Ed Ward, MDRE: FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD! (Dammit 2 Jeans!)Sat Jan 20, 2007 17:43
RE: FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD! (Dammit 2 Jeans!)
The insights are superb. The human aspects of war. See who is dying and why they are dying. A real perspective of WAR. Just one of the guys sitting around BSing the facts on an individual basis. It's not by chance. It's the thrust of the series. 2 Jeans has a unique and vital perspective.
Now for the DAMMIT part. I get your RSS feeds, but they are several hours if not a day behind your posts on WE THE PEOPLE. Anyway, thanks for your (and your teams) efforts and for sharing ya'lls talents.
My Best to You and Yours,
2 Jeans (Jean Valjean) wrote:
DAY #3 "IN COUNTRY"! It is a full day. Sam interviews a young U.S. Marine.
Jean interviews an insurgent as well as a Muslim Cleric. Both interviews
un-edited. Brandon, Rudy, and Ryan get stopped while conducting a survey inside
the Emerald City. Andy reveals the past of our editor. The most candid update
yet, once again with a signature soundtrack.
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD!
Click Here For Part One
Click Here For Part Two
Click Here For Update One
Click Here For Part Three
Turkey shocked by slaying of journalist
U.S. copter down in Iraq; 13 aboard dead
American killed in Iraq was set to marry
DAY THREE "IN COUNTRY"
Sitting with Brian Class of Fort Worth Texas. We are eating lunch on a corner bench
inside the Emerald City.
Both of us chowing on B.L.T.'s
"So why did you join Brian?"
"The money, the opportunity, the benefits for my family."
"And how long have you been in Iraq?"
"Looking back on it was a good choice?"
"Well, I had no job and the jobs I could get paid about one hundred to two hundred dollars
less a month. Plus those jobs had no benefits or college opportunities. They were working
fast food or at the local grocer."
We take a moment to eat then he continues.
"Plus the wife and kids have housing."
"Brian-what about God and Country and all that?"
"I don't know about any of that, sure it's all good and all, but I needed the money, I needed
a way out, and this was it-hell I still need the Core-the money-the benefits and all!"
"How much longer do you plan to be here?"
"I just signed for another year-I get a bonus-additional college money-and a slight pay
I am startled by all this.
"Brain-forgive me-it is your life-but why if not god and country and all-why not two
jobs-night school and etc.?"
"Two jobs for me, two jobs for her, neither of us benefits, strangers raising our kids, it was
just a vicious cycle with no future-to Barb and me this was the best way out of where we
Sitting outside the Emerald City with thirty five year old Khalid.
He claims to be a member of what the "West" have called the insurgents.
We are sharing a Turkish Coffee at a local eatery.
His English is excellent.
"Why fight the Americans?"
"I need the money."
"That simple", he smiles.
"What about Iraq, the Jihad, Suni, Shiite..."
He interrupts me and smiles shaking his head:
"How does John Wayne say it-... ALL THAT!"
"I have a wife, two kids, the university is closed, there is no place for me to work-we live
now with my parents-I could steal-hustle currency-but look around you-who is there to steal
from-plus this brings more problems."
"You do not seem like a violent man?"
"Neither do you?"
"I am not?"
He looks me dead in the eye and the smile leaves his face-
"Your government has killed over a half million of my country men, there is no end in sight
to this killing, they continue to occupy our sacred lands after "THE MISSION IS
ACCOMPLISHED!" And you let them-by your form of democracy by paying taxes-you
provide them the tools they need to kill-yes my new friend you are a violent man!"
"Be careful Khalid, you sound like a man with a cause not a man about the money."
"Bullshit-I don't care about any of that-what I care is that you sit and judge my behavior and
do not look into the ...ing mirror at your own."
"What do you do for the "insurgency"?"
"Whatever they ask."
"Does this include task where people may die?"
"Whatever they ask."
"And for this you are given what?"
"Each job pays different-but we are guaranteed a certain amount of food and supplies
monthly-plus protection for my family."
"I am a man-it is my duty to provide for my family-this I have done-I have no regrets."
Walking around the inside of the Emerald City.
Shopping area, food court, movie theatre, bowling alley, gym complex, elite hotels, and
construction and construction.
This area is closed to Iraqi nationals without special permits-even then you are not
permitted to stay the night.
This land of "OZ" is a special haven for American soldiers, diplomats, and "Western"
On the other side of this fortress, the city is in chaos-with basic essentials being
neglected-hundreds falling sick daily and dying out of pure neglect.
