jalal Talabani, the PUK leader has been chosen as Iraq's next president. "
Kurdo's World
I wonder how accurate these results are? If they are accurate, it's a stunning victory for the Kurdish people and their dream.
"The timetable set out by the Iraqi Election Commission is very long and the silence of its members about the preliminary count is so suspicious!

The Iraqis requesting from the ICE to show as soon as possible how the count is done and why it took so long for the results!

The on going meetings between some of the parties with Alawi including those who have not joined the election make the suspicion even higher.

It is against the will of the Iraqis in which they challenged the threat of death and went to vote with their souls over their hands if any one like to cling to power or to buy time or to leak results direct to the parties before it goes public.

In the USA and other big parts of the worlds the results come so quick and the candidates or parties even admit their losses earlier before the official results.

Allowing certain parties to buy time to make negotiations and coalitions are against the will of Iraqi people.
The Iraqis need immediate results from the IEC soon otherwise they need to prove that they are not biased to any one among the parties."
It's coming , It's coming, I am sure that the results are being counted as we speak.

Just Another Soldier - How to Turn a Blog Into a Demotion and a $1000 Fine

Mr. Chenelly-

I realize you probably have already written your piece on bloggers in Iraq for the Army Times, but I'd like to respond to your email anyway.

First a quick background. My unit (2/108 Infantry from New York) returned from Iraq on New Years Day. We spent a week at Fort Drum with the demobilization process and we are now all back to being citizen Joe again. All told, we spent fifteen months on this deployment, about eleven of it in Iraq in the Sunni Triangle.

I started my blog at the beginning of our deployment and had it online for a few months during our training-up period before my commander asked me to take it down. Our Family Readiness group knew about the blog who eventually leaked it to my commander. He flipped out. So I took it down, but continued to write, emailing my stories to those who wanted to continue to read. I successfully flew under the radar like this for most my deployment.

Once there were about two months left on our deployment, I put the blog back online with everything I had written. It took less than two weeks for someone from the New York National Guard stateside to inform my command. That's when things got bad.

My commander decided to court martial me. Then he said he saw how the court martial against the soldiers who refused to go on a fuel convoy mission was thrown out, so he changed the request for a court martial to a field-grade article 15 because he wanted to be certain he "could see me punished". My commander is an assistant district attorney in Manhattan in real life and is an expert when it comes to bullying people. I suspect once he cooled off a little he realized that a court martial was a bit much, so gave me the fuel convoy story as an excuse for changing his mind. I also suspect he just wanted to scare me as much as possible by telling me he wanted me court martialed.

My battalion S2 section made a hard copy of my blog and there was an investigation. It concluded that I had violated OPSEC, violated the Geneva convention (for photos of detainees), and that I was guilty of conduct unbecoming an NCO (primarily for a photograph of me sitting on a shitter, among other things). Then I sat around for a month after being transferred from my job as a rifle squad leader (about to be promoted to E-6) to our headquarters platoon doing absolutely nothing while I waited for the other shoe to drop. I was taken off missions altogether (which is the ultimate punishment for a soldier-- to not let him work). Waiting for my article 15 hearing and not knowing what was going to happen to me was one of the worst experiences of my life. I wanted to demand a court martial because I felt I had done nothing wrong, but the thought of being kept on active duty in legal limbo while the rest of my unit went back to their homes weighed very heavily on me. I was ready to be off active duty like I can't explain. Sitting around for that month while anxiety consumed me was far worse than combat. Call me a wimp, but it really sucked.

Apparently our brigade JAG guy (2 BCT 1 ID) was too busy with his own blog ( or something like that) to process my article 15 while we were in Iraq, so it didn't get resolved. Instead it was handed over to the garrison support unit at Ft. Drum upon our return. The article 15 I was given charged me with violating a direct order and violating OPSEC. The JAG lawyer I spoke with at Drum was little help and I was in no shape emotionally at that point to deal with a court martial, so I took the hit. I was given a field-grade article 15 by a colonel I never met in my life who didn't know me from a bucket of paint except for an investigation that made me sound like a traitor. I was demoted to E-4 and fined $1000.

