Joe Ryan Iraq
Diary02 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
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
...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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.