November 13, 2007

The House from Hell

Reading Staff Sergeant David Bellavia on my way to Fallujah doesn't exactly make me feel good about going there, but his book House to House: An Epic Memoir of War provides a gripping and necessary prologue to the state of the city today.

House to House: An Epic Memoir of War
Click the image to order from Amazon.com

He was there at the second battle of Fallujah in November, 2004, when the city had been seized by Islamist insurgents from all over the place and emptied of the 250,000 civilians who had recently lived there. U.S. Army soldiers and Marines fought house to house and at times hand to hand as they stormed in to clear it.

Some of the insurgents were former Baath Party officers, and many, if not most, were Iraqis. A significant number, though, were from somewhere else.

The fighting was grisly and horrific at best, but one house was particularly nightmarish. Insurgents had set up the perfect death trap where they were shielded behind concrete barriers. Any soldiers who entered would walk straight into the kill zone.
In the kitchen, we found drugs and U.S. Army-issue auto injectors. They had been full of atropine and epinephrine. The muj inside the house had shot the drug directly into their hearts. It acted like PCP – angel dust – and kept them going long after my bullets should have killed them.

In another section of that house, I found a pouch with a Hezbollah insignia. At least some of the six men inside were Shia, not the radical Sunni we were told were so prevalent in the Al Qaeda-dominated Anbar Province. Somebody else found documents from the Palestinian Authority amid the debris upstairs.

Before any of this was discovered, though, the house had to be taken. Bellavia's unit casually entered before anyone realized they had walked straight into a death trap. They barely managed to escape with their lives by running out the way they came in. Bellavia was furious at himself for running away without clearing the insurgents out.

He, more than the others, was especially chagrined, and not only because he was the unit's leader. One reason he joined the Army in the first place was because his home was invaded by burglars when he was younger, and he stood by impotently while they rummaged through the house and stole his belongings. He hoped the Army would toughen him up (and it most certainly did), and that he would never again run away from a fight.

As I storm around in the street, struggling with myself, [Time Magazine and CNN reporter] Michael Ware regards me curiously. The last thing I want right now is a journalist watching me grapple with my own demons. I turn away and pace back up the street, slipping on a couple of 25mm shell casings in the process. Another spray of sparks flares around me...

If I don't go in, they'll have won. How many times have we heard American soldiers rely on firepower and technology because they lack courage? How many times has our enemy said that man-for-man, they can beat us? That's nothing new. The Germans and Japanese said the same thing in World War II.

Inside that house, I surrendered my honor and my manhood. Now I have to take both back, or live with the fact that they are right about me. That is unacceptable.

I rant and swear with abandon. Down the street, I see Sergeant Knapp taking care of my men like they are his little brothers. I want to cry I am so proud. I love these kids in a way I will never be able to express.

I see their faces. One by one. John Ruiz, Lucas Abernathy, Piotr Sucholas, Alex Stuckert, Victor Santos, Brett Pulley, Tristan Maxfield – they deserve more from me.

I stop pacing and let out a deep, rattling sigh. Only Ware remains near me on the street. Everyone else has moved away. Perhaps my display has convinced them I've gone mad.

But Ware is still here. The journalist. Our platoon's unofficial intel officer. We stare intently at each other.

“Fuck it,” I say.

“Fuck it,” agrees Ware.

That settles it. I'm going back in.

You know things are not right with the world when you share a spiritual moment with a damn journalist. But there it is. Mick Ware and I are standing on the street, digesting the finality of the option we've just chosen.
So he and the journalist Michael Ware – whom Bellavia respects tremendously for his intelligence and his bravery – go into the well-crafted death trap alone.

Ware is explicitly told to stay back where he is at least slightly less likely to be killed. He sets up his video camera in the foyer and melts back into the shadows. It is night, the electrical grid is down, and there is little ambient light. It is unlikely he managed to catch much on the camera, but a guy has to try.

Bellavia charges the first set of insurgents as they wait behind concrete barriers with RPGs and machine guns.
Somebody must die now. There is no turning back.

I bring my rifle to the ready up position. The M16 feels right; it is exactly what I need right now. Tucked firmly against my shoulder, I have a perfect eye line over the rifle's sights.

Across the room, I see the young insurgent standing behind the barriers. His head is down, still working on the RPG. The kid's gotta be drugged halfway to Neptune.

I take a step into the room; my feet slosh in the water and send ripples across the flooded floor. The M16's barrel pivots and stops when it is pointed at the insurgent's chest. I have the sight picture. My finger is about to end him.

He looks up. He stares at me with terror in his eyes. I know right then that I have surprised him. He doesn't have a chance, and he knows it, too.

“Jew!” he hisses in fear and spite, as if the word can protect him.

Close-quarters combat is instinctual, fought on the most basic and animalistic level of the human brain. Body language, eye contact, the inflection of a voice can turn a fight in a heartbeat. That is what happens here...

I pull the trigger and hit him right in the chest. He staggers back. I take a step to the left to move out of the doorway. The room's carpet is so waterlogged that my boots make a sucking sound with each step.

After a heartbeat's pause, I shoot him again. This time, my bullet goes into his pelvis. He spins completely around and falls across the barrier. Hands splayed, head draped, he gushes blood across the concrete. The water around him turns a milky crimson.

The last thing he expected was a rush through the doorway. That surprise saved my life and doomed his.

I can win this fight. I can do this.

A red heat forms on my face. The back of my neck tingles.

Where's the second guy?
There was not only a second guy lurking in the dark. Six well-placed insurgents waited in that house. Bellavia took them all out by himself.
Something slides along the wall on the other side of the doorway. I hear breathing. Somebody is close.

“I will kill you and take your dog collar.”

It is a malevolent, accented voice, low and totally devoid of fear. Its self-assured tone triggers a memory of the Nicholas Berg beheading video we watched at our base so long ago. It took them twenty-six seconds to decapitate him, and it was horrifying to watch. They were self-assured, too.

Now my imagination conjures a scene: my severed head, a grimy hand pulling my bloody dog tags free.

That's never gonna happen. Never—gonna—happen.

He's mind-fucking me, this one behind the door. I can't see him. I start to tremble. I fight it, but I can't control my body's physical reaction to this terror.

I can either go to pieces completely, or mind-fuck him back.

“Okay, listen up. I know you are not going to motherfucking stop. You know I am not going to motherfucking stop. La ta quiome.

La ta quiome is my broken Arabic for “Do not resist.”

The enemy behind the door sniggers. He spits a curse in his native language. Sometimes it sounds like Arabic and sometimes it sounds totally different. Could that have been Farsi?

Am I fucking fighting Iranians in here?

“Mommy will never find your body.”
Bellavia shoots him. At least five times.

But there are more in the house. The fight isn't finished.

He fingers his last magazine and thinks of his wife and son.
Deanna. Evan. I'm so sorry. I can't leave this fight. This is what I am. A warrior. It is my blood oath. If I turn my back on that again, I will be nothing and I can't face that.

I creep around the mattress, M16 at the ready. When I reach the doorway, I nearly slip. The water here is deeper and cloudy, probably with blood.

Neither corpse is in the doorway. I study the floor. Dark slicks of blood trail off into the stairwell room. It looks like one or both of them crawled into the kitchen.

Do I go finish them off and face the threat of somebody coming down the stairs again? I could get shot in the back as I go into the kitchen. Or do I go upstairs and face the bandolier-wearing Bogeyman from the closet? He's up there, somewhere in the darkness, waiting for me to do just that.

Or do I leave, get the rest of my squad and do this right.

No! I brought this on myself. I have to finish it.

Lawson is wounded. He's wounded because I didn't finish this the first time. I will not risk another man.

Fuck it.

I step through the doorway and onto the stairs. Eyes on the landing, I drop my current magazine out of the M16. I catch it and sling it into my pouch, then search for my last fresh one. I seize it and slam it home. The new mag makes a metallic snick as it slaps into place. I've got twenty-nine rounds in the mag and one in the pipe.

I begin to climb the stairs. There's no turning back now.

The image of my boy in his Halloween costume tumbles through my mind again. I hear his little voice in my head. It is the last thing he said to me on the phone before I left for Fallujah.

“I am going to save you, Daddy.”

I'm sorry, buddy. I love you. I'm so sorry.
He finds the “bandolier-wearing Bogeyman” upstairs. They're locked into hand-to-hand combat.
He clamped his teeth on the side of my thumb near the knuckle, and now he tears at it, trying to pull meat from bone. As he rages against the side of my right hand, his Adam's apple still in my clutch, I feel one of his hands move under me. Suddenly, a pistol cracks in the room. A puff of gun smoke rolls over us. The bullet hits the wall in front of me.

Where did that come from? Does he have a sidearm?

I cuff him across the face with my torn left hand. He rides the blow and somehow breaks my choke hold on him. I bludgeon his face. He tears at mine.

We share a single question of survival. Which one of us has the stronger will to live?

I gouge his left eye with my right index finger. I am astonished to discover that the human eye is not so much a firm ball as a soft, pliable sack. I try with all my might to send my finger all the way through. He wails like a child. It unnerves me, and I lose the stomach for this dirty trick. I withdraw my finger. Something metallic hits the cold concrete flooring. It is the same hand cannon that almost took my head off. His interest in trying to grab it opens a window of opportunity for me.

As he reaches for the pistol, I slam my left fist as hard as I can down onto his collarbone. He swings wildly at me again. My helmet's gone now. I have no idea where my M16 is. I've nothing but my hands left. And they're not enough. We will struggle and exhaust each other until the stalemate is broken by whoever's friends show up first.

I feel my strength ebbing. I don't have much left. He kicks at me, throwing his whole body into it. I've got to end this. But I don't know how.

“Surrender!”

