Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Welcome to Iraq...

A few weeks ago, an Iraqi approached me while I was chilling out by our Humvee. He started talking almost perfect english (a semi-rare thing here) telling me that he was Iraqi but had moved to Oregon and become an American citizen. (He showed his passport and Oregon driver's licence.) He had come back because he was homesick and wanted to visit the new Iraq. His issue dealt with borrowing the apartment his brother's cousin lived in and paying to have his brother live outside the Green Zone. This was very important because his wife and kids were coming here for their summer vacation. I thought that was pretty cool, except I think I would have waited at least a year before bringing my family here. Anyway. So, he goes in to talk to the Neighborhood Advisory Council (who controlled housing at this time, and was trying to figure out who lived in each apartment and whether they were their illegally) and they told him to bring the apartment owner in to discuss the issue soon. So, yesterday, this guy, named Laith, and his brother's friend show up. The NAC tries to sort it all out and find out if he is telling the truth. During the discussion, I'm kinda zoned out since it's all in Arabic. I hear the noise level rise dramatically and so I start paying attention again. My translator is like 3 feet from this guy and they are both shouting at each other. The other NAC members join in and I realize they're about to throw down. So, I jump up, one hand on my pistol, and move over to calm the situation down. As I walk over, everyone starts standing up and yelling. The room goes quiet just as I grab the interpreter to ask what's going on. At that point, the CPT comes in (he'd be outside the room) and pushes the two apart. I'm like, what's going on? He just said that he would kill anyone who tried to take his apartment away from him or go in the apartment. And that he is an Amercian citizen so they cannot do this to him. One of the NAC members throws down his badge saying he's going to quit because of the threat on his life. The CPT tells him to SIT! We verify that this AMERICAN CITIZEN just threatened the lives of Iraqis. Sure enough he did. The CPT calls for Zip cuffs and says "LT, grab your rifle and lock and load." CHA CHINK. He realizes at that point how deep he's in and tries to backtrack. Too late bubba. We haul him out in zip cuffs. I'm just shaking my head at this point. What a bonehead move. What was he thinking? Jeez. So, drive him over and lock him up in an Iraqi prison. As we're leaving, he asks, what did I do? Both the CPT and I give him a incredulous look and the CPT says, you threatened to KILL members of Iraq. He looks at us and with all seriousness says, but I have free speech. I was just using my free speech rights. What? Bubba, you're in IRAQ. They haven't quite gotten to putting that in their constitution yet. And you cannot even threaten people in the US. I'm again shaking my head. And yeah, guy, WELCOME TO IRAQ.

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