Patterico's Pontifications


An Interrogator’s Nightmares

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 10:30 pm

A former Iraq interrogator describes nightmares from his memories of abusing detainees:

A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I’m afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.

That dream, along with a host of other nightmares, has plagued me since my return from Iraq in the summer of 2004. Though the man in this particular nightmare has no face, I know who he is. I assisted in his interrogation at a detention facility in Fallujah. I was one of two civilian interrogators assigned to the division interrogation facility (DIF) of the 82nd Airborne Division. The man, whose name I’ve long since forgotten, was a suspected associate of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, the Baath Party leader in Anbar province who had been captured two months earlier.

The lead interrogator at the DIF had given me specific instructions: I was to deprive the detainee of sleep during my 12-hour shift by opening his cell every hour, forcing him to stand in a corner and stripping him of his clothes. Three years later the tables have turned. It is rare that I sleep through the night without a visit from this man. His memory harasses me as I once harassed him.

He describes this as anything but an isolated incident:

I watched as detainees were forced to stand naked all night, shivering in their cold cells and pleading with their captors for help. Others were subjected to long periods of isolation in pitch-black rooms. Food and sleep deprivation were common, along with a variety of physical abuse, including punching and kicking. Aggressive, and in many ways abusive, techniques were used daily in Iraq, all in the name of acquiring the intelligence necessary to bring an end to the insurgency. The violence raging there today is evidence that those tactics never worked. My memories are evidence that those tactics were terribly wrong.

This is a disturbing piece, which corroborates similar reports through the years. Read it all.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden disagrees:

I feel bad that this guy is having nightmares, and I hope he is getting the PTSD counseling he needs. A lot of people can’t forget what they saw and did in Iraq. I could describe for you in detail the faces of the middle-aged Iraqi soldiers on whom I directed 50. cal fire, and exactly what they looked like when they died 30 feet away, as I directed the gunner’s fire from one to another until they were all dead. For a long time, I saw them every day. I examined their faces for clues about who they were, and to divine the exact moment and exact manner in which life exits the body. I also wept once, and asked forgiveness, because no matter what else they were, they were also human. I was a reporter. Some people didn’t think I was supposed to be doing what I did, and called me a murderer. Screw them. Those were people who didn’t even know the truth they thought they knew. Guess what: War is hell.

I think the difference is that, under the admittedly perverse rules of war, we’re supposed to be shooting the enemy. But once we’ve captured them, we’re not supposed to be physically abusing them. I imagine the trauma the participants later feel has less to do with whether they followed the “rules” (although I imagine that’s a factor) and more to do with what they actually did. But there is a difference there.

For me, the power of the piece comes not from Fair’s description of his internal distress. It comes from the corroboration he gives, as someone with no apparent axe to grind, to many other reports of similar wrongdoing over the years.

Bad News

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 9:48 pm

Capt. Eric Coulson reports:

Three of my Soldiers were killed in action yesterday. I have spoken with all of the families, but the names have not been officially released. If you are a member of the Badger Family and you have not spoken to me, you can rest assured your Soldier is not one of the three.

More to follow.

Awful news.

iowahawk: The Marcotte Musical

Filed under: 2008 Election,Blogging Matters,Humor — Patterico @ 9:02 pm

iowahawk has a musical based on the Marcotte scandal.

It’s very inside baseball blogball, but if you follow this stuff, you will literally be ROTFLYFAO. As the kids say.

A.P. Screws The Pooch on Anna Nicole Smith News

Filed under: Current Events,General — Justin Levine @ 7:46 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

When covering a story like the death of Anna Nicole Smith, who are you going to trust more? A bedrock of American journalism like the Associated Press? Or a sleazy upstart tabloid gossip website like

I know who I’d put my money on.

Memo to the A.P. – Don’t try and cover stories that you have no real expertise in. Leave it to the big boys

[posted by Justin Levine]

Sadly, No! Publishes the Most Clueless Blog Post Ever Written (UPDATE: Make That Two!)

Filed under: General,Humor,Morons — Patterico @ 12:37 am

In his zeal to uncover alleged conservative hypocrisy, a blogger at a “humor” blog mistakes an old Allahpundit parody for a serious post. Hilarity ensues.

Next up: Gavin rakes Stephen Colbert over the coals for his crazy right-wing opinions.

P.S. I predict Gavin will try to recover by claiming that he knew Allah’s post was a parody. But this interpretation reveals Gavin’s post to be utterly incoherent — unless he were truly trying to sell the ludicrous notion that Amanda Marcotte’s ravings on religion were nothing but parody and satire, as she claimed in her weak, mealy-mouthed non-apology apology.

Is that what Gavin is saying? When Marcotte said Catholics oppose abortion because they hate women and want to punish them for having sex . . . did she not mean that? Was she merely satirizing feminists??

Is Gavin completely clueless as to the nature of Allah’s satire? Or is he trying to sell readers on a completely dishonest portrayal of Amanda Marcotte as a satirist extraordinaire?

Door #1? Or Door #2?

UPDATE: We have a winner, and it is cluelessness.

Sigh. I guess I’m going to have to explain all of this in detail to my slow-witted friend Gavin.

You see, Gavin, back in the day, my boy Allahpundit had a parody blog. It was a wickedly funny parody, not of Allah, but of the conception of Allah held by violent Islamic terrorists. Allah had a prominent disclaimer on his main page that took readers to a page that explained:

I want to make clear that I have nothing against Muslims–or the adherents of any other faith, for that matter–who practice their religion peacefully. This site is intended as a parody of the radical Islamist mindset with which Americans have become only too familiar in the past two years. . . . To those moderate Muslims who read this site, then, I’d ask you to bear in mind that there’s no malice directed here at you or your beliefs, and I apologize if any offense is given. To any radical Muslims who should read this site, I’d ask you to bear in mind that I hope you die soon, and painfully.

It’s hard to see how you could have missed this.

What I’m saying is this: your posts above are links to genuine satire. Not Marcotte-style “satire,” by which I mean non-satire that is dishonestly termed “satire” after the fact. No, Allah’s stuff you’re quoting is actual, honest-to-goodness satire — better than you could ever come up with, even if you had a dozen years, and all the hash brownies George Soros could buy.

It’s true that Allah’s parody blog might have been offensive to Islamist terrorist types, and perhaps also to some dull-witted lefty P.C. simpletons. But you know what? I’m guessing Allah doesn’t expect to be on a presidential candidate’s staff any time soon.

And Gavin? I hate to break this to you in the same post . . . but Stephen Colbert is not really a hateful right-winger. He’s actually a leftist. He just pretends to be a hateful right-winger.

I don’t mean to deliver all this shocking news all at once, but I saw you drafting up that anti-Colbert post, and I’m just trying to save you from further embarrassment. He’s on your side.

In the future, I’d be a little less apt to jump at tips from The Liberal Avenger.

Good luck reconstructing your reputation as an allegedly savvy, in-the-know type of fella.

P.S. I’m going to wait to tell you about the Jesus’ General guy. There’s only so much shock your system can take in one day.

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