I'm ignored. He fights on, and I can sense he's encouraged. He's close to getting free of me. I swallow hard and gag. My mouth is full of blood, and I don't know whose. Both of us are slick with it; we have been bleeding all over each other. I taste bile through the blood. My body's maxed out. I don't know what to do.
He remembers he has a knife on his belt.
I pounce on him. My body splays over his and I drive the knife right under his collarbone. My first thrust hits solid meat. The blade stops, and my hand slips off the handle and slides down the blade, slicing my pinkie finger. I grab the handle and squeeze it hard. The blade sinks into him, and he wails with terror and pain.

The blade finally sinks all the way to the handle.

I push and thrust it, hoping to get it under the collarbone and sever an artery in his neck. He fights, but I can feel he's weakening by the second.

I lunge at him, putting all my weight behind the blade. We're chin to chin now, and his sour breath is on my face. His eyes swim with hatred and terror. They're wide and dark and rimmed with blood. His face is covered with cuts and gouges. His mouth is curled into a grimace. His teeth are bared. It reminds me of the dogs I'd seen the day before.

The knife finally nicks an artery. We both hear a soft liquidy spurting sound. He tries to look down, but I've pinned him with the weight of my own body. My torn left hand has a killer's grip on his forehead. He can't move.

I'm bathed in warmth from neck to chest. I can't see it, but I know it is his blood. His eyes lose their luster. The hate evaporates. His right hand grabs a tuft of my hair. He pulls and yanks at it and tries to get his other hand up, but he is feeble.

“Just stop! Stop...Just stop! Rajahan hudna,” I plead. Please truce. We both know it is just a matter of time.

He gurgles a response drowned in blood...

His eyes show nothing but fear now. He knows he's going to die. His face is inches from mine, and I see him regard me for a split second. At the end, he says, “Please.”

“Surrender!” I cry. I'm almost in tears.

“No...” he manages weakly.

His face goes slack. His right hand slips from my hair. It hangs in the air for a moment, then with one last spasm of strength, he brings it to my cheek. It lingers there, and as I look into his dying eyes, he caresses the side of my face.

His hand runs gently from my cheeks to my jaw, then falls to the floor.

He takes a last ragged breath, and his eyes go dim, still staring into mine...

Tears blur my vision. I can hardly see him now, but he looks peaceful.

Why did he touch me like that at the end?

He was forgiving me...

“Sergeant Bell, Sergeant Bell, where are you?”

It's Lawson.

“Up here,” I manage.

“Sergeant Bell, are you okay? Why didn't you stay downstairs? Are you okay, man?”

“Yeah, I'm good. I'm good.”

It's a lie. I wonder if I will ever be good again.
You can buy the book from Amazon.com if you want to read the whole thing.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 13, 2007 02:13 AM

Comments

Ok, buying it now. Even though shipping to the Czech Republic costs as much as the book itself.

It seems to be a must-read.

Posted by: Marian - CZ at November 13, 2007 05:54 AM

I just purchased a copy via the link you provided. It should be well worth reading. Thanks for mentioning it. I also somehow get the impression that Staff Sergeant David Bellavia is not going to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in 2008. This guy does not seem afflicted with subconscious Hegalism.

Posted by: David Thomson at November 13, 2007 08:24 AM

Wow! Just... Fffffff...

There's nothing to say.

Posted by: Charles Malik at November 13, 2007 08:27 AM

...damn.

Posted by: anthemboy at November 13, 2007 09:23 AM

I'm telling you people...BUY THIS BOOK.

It's a life changing read.

Posted by: Michael at November 13, 2007 09:50 AM

Echoing other sentiments here...WOW. Makes me feel like I might understand just a tiny bit better the experiences my husband has been through in this war. He's got 17 years of nonstop deployment as a SEAL and each time I read an account of something this horrific I get just a little bit prouder of him and appreciate just a little bit more what he must be experiencing. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Jen B at November 13, 2007 11:20 AM

MJT--

I know you dug the book - I did too (got an advanced proof of it), but come on man, you just gave away the entire climactic ending of the whole book.

What's next? Darth Vader is Luke's father? Kevin Spacey is Kaiser Sonsei?

Posted by: Joshik at November 13, 2007 12:10 PM

Joshik,

Well yeah, but it's not like a twist ending or anything. Most people reading the blog won't read the book. That's my excuse anyway...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 13, 2007 12:25 PM

Fuggedabout ruining the ending.

I read the book recently and still squirted a couple of tears after seeing this post.

Posted by: Melkor at November 13, 2007 12:55 PM

There is so much more to this book than the conclusion to one of the fights that there is no risk of reducing sales.

Besides, you didn't reveal the twist ending...

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 13, 2007 01:47 PM

Michael, thank you for the excellent reporting, I have been reading your work for over a year now. Stay safe in Fallujah and come back in 1 piece. Your work is indispensable.

Posted by: mike at November 13, 2007 02:03 PM

I bought the book a couple of weeks ago. I just read the first few pages last night. So I will avoid reading this post. :)

Posted by: Lynnette in Minnsota at November 13, 2007 02:03 PM

Have a good trip and stay safe. Keep up the good work bro.

Posted by: Ghengis at November 13, 2007 02:32 PM

I listened to this book. The reader is Ray Porter.

I have listened to many, many audiobooks in my commutes. Mr. Porter's performance is the best I have ever heard. He even tops Patrick Tull.

The CD is only $16.47 at Amazon. It is the best audiobook I have ever listened to.

Mr. Lasswell: you have been neglecting your blog.

Posted by: Ed at November 13, 2007 04:34 PM

There was not only a second guy lurking in the dark. Six well-placed insurgents waited in that house. Bellavia took them all out by himself.

He was damn lucky to have survived.

Posted by: rosignol at November 13, 2007 05:12 PM

Ed,

You didn't like today's post?

I grant that I need to quit screwing off and get some more material out. I've got about three posts lined up that I'll try to get out in the next couple of weeks.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 13, 2007 06:24 PM

Did the cops catch the guy?

ps: your comments are not working, and 'civic virtue' is an odd name for a firearm. I may steal it. ;-)

Posted by: rosignol at November 13, 2007 07:08 PM

Patrick - oh my lord! Did they catch that guy?

This post and the comment thread has a bit too many cliffhangers. But yes, I am buying the book.

Posted by: mary at November 13, 2007 08:40 PM

rosignol and mary,

The thing about probable cause is that sometimes the bad guys get away for a while. I've provided all the information for the police to roll this guy up anytime they want to, but I did not provide enough information for them to keep him because I did not have it to give. I made some adjustments to my security situation and reviewed some procedures with my wife.

The thing is that the guy doesn't know me and he probably doesn't know that I dropped the dime on him. If he makes any threats I will have to make some decisions that I would prefer to avoid. If he comes to my door, I get to assume the worst, because he's never come to my door before. His legal position in that case is extremely frail.

It's been weird and I'm a lot more twitchy than I usually am. I'm running on about level 7 when I go outside.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 13, 2007 09:48 PM

Wow. I cannot find words to describe the awe I feel for these soldiers and the things they do, things I don't feel I could do no matter how much I trained. THIS is how you tell the truth from fiction - it grabs you by the throat and shakes you until the emotions simply spill out. I'm actually tearing up as I write this comment, and I can't tell if it's in amazement at what Sergeant Bellavia did, or if it's in horror at what he went through (and what other soldiers went through), or if it's in self-pity for my failure of courage, that I don't have what it takes to enlist. If it's the latter, I can think analytically and tell myself that I shouldn't be expected to be able to do this stuff, that I'm still too young to enlist and that age limit's for a reason, and other good reasons for my inaction...but all I can say at the end of the day is that I'll never forget the sacrifices our men and women made and make so I can be here today.

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 14, 2007 01:57 AM

Holy Jesus.

Book ordered.

Posted by: Nate at November 14, 2007 04:56 AM

Math Mage,

Keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to serve, and that not everybody is cut out to be an infantryman. Although the Army loves having a lot of people interested in infantry, it takes a certain disposition and hardiness that not everybody possesses. Although I'm a very good Navy sonar boffin, my attempt at infantry service was a dismal failure.

If you are interested in serving in the US armed forces, take a good hard look at what you can accomplish as well as what they need. If you go to your recruiter with no idea what you want, the recruiter will help you fill his most urgent quota and think nothing of it. If you want your service to be successful, find what you are good at and do it. The military will probably stretch your abilities and help you grow, and if you find yourself capable of doing more, the military will almost always help you find something you can fail at. (In the Navy we have a special school where we send our healthiest and toughest sailors to let them discover what a 75% washout rate means. Welcome to Coronado, home of pain.)

The thing is, that we are very likely to take budget hits in the coming years. Lean times in the military are not fun. Going on extra deployments with insufficient funding and personnel is hell. (For instance, the reason we did not have uparmored equipment in 2003 was because we had a peace dividend in 1993.) The worst part is that there is no way of protecting yourself from budgetary cutbacks because the requirements change over the years. Find something you can love, and pursue that profession.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 14, 2007 10:13 AM

I read this book in two sittings, with a sleep in between. I'm glad I didn't dream.

I've read a lot about combat and warfare, but this isn't like those books. Before reading it, I knew enough to know that I didn't know much about these topics and won't unless I experience them for myself. It'd be foolish to think that reading this book is even a fraction of the experiences described within. But it lays out in raw, vivid, unmistakable detail what being urban combat for frontline infantry really entails.

Posted by: Matt at November 14, 2007 03:58 PM

Math Mage,

If it's the latter, I can think analytically and tell myself that I shouldn't be expected to be able to do this stuff

No kidding. SSG Bellavia won - I believe - the Silver Star for what he did in that house. Very, very few men could do what he did, and don't be ashamed for not thinking you're one of them.