Yet, on this side-I can go to the movie, workout, and eat a four course meal, and then go to
sleep with a mint on my pillow.
As I was standing in line to go see the new Rocky movie(you read correctly), Ryan and
Rudy caught up with me.
They asked me to take part in a survey.
So I did.
Together for the next four hours we stayed in this main concourse area of Emerald City
and asked soldiers as they came by five questions:
1. What do your parents do for a living?
2. How old they were?
3. What type of work would they be doing back home if not here?
4. Could they go to school without the military's help?
5. Had they personally seen a friend of theirs killed in Iraq?
Three hundred answered-we were finally asked to cease what we were doing-and Ryan
had his camera taken.
Out of the three hundred:
The average age was nineteen-not old enough to drink back home-barely old enough to
vote-people would say they were crazy if they wanted to get married-and statistics support
if not here they would be living with mom and dad.
Only four of these three hundred-not four percent-four-had parents that were
Oddly enough, those four were accountants.
Six other kids parents owned small companies-like plumbers, locksmiths, etc.
None of these kids came from executives, politicians, doctors, lawyers, and on and on.
Over eighty percent felt that if not in Iraq they would be unemployed-the rest believed that
the best they could do was Burger King.
Less than five percent believed they would be or could be in college if they hadn't joined to
fight the "evil doers".
100% OF THESE CHILDREN HAD A FRIEND THEY SAW DIE WITH THEIR OWN EYES
WHILE HERE IN IRAQ!
Community center in South Baghdad with Cleric Omar.
In his late seventies.
Children playing everywhere.
The men have all gathered in one room.
The woman in another.
The Cleric's English is very good.
I am alone-Andy, Ali, and Amir are all outside.
There are four armed men sitting at the table next to us.
"Saturday the men gather and discuss issues troubling them (he points to the room the
men are in)-and the woman do like wise (he turns his head in that direction)."
"What do they discuss?"
"Anything and everything?"
"So not just faith and religion?"
"Heaven's no (he politely stands and pours me some tea)-Mr. Valjean it is more like love,
sex, children, money."
"Sir, if you could discuss sex or politics, which would it be? (He giggles to himself) Then
they will join their children and we will eat and have some modest entertainment."
"Do you see attendance growing during these difficult times?"
"I pay no attention to such things-times have always been difficult."
"Are you active in politics?"
"I am aware of politics-I am educated to the events-and because of who I am-I cannot avoid
politics (pointing to the guards)."
"What is your position on the violence?"
"It is wrong-of course."
"How does it end?"
"The way all things end."
"And how is that?"
"When it becomes more painful to continue doing the same thing than to change."
The old man sees I am confused.
"Right now Mr. Valjean, it is easier for us to embrace the violence, than it is to take a
different course-we as a people see these alternative courses of actions as more painful
than the violence-but someday the violence will be more painful and difficult than the
change and then we will embrace the change."
"Do you see that in the near or distant future?"
"People change when they are ready to change-when it is time to change-the same can be
said for the masses."
"Are the Americans helping or hurting?"
"They are hurting-they are a distraction-if there were nobody here but the people of
Iraq-then we would have no excuse but to face our problems-this change you and I just
spoke of would be accelerated."
"And what of those that speak of chaos, civil unrest, suni-shiite violence?"
He smiles and points out the window-
"The Americans have created peace and harmony?"
He rises and walks to the corner of the room and picks up a picture and returns to me and
places it in front of me.
It is of a young family-apparently middle eastern-modern-the woman is wearing a dress as
she sits with her husband and children.
The Cleric speaks proudly.
"My grand daughter and her family-In Paris."
"Three all grown-one teenage."
"It took me three times (laughing) God was always easy, but woman never."
We both laugh in agreement.
"Why are you here Mr. Valjean?"
"I wanted your perspective on what was going on here in Iraq?"
"No, I mean why are you here in Iraq?"
"Because this is what I do?"
"Where is home?"
I explained-I talked about it-at great length-with great pride.
"It sounds marvelous."
"Go home (he put his hand on mine)."
"I will when I am done-trust me-I will."
"What do you have to do?"
"I have a story that needs to be told-my readers-the world wants to know what is going on
"No they don't-they are hand fed propaganda and for the most part they believe it"
I was shouting-he was calm.
"They know (once again he put his hand on mine)-the people of the world know war is
bad-they know your government is corrupt and evil-they know that the American people
like the people of Iraq are good-they know Mr. Valjean-you do not need to tell them."
About 8:00 P.M. Saturday Night. We are at Willie Randolph's Command in North
Baghdad-still outside the Emerald City.
