RUSH: Jeff in Moreland, Oklahoma. This is our returning soldier from Iraq. Welcome, sir. Nice to have you on the program.
CALLER: I appreciate it Rush. Real honor to talk to you.
RUSH: All right, give us some details about where you were, how long you were there. I know you want to keep some anonymity here which I totally understand. I don't want you to violate that, but give us some background so that we can have a context for the details of the story you want to relay on this Iraqi wedding business.
CALLER: Well, Rush, I spent 300 and about 56 days in downtown Baghdad.
RUSH: Hang on. For those in Rio Linda that's just about a week short of a year. Okay.
CALLER: And one of the things I told your screener was... Well, first of all I was very angry when I was listening to that caller earlier because he had no idea what he's talking about. One of the most basic --
RUSH: Which caller was that?
CALLER: The guy that was... Gosh, what was he saying? He was saying --
RUSH: The Toyota dealer who used to know me from Kansas City?
CALLER: Yeah, I believe so.
RUSH: Yeah, this guy was complaining that I was being too flippant about these wedding parties?
CALLER: The fact of the matter is, when we first came into Baghdad, Rush, we had two very simple rules: Don't stay out past curfew and don't shoot at us.
RUSH: What is curfew?
CALLER: Curfew used to be 11 o'clock. For some reason they lifted that. I have no idea why.
RUSH: Those are the rules for Iraqis?
CALLER: That was the rules for all Iraqi citizens ? and not shoot at us, and every time they'd have a wedding... Every Thursday is wedding night in Iraq for some reason. Now, they will have them on other days but every Thursday we would have to react to all kinds of gunfire and when we would get out on the street, in their celebration. They'd just take shots at us, too. One particular small firefight we got into was with a funeral procession. They love to have their weapons at their celebrations.
RUSH: A funeral procession, and they fire on you even at that. Now, what kind of weapons are we talking about?
CALLER: Well, just about every Iraqi citizen has an AK-47.
RUSH: Waaait a second. We haven't heard that. Just about every Iraqi citizen has an AK-47?
CALLER: Roger. We allow them to keep an AK-47 per household, and/or a pistol.
RUSH: Second Amendment triumphs!
CALLER: In Iraq it does. (Laughing.) But I was telling your screener also, one of the hairiest night we spent in Baghdad was not the night Uday and Qusai was reported killed. It was one of the nights that the Iraqi National Soccer Team actually won a game, and I don't remember who they were playing. We come under heavy fire that night also, by heavy weapons, probably .51 caliber, PKAs --
RUSH: Let me ask, I have been told some things. I'll bet you that the posture that you are required to assume has changed from the days you got there till now. I bet I could fire on them at some point and I'll bet you now you're more handcuffed, can't fire back as often as you could?
CALLER: Well, when you talk to certain people that are in charge over there they're saying that they've not changed the rules of engagement at all, but I can tell you it's trickled down to the soldiers and a lot of it is due to media coverage. There's a reporter on every corner in Baghdad. You dang near have to be shot before you feel comfortable enough to shoot back, and it's a very serious, a very scary situation.
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait. Shot or shot at?
CALLER: A little bit of both. We would take mortar rounds and not do a damn thing about it, and that's scary when you're leading, man.
RUSH: You take mortar rounds and not do anything about it? Has that been from the beginning?
CALLER: No. At the beginning, we were taking care of business, Rush. I mean, we were allowed to do our job. And a lot of it is -- we still have a lot of embeds, and those kinds of people that had gone through the war, and they knew the deal -- and then we started getting people from all over the place coming in and pretty much dictating (laughing) what we would do on the street by just being there. Making simple arrests, there would be a camera stuck in your face, and you'd have to be very careful, and I'll tell you right now the Iraqi people are not real nice people. Now, I would say the majority them want us there, but there are some out there that just absolutely don't like us and they will cause problems -- and the thing of it is, they know they got media in their back pocket.
CALLER: Rush, if you would just allow me two seconds to tell you a little bit about a person I put in Abu Ghraib. I put in over 200 people in Abu Ghraib.
RUSH: Sure, go ahead.
CALLER: One day...
RUSH: What kind of people were they?
