Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sons of Iraq: Recruiting and Employing

Originally posted at The Long War Journal

Apache 5/7 Cav soldiers screen prospective SOI members in Sayafiyah, Iraq

As Coalition forces in Iraq have moved to a doctrine centered more on counterinsurgency and begun to engage the sheikhs, the military has relied more and more on security forces supplied by local sheikhs to point out bad guys, weapon caches, and IEDs. In Arab Jabour, those forces are called Sons of Iraq.

Sayifiyah, in southern Arab Jabour, had local villagers trying to start a Sons of Iraq program before US forces even reached their village.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has long been the only power in much of Arab Jabour, and the people of Sayafiyah were fed up. At the start of January, a group of sheikhs from the area traveled to meet Colonel Ferrel, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division to ask for help in their village. They talked about the many things that they needed, and about their desire to use Sons of Iraq to secure their village. Colonel Ferrel asked for a volunteer from among the sheikhs to head the Sons of Iraq when he reached their village. The sheikhs looked at each other indecisively, until Sheikh Sayeed (a pseudonym, used for his protection), dressed like an al Qaeda in Iraq fighter, volunteered. Colonel Ferrel looked at him and said, “OK. You’d better be ready, because if my guys get there and get shot at, I’m coming after you!”

American troops from the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment pushed into southern Arab Jabour days later, establishing a foothold at what would become Patrol Base Meade. The 5th Squadron of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division transferred over from Fallujah and took charge of the sector on Jan.14. After sporadic fighting in other villages, the 5/7 Cavalry reached Sayafiyah on Jan. 21. Just as Sheikh Sayeed had promised, they were greeted with open arms. Leaders sat down to lunch in the home of one of the village sheikhs and were identifying community needs nearly immediately. The process of rebuilding had begun. All civic projects require security first and foremost, so the first priority of the 5/7 was to establish local security with the help of brand-new Sons of Iraq.

Captain Anders, the soldier in charge of the Sons of Iraq screening process in Sayifiyah, described what he was doing as “building the Iraqi security forces from the ground up. It’s a good way to go, because they usually serve for a while without a gun, then we get them in here to badge and BAT them, and then later they’ll move into the ISF.”

BAT stands for Biometrics Automated Testset. It is a computerized system that checks the fingerprints and iris scans of a prospective Sons of Iraq member against a database of former detainees, known terrorists, and former badge holders of any stripe -- local interpreters, media, laborers, and so forth. If the individual passes the scan, he is photographed and issued a badge and an orange reflective vest. The local sheikh contracted to supply men for Sons of Iraq will supply a weapon and ammunition if the new man doesn’t have his own.

Some applicants don’t even make it to the BAT/badge station. Sheikh Sayeed was on hand to assist in the early days of the process and spotted men trying to get in line. He helped the Americans detain four al Qaeda in Iraq fighters the first day. Once in a while, a high-value target will pop up in the scans. Such was the case at a recruiting station in Hwar Rajab in northern Arab Jabour. A member of an al Qaeda anti-aircraft cell tried to join the Sons of Iraq, was identified during the testing, and was detained by the recruitment team.

During the badging process, former Iraqi Army officers and noncommissioned officers are identified and flagged as possible future leaders in either the Sons of Iraq or the Iraqi security forces structure that will incorporate some members of the Sons of Iraq. Boys and old men who lie outside of the 18-48-year age range of Sons of Iraq are thanked for coming and put on a list of prospectives for later civic projects. As the area where a Sons of Iraq group operates becomes more secure, active members will be drawn off for civic projects as well. Those who can read and write will be encouraged to apply to join one of the Iraqi security forces.

All that lies in the future for Sayifiyah, though. The area was cleared by US forces only a few weeks ago, and its Sons of Iraq is in the beginning stages. The initial contract of 1,100 men has just been filled, and the team that screened them is preparing to move to a training and enabling role. There will be no weapons training from the US advisers, but the Sons of Iraq will be trained in other areas in which they lack needed skills.

One of the newly minted Sons of Iraq told me through an interpreter: “You should turn the picture upside down. Rather than talk about what we are doing here, you should tell the people about the hell we live through.” He went on to talk about the lack of electricity, clean water, and basic services. His comments are valid and urgent complaints, and they will be answered to some degree in the next coming dispatch: Reconstruction.