Posted by: Matt at November 14, 2007 04:03 PM

"Bellavia..(portraying himself as a hard-bitten, foul-mouthed, superbly trained warrior, deeply in love with America and the men in his unit, contemptuous of liberals and a U.S. media that fails to support soldiers fighting in the front lines of the global war on terror)... writes a precise, hour-by-hour account of the fighting, featuring repeated heroic feats and brave sacrifice from Americans but none from the enemy, contemptuously dismissed as drug-addled, suicidal maniacs. Readers will encounter a nuts-and-bolts description of weapons, house-to-house tactics, gallantry and tragic mistakes, culminating with a 'glorious' victory that, in Bellavia's view, will go down in history with the invasion of Normandy. Like a pitch-by-pitch record of a baseball game, this detailed battle description will fascinate enthusiasts and bore everyone else."--- Amazon.com Reviewer

What's the matter with all you folks commenting on this thread ? You don't sound very bored to me ?

The 'official' reviewer clearly was VERY annoyed by this book. Far too simplistic and crude for his/her/its sophisticated tastes. Has Mr. Bellavia never heard of 'nuance '?

And what is it with all the 'macho' stuff ? I mean how can one take seriously any book that "featur(es) repeated heroic feats and brave sacrifice from Americans, but none from the enemy, contemptuously dismissed as drug-addled, suicidal maniacs."

Don't 'drug-addled, suicidal maniacs' have an 'equal' story to tell ? Maybe even a more important story ? Why of course they do. And Mr.Bellavia should darn well have told it, by gosh.

You people all need to step back and maybe go out to a flic. Why there's 'Rendition, Redacted, In the Valley of Elah, Lions For Lambs. All sorts of good stuff that will give you a far better insight into the situation than Mr. Bellavia's work. As if a man who was THERE and actually FIGHTING the monsters(can you believe it? ---fighting!! How 'uncivilised'),would have anything important to say.

Posted by: dougf at November 14, 2007 08:04 PM

Mr. Lasswell, Matt: Thanks for the reassurances and ideas.

dougf: You're not kidding? Well, time to find that reviewer a job in the military. Maybe he'd be less enthusiastic about giving the drug maniacs their side of the story if he was fighting them day in and day out. Then again, by this time that's not happening much anymore so it might not do any good...

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 14, 2007 08:45 PM

Math Mage,

Well, time to find that reviewer a job in the military.

What did we ever do to you to deserve your wishes for such a fate? Why should we suffer just because he is ignorant?

This kind of person is why we do not need a draft. I've spent too many midwatch's with too many jerks to wish that fate on anyone else.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 14, 2007 11:31 PM

The reviewer is an idiot.

But obviously the stories of "doped up jihadis" are highly exaggerated.

Injecting adrenaline directly into your heart to increase combat performance?

This guy wants to sell books. Fine. But that's insulting the intelligence of his readers.

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 08:28 AM

Edgar,

Injecting adrenaline directly into your heart to increase combat performance?

You doubt this because suicide bombers never engage in risky medical practices? They are worried that they won't be allowed to compete at the international suicide bomber cup? The league commissioner will assess fines? They don't have bootleg copies of Pulp Fiction?

I asked the corpsman for my squadron about this and the Navy pays $41 for epi pen autoinjectors. I don't know what the ones made in India cost the jihadi's, but I bet it's less. What I know about civilian emergency medical treatment in the Middle East I got from talking to the Kurdish Regional Government's Minister of Health who set up the KRG's trauma centers, as well as the experience of dealing with a medical emergency in Iraq as a civilian. Based on that, I'm perfectly willing to believe that a lot of ignorant peasants who came to Iraq to die got their epi pen instruction from watching Pulp Fiction.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 15, 2007 09:30 AM

Let's see:

In the kitchen, we found drugs and U.S. Army-issue auto injectors. They had been full of atropine and epinephrine.

Ok, I can believe it.

The muj inside the house had shot the drug directly into their hearts.

Absolutely moronic, but I guess some people are that stupid. It's possible to believe this.

It acted like PCP – angel dust – and kept them going long after my bullets should have killed them.

Here is where the bullshit is undeniable. The author is claiming that the Jihadis got superhuman powers from the injections.

Again, anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of human physiology or chemistry will know this is a laughably stupid thing to say. They would do nothing of the sort.

I don't doubt the jihadis are stupid. But the author's claim that they got special powers from these drugs is absolutely not true. He is either deliberately being dishonest and wants to add some pizazz to his story or is suffering from serious shell shock.

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 09:46 AM

Interesting he thought the guy was Iranian. Farsi and Arabic sound absolutely nothing alike. Farsi, being a Indo-European language, sounds more French than Arabic.

Seems to me he heard a dialect of Arabic he hadnt heard before and thought it was a different language. Various dialects of Arabic are so different that they have their own dictionaries.

As for the book, it certainly is not a finely written book. It sounds like the war novels I used to read as a kid. The exception here is that it is real.

Having said that, I think it would be hard to get a better view of combat in the country from an American soldier's viewpoint than the one this guy gives.

I dont think anyone would expect War and Peace, and if was Tolstoy, no one would read it anyway.

Posted by: Marc at November 15, 2007 10:42 AM

Here is where the bullshit is undeniable. The author is claiming that the Jihadis got superhuman powers from the injections.

Yes, he is. PCP has long been associated with superhuman strength, especially among cops. Is everybody just bullshitting? You might say they're wrong and come up with some better explanation, but are they all "liars" like Bush? You weren't there, you didn't see what these people saw to be calling them bullshitters.

Posted by: Carlos at November 15, 2007 10:53 AM

I just finished reading this amazing book, but what I didn't get was why Bellavia returned to the house after getting his men out, other than to conquer his inner demons.

Wouldn't calling in an air strike have been the smarter (not to mention safer) thing to do?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 15, 2007 11:12 AM

Job opening: Book reviewer for Amazon.com
Job Requirements:
Rudimentary command of the English language.
Reading comprehension of a ferret.
Propensity to bloviate in a sneering tone.
No competent writers need apply.

Posted by: lindsey at November 15, 2007 11:34 AM

Carlos: Is everybody just bullshitting? You might say they're wrong and come up with some better explanation, but are they all "liars" like Bush?

Carlos, if several dozen police officers claimed they had personally witnessed a group of criminals escaping into space by inhaling hydrogen gas then lighting themselves on fire and blasting off, would you believe them?

I sure would. It sounds plausible to me. Hydrogen is used as rocket fuel, no?

Anyway, I do have one alternate explanation for the physiological impossibility suggested by the author (other than that he's making it up):

- the "doped-up superman Jihadi" thing is a very pervasive urban myth in Iraq, possibly based on some real event, and he has inadvertently created a false memory (watching Pulp Fiction didn't help, either)

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 11:58 AM

Oh, and Carlos:

Just to be clear, the author claims the insurgents injected themselves (directly in the heart, no less) with atropine and epinephrine--not PCP.

Good thing, too. If those crazy assholes had PCP even air strikes couldn't stop them.

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 12:01 PM

Tom in South Texas,

Based on what I heard from somebody who was running UAVs over Fallujah that day, getting an air strike or fire mission inside the city that close to engaged infantry wasn't possible. There was too much risk of hitting our guys because everything was so close. Also, the enemy chose that location to be hard to take out. I expect that the guys on the roof were set up with machine guns to hit troops who bypassed the building.

The enemy got the fight they were looking for and they lost. The battle and the book are a critical refutation of the enemy's battle doctrine.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 15, 2007 12:57 PM

Edgar,

I just finished the book. The guy talks about opiates and other drugs found inside the house. I served with a Marine unit about 4km west of his location and I saw the same thing. Never meeting the author... am I a bullshitter?

You are arguing that individuals who are bent on their own destruction would not shoot up or put things into their body with recklessness?

Don't be a jackass, Edgar. You are arguing from a point of view in which you know nothing about. Your western logic doesn't apply to jihadists. They don't care if they die now or 15 hours from now.

Posted by: Frank at November 15, 2007 03:50 PM

Frank,

Edgar actually went to Fallujah during his tour in Iraq, but he was not there for the battle. In point of fact he is arguing from a point of view which he knows a little about, even if his information is not accurate about this circumstance. That he is arguing about the excerpts without reading the book is the inexcusable error he's committing.

After all, we have no good way of knowing how many jihadi's died after injecting an epipen into their cardiac muscle because of vasoconstriction. I don't think very many of the enemy's bodies escaped unscathed because of the high risk of boobie traps. It's not like CSI was following the troops around doing full autopsies.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 15, 2007 04:21 PM

- the "doped-up superman Jihadi" thing is a very pervasive urban myth in Iraq, possibly based on some real event, and he has inadvertently created a false memory,

In other words, you don't know what you're talking about. I thought so.

Posted by: Carlos at November 15, 2007 04:38 PM

Patrick,

I have never been to Fallujah. Not sure where you got that. Unless it was the Twister tournament.

And the inexcusable error is that anyone would say that he actually witnessed Jihadis injecting epinephrine into their hearts and getting special powers of endurance and pain tolerance out of it

This is not a political argument. It is simple physiology. Stabbing yourself in the heart with an epi-pen will cause serious injury . Even used correctly, it will not make you "high," let alone make you a super-elite warrior. It opens your airways, raises your blood pressure and makes your heart beat faster. It is very useful for severe allergic reactions, not giving yourself an "adrenaline rush."

Why is this relevant? No, not because some people aren't stupid enough to do it anyway. Because the author claimed to have witnessed something that is a physiological impossibility, i.e. becoming nearly impossible to kill after taking an epinephrine shot to the heart

Therefore, he is making it up . And if he is, then how can we be sure the rest of his account is reliable?

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 04:55 PM

Carlos,

No more weaseling.

Do you believe it is possible for someone's physical ability to be improved--to the point they are nearly impossible to kill-- by stabbing themselves in the heart with an epi-pen?

That is what the author contends. Do you agree?