CALLER: Well, I'll just tell you an example of what kind of person this guy was. I had a young male come up to me. We were doing a dinar (the Iraqi currency) exchange downtown. He said, "I need help. I need help. My mother's been stabbed," and we went ahead. We'd been getting ambushed by going and helping Iraqi people so we were a little bit skeptical of going and helping this guy, but after about an hour of him pleading with us, we decided to be very cautious and go to his house. When we got to his house, there was a small girl, probably about the age of six or seven. There was another girl about ten, and another girl that was 13, and then the mother. All three of them had been stabbed and raped, and they showed us up to the room where this guy was drunk and passed out, and of course we went in there and we grabbed him, and we come back downstairs and found out what the story was, what this guy had been doing. And I want to tell you, Rush, it takes everything you can do to keep your composure to not want to cut his head off for something like that. It was beyond belief, and we sent him out to Abu Ghraib, and to tell you the truth -- and I could get in trouble for this, I guess -- I'm hoping he's one of those guys that was in one of those human pyramids, because he... You cannot imagine what he had done to those kids. I saw it with my own eyes and so did my whole platoon, and it was beyond belief, and those are the people that we're dealing with over there, and it's not the majority. It literally is a few bad apples over there.
RUSH: Okay, now, I've got a break coming up. Can you hold on through the break for just a couple? Okay, because just a quick observation here. One thing that you said that has confirmed a suspicion, and that is that the Arab immediate propaganda, al-Jazeera, is having an impact on the way you are ordered to do your job, and it's changed, and you are much less aggressive and much more defensive even when people are firing on you -- from wedding parties, funeral processions or whatever -- and also the kind of people that are in the Abu Ghraib, that you have personally described here. That's one person, you said you put 200 in. Just a couple more things. This is fascinating. We'll be back and continue in a minute. [ear-splitting tone]
RUSH: And we are back, and we're talking with Jeff in Moreland, Oklahoma, who is back from a nearly year-long tour in Iraq. So you've been fired on by Iraqi wedding parties and rules of engagement changed, became more defensive during the period of time you were there. When you get back now -- and I don't know -- there's got to be a little bit different. How long have you been back?
CALLER: I've been back just a little over a month now.
RUSH: Okay, so you've had a chance to compare the media you're seeing here versus the American media, bits and doses or whatever that you got over there. What's your impression of news reporting about what's happening in Iraq from your stateside vantage point?
CALLER: I told a lot of people at my hometown church the same thing, Rush. I have been more scared of Iraq watching it from the news over here than I ever was over there -- and I was in quite a few little skirmishes, lots of firefights, about 75 hostile raids and I have never been so scared in my life watching it over here on this news. It's not near as bad as people think it is.
RUSH: What's your reaction when you see the commanding officers from over there being dragged over here to testify before these congressional committees?
RUSH: What's your reaction when you see the commanding officers from over there being dragged over here to testify before these congressional committees?
CALLER: I think it's an absolute shame. I'm one of those military geeks, Rush. I've been a military man since I was a little boy, and I really don't play politics very well. I just don't care about it. (chuckles) I kill things and break things, I guess. I can't imagine being able to... What am I trying to say here? In World War II, being able to just go over and do our job and be done with it. I can't imagine what is going on in our political system today. It's going to make us lose this war.
RUSH: You know, I thought the same thing last night again and again and again. I think it frequently. But last night, I was watching something on the news, and people were bellyaching and moaning about the turnover date of June 30th and, "Are they going to be able to run their own affairs by June 30th?" and I guess it was (General) Abizaid. Abizaid was being asked when the Iraqi police and others would be able to run their own security. He said, "Well, we thought maybe by September, but it's going to be April now, because a dam broke. We had a bad week recently." He was talking about all this garbage with the prison, and I got thinking about Germany. We occupied Germany for seven years straightening it out, and we are still there with the military presence. Japan was the same way and yet here we've got people in this country declaring failure already and we haven't even turned it over to them yet. And because of that there's just such a loss of historical perspective. But you're right. It's not really a loss of historical perspective. It's the introduction of politics into this, and there are actually factions in this country that want us to lose.
CALLER: Yes, I agree. I used to sit down that with my interpreter quite often in talking about Japan. Japan was a much more fanatical, much more fanatical enemy. I mean, it was sold to almost every man, woman and child to them. I can tell you in the Arab nations, for the most part, the Arab fighter is a coward, a straight-up coward. When we can put more pressure on him than he can put on us, he'll quit.
