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The women and now children squat in a corner of the patio, huddled in blankets. As they finish searching, the soldiers take up defensive positions on one knee, scanning adjoining rooftops. The older sister maintains an air of bemused contempt. As the soldiers begin loading the evidence on the truck, one emerges from the house carrying a computer.
As we leave, the woman asks when she can have her computer back. Sergeant Green politely fills out a voucher. “You can come down to the police station in a few days and claim it,” he says.
THE NEXT HOUSE IS IN THE MIDDLE of the block of a slightly less upscale neighborhood. Two cars are parked inside the gates. The GI’s immediately start to search them. A slightly paunchy man answers the door. There are two other men inside. The GI’s pull them out and line them up against the wall of the compound.
The three men are all wearing the traditional dressing gown of Middle Eastern men. The paunchy man is older, probably in his late 30s. The two others are five years younger. One has a toothbrush mustache. The other is smaller and slighter, with the hunched posture of a perpetual graduate student.
Sergeant Green takes a seat on the living-room couch and begins his interrogation. He has two translators. One is “Elvis,” a dashingly handsome Kurd with a lip-curl and smoothed-back hair reminiscent of the King himself. He brandishes a cigarette flamboyantly while rattling off the questions and answers. His arrogance gives you a hint of what life might have been like under Saddam. He has a ferocity toward the suspects — and indeed begins slapping one around when Green momentarily leaves the room.
Ali, the other interpreter, is the Hollywood’s stereotype of the Middle Eastern terrorist, wearing loose-fitting pajamas, his head wrapped in a black-and-white scarf, his face shrouded in a ski mask. Even up close his eyes are barely visible. He flits around the room like a ghost, adding occasionally to Elvis’s interpretation.
The middle aged suspect is first. He turns out to have $2,300 in brand new $100 bills in his pocket, plus a large sum of Iraqi dinars. His story is transparently fabricated. He says the three men met in a restaurant a few days ago and decided to move in together. After fifteen minutes of interrogation, it is still unclear who owns the house.
“Trunk of the white car tests positive for explosives,” says a specialist marching into the room. The second suspect adds little. He doesn’t seem to have any explanation for what is happening.
The wiry graduate student, however, is more forthcoming. He says he has a wife in another city and is the owner of the house. “Why would you leave your wife and move to another city to move in with two other men?” asks Sergeant Green, trying not to sound too sarcastic. The suspect has no explanation
The interrogation continues at an amiable pace. “Do you know your hands have tested positively for explosive materials?” asks the sergeant. The graduate student smiles weakly, offering his hands as if they might actually belong to someone else. When Sergeant Green orders him outside, the graduate student turns limp and seems to faint. “They always do that,” whispers Ali.
The three men are handcuffed, blindfolded, and told to climb a ladder into the back of the truck. As the older prisoner rises above the crowd, he sways for a moment as if he might topple. Another soldier aboard the truck reels him in. When the graduate student’s turn arrives, the soldiers simply lift him into the van.
It is already 3 a.m. And I am exhausted. “Looks like you’ve had a good night,” I say to my escort.
“Are you kidding?” he replies. “We’ve got five more houses to go.”
THE LEADS GO PROGRESSIVELY downhill. At the next house, we rouse two women, a house full of children, and an elderly grandmother in a burka. As they line up outside the house, the mother becomes distraught. Sergeant Green finally decides we have the wrong house and apologizes. “It’s really the right house,” he whispers as we leave. “The kid just got away.”
The next house is even poorer, with an uneven stone floor and almost no furniture. From the back room an elderly man drags himself on crutches. His body is so twisted he appears he must have leprosy. He mouths something inaudible. Once again there are no suspects.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online