Cut & Silence
From my experience, I can recognize two kinds of Silence. One is because one chooses to be silent, either you don't have anything to say, or you're just enjoying the Quietness in a peaceful sort of way. The other kind of Silence is very difficult to describe in words. The only words I can find to describe it -- a murdered Silence.
It's like when you have been badly beaten up, thrashed, shaken in the fibers of your soul, and you are left in that room alone after the event --and everything goes dead silent. It's like the aftermath of a battle in a war zone, when the cannons have stopped, you've survived and you look around and there's nothing but debris, rubble and that strange silence -- a silence that is in between life and death. Not quite the silence of the cemeteries - of Death, neither the silence of Peace.
A strange kind of Silence, because the horror cannot be described in words. What to do with all this horror that keeps seeping in bits and pieces, adding itself to the reservoir of horrors that you have already stored inside of you ? Where do you put it, where do you file it, how do you classify it ? but more importantly how do you accept it, incorporate it, digest it ?
I have no answers, so I fall into that strange kind of Silence.
In the old days when people could not read and write, they went to the market place and there was always a literate man who would be sitting behind a low small table, with a pot of ink and some paper. You dictated your letter and he would faithfully write it down for you. They called him the "kateb" - the one who writes...
Sometimes if the text was a standard one,or if the client did not really know what to say in a letter - he would use carbon copy papers - the modern equivalent of cut and paste.
It would go like this :
Hope you are well, we have missed you, everyone is fine and asking about you. Your absence weighs on us, so does your Silence. Give us a sign, send us a picture.
Tonight, with that strange kind of Silence surrounding me - I will do like the "kateb" - use carbon copies - use cut and paste...cut and paste...cut and paste...
I shall cut words and paste them...glue them to the page like a school kid preparing some decorative card for the coming holidays...
And by doing so I am elbowing that strange kind of Silence, pushing it sideways, to make room for my cut and paste...cut and plastered, cut and glued, cut and kept, cut and dangling, cut and hanging...cut and silenced.
And like the "kateb" in the market place I shall faithfully replicate what am told...
In March of 2007, I witnessed SSG Platt shoot and wound an Iraqi national without cause of provocation. The Staff Sergeant said that he suspected the Iraqi be a “trigger” man. We had not been attacked and we found no evidence on the man to support the suspicion. As the Iraqi lay bleeding on the ground, PVT Smith requested to administer first aid to the Iraqi. SSgt Platt said no and “let him bleed out".
In June of 2007 1SG Spry caused an Iraqi male to be stopped, questioned, detained, and killed. We had no evidence that the Iraqi was an insurgent or terrorist. In any event when we stopped he did not pose a threat. Although I did not personally witness the killing, I did observe 1sg Spry dismembering the body and parading of it while it was tied to the hood of a Humvee around the Muhalla neighborhood...I have a photo that shows 1SG Spry removing the victim’s brains.
On another occasion an Iraqi male was stopped by a team led by Sgt Rogers as he walked down an alleyway. The Iraqi was detained and questioned then with his hands tied behind his back, SGT Rogers skinned his face.
1ST Spry shot a young Iraqi teenager who was about 16 years old. The shooting was unprovoked and the Iraqi posed no threat to the unit. He was merely riding his bicycle past an ambush site. When I arrived on the scene I observed 1SGT Spry along with SSG Platt dismember the boy’s body.
In August of 2007, I responded to radio call from SGT Rogers reporting that he had just shot an Iraqi who was trying to enter through a hole that the platoon had blown in a wall to allow them observation of the area during a security patrol. When I arrived, I saw a one armed man who was still alive lying on a barricade. The man was about 30 years old. He had an old Ruger pistol hanging from his thumb. It was obvious to me that the pistol was placed there because of the way it hung from his thumb. The Iraqi was still alive when I arrived. The Iraqi was still moving. I was asking why they shot him again when I heard Sgt Hoskins say “he’s moving, he’s still alive.” SPEC Hoskins then moved to the Iraqi and shot him in the back of the head. SSG Platt and SGT Rogers were visibly excited about the kill. I saw them pull the Iraqi’s brains out as they placed him in the body bag.
On many occasions I observed SGT Temples, SSG Platt and SGT Rogers beat and abuse Iraqi teenagers, some as young as 14, without cause. They would walk into a house near areas where they suspected we had received sniper fire, then detain and beat the kids.
I am enclosing these pictures for the memory, the remembrance, the souvenir...