The most interesting aspect of this entire fiasco is how OPSEC is defined, or rather not defined. Since there is no concise legal definition of what constitutes a violation of OPSEC (or at least not one anyone could produce for me when I requested it), it's impossible to determine when something crosses the line from "not a violation" to "a violation". It's like trying to define what pornography is or bad taste in music. To make a convincing argument how OPSEC has been violated is trivial. You pretty much only have to smarter than the person you are trying to convince, or just instill in him enough fear, uncertainty, and doubt that he'll have no choice but to agree. It's like accusing someone of being a communist. If you disagree with the person making the accusation, you'll be considered a communist sympathizer, or maybe even a communist yourself. The fight is over before the gauntlet is even dropped.

To answer the rest of your questions: My advice for soldiers who want to blog is to retain legal counsel before you start blogging. Have every legal detail worked out beforehand in regards to what you can and can't blog about. That way when your commander tells you to take your blog down, you can tell him to take the matter up with your lawyer. I had no idea my blog would become such a big issue, but if I had to do it over again, I would have gotten a lawyer before I started or at least made a call to the ACLU.

There is no way to blog about Iraq without your unit finding out about it. The guys in my unit knew about my blog within a month or two from the time I started it, but it took a few months before my commander found it. The only way for a soldier to not get in trouble is to write nothing but insipidly agreeable and conspicuously patriotic content that is reviewed by his or her leadership before posting. So yes, I do feel as though my First Amendment rights were violated. My article 15 was officially about my supposed violations of a direct order and OPSEC, but the ass-chewings I received focused a lot more on my penchant for explicating on the abundant absurdities of military life and combat. This was the real issue moreso than the supposed OPSEC violations and this is why the First Amendment exists-- to protect speech, even unpopular speech.

Everyone has a vision of how they want to remember their combat experience and particularly how they want others to view their combat service. Most soldiers, and especially infantrymen, want to realize all their Jerry Bruckheimer-fueled fantasies with macho military fervor. All I did was include more details in hopes of providing a more honest and humorous perspective of what soldiering is typically like. I could write "We went on a raid tonight. We smashed the gate down and cleared the house, but the guy we were looking for wasn't home." But instead I'd write "Tonight we went on a raid. It wasn't till 3am and I couldn't sleep so I masturbated before we left. On the way to the raid we got lost, but after driving around for a while we finally found the house. We tried to breech the gate of the outer wall, but in the process accidentally ended up knocking the entire wall over. After clearing the house, we realized it was the wrong one. Once we figured out where the correct house was, we raided it. But the guy we were looking for wasn't home. As I was pulling security on an alley, I realized that the chow we had for dinner wasn't agreeing with me and when I tried to fart ended up shitting my pants a little. Once we finished searching the house, we hopped back in our Humvees and took what we thought was our planned egress route, but instead found ourselves on a dead end canal road. While turning around, one of the Humvees got stuck in the mud. Most raids do not go this badly. We eventually made it back to our base safe and sound. My ass had started to chafe from when I 'sharted', so I took a shower, masturbated, and went to bed." (This, by the way, is a true story.) If I wrote a story like this, my commander would spend thirty minutes condemning me for portraying our unit as incompetent and unprofessional, but charge me with violating OPSEC because I disclosed tactical details on how we perform breeches.

All in all, I think Army leadership can't grasp that it's possible for a soldier to be critical or satirical of the Army but still be pro-Army. I've been in the Army 14 years. I love being an infantryman. But there are so many great stories that don't get told because there are so many people who don't want their illusions molested. Or because telling them apparently constitutes a violation of OPSEC.

If you have any more questions, I'd be happy to write more for you.

-Jason Hartley

p.s. I hope you don't mind but I've bcc'd this email to my mailing list.

Joe Chenelly wrote:


My name is Joe Chenelly with the Army Times. I was wondering if you'd answer a few questions for us? I am looking at writing about the service members blogging in Iraq.

