Monday, June 06, 2005

Misquoted in the MSM

Well, not misquoted. Half quoted. The “journalist” from the Boston globe who quoted me only included 1/100th of what I said.

Here’s the part where I’m quoted: (full article here I would link to the original in the Boston globe, but they want $2.95 for the article. So I linked to a Russian mirror.)

Last week, in the charred army headquarters in Abarra, Captain Charles Ziegenfuss, who commands a First Infantry Division tank company attached to the brigade, sat smoking for an hour with a tribal sheik. He was trying to persuade him to oust another man from an elected regional council for suspected arms trafficking. Sheik Adnan al-Tamimi, a longtime US ally, was reluctant, and kept reminding Ziegenfuss that an Iraqi court declared the man innocent.

''He's got a valid point," Ziegenfuss said, leaving the meeting after Tamimi promised to think about it.

Here’s the rest of the story. The man I was trying to get sheik Adnan to oust was another Sheik named Amer. Amer is dirty. I had many intel reports that Amer had met with and associated with AIF, some of whom are on our most wanted list. Amer’s son was caught with a rocket on the Election Day. He vouched for his son (a big deal over here) and we released him to his father. The night we released his son, one of our High Value Targets (I can’t say who) went to a welcome home party at Amer’s house.

Based on these intel reports, I decided to raid Amer’s house. Over here, each household is allowed 1 AK per adult male. 30 rounds of ammunition, no more. As a member of my local governing council, he was afforded no special privileges. In his house, this is what I found. Not pictured, was the straw that broke the camel’s back, a fragmentation grenade. As culturally sensitive as I am, (cough) I thought it best to let Amer receive justice by the Iraqi courts. I had the IA soldiers detain him and take him to the police. Amer went away for about a month, and bought his way out of jail. Never saw a judge. He was never declared innocent by an Iraqi court.

When I was talking to Sheik Adnan, (and yes, smoking cigarettes, evil me) we were discussing how to remove him from the city council. I wasn’t trying to get him to start an ouster. I was giving him a civics lesson. I was discussing the finer points of impeachment, and votes of no confidence. I would later leave the decision up to the city council, telling them simply that a) the decision was theirs to make, after being presented with the evidence, and b) that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, while the friend of my enemy is my enemy. (What I was getting at was that if Amer stayed, I would leave… and take my checkbook with me.)

Sheikh Adnan is indeed a very powerful Sheikh, and a man I respect. We frequently meet before the city council meeting to discuss what we are going to bring up in the meeting. Nothing gets accomplished in the big meeting; it’s all about the back room deals here. The way he acts towards me in the big meeting is different than the small meeting. In the city council meeting, he is polite and respectful, but distant. In the one-on-one, we are friends. The reporter sat in on the one-on-one, what she didn’t understand (and never bothered to ask) was the context of our discussion. Sheikh Adnan was the first person to warn me about other members of the council, reminding me that not everyone who wears a headdress was a sheikh.

Adnan’s point was that Amer was released by the system, and everyone would think that he beat the rap, so why remove him from the council? I explained to him that Amer’s activities (not the best kept secret in the world) and his associates sent the wrong message to the people, and city council should not support someone with known terrorist ties. Adnan fully agreed.

More Follow up (something MSM fails to do as well)

Adnan, in another closed door meeting, procured the resignation of Sheik Amer from the city council. A day later, there were two separate IED attacks on the road near Amer’s house, in the town where he is the local Sheikh. I sent a patrol to Amer’s house, where we found Amer and his brother. We tested them both for explosive residue with an EXSPRAY kit. Wouldn’t you know, they both came up scorching hot for explosives group B.

The good Sheikh and his brother now currently reside in Abu Gharib. And there hasn’t been an IED on that road since. I was trying to force the hand of the city council. Of course I was. They have to be shown the way to the light, there ha never been a government like this here before, ever. I had to show them what an upstanding group of councilmen should do. I could have very easily arrested Amer at the city council meeting, or just told the city council that he was fired. I have that authority. I could, but I chose not to. I let them determine their way, and they very well could have voted against me. I would have left (taking the $ with me) and they would have had to come grovel to me, and I would have returned, having made my point.

But the local government chose the right thing to do. I figure it was a success all around.


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