RUSH: By "coward" you mean they hide behind women and children and in civilian homes and this kind of thing?
CALLER: Not only that. When you get into a firefight with them instead of them standing -- of course, I understand, they can't put up with what we can give them, but they just won't fight. They have to fight on an ambush, bushwhack kind of way to fight us or they just simply can't fight us.
RUSH: Well, but isn't that a new kind of warfare, though? Isn't that something we have to deal with? I mean, it's one thing to call them cowards, but there's got to be a system. There's got to be a strategy to get rid of people who do things that way.
CALLER: Yeah, I think there is, Rush. Unfortunately, you'd have to turn off the TV camera to get it done.
RUSH: Yeah. I know.
CALLER: I honestly --
RUSH: I'll tell you something else. If you take the can have cameras you've these hearings you'd get a lot more done in those things in a lot less time.
CALLER: Yes, I agree, and I can tell you, about these kids that are being prosecuted for what they do in Abu Ghraib. Yes, that went beyond what they should have done. That goes without saying, that they need to be punished in some kind of way, but I can tell you, that court-martial didn't go very long because the pressure that's on right now. Those kids were hung. All of them are hung, and they are guilty until they are found guilty. I don't excuse what they did. As a matter of fact, I know it hurts us. It hurts us badly over there, but my heart goes out to those kids because I'm going to tell you, they are not dealing with the choir over there, and some of the things that these people do, it takes every amount of energy you have to keep from wanting to really, really hurt those people, and I sympathize with them totally. Now, the fraternal pranks and things they were doing, that goes unexcused.
RUSH: Well, I think in this case they may have been sent to the wrong prison and the wrong kinds of people. Sounds like they were contracted MPs rather than highly trained. I mean, that's just a guess, but that's the way it's shaping up. But clearly there's going to be a lot of fall people here and they're not going to stop till they get somebody out of the defense department, too.
CALLER: And I agree with that, and that is what's unfortunate about the whole mess. I am in charge of several soldiers, and --
RUSH: Are you going to be going back?
CALLER: Yes. It looks like we'll probably be going back soon. I really can't really tell you when, but it will be sooner than what we was hoping for.
RUSH: Yeah. Well, it sounds like it's been your life. So, I just want to tell you that when people -- I know I can speak for the people of this audience -- that when they listen to you describe this, they are heartened, and their instincts are confirmed because you are telling a side to the story that really isn't told here. And you have it from both perspectives to share -- here and there. I'm probably going to get more e-mail on you and your call today than I've had on anything in a long while. I just want you to know how much I and the people in this audience appreciate everything that you are volunteering to do. You know, I don't know what the general state of mind of the GI is in Iraq today given all of these propaganda assaults from al-Jazeera and even here in the United States, but you have to know that the vast majority of people here are almost in awe and appreciation for what you're doing, and they are -- we're all -- just so hopeful and prayerful that you're able to succeed and do what you've been trained to do and are turned loose to do it.
CALLER: You know, Rush, when we got back to the United States it was evident right off of the bat. As soon as we got off the aircraft we noticed that. But the thing that really blows me away is the people that say, "God, we really, really support the troops, but, man, I don't support what we're doing over there." Well, I would just like to say, "If you're supporting the troops, you're supporting what's going on over there and the soldiers over there." There has been some times with the Michael Jackson and the other things that's been going on in the United States, and we thought we were forgotten. But it didn't take me two seconds getting off that airplane to know that America is behind us, and I appreciate that. Because it is, it gets pretty lonely over there.
RUSH: I can't even imagine it. I mean, I have said basic questions like, "How often do you get to take a shower? Where do you live? What do you do? Are you working 24/7? " You've got to constantly be on your guard. I mean, I can't -- it's something that most of us cannot -- even understand, much less relate to.
CALLER: You know, I didn't get a day off the whole time I was there, but it's mainly because of my position. We did try our best to let our soldiers have a half a day off a week, if we could. For about the first eight months I was over there I took a shower out of a broken pipe out of the ground. We did, however, live in a pretty nice place. I don't want to tell you where it's at because then people would be able to pinpoint where I was. But, yeah, it was pretty rough on us there for a while, and one of the things that people don't understand is, you know, with the IED (improvised explosive device) threats and everything else sometimes supplies didn't go through.