We call Willie, Willie Randolph, cause he is a huge Yankee fan.
Willie has been stationed throughout the Mid East for almost thirty years.
He is an old friend of Jean's, Whisper, and myself.
Whisper and Rudy have joined us. Amir and Ali are outside with the two SUV'S.
Willie has about five thousand soldiers at this command.
Jean requested that myself, Amir, Andy, and himself bunk here for the next two days.
Of course Willie agrees.
Jesus he is finally going to sleep.
Everyone but El Conquistador is having a Budwieser.
In fact, everyone but El Conquistador is in government issued attire.
Just small chit chat-football-kids-woman.
Some old "War" stories.
Then end walks Marty.
You could feel "death" enter-the chill was overwhelming.
Dressed in his usual black suite.
The room became silent.
Marty ignores everyone-stares directly at Jean.
El Conquistador says nothing.
"Did you forget to come see me?"
Jean remained silent-we can all now see two more black suited henchmen outside the
"What are they calling you these days, Jean Valjean, or is it El Conquistador, or is it just
still Prisoner Number 24601?"
Marty grabs a beer.
"You know the protocol-you are to be cleared by me before you go running around the
...ing desert-talking to people-talking to muslims-taking pictures-before you post
Whisper tries to explain:
"Marty, we have clearance from CentCom"
"I don't give a ... if the President gave you a permission slip! NO ONE MOVES IN THIS
COUNTRY WITHOUT MY O.K."
Continuing to look at Jean.
"What is it you are looking for Prisoner number 24601?"
"Trust me you ain't going to find it?"
Once again, Whisper trying to be the peace keeper,
"Marty we are just here doing a follow up on Fallujah, some human interest stuff, and then
poof we are off to Iran to do a documentary."
A long silence-it seemed hours.
"You listen, 24601, Prisoner number 24601, this myth, this legend, this fantasy you are
chasing does not exist. You go back to ...ing Fallujah, you do your human interest shit
and you get the hell out of my country."
Just like that he and his henchmen are gone.
After a moment-we all laugh-except Jean.
"What is he talking about?"
"El Cid", answers Whispers.
"Now that is a fantasy", shrugs Willie.
"What is El Cid?", Rudy looks concerned.
"It is the "story" that 2,500 more American soldiers died at Fallujah than reported-that
some guy or place or thing is responsible for hiding these bodies.", Willie explains.
"That would equal almost as many that have been reported since the start of the war-as
many that died at the World Trade Center."
Willie looks at jean:
"You are ...ing crazy."
THE STORY OF 24601
Born with a "silver spoon", from the hills of Kentucky, he went to school in New York.
During his first year at school, he had difficulty making friends. One day while eating
lunch, a man about fifteen years older than him dressed in a black suite sat next to him.
He was friendly and introduced himself as Marty.
After a nice lunch, Marty asked 24601 if he would like to make some cash.
$5,000 to be exact.
All he had to do was deliver this suitcase to an apartment in the Bronx.
Now he didn't need the money.
He new whatever he was doing was illegal.
He new it was dangerous.
These were the reasons he chose to do it!
He took the suitcase.
He never looked inside.
When he arrived at the apartment, he was greeted by two undercover officers.
He was taken downtown and for three days, he was held in solitary confinement.
He was beaten while in custody.
He never said a word other than.
"I am Prisoner Number 24601!"
This is the prison number given to Jean Valjean from Victor Hugo's classic Novel Les
Miserables. This was his favorite book. A book he still reads once a year to this day. A
character he had related to since child hood.
24601 was released.
He did not see Marty for a year.
When Marty arrived he paid him the $5,000.
Asked him if he would like another job.
Of course. Without question.
For the next two years 24601 ran an on campus sports book for Marty.
Marty put him in contact with "Some Big Shots" in town.
When 24601 graduated they closed.
All but 24601 were arrested.
24601 went on with his life a different path than he is on now.
Then eight years later Marty shows up.
Asked him if he would like another job.
Of course. Without question.
For the next few years 24601 ran suitcases of large sums of money from Las Vegas High
Rises to Los Angles Slums.
Then Marty vanished.
All the people that he handled suitcases for (on both ends) died.
24601 life changed dramatically.
He switched courses to the path he is on now.
For the next three years prisoner 24601 covered Columbia drug trade and Marty helped
him with the stories and the leads that would best serve Marty's Master.
It was during this time that I witnessed 24601 save Marty's life.
Many lives were lost that day. But thanks to 24601 Marty still had hi
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