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July 2007

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July 12, 2007

Proper I.D. Please!

Pic_0165_2 "In Their Own Words"

Lance Cpl. Williams gives a great account of the use of the ID cards.  It pays to proper ID and you'll hear why in Cpl. Williams' own words.....

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July 05, 2007


TvscreenI wrote this story for The National Review on Thursday, July 5, 2007.  I would welcome your feedback on this article and feel free to share your personal views. Just look for the comment button at the conclusion of this story.

Logo_new_afbee0 In Baghdad, at an informal meeting of the incoming U.S. ambassador to Iraq and members of the media, the ambassador got an earful about how difficult it was to cover this war. Despite the dainty hors d’oeuvre and wine (in the first real glasses I have seen since my arrival in Iraq), the press brought out a laundry list of issues preventing them from doing their job: checkpoints, transportation, the bureaucracy of blood tests at the border, and the need for more personal security.  For what was supposed to be a meet and greet, the greet did not last long. Ambassador Ryan Crockerwas gracious, and some thanked him for inviting us to his home, which was rumored to be the former residence of Saddam’s sister. But like so many things here in country it’s not always possible to separate the rumored from the real. Discerning facts from fiction is an obstacle the media trips over daily.

Continue reading "LIVE FROM BAGHDAD! The Press' War" »

July 02, 2007

Hear it "In Their Own Words"

Inownwordslogoshadow Corporal George Quinton Rhubi was born to be a Marine.  After all, his father was a Marine and he says, "It's all I know."  Just before a day of handing out soccer balls to the children of a neighborhood that had seen some of the fiercest fighting in all Iraq, Corporal Rhubi sat down to talk about his life as a Marine and why he chose to serve.

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June 19, 2007


Kryptonfanversion3704x197_2I have to come out of the closet as a long-time comic book fan.  I've listened to a great little podcast named Krypton Fan, while I've been traveling throughout Iraq.  It's been one of my favorite forms of entertainment when I've had both downtime and an internet connection. 

June 18, 2007

Nightgown in the War Zone

Pajamas_media_logoThe folks over at just published my article "Iraq Rinse and Repeat"  The great thing about a feature on a site like PM is that many bloggers pick up on the article  and  make further commentary.  It's good to hear from you guys. 

Just Froze Over

Nytlogo153x23 The New York Times is more prone to believing jihadist sources than they will the military, but this article they wrote, by Bing West, provides great nuance to the typical war coverage. 

June 17, 2007

Universal Care for Health?

Pic_0666The 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, set out to provide the local population, just outside of Fallujah, with basic health care.  These knuckle jarheads risk their lives and limbs to bring eye drops and aspirin to people who often have no indoor plumbing, but share a feed to international satellite television with the neighbors.  Iraq is a place of surrealistic contrasts, of power games that are counter-intuitive and images that can be as clear as the piercing blue sky or as grainy as the sugar powdered dirt.  Between car bombs and cough syrup, many inhabitants of al Anbar have decided to just say no to violence both imported and domestic.

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I instantly loved this quote and asked for permission to use it.

"While our troops go out to defend our country, it is incumbent upon us to make the country worth defending." Deskmerc

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Outside the Wire--A day in the Life

Standing_2The days start off early throughout Iraq.  The sun starts to rise just before five in the morning.  I'm told that it rains, but for the time I've been here, I've never seen a cloud in the sky, except for billowy shapes of fine dust. 

Marine firepower is the only thing keeping insurgents at bay.  Each time before they leave "home", the Marines snap into condition one: bolt cocked and round in chamber.  The gunners in the Humvee turrets fire a few noisy shots into a burmed pit and the hot shells tinkle onto the dusty metallic vehicle interior like change falling out of businessman's pocket.  No matter how routine this ritual is, day in and day out, there's always a reminder of what can prematurely end a Marine's tour in Iraq.   

Pic_0237The road to Fallujah is a "secure corridor" flanked by heavy blocks of concrete and wire that uses razors for barbs.  The weight of the vehicles kick up so much fine dirt that it's easy to imagine being stalled in a snowstorm, in a dirty whiteout our vision was limited to to the tip of the armored hood, just inside the wire.  The roadsigns looked more worn than the roads, some have bullets in them others are bent out of place, as if the destinations they represented were similarly warped.  Roadsigns are hardly necessary, Iraq is a place where people know very well where they are going and more importantly, where they don't belong.

Continue reading "Outside the Wire--A day in the Life" »

June 15, 2007

Muir Still Gets It.

Muir A suicide bomber in Fallujah detonates his vest at a police check point.  One person dies, yet the mainstream media receives reports of over 20 casualties?  Who would possibly want to inflate the amount of victims?

June 14, 2007

Question of the Day

Question I've been meaning to answer some of your questions for some time. A lot of you have e-mailed me personally and I appreciate your kind words.  I'll try to keep up with the questions.

How did you end up getting embedded?  did you get a journalism degree at Columbia?  or are you there in some official capacity due to your being a Marine?
i'm curious because i didn't know that private citizens could go to war zones like that.
thanks and good luck.