Slideshow of Sons of Iraq recruiting in Sayafiyah. Click image to view.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Crazy Troop

Today’s informant used to be an insurgent. Today, his name is Hassam. It’s been quite a while, though, since Hassam fought as an insurgent. The circumstances surrounding his conversion are a bit murky- his brother was killed by insurgents for reasons unknown, at which point all the males in his family began to support and work for Coalition Forces. Now, he is praised as one of the best informants around. The cynic might suppose that he is only working with the Americans to save his own skin because of his past. Those cynics could certainly be right- however; this informant is still on the job today despite a credible threat from one of the few remaining terrorist cells in the area to send a suicide bomber to kill him.

One of the reasons Hassam is so good is his ability to form relationships with other Iraqis who have abandoned the insurgency. His network of informants is broad, almost as broad as that of his American “handlers”. It is actually one of his sub sources, an 18-year old named Omar, that has volunteered to lead Crazy troop, 5/7 Cav, to a cache today. It’s a little misleading to say he “volunteered”- Hassam identified him as associated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and got his phone number; an American intelligence officer then called Omar and informed him that his choices were turning over caches he had helped to bury, or living in the Camp Bucca detention facility. Omar chose to come.

The cache site in a plum orchard

Yesterday, one of Hassam’s informants led Crazy troop directly to a 500gal water tank, buried in the middle of an orchard and filled partway with weapon parts and grenades. He said that tank was the only one he knew the exact location of, but that he knew there were several more in the immediate vicinity. Faced with the prospect of long hours ahead, Crazy posted a guard and retired for the night. Omar supposedly knew the locations of more buried tanks.

Buried water tank

Crazy was eager to find the rest of the cache for several reasons. One, of course, was unit pride. Bandit troop had just found a huge cache, and competition certainly exists between troops. Another, more important reason, was that in the days prior, Crazy had found several mounts for heavy machine guns. Yesterday, the buried water tank had included the bolt to another machine gun as well as ammunition. Those buried guns needed to be found before they were used on US forces.

These RKG-3 Russian anti-armor hand grenades were in the water tank

Today would not be Crazy’s lucky day. Omar lead the troop on a field run; through the orchard where the first tank had been, across a field, through a deep ditch and into another orchard on the other side. There, he pointed out a computer and an empty hole. The computer’s hard drive was gone, and the case was burned. The hole had probably contained something at some point, but if it had, the contents were long gone. Fighters in al-Qaeda are often trained in counter-interrogation techniques, and Omar was practicing a classic example. Lead your interrogator to something that doesn’t help him at all, and hope it’s enough to get him off your back.

SSG Vaughn helps a Crazy troop soldier out of a ditch while searching for caches

While Crazy stood around and started contemplating the possibility of having to dig up the entire orchard, Hassam had a chat with Omar. There was no violence- just a lot of raised voices and a swift kick to the buttocks when Hassam dismissed him. Omar would receive another call that night informing him of his last chance to avoid Camp Bucca. Meanwhile, Crazy began to dig.

Crazy troop soldiers check a discarded artillery shell canister

An explosives detection dog hit on a section of dirt in between trees in the orchard, but a quick dig failed to turn up anything. As more dirt came out of the growing hole, one soldier remarked “Every time this shovel comes up empty, I just want to punch that little jihadi in the face.” “I just want to hold him over that ditch he ran us through and shake him. He’s lost the war- why is he still fighting it?” said another.

Crazy troop dug like this for hours across the orchard

Maybe Omar is afraid. He had seemed ready to co-operate the night before- perhaps he had been threatened just as Hassam had. On the other hand, perhaps he was really a hardcore al-Qaeda fighter. The answer didn’t mean anything to Crazy troop, who would spend the rest of the day digging up the orchard with the prospect of more days in the orchard looming in the future.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Speaking of Pictures...

This is easily my favorite shot from the trip so far:

These fathers are waiting in line to bring their children to see the doctor in Sayafiyah, Iraq. The entire area was under al-Qaeda control until just recently, and the only medicine available was on the black market and difficult to obtain.

Look for other shots in this series soon at The Long War Journal.