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 05:01 PM

dougf, if you are unhappy with the Amazon review, don't just vent about it here. Do something useful: go write a review of the book on Amazon yourself.

Posted by: wj at November 15, 2007 05:25 PM

Thank you for sharing your medical expertise with us, Dr. Edgar.

Posted by: Carlos at November 15, 2007 05:38 PM

Lassy;
"After all, we have no good way of knowing how many jihadi's died after injecting an epipen into their cardiac muscle because of vasoconstriction."

Now it looks like someone really doesn't know what they're talking about. Heart vasoconstriction? Makes no sense buddy. Veins vasoconstrict, not hearts. And if we were talking about a drug that actually caused vasoconstriction, I wouldn't say anything, but we're not.

Adrenaline is a vasodialator, because (if you'd bother to even read up on it) acts on both alpha and beta (mainly beta) adrenergic receptors. These receptors control heart rate/cardiac output, the dialation of bronchi and veins.

Now to address the atropine issue, it's typically used to counter irregularities in heart beat due to various choline esters (ewww.. chemistry!). It works by blocking the receptors that these choline esters intereact with. So why would these jihadi's be using atropine? Do they fear a Coalition Sarine gas attack? I don't think so. I'm guessing this was suggested in the book because, well, the author didn't have the mind to research what these drugs actually do, so the "fluff" of the story would actually make sense, sort of.

So if you guys STILL believe that some jihadi over in Iraq is railing adrenaline and atropine in Epipens and turning into the Incredible Jihadi Hulk, fine. Just don't complain when I ridicule you.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 15, 2007 05:47 PM

Carlos;

Why, as I'm sure you intended, calling Edgar a Dr. any sort of insult. For all you know he is a doctor, or at least someone with the drive to actually read up on what these drugs actually do in terms of human physiology. I'd take the word of someone who does that over a bunch of internet bloggers hell bent on arguing senselessly between eachother with no information on the topic.

So please, why do you dismiss his contention that the account in the book is BS, when you bring no evidence to the table? Is it because you have none, but would prefer to cover your ears and scream "I can't hear you!"? Because that's how you're coming across.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 15, 2007 05:54 PM

Is there a doctor in the house?

Do military grade Epipens differ from the ones used by the general public?

What length needle is required to directly inject drugs into the heart?

Are Epipens needle lengths sufficient to administer the drug directly into the heart?

Do atropine and epinephrine cause PCP like effects when injected directly into the heart?

Will atropine and epinephrine - combined with other narcotics - cause PCP/superhuman symptoms in the user?

Posted by: Craig at November 15, 2007 06:03 PM

So please, why do you dismiss his contention that the account in the book is BS, when you bring no evidence to the table?

Precisely because you've brought no evidence to the table. Until someone does, I have no reason to believe the author is a bullshitter.

Posted by: Carlos at November 15, 2007 06:12 PM

Carlos;
"Precisely because you've brought no evidence to the table. Until someone does, I have no reason to believe the author is a bullshitter."

I just did in my previous post. STFU.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 15, 2007 07:19 PM

You've brought no evidence to the table

Ok, Carlos. You're right.

But like I said, to escape the scene of a bank robbery once, I took a cannister of hydrogen, inhaled it and held my breath for a minute, then blasted off into space after igniting the gas with a Zippo lighter. This was witnessed by at least 20 police officers.

Unless you can prove that I didn't do this, everyone has to give me the benefit of the doubt and believe it.

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 08:05 PM

I just did in my previous post. STFU.

No you didn't. Just ask Edgar.

Posted by: Carlos at November 15, 2007 09:22 PM

But like I said, to escape the scene of a bank robbery once, I took a cannister of hydrogen, inhaled it and held my breath for a minute, then blasted off into space after igniting the gas with a Zippo lighter. This was witnessed by at least 20 police officers.

Nobody has ever reported that. Your hypo fails.

Posted by: Carlos at November 15, 2007 09:23 PM

Edgar,

I think I saw that happen. But I can't quite be sure of what I actually saw. You see, I had just injected the water of life and was a little messed up at the time. I was simultaneously shaving decades off my age, while ageing at the same rate, not to mention speeding around the earth at the speed of light, slapping every hottie's bum I could get my palms on(you girls know who you are wink).

You have to give me the benifit of the doubt unless you can prove me wrong!

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 15, 2007 09:24 PM

From the Wiki:
Epinephrine is used as a drug to treat cardiac arrest and other cardiac dysrhythmias resulting in diminished or absent cardiac output; its action is to increase peripheral resistance via α1-adrenoceptor vasoconstriction, so that blood is shunted to the body's core, and the β1-adrenoceptor response which is increased cardiac rate and output (the speed and pronouncement of heart beats).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epinepherine

The heart, like all other muscles in the body has both arteries and veins. Hit the heart directly with epi and you risk the vasoconstriction where you need blood supply most in a crisis, and death is accelerated instead of deferred.

I stand corrected, Edgar has no standing on Fallujah and is in fact talking entirely out of his ass.

The Navy uses EpiPen brand epipens, because they are cheaper and more readily available than military specific short shelf life medicines. I am uncertain what the Army uses. I know that it is a lot easier to get meds in Iraq than it is here.

I expect that David Bellavia was told by someone he respected that bodies showed signs of direct heart injection. I would imagine that it would be easy to convince jihadi's that the most effective way to use this drug was to inject it into your heart.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 15, 2007 09:25 PM

Carlos;

Edgar just reported it, and I said I saw it (yes.. my sight was a little strained at the time with injecting the water of life and all). So there you have it. It's been reported. Prove it wrong, or believe it.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 15, 2007 09:26 PM

Lassy;

Why in gods name would you cite wikipedia's epinephrin doccument and then discuss the heart? Is this one of your classic deep moments that has gone over my head?

Anyway, veins and arteries are as much of the heart as your periferal neurons are your brain. Now if that's over YOUR head, you may want to go check out a physiology text. But I'll save you some time. Veins and arteries are not the heart, they are part of the circulatory system, but yes they are connected to the heart. Save me your silly attempts to lecture me on basic physiology. You may, on the other hand, suggest to me how I would go about fortifying my home, or at the very least shop for a well fortified home. As you seem to keep that paramount in your mind when home hunting.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 15, 2007 09:30 PM

JohnDakota,

Your comments are deliberately offensive and not contributing to the discussion here. Please go away or moderate your tone.

Michael is in Fallujah right now and does not really have time to ban unpleasant people. Stop being unpleasant, we're here to support Michael's work, not distract from it.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 15, 2007 09:36 PM

JohnDakota: Your use of obscure technical language to argue that vasoconstriction wouldn't happen in the heart is impressive. What's stupid, however, is that you did all that while failing to read.

Mr Lasswell's initial comment:
"After all, we have no good way of knowing how many jihadi's died after injecting an epipen into their cardiac muscle because of vasoconstriction."

His Wiki reference:
"Epinephrine is used as a drug to treat cardiac arrest and other cardiac dysrhythmias resulting in diminished or absent cardiac output; its action is to increase peripheral resistance via α1-adrenoceptor vasoconstriction, so that blood is shunted to the body's core, and the β1-adrenoceptor response which is increased cardiac rate and output (the speed and pronouncement of heart beats)."

In other words, his claim was that the injection into the heart would cause vasoconstriction. He didn't say (until you pressed him) that it would be in the heart. Since the epinephrine and other chemicals would be DISTRIBUTED THROUGHOUT HIS CIRCULATORY SYSTEM by the heart, vasoconstriction would occur in the veins even though the injection took place in the heart.

I'm not qualified to comment on the possibility of epinephrine and other drugs making one more powerful etc, but on the bit I can puzzle out from the comments section you're wrong.

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 15, 2007 10:38 PM

Patrick Lasswell: I expect that David Bellavia was told by someone he respected that bodies showed signs of direct heart injection.

Well, I expect this kind of dishonesty from you. It's nothing new.

You know damn well what my point was. I've repeated it many times. Now, you repeat after me:

Bellavia claimed to have seen Jihadis get superhuman strength from injecting epinephrine and atropine

He did not say he heard a rumor. He said that he witnessed this.

That is the point. Not whether or not some moron stabbed himself in the heart with an epi-pen.

Posted by: Edgar at November 15, 2007 11:47 PM

Math Mage;

That's all fine and good if adrenaline caused vasoconstriction, which it does not. Do people not read literature other than wikipedia anymore? That wikipedia article doesn't mention anything about vasoconstriction, i've read it, thanks. What I've also read is the University of Alberta's Drug Data Bank files on Adrenaline (which is a far better peer reviewed source for this sort of subject), and it clearly states that Adrenaline, at a quickly administered dose acts as a vasodialator (for those that don't know that's the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of vasoconstriction).

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 16, 2007 04:13 AM

Just to append; I realise my last comment may seem to be mutually exuclusive with the awesome power of the wikipedia article cited. The issue at hand is the dosage, and the means of administration. Since we're discussing rapid, high dosage, by means of an Epipen (or some sort of spring loaded injector) directly to the heart I've been addressing the results of this sort of administration.

But if all that's going to happen is I'm going to get ganked by a bunch of cavemen that won't bother to read anything other than wikipedia (again,i'll say it's not a peer reviewed source.. for all you know degenerage Joe from the corner who hasn't finished highschool last edited the article), don't bother harassing me. I wont address anymore wikipedia references. We don't at university, and I sure as hell am not here.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 16, 2007 04:22 AM

Lassy;

My comments may be pointed (well not "may", they are pointed) but they serve the purpose of cutting through the crap screen you display on a daily basis in your 1000 word posts. If by saying I don't contribute to the discussion you meant to say I disagree with you, then yes I suppose I'm not contributing to the Yes man discussion you'd prefer to hold. The difference is I bring factual evidence to the table corroborated by true peer reviewed databases designed to bank information on Drugs, and their phamacology. You bring wikipedia. Let's let the masses decide what is a better contribution to the discussion, regardless of niceities in the way information is conveyed.

