Combat in Iraq

Hosted byIan Punnett

Combat in Iraq


  • Hardberger: Stealing Back Ships
  • Commentary on WikiLeaks Video
  • Fighting in Fallujah
  • About the show

    Former Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia discussed his experiences on the front lines of the Iraq War, fighting from House to House in Fallujah -- a place he likened to hell. According to Bellavia, his enemies were expert fighters from around the world, what he called a "global all-star team of Islamic aggression."

    They understood that U.S. forces wanted to control the rooftops of the city's buildings and became adept at booby trapping houses, he explained. One such home had a cinder block maze built around it, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) at the entrance and exit, and gun nests on the roof. Insurgents removed the roofs of other houses altogether and even turned entire buildings into bombs, he added.

    Bellavia said one of the most psychologically debilitating aspects of fighting in Fallujah was killing enemies who were dressed as American soldiers. After killing an insurgent, I would count my men to make sure it was not one of them, he revealed. Bellavia described how difficult it was to put down other enemies who were hopped up on potent pharmaceutical cocktail of atropine, epinephrine, and opiates.

    He commented on the 'Collateral Murder' video (WARNING: Graphic images and language) released by WikiLeaks, which shows an Apache helicopter firing on a group of people near Baghdad. Two Reuters employees were killed in the attack, along with several others, and two children were wounded. The editorialized WikiLeaks footage lacks context, Bellavia suggested, noting that the helicopter was providing support for troops on the ground, not arbitrarily gunning down people. The journalists had made an unfortunate mistake by hanging out with weapon-toting insurgents, he said.

    Bellavia remarked on the success of the troop surge and counterinsurgency strategies in Iraq, as well as expressed his disappointment with how dismally this accomplishment has been communicated to the American people. He also spoke about the Abu Ghraib abuses, concurring with Ian that the prison personnel involved were guilty of treason and responsible for all those who died in retaliation for their acts.

    Maritime Repo Man

    In the first hour, Captain Max Hardberger described his perilous adventures repossessing ships from pirates, corrupt governments, and even the Russian mafia. Hardberger said his work takes him to dangerous ports in third-world countries, where he must conduct intelligence and assess potential threats before sneaking his crew aboard the stolen vessel. Hardberger also shared details from his extraction of the the Patric M, a ship that had been illegitimately seized in Venezuela.


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    Friday night I enjoyed my conversation with Art Bell about his El Nino-dominated weather patterns in the Philippines and my complete lack of snow for the entire month of March in Minnesota. In fact, March was balmy, a trend that has meant way-above average temperatures for April as well.

    Rain is coming, I’m told, but we haven’t had much in the way of April showers so far and the first warnings about grassfires has already been issued months ahead of summer.

    What does this mean for you? Potentially, higher food prices but according to USA Today, it could get much worse than that:

    Seventy-five years have passed since the worst of the Dust Bowl, a relentless series of dust storms that ravaged farms and livelihoods in the southern Great Plains that carried a layer of silt as far east as New York City. Today, the lessons learned during that era are more relevant than ever as impending water shortages and more severe droughts threaten broad swaths of the nation.

    The storms, made worse by insufficient crop rotation and other farming practices that eroded the soil, unleashed one of the biggest migrations in American history, as thousands fled from Texas and Oklahoma to places such as California. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department oversees America's land and other natural resources, says another period of mass "relocation" is possible in the 21st century — especially if rain patterns and temperatures change as some expect.

    "As we see the effects of climate change … we're going to have to become even more cognizant of our relationship with land, water and wildlife," Salazar says.

    Improving our awareness of the relationship with “land, water and wildlife” means different things to different people. To columnist Lisa Hymas of “,” it means thinking of all the water you’ll save by not filling up backyard kiddie pools.

    She writes:

    I come here before you today to make (a) proclamation... I am thoroughly delighted by the fact that the most humane thing for me to do (for the environment) is to have no children at all.

    Making the green choice too often feels like a sacrifice or a hassle or an expense. In this case, it feels like a luxurious indulgence that just so happens to cost a lot less for me and weigh a lot less on the carbon-bloated atmosphere.

    I call myself a GINK: green inclinations, no kids.

    Yeah, “Gink.” That sounds about right. That’s so much better than “Smunks”--smug urbans, no kids.

    Sunday night on Coast to Coast we will follow the money in the Catholic priest pedophile scandal. As our guest Jason Berry wrote recently for the Catholic Reporter, the money trail is definitely traceable to the top:

    “In his time, the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado was the greatest fundraiser of the modern Roman Catholic church. He was also a magnetic figure in recruiting young men to religious life in an era when vocations were plummeting. Behind that exalted façade, however, Maciel was a notorious pedophile, and a man who fathered several children by different women. His life was arguably the darkest chapter in the clergy abuse crisis that continues to plague the church.

    “The saga of the disgraced founder of the Legion of Christ, a secretive, cult-like religious order now under Vatican investigation, opens into a deeper story of how one man's lies and betrayal dazzled key figures in the Roman curia and how Maciel's money and success helped him find protection and influence. For years, the heads of Vatican congregations and the pope himself ignored persistent warnings that something was rotten in the community where Legionaries called their leader Nuestro Padre , "Our Father," and considered him a living saint.”

    Yes, Fr. Maciel was definitely star of the church in one of the darkest chapters of Christian history but he was a dark star that collapsed on itself until it became a black hole, a black hole that is swallowing “the light of the world” that the church represents.

    More on Sunday night...

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