A Brief Spot of History

As the last few posts have illustrated, units in recently cleared areas devote a significant amount of time to finding and clearing weapons caches left by dead or retreating fighters. Most of the time, cache sweeps come up empty or find standard AK47s or explosives. Every once in a while, cache sweeps turn up something remarkable. While I was deployed to Ramadi, Bravo company discovered a cache that included a M2 .50cal Machine Gun that the unit we replaced had lost when an IED blew apart the RG31 that carried it. Recently, troops from 5/7 Cav (Bandit troop, coincidently), had a rare find of a different sort.

CPT Owens, the commander of Bandit troop, holds the Mauser his men found

Bandit troop found this WWII German K98 Mauser in excellent condition in a cache in Falahat, at the south end of Arab Jabour.

Swastikas and serial number on the receiver

Every serial number on the weapon matches- even the stock is original and in good shape. The swastikas are still visible on the reciever. The manufacturer's stamp is worn, but still visible on top of the reciever.

Manufacturing date and stamp

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bandit White

My morning with Bandit troop started with White platoon and a meeting with a sheik. Sheik Nahmed is the leader of Minari village in south-central Arab Jabour. He is a regular visitor to the front gate of PB Meade as he looks for work for his men. Today, he has come to sign a contract to pick up trash along one of the main roads through the area. When the project is in full swing, it will employ 100 men, and pay $7.50 a day- about the same as membership in one of the developing Sons of Iraq “neighborhood watch” programs.
Sheik Nahmed

With the contract signed, we were off for the main mission of the day: digging up, or “exploiting” a cache that Bandit troop discovered the day prior. 1LT Lenon and his men had reached the site the night before- they uncovered enough in fleeting daylight to confirm the presence of arms and ammunition, and posted a guard over the site for the night. The initial search had turned up a recoilless rifle- about 8 feet of steel all told, and Bandit troop anticipated more heavy digging, so we went first in search of a power shovel.

This is one of the newest MRAPs. These trucks are huge.

There were no engineer assets at PB Meade, so we headed west to a small OP manned by Iraqi Army soldiers and a few American troops. There were several bulldozers, a crane, and a large power shovel at the OP- the only problem was that the shovel operator had the day off, and had left with the keys. Several White platoon soldiers offered to hotwire the shovel and figure out how to operate it, bringing to mind a spectacle LT Lenon described as “A bull in a china shop… that shovel jerking around, and rounds flying everywhere”. We left the OP to head back the direction we had come to start digging up the cache by hand, while LT Lenon called up to the Bandit troop operations center to tell them about the setback. Bandit called back- we were to wait at the OP while they called around for a shovel operator.

1LT Lenon waits for direction

LT Lenon sighed and said “They’re just going to call up to Squadron, who will call over here, and the guys here will tell them what we already know- there’s no one around who can operate the thing, and we’ll just waste more time.” Sure enough, Bandit called back down a few minutes later to tell us that no one could operate the shovel and that if we moved out now, we would have no engineer support. LT Lenon replied “Roger… I understand that if I leave with no digging equipment, I will nothing to dig with at the cache site.” The driver of the MRAP turned around and said to me: “You getting this? Make sure to tell people how much sense the Army makes.”

At the cache site

We drove ten minutes down the road to the cache site; 5 small hills with old cement bunkers crumbling on top of them. Last night, White platoon had dug up the side of one of the hills, exposing a large caliber recoilless rifle and a large caliber round. Their intent was to spend the day running over the rest of the hills with metal detectors, and digging up anything else buried there.

SPC Self sweeping for caches

By mid-day, White platoon had satisfied themselves that the recoilless rifle and two rounds were all that remained of the cache. The rest had already been taken, or had never existed in the first place. White platoon packed up to return to base- on the way home, they dropped me off to spend the rest of the day with Red platoon.