This is of course without reference to your homophobic, mysogenistic and threats of physical harm you've conveyed in the past.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 16, 2007 09:30 AM

Gentleman,
It is true that Michael is unable to baby-sit his comments section while he is in Iraq. However, in his absence he has asked me to oversee the content of the threads and alert him personally of any major problems.
Having said that, I don't think this qualifies as a major issue. It seems that there are personality conflicts at work which really have no further place here. I respectfully request that this subject be retired for the time being out of respect for our absent host. I think we owe him that courtesy.

Or perhaps you boys should take this outside.

Posted by: Moderator at November 16, 2007 12:18 PM

"Moderator": It is true that Michael is unable to baby-sit his comments section while he is in Iraq. However, in his absence he has asked me to oversee the content of the threads... etc.

Patrick, that was the most pathetic attempt at a sock-puppet I've ever seen.

Clearly, you're willing to go to great lengths to avoid the issue, which is whether this author is 100% credible or not.

I'll let you climb down on this one. Say that you were joking about the whole thing.

Posted by: Edgar at November 16, 2007 12:50 PM

Lassy, don't you ever pull a fake handle again here. Spoofing, and sock-puppet play will not be tolerated here. If you can not deal with the issues in an adult manner, please post only on your blog as it seems that is where that genre of discourse fits best.

hah.. anyway clearly this is not "the real moderator", I just did this to show how absolutely lame lassy is. It's really hard to type "moderator" in the name box. Very hard.

JohnDakota

Posted by: The Real Moderator! at November 16, 2007 03:01 PM

It isn't Patrick. Really. Come on.
If you want to argue with Patrick, do it somewhere else. I am not trying to be a jerk, I am not singling anyone out. I am just suggesting that this argument has gone on long enough and is degenerating into personal attacks. Michael would have 'pulled this car over' a long time ago and it is taking advantage of his absence to continue.
If you like I will ask him to verify that he asked me to politely check in on things around here, which is all I have done.
Is it really that big a deal?

Posted by: Moderator at November 16, 2007 03:02 PM

Patrick Lasswell: I am just suggesting that this argument has gone on long enough and is degenerating into personal attacks.

It was not going on too long. This is a thread talking about the book, which MJT is promoting. I raised serious and valid doubts about its veracity. Patrick, you tried to deflect the main argument, not even addressing my point. Then you pulled this ridiculous cheap shot.

I guess this is a "personal attack. Continuing with this charade shows incredible dishonesty.

Posted by: Edgar at November 16, 2007 03:29 PM

Fine, I wont post anymore personal addresses. What I will do is challange anyone here to prove me wrong. I've referenced a Drug database that has files on adrenaline, and they appear to refute what's been claimed in this thread by other persons (not Edgar or myself). I have various authentic, original academic research articles which also support my position that the effect of adrenaline is a dose dependant effect, and does not necessairly result in vasoconstriction, especially under the conditions alluded to in the book.

So extrapolating from scientific knowledges it's fairly easy to see that the suggested mixture of adrenaline and atropine (both of which I've addressed) would not make a person super human, or do any of the things claimed in the book or this thread.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 16, 2007 03:52 PM

Edgar and JohnDakota,

I do not need to pretend to be the moderator. I live and work with the site owner in Iraq on a vaguely regular basis, he owes me a couple. If I really need to be an ass and get somebody kicked, that can probably happen. I'd rather not use my friendship over something so very, very petty because Michael's goodwill is a lot more important to me than winning an argument with a jerk.

I use my own real name. It is not that hard to spell correctly. Please do so in the future. It makes you look very stupid to use schoolground taunts, although you topped yourself by accusing me of sockpuppeting.

Not Moderator, honestly. Never asked to be the moderator on this blog and specifically asked Michael to get someone else to do so. That you don't understand that is yet another indicator that you aren't people to be taken seriously.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 16, 2007 04:04 PM

Deep Sigh.
OK,
You have obviously decided to believe what you want. I am sorry you feel the need to react this way. I have my reasons for using the 'moderator' handle, I am sorry if it has offended you. By the way, you wouldn't know who I was if I did use my real email and name, I could have used ‘Jill’ or ‘John’, so I don't see what difference it makes. You are right, anyone can type anything in there. So what. Anyone can be anyone on the net. I am not trying to pick a fight with any of you. I am suggesting that the debate was disintegrating into unnecessary personal attacks. I have no opinion on the book and am not involved with the argument. I actually don't care who is right. Unless the author of the book wants to weigh in I don't really see the point. I can't stop you from doing whatever you want. Whatever.

Posted by: Moderator at November 16, 2007 04:07 PM

You guys posted while I was typing.
JohnD,Thanks for being willing to reframe the debate.
Patrick, I am sorry you got dragged in. It wasn't my intention.
Edgar, Really, nothing personal.

I am not taking sides at all. I just am trying to keep some decorum on my friend's blog while he is away.

Posted by: moderator at November 16, 2007 04:17 PM

Thanks Lassy,

That's so manly of you. I'll take this issue finished with nobody who can factually support what's been contended in the book (as should be the case since it's factually false).

G'night.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 16, 2007 04:27 PM

Late to the party, but I haven't heard anyone come up with any kind of medical logic suggesting that Edgar is wrong, and you could in fact inject atropine and epinephrine into your heart and gain some kind of increased combat ability.

There seems to be a dispute as to whether or not it would kill you.

Kind of a Scott-Beauchamp-equivalent error, except that this one will never be turned into a crusade to discredit its author.

Still, some of the story seems like it has to be true, as the author name-checks Michael Wade. Someone should ask Michael Wade for a second opinion.

Posted by: glasnost at November 16, 2007 05:03 PM

On the other hand, I don't think that Pat would bother to use another name to continue his arguments. His denial of it seems credible to me.

Posted by: glasnost at November 16, 2007 05:05 PM

I'm just curious, this newly arrived moderator has made me wonder a few things, which has caused me to review what source code I can view from this comment section. Wouldn't a moderator, who has been appointed by MJT have an official account? Lassy, you have one and you're a simple coworker of MJT. The person who MJT trusted his blog to would have at least equal priviledge wouldn't you think?

I say this because the html code of this site suggests entirely that the Moderator handle is essentially a typed in handle, not official. It's as official as my handle, which is simply typed in every time I access this site to post.

I have the important source saved if anyone is interested.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 16, 2007 07:36 PM

JohnDakota,

As far as I know, the Moderator is genuine, but Michael Totten did not specifically discuss his choice with me. I made some suggestions when we talked about it last month, but he did not tell me who it is, and I frankly don't care.

I work with Michael Totten on corporate gigs, but not on this blog. A number of other people have received logons to this blog, but as far as I know, I don't have one. I have my own blog, two of them actually, but I don't work here with Michael. My working relationship with Michael is not as simple as you assert. Michael and I both do blog journalism, but he is much better at it than I am. I have certain skills that Michael lacks for the corporate gigs, the nature of which I really don't care to discuss with you.

You are rude, and you continue to choose to be rude. I have given you far more consideration than your posts deserve. You are mistaken and making unwarranted assumptions. Fishing for assurance is not something you should be doing with me.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 16, 2007 10:13 PM

Lassy,

I'm rude according to you because you're accustomed to people agreeing with you, or you'll vigorously attack them down when they do not. I've read your blog, and I know how it is. You say I'm rude here because you have no power to remove me since I bring factual evidence to the table that counters your position. Sure I present it in a pointed way, but that is only because of your pompous approach to discourse. If you actually treated people in general, not just your lap dogs and yes men, with any sort of genuine respect I wouldn't be pointed with you.

Next I find it convenient that MJT discussed this moderator with you, as it is you that's suspect.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 17, 2007 05:55 AM

Holy f*ck Michael. Ok buying the book...now.

Posted by: Barry at November 17, 2007 06:11 AM

Look, the bottom line is not whether people are rude. It is this:

No one used any scientific evidence to back up the author's claim, even though there is much evidence suggesting that it is false.

Also, it's fairly obvious Patrick is, indeed, the "moderator." After Patrick didn't succeed on kicking johndakota off the blog, someone with a very similar posting style to Patrick posted an identical message under the name "moderator." When sock-puppetry was brought up, he posted again at the exact same time as Patrick, then drew attention to the fact that they had done so simultaneously.

This is highly dishonest and quite frankly, very amateurish. It is not a personal attack to criticize someone for using these tactics in an argument.

Posted by: Edgar at November 17, 2007 08:33 AM

The internet is a strange creature where you can be your own alibi, except for the fact that people know this and will bust you when it's as blatant as it is here.

I find it even more so convenient that, Lassy, you were consulted on who you'd suggest as a moderator in MJTs absense but said, before the magical appearance of the "moderator" that nobody was here to oversee the blog.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 17, 2007 09:03 AM

Is someone here actually comparing Bellavia to Beauchamp?

Is the argument that if the atropine/epinephrine anecdote isn't pure golden fact, then the rest of his account is suspect?

Bellavia named a slew of names, had a CNN reporter on his six, not to mention the rest of his squad and platoon.

The Dakota/Lasswell argument is tedious and should be taken outside the bar. I'd give JD a pool cue to Patrick's empty hands, and still bet long odds on 'Lassie', even if he is a squiddy ;-)

Posted by: Melkor at November 17, 2007 10:49 AM

Roscoe C. Blunt, Jr. wrote Foot Soldier, a book about his combat experiences during WWII. I'm sure there are some factual errors in his book - but by no stretch of the imagination would anyone consider those errors as "fabulist" in nature.

"Kind of a Scott-Beauchamp-equivalent error, except that this one will never be turned into a crusade to discredit its author."