RUSH: What's an IED threat?
CALLER: The IED threat along the main supply routes, the roadside bombs --
RUSH: Oh, okay, yeah.
CALLER: Yeah, they were put out. I was hit by two of them while I was there, and I can tell you it's not a lot of fun and it makes you not want to go down those roads anymore. There were times we would get, you know, two bottles of water a day. But, you know, nobody complained about that, Rush. Everybody --
RUSH: Well, that's what always has amazed me, Jeff, because you all volunteered for it, and there isn't any whining. Whining is going on back here.
CALLER: You know, and that's what I was telling my wife on the way to town today. I'm really worried about this nation. I'm worried about it, and I see it from the perspective now, after being at war for this nation. I come back and I'm scared to death at just how stupid people are. Just forgive me if that's a bad thing to say on the radio but I just cannot believe how stupid people are, and it's scary to me, Rush. It really is.
RUSH: You mean stupid in the sense they don't understand what's actually going on?
CALLER: They don't understand what's actually going on, Rush, and there's people out there misleading them, running them down the wrong road. And they are so quick. The one thing that really chaps me more than anything else is that, "We're over there for oil," and it chaps me to no end because, if you were there, you would see that oil really -- at least at the tactical level -- now, strategic and operation, maybe -- not operation, but strategic, maybe, and you know what, that's fine. That's fine by me. But at the level that I'm at, this is the farrest [sic] thing from oil. There is a real threat in the Middle East. Those people hate us. I've never been hated so much before in my life as we run up against some of these people -- and I tell you what, we've got a war going on in Iraq and it's not going on right here, and I believe that, and people may be saying that all over the United States, but I'm telling you. That war is going on over there because we're making that war over there.
RUSH: One question before I have to go here.
RUSH: It's about the fact that you say, "They hate us." Is the degree to which they hate us so profound that you question whether or not we can win, and accomplish this mission of actually creating an Iraq where the people there are free to choose their own way and it will be rooted in democracy?
CALLER: There is no doubt in my mind we can win. As a matter of fact, there's no doubt in my mind that we could finish this whole thing pretty quickly. The one thing that Iraq needs more than anything else is religious freedom, and you don't hear that from a lot of the politicians. Maybe in the inner circles, I don't know, but this is a religious war. They hate us simply because we're not them and until we find some kind of way to bridge that gap -- and maybe just call a spade a spade and let's get it on.
RUSH: You're talking primarily about the terrorist insurgents, not the general Iraqi population?
CALLER: No, the general Iraqi population -- at least where I was in what they call the Sunni Triangle, I guess -- the Sunnis are mainly westernized. I mean, almost completely westernized. They're more of a pagan. They go to mosque once in a while, but they really don't follow. I'd say it's like a lot of people in the United States that go to church. They go there because they do, but do they follow it during the week? Sometimes not. The Shi'a would be really more the problem because they're a little bit more fanatical, and then we have the Wahhabi coming in from God knows where, and --
RUSH: Saudi Arabia.
CALLER: -- they're causing a lot of trouble. They're causing a lot of trouble, and it's based -- it's soundly based -- in their religious beliefs. The normal Iraqi person in Baghdad. We have upped their lifestyle maybe a hundredfold. You know, when we first got to Baghdad we could have an Iraqi do anything for us -- and what I mean is be an interpreter for us, or maybe even dig a foxhole for us or whatever -- for a dollar, and they loved it. They would do anything for a dollar.
RUSH: But now immigrants are the only ones that'll do that work because the Iraqis consider it beneath them?
CALLER: It's becoming that. They want to live a lifestyle like the Kuwaitis, where the Kuwaitis don't work at all. All of their labor is done from outside.
RUSH: Sounds like Los Angeles.
CALLER: (Laughing.) Thank God I've never been out there.
RUSH: (Laughing.) Jeff, I'm only kidding. We love Los Angeles here. Jeff, thanks so much for the call. This has been extremely enlightening and informative. You're the real deal. You obviously have been there and done it, and we appreciate you sharing it with us. I'm glad you were able to get through. Thanks for trying.
CALLER: Keep it up, Rush.
RUSH: Okay, that's Jeff from Moorhead, Oklahoma, just back from Iraq and about ready to go back.