SSG Garstka checking a metal detector "hit"

Bandit Red

I caught up with Bandit troop’s Red platoon on a dusty road within sight of PB Meade. They were on mission to search through the fields and canals surrounding the site of a huge cache, and had been diverted to check out a report from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle team of men digging in a field.
SGT Rose and Iron search for buried weapons

The report sounded promising enough- 4-5 men digging near the road until a bongo truck (the distinctive middle-eastern version of the pickup truck) pulled up, at which point the men started unloading items into the hole. It *sounds* like IED planting or cache digging, but my experience with UAV intel has been poor enough to leave me a cynic. I made a gentleman’s bet with the gunner that the search would turn up nothing. The dismount team found farmers working in the fields. Score one for cynicism.Red platoon soldiers set fire to a canal

Red platoon’s plan for the day was to light the reeds lining the canals in their search areas on fire, search the fields nearby while the canals burned, and return to check the canals after the flames turned the concealing reeds to ash. The danger in burning canals is that loose ammunition tends to explode like popcorn, and there is always the chance of an artillery shell “cooking off” in the fire. It is best to stay far away as long as the fire burns.

A Red platoon soldier runs from an explosion

The area where Red platoon was searching had come to Bandit troop’s attention a few days prior; White platoon had been patrolling nearby when they saw an explosion out in a field. They investigated, and found a trench cut in the earth with two men inside. They chased the men across the fields, catching one, at which point he confessed to being an al-Qaeda fighter conducting a sort of IED attack training. He proceeded to turn over his companion and lead White platoonto a series of large caches scattered across a few hundred m eters of farmland. Rockets, artillery shells, ammunition, RPGs, over 200 anti-personal land mines and more all came out of the earth.1LT Walker stands over the IED training trench

Searching for caches is as much art as science- “needle in a haystack” is an oft-used phrase. Human intelligence- the informants that soldiers call “bird dogs” is an important tool to use in the search. Shepherd boys and farmers are often just as important as AQI fighters and facilitators that can be convinced to give up information, because it is often their fields that have been turned into caches and fighting positions.

SSG Cruse comes up out of the reeds with a 155mm artillery shell

In Arab Jabour, though, many of the locals fled or were forced out by AQI, and are only now returning to their homes. As security improves and refugees trickle home, they often return to homes once used by AQI. They call in the war supplies left in their houses- as for what is buried in the fields; the search often turns into a treasure hunt like the one Red platoon was sent on today.
SSG Cruse feels out a homemade RPG launcher.
This one had a round explode in it when the fires passed over.

Just a few days before I went out with Bandit troop, a local farmer had approached them with the names of two men whom he claimed had been involved in Al Qaeda in Iraq. Bandit troop went out to question the men- cousins, as it turned out. Both men lead led Bandit to cache sites; both were detained after admitting they had helped dig the caches. 1LT Walker and his interpreter talk to a local shepherd

After being detained, one of the men told Bandit troop: “You don’t want me; my brother is the really bad one”. His mother came out waving a white flag to say goodbye to him, and substantiated what he had said about his brother. The next day, she returned- with her second son. She sat him down in front of the Americans and told him to talk or he would get worse than what his brother had gotten. The second brother, the “bad one”, would go on to help Bandit troop find yet another giant cache. This is just a simple story, but it substantiates a point about Iraqi culture that bears repeating: the men hold all the visible power, but winning over the women is extremely important to succeeding at counterinsurgency.

SSG Cruse calls EOD to report the day's finds

Saturday, February 16, 2008

First Article Up:

The first of several planned articles has been posted over at The Long War Journal. Here's a teaser:

Colonel Ferrel asked for a volunteer from among the sheikhs to head the Sons of Iraq when he reached their village. The sheikhs looked at each other indecisively, until Sheikh Sayeed (a pseudonym, used for his protection), dressed like an al Qaeda in Iraq fighter, volunteered. Colonel Ferrel looked at him and said, “OK. You’d better be ready, because if my guys get there and get shot at, I’m coming after you!”

Some new pictures up in a slideshow over at LWJ as well. Check it out.
I'm leaving PB Meade shortly and moving back to FOB Kalsu for a day or two, so I should have some decent internet soon. Look forward to more pictures and some patrol stories here on the blog, as well as a treat for the gun nuts out there.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Settling In

The wait in the Green Zone wasn’t short, but it was just short enough to forestall a meeting with the author of LT Nixon Rants. Too bad- I’ll have to try again on the trip back. I caught a Blackhawk helicopter ride from the Green Zone south to FOB Kalsu- home to the 2nd and 4th Brigades of the 3rd Infantry division. The 2nd Brigade, my hosts for this stage of the trip, is famous for leading the “Thunder Run” to Baghdad in the initial invasion.