Author: Wendymae

The answer to your question is private citizens are generally not allowed to come to a war zone, you need to be a member of the press.  I have a New York press pass, but I have also written for a lot of different publications including the NY Post, Columbia Spectator etc...  The military has recognized the role of bloggers and because they tend to spend more time in country and the blogger audience is much more dedicated. The big guys: CNN, CBS, Fox all fly through here in under a week, which blows my mind because it takes forever to get from point "a" to point "b".  The Iraq blogging king is Michael Yon who has been blogging from Iraq for nearly a year.  I was sponsored by a media company, but the fact that I have security clearance doesn't hurt either.

War_crimes Authors are also known to come to Iraq in order to work on a project. Buzz Patterson was here to get material for his latest book "War Crimes". 

As for a degree? I'm still working on my bachelors in American Studies, but don't be alarmed, longtime-anchorman Peter Jennings never even finished high school!  All the same, I have friends who graduated from Columbia's prestigious J-school and are still looking for work.  Go figure!


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Bodycount and What Counts

Outside_the_wire JD has an interesting article on what constitutes success in Iraq. 

Victor Hanson

Private_papers_header Victor Hanson has an incredible piece at his website The Private Papers.  This man truly understands the stakes of this conflict.

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June 13, 2007

The Al Qaeda Mystique

This article caught my eye.

Al-Qaida Fails Sexual Politics
By Austin Bay
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Continue reading "The Al Qaeda Mystique" »

June 12, 2007

Pot Shots from the Ivory Towers

Washington_postgif The MSM (Mainstream Press) will pretty much say anything to stake out their sacred territory of doom in gloom in Iraq.  This afternoon, I observed Iraqi police and military recruits train.  There is literally a surplus of Iraqis who want to join the police and military.  Yesterday, I had lunch with one of the leading Al Anbar sheiks, Khamis Abdal Karim of the Fahad tribe.  I've spoken to Iraqis, Marines, soldiers and politicians.  Everyone has said that the situation has changed enormously here in the province and for the better.  Unfortunately, you wouldn't get that impression if you read articles like this one from the Washington Post.

June 11, 2007

Oil, Oil, Everywhere but not a Drop of Fuel!


For years, I’ve heard the fantastic tales of untapped black wealth beneath the sun-beaten Iraqi earth.  So, when the mayor of Fallujah insisted he had no gas to run school and hospital generators, I had to ask the obvious question, where's the gas?

From day one, we've seen the slogan "No war for oil" painted on makeshift signs and held up in different languages.  Kein Blut für Öl smeared on the boulevards of Berlin, but the streets of Fallujah are empty as the mayor of the city of a thousand mosques has declared a city-wide ban on automobiles after a vee-bed bomber killed over 30 people who were attending a funeral.  At the weekly Fallujah City Council meeting, Pic_0153members representing the city services, hospitals, engineers and police all had plans for securing Fallujah and preventing future attacks on the civilian population.  There were suggestions for new barriers, promises of round the watch patrols and different procedures designed to prevent the infiltration and threatening of health clinic employees.  There was just one thing missing to make it all happen--the fuel!

The mayor of the city of Fallujah, a young man whose life is constantly threatened, was happy to receive the gift of an armored truck.  Now he was going to be able to get to the various meetings without having to mobilize a military squad, but right after the government agent handed him the keys he asked if he could bum some gas.

Lt. Colonel Mullen, Battalion Commander of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines out of Camp Lejeune was not buying it.  "We've registered over 100 fuel trucks going Pic_0213through various checkpoints and into the city, where's all the fuel going?"  Everyone I've asked, Iraqi Police, members of the civil affairs unit, interpreters, shop owners and even grunts on the ground all have a different variation of the same answer, different shades of "I don't know." But everyone has an idea what is done with the fuel.  It shows in the city infrastructure. Download oil_oil_everywhere_1.mp4

Pic_0454Since the aging city powergrid is insufficient for a population with increasing electrical needs, almost every block has a private generator.  Like an oversized spiderweb, extension cords and improvised wiring bring electricity to many homes .  Those generators run on gasoline and the gasoline somehow makes its way to the owners of those generators who collect money from the homes that feed off the system.  A similar makeshift distribution system is how fuel gets to the roadside stands and kids sell it in plastic jugs like pink lemonade.  There's something fishy going on, and it's possible the revenue rasied through evaporated gasoline is making its way to fuel the insurgency. 


"It's being sold on the black market," answered one interpreter.  No one understood what would stop the Fallujah police from confiscating a contraband newly refined gas trucked in from neighboring Jordan, but it turned out "the black market" was actually just a Pic_0188faulty translation of the term "free market".  Of course, under Saddam the private sale of fuel was prohibited, today things have changed, but it takes time for engrained figures of speech to update.  The council speaker reiterated his request for more fuel.  Lt. Colonel said he couldn't oblige them. "When we get them to think for themselves they usually come up with a solution."  The parent who won't give the teenager the keys to the car is familiar with this technique.  The Fallujah council carried on with the session and somehow, like the week before, they'll find a way of getting the fuel no one can find, but everyone is using.   