I've was wondering if you could expand on why you stopped posting? Did it all blow over after you stopped blogging? Were you ever told how you violated OPSEC?

How did your command find out you were blogging?

What kind of advice do you give other soldiers thinking about starting their own blog?

OK, here is the question you're probably expecting me to ask: Do you feel your free speech rights have been violated by the military? I had to ask.

Are you still in Iraq?

Although I have a lot more I'd like to ask, I fully understand how incredibly busy you must be, so I will toss one last question your way: If you had it all to do over again, what would you do? I hope that last question wasn't too cliché for you.

Thanks in advance for your time and assistance. I certainly would understand if you cannot get back to me for a while or even at all, but I really hope you have some time in the future to shoot me an e-mail. If you don't while you're over there, please let me know when you're back in the ole U.S. of A.

Take care of yourself,

Joseph R. Chenelly
Deputy News editor, Army Times

"Press release"

"G.P. Putnam's Sons to Publish U.S. Army Soldier and Blogger Colby Buzzell's War Experiences on the Ground in Iraq

Monday January 31, 2:46 pm ET "
My War
I can't wait to get my copy!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

"And they sure celebrated. Throughout the entire day I saw so many Iraqi citizens dancing, smiling and yelling their thanks and praise. It is as if they all were saying they refused to live in fear. They celebrated their freedom. They celebrated the defeat of the terrorists. This was not just an election. It was a revolt against tyranny. It was a revolution against dictators. It was the creation of a totally new society based on limiting the government rather than limiting the people.

Long live the revolution!"
"Strange how one day's event can touch so many, even those outside Iraq. But it did not come from nowhere. To autocratic regional despots, the rush to vote by millions of trapped, terrorized and occupied Iraqis was a closure to tired arguments. The despots have never held an honest-to-God election, and now this embarrassing model sits there, across the border, in a major Arab nation."
Jeffrey brings us more reaction from the region
"The truth is my friends, despite the few shortcoming of Iraq's elections (hello, it was the first election in 50 years!!), the government of Iraq will have more legitimacy than any member of the Arab League. If the National Assembly elected Iyad Allawi (who did very well in the polls), Shahrestani, or even Pamela Anderson to become the prime minister, he will have more legitimacy than any of his fellow rulers except Palestine's Abu Mazen who took power after an OK election."
Big Pharaoh

Al-Jazeera spams blog

"This is true and I think many of you missed it, this is the comment
I am a sunni and a patriot to Iraq.
I am a sunni who has not slept with the occupier or handed my sister over to the US soldiers who already came down my mother’s throat.
I am a sunni who chose not vote because of the evil conspiracy against me.

A conspiracy against me BECAUSE I am Iraqi.

I am a sunni and I spit on you all.

I spit on those Iraqis who believe themselves patriots to have voted.

Do you even know what you have done, you miserable Iraqi fuckers? hmmm?

You just voted away 1/3rd of Iraq’s territorial integrity. While you were dancing on US and Brit cock, hailing your new-found freedom to become slaves, the Kurds silently held a referendum on the future of the Kurdish areas.

What do you fuckers think they voted?

Yes, goodbye Iraq. Its nice to know freedom means breaking your country down to cantons.

Enjoy it you bastards, but remember what the French resistance did to the Vichy government. Your time will come.

Keep licking occupation boot. Everyone knows these blogs are bought and paid for by the US special ops.

You can see the comment here and it also pointed to a blog called “Destroy Iraq”

You will ask how do I know the comment is from Al-Jazeera?"
Bagdad Dweller
So I guess now we know what the people at that station really think about Iraq and it's people.

"this Baghdad was a revelation even to Baghdadis."

"Yes this was a historic day, a day to remember until our dying day. With one stroke, in a single day, the silent majority spoke and answered all the pundits and doubters, and those who spoke on their behalf. Yet we have been telling you this all along; we have been telling you ever since this blogging movement started. Do you now see that we were not representing minority views, that we were not some CIA agents trying to make propaganda?"
The Mesopotamian