Edgar and JD are indeed attempting to discredit the author, not directly mind you, just sorta sidling up alongside the notion of fabulism and hoping the "Beauchamp stink" sticks to Bellavia.

Posted by: Craig at November 17, 2007 11:42 AM

Melkor: The Dakota/Lasswell argument is tedious and should be taken outside the bar. I'd give JD a pool cue to Patrick's empty hands, and still bet long odds on 'Lassie', even if he is a squiddy ;-)

I don't think it would go down like that. Patrick would probably excuse himself just as he was losing the argument, then walk out the back door and come back in 5 minutes later in a crude disguise. He'd be wearing his sailor uniform with a police motorcyle helmet. Muffling his voice, he'd tell Dakota to leave or face arrest.

Posted by: Edgar at November 17, 2007 11:50 AM

Melkor:After reading "House to House", then this epipen debate, I found Michael Ware's cover story "Into the Hot Zone" (11/22/04). It sounds very similar to Bellavia's account, but I could find no mention of drug-induced super jahadists.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 17, 2007 12:57 PM

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to discredit the author. If it weren't blatantly obvious that these "incredible Jihadi" stories were a fabrication (in the same way that "moderator" is a figment of Patrick's imagination), I probably wouldn't even bother.

I just wish Bellavia hadn't tried to sex up the story with these tall tales. What was the point?

Posted by: Edgar at November 17, 2007 01:01 PM

I don't know why all of these doctor types are assuming that Bellavia is lying instead of coming to the obvious conclusion:

1. The jihadi's in question, like most untrained drug users are completely confused by the complexity of the human body and believe REALLY stupid things about drugs and do REALLY stupid things with them.

2. Bellavia found some of the drugs that his enemies had been using and either jumped to the stupid conclusion that they had helped in the fighting rather than been one of the reasons that one undrugged man had been able to kill six fucked up drug users in a fight. OR he knows perfectly well that the drugs fuck up the Jihadis and wants to spread the myth that these sort of drugs help, in order to give our men the advantage he had.

3. If the jihadis fought past debilitating pain then maybe it was THE OTHER DRUGS mentioned in passing that did the trick. Morphine is good at that - but may have slowed them down and (once again) given on man the time edge he needed to kill six jihadi druggies.

I find the drugs a realistic touch. If they weren't fucked up on drugs, why did they let a single soldier and a camera man kill them for God's sake? They couldn't gang up on one man? What the fuck, is this an ultra-man staged fight - one villain at a time?

And I remember that the child murderers at Beslan were on morphine. I believe the drug story.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 17, 2007 01:37 PM

Glasnost, your comment is unfair. In my experience, no one who isn't a doctor understands the complex effects of drugs - and even doctors get them wrong half of the time, especially in unfamiliar circumstances. It isn't "a Scott-Beauchamp-equivalent error" to be as ignorant of the obscure effects of random drugs on combat as 99.9% of humanity or as, probably, most of the world's doctors.

See my previous commment.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 17, 2007 01:46 PM

Josh,

We never said the author didn't see something messed up, and jihadi's taking drugs, maybe even thinking they'd improve their fighting potential. All I'm saying is it's wrong, and the addition of these drug induced super jihadi's is just to spice up the story a little. Authors have been known to do this before.

And to say only doctors understand drug effects on us is to insult all the academic researchers that do the primary research, and who tell doctors what the drugs do so doctors can do their jobs better. Without the academics doing their jobs, doctors would be nowhere in terms of what they know. So if you want specifics about a particular drug and it's effects on the body, I'd go to an academic. Hell, doctors learn what drugs do from academic research articles.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 17, 2007 02:22 PM

I did not assert that I thought that Bellavia is making all of this stuff up. To the contrary, I specifically asserted that I assume that most of the story is true. Like I said, if you name-check Michael Wade, that would be crazy to fabricate, and the publishers would have checked that, I'm sure.

I agree that, when writing a memoir, it's probably not unusual to get a few facts wrong. Most people aren't good enough with memory to recall everything perfectly from scratch.

Having said that, the example Edgar provides, the guy is clearly making assumptions and/or passing along rumor that he was in no position to have verified. Maybe he doesn't know enough about the drugs in question to know that this isn't realistic. Honest mistake. Etc. Still, it seems to me like it was poor judgement.

The reason I compared it to Beauchamp is because of my continued belief that that guy was also, probably, mostly accurate. It's not a comparison of dishonest hacks. It's a comparison of questionable details around basically true stories.

Posted by: glasnost at November 17, 2007 02:41 PM

And I remember that the child murderers at Beslan were on morphine. I believe the drug story.

I agree with you, at least to the extent that it's one of several reasonable possiblities that they were on the stuff and the author mistook it (somewhat self-helpfully) for superpower juice.

Another one is that he heard they were and it was an urban myth he believed to be correct.

Posted by: glasnost at November 17, 2007 02:43 PM

Marc, (November 15, 2007 10:42 AM)
Have you actually ever heard Farsi and Arabic spoken? I speak very basic Farsi and Arabic and they can sound somewhat similar if you are not very used to them. Even I sometimes have to listen intently for a second until a recognize a word to identify the language. Even though the structures of the languages are very different (Arabic is a Semitic language, Farsi Indo-European) the way they sound when spoken quickly can be very similar.

Posted by: Phil at November 17, 2007 02:49 PM

The reason I compared it to Beauchamp is because of my continued belief that that guy was also, probably, mostly accurate.

I think the fact that his writing about the conflict, his assumptions and attitudes were the same when he wrote fiction before he'd ever been in-country and after he was deployed tells me everything I need to know.

When experiencing reality has no effect on you, when mere fiction has a stronger hold, then you're not an observer, you're a blind, stupid and self centered. Let me make this clear, Scott Beauchamp wrote fiction on his blog before he got out of the US that was identical in theme and detail to what he wrote when he was deployed.

That's Scott Beauchamp. And that's all he was. A stupid insensitive man who wanted to be a literary star.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 17, 2007 03:03 PM

Most people aren't good enough with memory to recall everything perfectly from scratch.

It's not bad recall to be ignorant of obscure pharmacology. I suppose Bellavia should have gotten an advanced degree in biological research before daring to write a memoir, that's what Glasnost would have done.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 17, 2007 03:06 PM

"And to say only doctors understand drug effects on us is to insult all the academic researchers that do the primary research blah blah blah blah insult to everyone who blah blah blah "

I used the word 'Doctor' as a short-hand for all people who are educated in advanced pharmacology. Since we were talking about a soldier, not about medical education and the job market for degrees in pharmacology, it would have been a pointless detour to have wasted words on irrelevant pedantry.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at November 17, 2007 03:17 PM

It's not irrelevant pandry, it was an honest mistake on your part and it's quite alright. Everyone makes mistakes.

Anyway this discussion has bordered the ridiculous now as it has been shown quite clear the suggestion that adrenaline/atropine makes super jihadi's is wrong. I'll take this as case closed.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 17, 2007 03:42 PM

"Someone under the influence of PCP is often unaware of the dangers and limitations they face, and may react to physical confrontations in a way that makes it seem as though they have extraordinary muscular strength."

Carson-DeWitt, Rosalyn (editor). 2001. Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior (2nd edition). New York: Macmillan Reference USA.

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 17, 2007 04:19 PM

“The muj inside the house had shot the drug directly into their hearts.”
is a single sentence allegation.

Sometimes details are just fluff, BUT if you are the one entering a house and observe Epipens, related drugs, plus six crazed individuals, THEN I would be interested in your personal details of what may or may not have occurred with the use of an Epipen. In the meantime, the author had probable cause to write the story in accordance with his observations and experience. Sure, “crazed” often applies to jihadis even without drugs, but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is equipped with Epipens and drugs, alleging that drugs were used is not far-fetched.

Posted by: JAS at November 17, 2007 05:23 PM

Texas,

That's all fine and good, but we're not talking PCP here. Read the book and you'll see this has nothing to do with PCP. Thanks k bye.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 17, 2007 07:41 PM

Over at "Cracked", a very funny article:

..."Speaking of innocents, I want a war sim where native townsfolk stand shoulder-to-shoulder on every inch of the map and not a single bomb can be dropped without blowing 200 of them into chunks. Forget about the abandoned building wallpaper in games like the Red Alert series. I want to have to choose between sending marines door-to-door to be killed in the streets or leveling the block from afar, Nuns and all. I want to have to choose between 40 dead troops or 400 dead children, and be damned to hell by chubby pundits from the safety of their studios regardless of which way I go"...

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 17, 2007 07:44 PM

JD I read the book, and I believe I mentioned that in a previous post.

Only mentioned PCP because this thread had turned into a debate about a possible embellishment made by the author that he had killed drugged-up super jihadists. There are numerous PCP "super strength" urban legends - like the 14-year-old girl so high on that train, that 3 cops couldn't take down.

Thanks for pointing it out, but I do kinda remember that atropine, adrenaline, and epinephrine were being discussed. Were amphetamines, coke, or crack discussed? They all give you, along with PCP's, a feeling of invincibility (from what I've read). Or maybe they were just drunk?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 17, 2007 08:02 PM

More: I want my Mission Objectives to change every 30 seconds, without anyone letting me know. I want little talking heads to pop up on my screen--commanders, politicians, allies, military intelligence--each giving me different sets of victory parameters, all of them conflicting and many of them written in bullshit ass-covering doublespeak.

Link: http://www.cracked.com/article_15660_ultimate-war-simulation-game.html

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 17, 2007 08:08 PM

Tom: I love that article. It does such a good job of summing up the untenable PR position in which the media has placed the administration, plus it makes you crack a rib laughing.

Re the epipen debate: epinephrine is also called adrenaline...
The Science of Heroes:
"At times of stress, humans are sometimes able to perform great feats of strength. This may be caused by the release of certain hormones into the body, such as adrenaline or testosterone. They can increase blood flow around the body, boosting the levels of oxygen and fuel available to muscles.