On the flight down to Kalsu, I made friends with a civilian electronics tech. He had a day or so in between places he had to go for his job, so he was flying down to Kalsu to play high-stakes poker with his cousin stationed there. Was it a waste of government resources? I suppose you could look at it that way, but he had nowhere else to be, and the helicopter was flying with or without him. I don’t understand the surprise some people claim at the idea that soldiers might be gambling (or participating in most any other vice, for that that matter). Soldiers are soldiers, and war doesn’t often change their amusements.

From FOB Kalsu, I jumped on a convoy headed east into Arab Jabour, finally arriving at Patrol Base Meade, an isolated outpost that headquarters the 5/7 Cavalry. We had worked with 5/7 Cav under the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry before we left Falluja- after we left they were attached to 2nd Brigade and moved to Arab Jabour. The soldiers I’ve met at all stages of my trip here seem to kick their estimation of me up a couple of notches upon learning that I served in Iraq- 5/7 soldiers kick it up even more when they find out about my time in Pathfinder. One soldier recognized me from some time we spent living in Iraqi houses south of Falluja- I walked out of the tent last night to hear him telling other soldiers about it. I still feel good about what we accomplished there, and I’m glad to know the guys we worked for back in al-Anbar held us in such high regard.

PB Meade is a recently constructed base in the center of Arab Jabour. Actually, it is still in the process of construction- just days before I got here, there was no heat or electricity. Those are spotty at best, and when the heat goes out at night a bone-chilling cold descends. It’s not the coldest I’ve ever been- not by a long shot, but it’s still damned uncomfortable. Food comes in on trucks, and moves from PB Meade to a scattering of even smaller patrol bases about the area. These bases are a fundamental piece of the counter-insurgency doctrine that the military is now pursuing in Iraq- sometimes separated from neighborhoods by little more than a hasty earthen wall, they allow the troops stationed at each near instant access to the community.

Over the next few days, I’ll be doing a little bit less “blog” style posting, and more photos and story about the fight in Southern Arab Jabour- keep checking back, and I’ll get posts up once I’m back on reliable internet.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

One Year

We turn 101 years old today. As I write this, it is one year almost to the minute from the event that would age us all more than any other. It was a hard week for our battalion- we had just remembered CPL Steve Shannon, who had been killed the night of January 31st. Then this morning, a year ago, we lost 3 good men to the biggest bomb anyone in our Task Force would have the misfortune to encounter.

To Mel, Dave, Brandi, families of Ross, Jim and Ray- we remember. We could never forget.

To those that read this from 3rd PLT- I wish I could be with you today. I made the pilgrammage you will make in this coming morning on Memorial Day. I feel like it was better for me to make it alone, in the same way I found out about our loss. Still... I wish I was there.

I don't want this post today to be about me, what I write or what I feel. Take a moment to remember these men and their families, and all the others that have given up their lives in service to our country.

And once again:

For those who have made the ultimate sacrifice
And for those now on their final tour
Gentlemen: lift up your glasses for absent companions.

Rest in peace
SGT Holtom
SGT Clevenger
PFC Werner

Welcome Back

Welcome to Baghdad, ladies and gentlemen”, the pilot said. The attendant opened the hatch, and the scent of burning garbage reached through and tickled my nose. I was back in Iraq. I flew up on a Gryphon Airways plane, direct from the Kuwait City airport. That meant a few hours of waiting at the airport after leaving my hotel, rather than a day or two waiting at the main air force base for a military flight. I also got to fly on a normal passenger plane, instead of stuffed into the back of a hot, cramped C-130. I’ll take that trade any day.

I spent the next 4 hours waiting again- this time for the RINO, which is a big armored black bus. It looks like a prison wagon, and I can’t imagine it would fare much better in case of an IED. The route into the International Zone was along the infamous Route Irish- at one time listed as the most dangerous road in the world. Now, route clearance checks the road before the RINOs move along it. As we left the gate, I saw an RG pulling in, and I was suddenly homesick for the road, and for my old truck “Roadrunner”. Our RG took more abuse than ever intended- we blew the engine out of her twice, and blew the entire front end nearly off once. We replaced every single window in her at least twice. The guys before us blew off the back axle. That was a truck whose creaks and rattles I trusted utterly, unlike the RINO I took bumping down the road last night.

