To Survivors of the Fallen- Get Ye A Banker!

J'accuse: Assange Meurtrier

In 2007, in no small part because of the generosity of the readers of this site, I was fortunate to do two embeds in Iraq.  One of the lessons I came away with was how important a good translators and sources were to operations.  As sources are a sensitive topic, I will focus on translators for now since AQ, AQI, JAM, and others considered them to be the same as an informant.

A good translator was truly invaluable.  They accurately translated what was said, converted things as needed and appropriate to smooth over rough edges, and went above and beyond to make sure that the right information went both ways.  They explained context as needed, shared background information, and more.  A good translator was really worth their weight in gold, and you really liked to have two or more around as a check. 

Bad translators were not helpful, and indeed worked against all parties.  Yes, there are some, and I will leave discussion of them to Froggy and some others who saw the worst.  For me, I saw some that weren't that good, and a couple that the accomplishments of the units would not have been possible without them.

Translators often worked under assumed names, as they were high on the enemy target list.  In getting to know one or two of them, I learned more about them, the danger, and why some of them did it despite it all. 

J, as I will call him, spent a good bit of time with me, both on the job and off as we bunked in the same squad area.  I eventually forgave him for not waking me up one night during some excitement (I'd been up about 48 hours and don't care how damn peaceful I look when asleep, wake me when things happen!).  My curiosity and questions led J to sitting down one afternoon, in an out of the way area, and giving me a quick course in Iraqi culture from his (and his clan's) viewpoint.  We also ended up talking about our lives, and how we both came to be there. 

For J, it had been quite the odyssey.  Before the invasion, he had been an officer in the Iraqi military.  In point of fact, he had been part of a select part -- which told me a good bit about his background and political affiliations in the process.  He survived both the first and the second Gulf Wars, and apparently was quite happy and relieved to have done so and to be out of the situation.  He had been in it simply because he liked doing something I will simply refer to as a type of engineering.  It was his passion in life, and he had risen to his previous heights not because he was a super supporter of Saddam, but of his passion.  To do one, well, required at least lip service if not a bit more to the other. 

Unfortunately, his passion had put him on two very bad lists.  Because he had been in the service and area that he had, quite a few assumed that he was indeed a Saddam supporter and therefore to be eliminated in reprisals.  To the hard-core Bathists, he was a traitor for not being hard-core.  By being a translator, he ended up on the hit list for every insurgent group.  Period.

As a bit of an aside, I no longer look at power drills the way I did before I went on embed.  According to some, JAM started the use of drills to make a point, as it were.  By the time I was there, both sides were using them in very inventive ways.  Joints were obvious, as was drilling into different locations on larger bones.  At the risk of violating the family tone here, they also were used on both male and female soft tissue, and used at the proper place on the spinal column, kept people from running away. 

Understand,  if you take nothing else away from this article, know that when a translator or other "collaborator" was caught, they were most often tortured extensively.  Far more often than many of certain political stripe are willing to admit, their spouse or family joined them, and while regular rape was a part of it because of what it means in that culture, other objects (see above) were reportedly used as well.  Drills and vehicle batteries, along with hands and feet and other things, made those hours into an eternity that does need to be dwelled on in this instance.  A coup de grace in the form of a shot to the head was truly a mercy at the end.  It was and is the lucky ones that are killed immediately.

While in Iraq in 2007, I learned of a new twist on this.  Instead of mercy, the death blow was changed by some to a last use of the drill, reportedly slowly, on the head.  For videos, the slow-saw beheading is the choice. 

J had been kidnapped at one point.  Thankfully, they didn't realize who he was.  They had some idea that his clan and/or family would pay for his return, but they didn't have his real name or realize that he was an interpreter.  He got out of it, quickly, and was glad to get out as lightly as he had.  If his real name or what he was doing had become known, well, see above.

Since that time, he had taken a number of precautions.  He was careful in what he said, to whom, and in how he moved around.  The level of precautions was staggering in some respects, but nothing compared to the possible consequences.  To this day, I will not say more about him.

Today, the news came that among the documents released by anti-war activist Assange is a list of those working for or with the Allies in Afghanistan.  Reports are already stating that the Taliban and other groups are using these lists for targeting. 

I doubt that someone like Assange, who is secure in his self-righteous dudgeon, cares.  After all, they are just barbarian "wogs" aren't they?  Peasants, beneath notice.  Besides, to make his anti-war/pro-peace better world omelette, one has to break a few eggs, right?  Such unwashed, unlettered peons are hardly worth his attention or care, being no better than the thuggish myrmidons that are the soldiers whom they help.  Anyone on our side who has also rushed to assure that no one/real people have been endangered is also guilty of this same unthinking bigotry.

If there were true justice in the world, Assange would have to watch everything that happens to each and every person on that list who is caught by the enemy.  In this world, I will settle for doing everything I can to see him charged with the murder of each person so caught.  U.S. law, international law, the law of Allies, I don't care.  With luck, it would be good to see him indited in as many jurisdictions as possible for each murder.  For he is as guilty of each murder as if he had done the torture and killing himself.  Period.  So is whoever leaked the information to him.  Period.  I want them found, and tried at the highest level and highest possible penalty.  Period. 

Right now, I think back to J and some of the other good translators I met in Iraq.  I think of what they did and at what risk they did it.  They deserved the respect and protection given them.  So do the people in Afghanistan in similar circumstances.  They did not and do not deserve this deliberate and willful effort to have them killed.  That's what it is, nothing more, nothing less.  It's not crusading journalism, it's not noble sacrifice, it's not high ideals:  it is thuggish bigotry and murder.  J'accuse.