Over longer periods of time, they can increase muscle bulk. Other chemicals called endorphins can mask the pain that over-stretching muscles can cause, allowing you to push your body beyond its natural limits."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/hottopics/superheroes/hulk.shtml

Superhuman strength, check. Pain suppression, uncertain, but given that most superhuman strength cases occur through pain suppression, probable check. Can't see how atropine fits into all this, but w/e. Wish I could find a better source than BBC, but I'm not adept at Google-searching.

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 17, 2007 11:26 PM

Math Mage: The reason that the War Sim was so funny is that it's like an Ann. C. column, over the top, but true.

To turn the thread back to its original intent, (I guess it was a critique of the book), I found his solution to the diarhea problem to be creative, and certainly not anything someone who wasn't there, could make up. Their condition at the end of 10 days was pitiful (infections, wounds, hunger, etc.) - My question is, how much R&R did they get to heal up?

Posted by: Tom in South Texas at November 18, 2007 12:33 AM

My appointed moderator (who is authentic, I assure you) has told me this comments thread has gone off the rails. I have absolutely no time to read the thread or babysit right now. Obey the moderator or you will be banned.

If she tells me I need to kick someone, I will do it.

Thank you.

Michael J. Totten
Fallujah, Iraq

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 18, 2007 07:20 AM

Math Mage: Superhuman strength, check. Pain suppression, uncertain, but given that most superhuman strength cases occur through pain suppression, probable check. Can't see how atropine fits into all this, but w/e.

This is getting very tiresome.

Maybe this is the bigger issue. Who here is emotionally stable enough to admit that someone on their own side might not always be right?

The discourse here has gone downhill. How can people here consider themselves critical thinkers if they'll believe something this blatantly false? It doesn't require much research to figure it out.

Some people are using Michael Moore logic to "prove" things here.

Hardly anybody approached the question logically, and Patrick even came in with a sock puppet to try to stop the argument altogether.

Sad.

Posted by: Edgar at November 18, 2007 07:22 AM

Patrick even came in with a sock puppet to try to stop the argument altogether.

I'd thought so, too.

Things are not always as they seem.

Posted by: Creamy Goodness at November 18, 2007 07:56 AM

It is officially confirmed that the moderator really wasn't Patrick. So much for the 'critical thinkers' point, Big Ed [although, I mostly sided with you on the chems]...any critical thinker would have immediately noticed the subtle feminine nuances of the moderator's pleas for civility. Never assume, as they say.

And that thing about your side not always being right? Oh, look, the Twister spinner arrow just stopped on 'apology'. Let's see if you're the stand up kind of guy you have been in the past, and can simply say you were wrong without blustering or equivocating over it.

Posted by: allan at November 18, 2007 09:20 AM

allan: Oh, look, the Twister spinner arrow just stopped on 'apology'. Let's see if you're the stand up kind of guy you have been in the past, and can simply say you were wrong without blustering or equivocating over it.

Ok, I'll believe MJT on this one. I was absolutely wrong. No argument.

That's the difference between me and Patrick.

Posted by: Edgar at November 18, 2007 11:27 AM

That's all fine and good, but we're not talking PCP here. Read the book and you'll see this has nothing to do with PCP. Thanks k bye

You wouldn't know the difference between PCP, epinephrine, or dog urine. Thanks, bye.

Posted by: Carlos at November 18, 2007 04:04 PM

Carlos;

PCP is a highly addictive, psychotropic drug that causes the user to be dissociated from reality, thereby, in many cases, appearing to have beyond normal tolerences for pain, ie. super human.

Epinephrine (adrenaline) is both a hormone and neurotransmitter (depending on the location in the body). It's used in short term fight/flight situations, causes dialation of pupils, and inhibition of digestive tracts among other effects.

Dog urine is a complex solution of waste products that you were derived from.

K thks bye.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 18, 2007 04:51 PM

"You wouldn't know the difference between PCP, epinephrine, or dog urine."

How could anyone believe that this kind of argument helps to prove the point?

Or this one - "Dog urine is a complex solution of waste products that you were derived from."

Posted by: leo at November 18, 2007 05:55 PM

Leo,

I couldn't agree more. Problem is the individuals who tow the Lassy line are allowed to lay down full out adhominem attacks on people, without bringing anything else to the discussion, and without any real reprocussions. In person, I'd have probably just ignored the comment, but I have no reason here to take the high road.

I've already established, very early in this discussion, that I fully know what adrenalin and atropine are. PCP wasn't even part of the real discussion so I did not address it, although I also know full well what it is. This sort of understanding all comes with the degrees I have (but isn't something I usually advertise). So that comment by Carlos was made entirely because Edgar and I made it quite evident that the contention made in the book is fluff.

In all seriousness, if all they have are personal attacks, it's easy pickings to have discourse then. So all the power to them.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 18, 2007 06:58 PM

Slight correction, John.
"PCP is a highly addictive, psychotropic drug that causes the user to be dissociated from reality, thereby, in many cases, appearing to have beyond normal tolerences for pain, ie. super human."

There's actually two elements:
"This is an extremely concerning drug for several reasons. It gives the user an uncontrollable adrenaline high, euphoria, panic sensation. It also separates nerve receptors whereby the user feels no pain regardless of the intensity. Because of these two factors, combative users are difficult to control, in some cases having the ability to break through a set of handcuffs."
http://www.ok.gov/obndd/Drug_Fact_Sheets/PCP_Fact_Sheet.html

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 18, 2007 07:00 PM

Math Mage,

For god sakes, I've been discussing with people that consider basic anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology terms as overly complex. I'm not going to go into the nuances of every issue. Especially in an issue that's not even the main topic of discussion. PCP wasn't even the issue here. The main issue was adrenaline/atropine. I feel it has been shown that what was contended in the book was false. I'm not saying this is a Scott Beauchamp situation, and you can't even compare the two. Beauchamp did what he did out of malicious intentions that negatively reflected on everyone. The author simply reported something that was wrong, but it really doesn't matter. So what, the guy wasn't a super jihadi, he was just hard to kill. Ohhh no, call up the military tribunal! I dont think so.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 18, 2007 07:18 PM

Um, overreaction muchly? I never said you compared Bellavia to Beauchamp. I just wanted to point out that one of the factors that made PCP users dangerous was the panic sensation caused by adrenaline. The main factor is probably the disconnection of pain receptors, but I just wanted that out there.

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 18, 2007 07:26 PM

I didn't say I thought you said I was a Beauchamp, but that Edgar and I were saying the author was one. WHich is not the case at all.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 18, 2007 08:37 PM

"I didn't say I thought you said I was a Beauchamp, but that Edgar and I were saying the author was one. WHich is not the case at all."

Lolwut? I never said you thought I thought you said I thought I said it was Caturday!!! [/lolcatspeak]

From my last post:
"I never said you compared Bellavia to Beauchamp."

How did you get "I never said you were a Beauchamp"?

poke

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 18, 2007 08:48 PM

My appointed moderator (who is authentic, I assure you) has told me this comments thread has gone off the rails. I have absolutely no time to read the thread or babysit right now. Obey the moderator or you will be banned.

Posted by: buy wow gold at November 18, 2007 10:16 PM

Math Mage and other concerned individuals,

Let it drop. We've tried reason, we've tried honesty, we've tried to have a discussion. There is more point in talking to a wall.

There are degrees of gradation between people who are occasionally annoying and outright trolls. Well before banning levels of offensiveness, there is just a point where talking to some folks online just ruins your enjoyment of posting at all.

Let it go. Unless the annoying people change and decide to be worth conversing with, there is no point in conversing with them. Save your energy, ignore their posts, and try to make the threads worthwhile for the people you are interested in communicating with.

There are better thing to do that wrestle with pigs.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell at November 19, 2007 12:34 AM

Agree that this thread has been "Crapped".

Wonder why some blogs such as M. Yon or N. Lex get intelligent, non-self absorbed posts, versus what happens on so many of the comment threads in MJT's blog?

Seems to be a correlation that if a high percentage (say, 25%) of comments are made by one or two people, it has become a lost cause thread.

Instapundit may have the right idea.

Posted by: Ron Snyder at November 19, 2007 04:27 AM

Lassy,

If you think talking to a wall is talking to people who bring evidence from peer reviewed, academic sources, and NOT wikipedia, man you must live in a sad, ignorant space.

Your problem isn't guys like me, and Edgar. Your problem is that you're too proud to admit when you've been wrong in a position, which is clearly evident in this thread. You have had ample time to support your side with any shread of real supporting data, but consistently refuse too, resorting only to adhominem attacks, obsfucation, and diversion.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 19, 2007 04:59 AM

Edgar: Patrick even came in with a sock puppet to try to stop the argument altogether.

Oh no he didn't.

Don't make me shut down the comments.

The moderator is real person not named Patrick Lasswell. I have not read this thread. I am only aware that it has gone off the rails and my moderator is being disparaged.

Knock it off. I am in fucking IRAQ and do not have time for this crap.

Out.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at November 19, 2007 12:25 PM

If it makes you feel any better, MJT, he posted about two minutes after the post confirming the moderator's authenticity, so probably didn't see that post while commenting. Not that he should have needed the confirmation, but w/e.

Posted by: Math_Mage at November 19, 2007 04:48 PM

For the record, I asked a doctor I know about this. He suggested that the aforementioned medical products are indeed risky to one's health, and even more so if injected into one's heart, and indeed should not be injected into the heart. On the other hand, he disagreed with Edgar that the products are useless in enhancing combat performance. In other words, some combat performance boost might be possible.

I tend to be on your side in treating this book in specific, and overoptimistic bullfeathers in general, with skepticism Edgar, so it's a little dissapointing to find out about this. I think you've overstated your case on both the risks and the lack of benefits from this kind of procedure.