Continue reading "Oil, Oil, Everywhere but not a Drop of Fuel!" »


Instapundit I want to thank Instapundit for contacting me and posting my blog!  That's the biggest leap in traffic I've ever had!

June 10, 2007

Outside the Wire and Right on the Bullseye.

Outside the WireJ.D Johannes just departed Iraq, but he made some very fascinating predictions on where he thinks this is all going.  I had the good fortune of picking JD's brain for hours, while he smoked cigarettes and I'll be looking at many of the details he pointed out to me.  Have a safe trip JD

Continue reading "Outside the Wire and Right on the Bullseye. " »

June 02, 2007

Alphabet Soup Can be bad for the Nation's health

Dsc00538 If the press is the eyes, ears and voice of a nation, we in the United States, are currently deaf, dumb and blind.  I spent the better part of the week in the Green Zone where I got to hob-knob with the people who inform the American public of what's "going on" in Iraq.  You may just be surprised by what they choose to focus on.

Continue reading "Alphabet Soup Can be bad for the Nation's health" »

May 30, 2007

In Their Own Words

Ownwordslogo_2One of the goals when I planned this mission was to find out what was on the minds of those who are serving in Iraq.

I decided the best way to convey their message was to let you hear it "In Their Own Words".  In the coming days, weeks and months, you'll see audio files compile in the right column of this page under the title "In Their Own Words".

Continue reading "In Their Own Words" »

May 29, 2007

Riding the Rhino

Rhino The Rhino is a special shuttle service between the Baghdad Airport and the Green Zone.  The heavily armored vehicle usually runs sometime after nightfall, when it observes a strict light discipline.  The manifest for one of the seats starts early and passengers are given a window of time to be at the pick up point.  Bomb dogs sniff through the luggage while armed guards ask direct the passengers on how to proceed.  The Rhino is one of the most famous vehicles in Iraq, but unless you ride it, you'll never see it, photos are strictly prohibited.

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May 27, 2007

Meet the Neighbors

Out_the_gate_2After a lot of delays, we arrived at Camp Cedar, in Southern Iraq early this morning.  It was warm, today was supposed to be spent resting, cleaning equipment and preparing for the push up north, to Baghdad. That was until I met Sgt. Glass, a former Marine and current member of the 116th National Guard, a.k.a. the Stonewall Brigade.


Download meet_neighbors.m4a

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May 24, 2007

Border Crossing

Iraq_mapThe border between Kuwait and Iraq is not just geographical, it's cultural, or at least that how the soldiers who run the convoys up and down deadliest highways in the world would describe it.

Continue reading "Border Crossing" »

Hometown Heroes

Hometownheroes We started the series to get the opinion that matters the most.  In the words of those currently serving, Hometown Heroes is an uncensored view of what's going on in Iraq.  We've gone international.  Australian stations have just agreed to run our programming, and I'm happy to report all is well.  Hometown Heroes is running all over the country.  If it's not in your area tell your local radio station manager, or e-mail me and we'll take care of it.

May 22, 2007

But I Egress...

Het "When you drop to the ground just remember to keep rolling."  Staff Sgt Lipp or "Sergeant" as his soldiers call him was describing the egress procedure.  Egress?  Leave it to the military to come up with a fancy word for getting the heck out of a flaming vehicle.  I listened carefully and watched the demonstration.  Lipp, an 11 year veteran who is on his fifth tour, was giving me tips that could both save my life, AND make for a great blog.  The military has always been keen on efficiency.

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Attention All Whiners

Come_back_safe_2 I'm doing two radio series, one called Hometown Heroes and another called "In their Own Words."  So, I've been interviewing people pretty much since the moment I landed in Kuwait.  What really stands out in my mind is how different the perception of the war here is. 

Continue reading "Attention All Whiners" »

May 07, 2007

Master Sergeant

Marine_corp_msgt_2 For those who don't know, a Master Sergeant provides technical leadership at the occupational specialist E-8 level.  In plain English, by the time a Marine reaches the rank of Master Sergeant he knows his job very well, because he has probably been in the Corps for nearly 20 years.  A Master Sergeant has been tried, tested, re-tried and still is crazy enough to stick around the Corps.  These are the types of selfless men and women who don't exist in everyday life. They earn their rank, respect, and admiration of their fellow Marines.   A Master Sergeant is a leader.    

Master Sergeant Michael Wert  died this weekend. He was on vacation, but that did not mean he would turn his back on his duty.  The Msgt. did not hesitate to respond to two boys, two strangers, in distress.  He did, however, loose his life in a successful attempt to save them.  The men and women I have met in the Corps have never ceased to amaze, and for his fellow Marines, Master Sergeant Wert will always be front rank and center.

Don't take my word, this is what others have said about the man. "He lived by God, country, the family and the Corps," said brother Matt Wert, "which was obvious on that day. What he did was a selfless act."


Semper fi Master Sergeant


As a true leader, Master Sergeant Michael Wert bequeathed his conspicuous gallantry to his children.  It was his daughter Katrina who followed him into the ocean and brought the two boys ashore.

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