While I was waiting for the RINO to come, I spent a fair bit of time talking to a British Aegis Corp. contractor. Aegis is like the British version of Blackwater, without the allegations of shooting civilians. He was former British military; I mentioned that I had deployed to Iraq before, doing the ‘ol route clearance. He said “Oh, so you were the crazy nutters in those big trucks!”. Indeed we were. I was crazy enough to come back again. The Specialist with the press center that came to pick me up asked if I’d ever been to Iraq before; I explained a little of my history, and he asked if I’d brought my pipe along with me, because he wanted a hit. So there you go- not everyone feels that pull to come back. I bet he misses it a little after a few months home, though.

Monday, February 04, 2008

On the Road Again

I learned some things the last time I was in Iraq- I learned of courage, and brotherhood. I learned that there is no glory in war- there are few heroes, and many decent, ordinary men too stubborn to realize that their actions are irrational, dangerous, and, well… heroic. I learned of emotional agony and of empathy; I also learned how to be callous. I learned how to tell someone with your eyes that you would kill him if he didn’t cave. I lost some timidity, and gained self-respect. The war did not make me a man- rather; I learned through the war some essential elements of manhood.

There must be a name for this sickness, for this consuming malady that compels some few of us back into the conflict, back into the desert. It feels like a mild form of addiction- there’s the drive to get more of it, and the rush, and the memories. It comes without the wasting, without the needle marks (that’s a lie, actually- I have a wicked bruise in my elbow right now from blood tests), but it brings its own scars, flashbacks, and dementia. There’s something very existential about it- I am forever the sum of my experiences, after all, and time spent in austere environs, separated from my comfortable life and often in the heat of combat certainly qualifies as life experience.

I’m happy to be on my way back again. I thought travel into and out of Iraq was bad when I went with the Army… I think it might actually be worse as a civilian. I guess we’ll see if they completely lose me on the trip back, like they lost my entire company in Kuwait. See, the funny thing about that is that the units in Kuwait control travel for the theater, and I never quite understood how they could not know we were leaving. But I digress.

It didn’t take me long to pack for this trip; the hardest part was selecting some civilian clothes that would work well in Iraq. I dug my tactical gear from my deployment out of the boxes I had it stowed in- everything was just as I had remembered. My tan Nomex gloves were still crusted with my sweat and Iraqi dirt. My little Timex watch was still running still set to Iraq time. That watch has to embody the best $12 I ever spent. I packed all the tactical gear into my carryon backpack for the flight; forgetting to remove my Gerber from its holster when I threw that into my backpack. At the airport, it took TSA 3 times through the scanner to decide there was something in my bag that didn’t belong. The screener acted as though my bag was radioactive. She gingerly removed books and power cords, and struggled to comprehend the fastening straps on the butt pack that held the offending multitool. I offered to help, but I was sternly refused. When at last she uncovered the grey canvas cover, she stared at it as though it might explode- which it might, of course. Standing next to her, I wondered how many suicide bombers tried to trick their victims into detonating their bombs, and only martyred themselves because they stuck around to watch the fun. In her mind, the number must be in the dozens. I can’t wait to get back to Iraq, where I trust the competence of the people around me.

The trouble I had at the security checkpoint turned out to be for naught. My flight was delayed to the point that I would positively miss the connector to my flight across the Atlantic, so I rescheduled for the next flight out and called my girlfriend: “Hey babe… Want to say goodbye to me again?” I’m sure it’s a little cruel to shift someone so quickly between tears and laughter, but I needed a ride home. My bag went on without me to my final point of departure from the United States- hopefully it will make it to the Middle East along with me, or I might get to soak up more Kuwaiti sand than I really want to.

Once I get to Kuwait, I will likely be unable to update for some time. I’m told that the damaged cables the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf have brought internet access in the region to a virtual (heh heh) standstill. In the meantime, spread the word that Teflon Don is back in the suck and blogging again.

Please Donate

I've received several emails recently, asking what can be done to help me and others like me. Coincidently, Public Multimedia, Inc, the nonprofit that is making my trip possible, just kicked off their 1st Quarter fund raising drive. If you have a bit of spare change and value the reports of independent citizen journalists, drop by and shake a little coin into the tray. They deserve it, just like you deserve quality reporting.