It no longer seems implausible that some insurgents might do this, or even that they might live through it. While the description is a little sexed up, it's not definitely inaccurate.

Posted by: glasnost at November 19, 2007 06:13 PM

To add further comment to glasnost's post. My wife works in the cardiology department at the VA, as well as having worked for one of the top cardiologists in the state, and she stated the level of skill needed to inject directly to the heart is not something the common person (non-medical) is going to have, the main issues being actually hitting the heart and also not having the needle break on you. She also described the effects of atropine as akin to having 10 cups of coffee at once, makes the person very jittery. Also they use epinephrine when administering stress echocardiographs to raise the heart rate when the patient is unable to exercise. So one would have to question the use of these product to induce "superhuman" abilities. Combat raises the heart rate enough on it's own, to further raise it won't necessarily impart any benefits, in fact the increased rate should lead to a faster death, since the blood is being pumped faster through a wound.
I have no doubt as to what SSG Bellavia saw and the conclusion is obvious when seen from his point of view. This book is a recollection of his experience of what he did and saw, the drug use is insignificant regardless of any benefit real or imagined. The book is best viewed as a memoir of a man, a soldier, a husband, and a father.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at November 20, 2007 06:32 AM

Oh yes. Stop worrying about who the moderator is, it's unimportant. Michael as far more important things to worry about than this petty argument. I for one would rather be able to have discussions here about what color the sky is than who the moderator is, especially if it causes such consternation to Michael that he chooses to shut it down during his time in Iraq.

Posted by: Kevin Schurig at November 20, 2007 06:36 AM

Phil,

I speak Arabic. I have four years of university, MSA/Fus7a Arabic. I have traveled in and out of the Middle East, both for personal and for business reasons, for about 8 years.

I am rather familiar with several Arabic dialects including Hijazi, Najdi, Egyptian and Iraqi. I have heard Farsi spoken both in and outside of Iran, include Afghanistan. Although I dont know much past "Khada Hafiz".

The author of the book claims to know some Arabic himself, so the idea that he is completely unaware of what Arabic sounds like doesnt pass muster. The fact that he seems to love adding transliterated Arabic to the conversations goes a long way to making us think that he has some conversational Arabic skills.

I will say again, Farsi and Arabic are completely different languages, from different linguistic groups and both have sounds that are not common to each other. How someone could mistake the soft sounds of Farsi for the much more rough, gutteral sound of Arabic is beyond me.

Someone who has lived and worked around Iraqi Arabs like this person claims should not confuse the two. If you spend a year in Iraq it should be rather easy to tell the difference between Arabic, Farsi, and depending on where you are at, Kurdish.

I would be willing to give a pass to the guy if he confused Kurdish and Farsi, because they sound similar and both belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language tree. Arabic and Farsi? No way.

I suggest you do not tell any Iranians that their language sounds Arabic. There is hardly a quicker way to piss off an Iranian than by mistaking them for Arabs or speaking to them in Arabic.

I would no more confuse German, which I speak, with Flemish or Dutch, and they all belong to the same lingusitic tree at least.

Maybe Michael can chime in on this matter as he has spent a lot of time in the region.

As I remember, in a previous portion of this book, the guy uses the word "kalb" or "kelb" when speaking to an Iraqi lady. This is interesting as that is not an pronounciation I think he would have gotten from an Iraqi for the word "dog". "Kalb" is the fus7a usage, not used in any of the dialects in Iraqi I am aware of.

I dont think this guy knows any Arabic outside of the books that the Army hands out. Having worked with Army/DoD/US Military translators before, I can tell you he probably knows about as much Arabic as they do.

There is a reason why most military translators couldnt work in Iraq and why contractors are now making $120,000+ a year to translate.

Their Arabic is "khara".

Posted by: Marc at November 20, 2007 09:19 AM

glasnost;

Did you describe what was said in the book to your doctor friend? Probably not, and if you did I suppose you conveniently forgot to report that. For god sakes man, there is no way from any pharmacology, or physiological viewpoint that a direct injection into the heart (assuming THAT didn't kill the person) of adrenaline/atropine would give the person super human powers and make them any less likely to be killed. That's what's being claimed in the book. And that's what's being debated.

We're not discussing if it just get's you a little jacked, maybe a little more on edge, so you'd be more alert compared to "normal" people. If that's what you want to discuss, well there's nothing to debate. That's exactly what adrenaline does, and why your body gets flooded with it every time you get scared or shocked. It only lasts for a minute or two though (also why when you get scared you're not jacked for the next few hours!). SO for any sustained effect the person would have to reinject every other minute (really doesn't make sense for battle now does it? that would suck if you had to inject yourself between clips too).

So for the love of god. Stop it with this ridiculous debate. It's OBVIOUS the contentions in the book were far overstated, if not outright false, and "fluff" for the reader. The evidence Edgar and I have brought forward is from reliable, peer reviewed, non wikipedia, academic sources. Check them if you will. But I, and i'm sure Edgar, will not say we're sorry for stating the facts as they apply to what was described in the book. If you want an apology for being right, you've come to the wrong person.

Posted by: JohnDakota at November 21, 2007 02:46 PM

Let's move on folks. Or take it outside.

Either way,

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by: Moderator at November 21, 2007 03:57 PM

Patrick S Lasswell November 14, 2007 10:13 AM,

Good advice to some one who wants to serve.

In my particular school the washout rate was only 50%. I was a Naval Nuke. RO.

About the geekiest you can get and still be part of a combat team. I actually got 3 months combat pay just for being in the zone. We never fired a shot in anger.

Simon - Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club '66

Michael,

Blogged this at A Spiritual Moment

Posted by: M. Simon at November 21, 2007 08:22 PM

On fighting demons:

In my military job the most strenuous thing I had to do on watch was turn a handle to the right or left. Sometimes I had to work really hard and stand up and flick a switch. (About the same effort required to be a full time blogger - I guess I can thank my Navy training).

I was coming off my shift at a large aerospace company. I parked my car and was heading to my motel room when I noticed a large fire in the back of a pick-up parked next to the motel. What to do? Do it the safe (for me) way and take a wide swing aroud the truck or rush between it and the motel to get to the desk as fast as possible to warn the front desk so the desk person could get the people in the room out of harms way as quickly as possible? I had never done anything requiring real bravery in my life. Was I going to risk getting blown up if the gas tank blew? Or reduce my risk while increasing the risk for others? I took the shortest route. Right next to the burning truck.

The demons of possible cowardice in the face of required action no longer haunt me.

So yeah. I can see taking on a whole house full of Ts to exorcise those demons.

Posted by: M. Simon at November 21, 2007 08:40 PM

i remember sitting on my jeep up in flw back in 83 thinking that i would never see combat and that my unit csc 2/2 inf was destined to be nuthin but a leg unit to nowhere.
then i read that the army infantry that held the flank in fallujah was none other than 2/2.
they had survived the end of the ninth infantry and moved over to the big red one where they belonged. instead of m151's that carter left them with they had bradleys and abrams' and tore the shit out of the scum 'insurgents'.
i couldnt have been more proud of my old unit!
then i watched on the history channel as they showed A Co 2/2's CO get killed and that really sucked. 2/2inf fought in the mexican american war, that's how long they have been around.
If I could only have seen the future..

Posted by: thad lucken at November 22, 2007 01:21 AM

I'm sorry, but the contested passage is not merely wrong, or inaccurate, it is downright ridiculous.

First, the idea of a heart auto-injector is preposterous. Nobody who is in a state requiring a heart injection would be able self-administer it. Using a regular self-injector for intracardiac use doesn't make sense either.
Even if it did, the idea of injecting these drugs into the heart is ridiculous. But moreover, using these drugs to enhance combat performance is out of the question. Epinephrine (which is a different name for adrenaline) is released in plenty already during combat. Exogenous administration would probably make one feel as if one is having a panic attack. But the atropine is the clincher - using atropine in amounts having pharmacological effect would render the combatant pretty much useless (loss of coordination and balance, physical discomfort, confusion and at higher doses delusions and loss of contact with reality).
Then there's comparing their action to PCP. This is wrong on two accounts: they act nothing like PCP, and contrary to popular urban legends, PCP does not grant superhuman strength. It is, in fact, a strong dissociative, and could render users psychotically violent and insensitive to pain (hence the kernel of truth in the legends, as psychotic people who're impervious to pain are hard to subdue, but they're not stronger), but the emphasis is on "psychotically". They would be useless in battle.

Posted by: stvip at November 23, 2007 05:32 AM

While I have no idea about what happened in that house, other than other accounts I have read about in the news and on other blogs. I have no doubt that Sergeant Bell killed the enemy and was almost killed himself.

That is what is important in this account.

What I do know for fact is what some VC did back long ago and far away. Some did use drugs before an attack (always an ambush). Evidence was found supporting this as well as accounts from captured VC. The really interesting thing is that in one instance that one of our intel guys related to our Captain was that sugar pills or some other kind of pills, maybe diet pills, were given out by the political officers. They told those recieving the pills that the pill would give them extra stammina and strength for the coming fight.

The mind has a very powerful effect on the body, I'm told.

Anyway, been there done that, and was mad, scared to death, and did and saw things that made my next ten years after coming back worse than the two years I spent over there. I spent most of those ten years wondering if I would ever "be good" again.

I did get good again, but it took awhile.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

Posted by: Papa Ray at November 24, 2007 05:34 AM

Well, we can comment here.

Don't tell Abraham.

Posted by: Edgar at November 26, 2007 05:48 PM

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Posted by: 111 at November 28, 2007 02:20 AM

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Posted by: runescape money at November 30, 2007 07:19 PM

Michael,
Bought the book for Christmas. Found it so compelling I finished it in one day. A book hasn't done that to me in years, thanks for the recommendation. Spence

Posted by: Spence at December 29, 2007 08:08 AM
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