From: Adams, C.H. (CIV)
Sent: Monday, June 07, 2004 1:21 AM
To: Undisclosed List
Subject: One day in the city: 2 June 2004

 

I haven't written anything lately so I thought I'd stay late and send something out.  Please excuse the hyperbole and exaggeration.  When you see a reference to "the two guns" or "the guns", that is the way I refer to the Treasury agent and his Iraqi partner who are responsible for moving cash around the country.  When I have to go into the Red Zone, I normally go with these two. 

 

Sovereignty Day approaches and things may be moving forward.

 

I'm not sure what sort of label I'd give the duties, but I have the lead on the handoff of Disbursing Office duties to the Iraqis.  I've been trying to identify a person or general office or department to begging coordinating with for over a month and basically getting nowhere.  The American kids in the Coalition Ministry of Finance office whom I talked to, said the Iraqi's couldn't make up their minds and were experiencing a lot of confusion and internal disagreements.  We have a couple of contractors in our own office who keep telling me I should talk to the people in our banking section here in the Ministry of Finance.  When I talked to the banking section personnel, they told me they had no clue and didn't think the Iraqis did either.  These are the same U.S. Treasury people who told me that it was okay for the Central Bank of Iraq to write NSF checks.  Their understanding of the situation has always been suspect for me because they don’t seem to be able to understand that the Republic of Iraq has to pay cash for everything it imports, unlike the United States of America which is all but a risk free investment.  They are also quite emphatic that they work with the banks, not the Ministry of Finance.  I think it is a status thing.  The other CPA Ministry of Finance Americans couldn't give me a name either. 

 

And then, somewhere between the staff at the Trade Bank and the Central Bank and the roast lamb sandwiches in Vender Alley, the two guns came up with a name:  Adnan Dawood, Secretary, Department of Accounting, Ministry of Finance.  I don't how they got it and given their level of frustration with the process and the number of dead-end trips into the Red Zone we'd made, it's possible they beat it out of someone.  It wouldn’t surprise me.

 

"Don't ask, don't tell."

 

So, I wandered down to the CPA Ministry of Finance and ran the name by the people down there.  Surprisingly, they all agreed that Adnan was the man.  I later found out that some of them didn’t even know him and had never heard of him.  On the other hand, our contractors insisted on that I ask our CPA banking folks too and I did.  Our contractors claim to have superior insight into everything and between the two of them they collect about $5,200 each day from the contract that a political appointee contract officer had awarded them out of Development Funds Iraq, and our Colonel, a career Air Force Officer with a career air force officer attitude (If it doesn’t work, blame the lowest ranking enlisted man you can find), usually went along with them.  After all, as much money as they were making, they had to know something. 

 

As usual, when they heard that I was going to meet this guy to initiate some sort of action to begin planning for the handover, they went straight to the Colonel and predicted the end of the world if I moved forward.  Their generally recommended approach to getting the job done is to wait on someone else, anyone will do,  because the consequences of doing something include owning up to mistakes and the consequences of doing nothing is simply being able to claim that you were waiting on somebody else.  They wanted me to check with the bankers.  So, I checked with the banking folks and sure enough, they still didn't know anything and had never heard of Adnan Dawood, but they agreed that he was the man to see. 

 

At this point, I felt as though I might have felt that was about to accomplish something.

 

Ignorance is bliss. 

 

But this battle wasn't over yet.  After they found out that I was heading downtown to talk to Adnan, our two in house contractors went straight to the Colonel and predicted that the whole transition would collapse and that all the blame fro all the sin in the world since Christ's crucifixion would fall upon his head and life as we know it would cease forever.  

 

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

 

The guns and I headed downtown to the Ministry of Finance and walked in on a gently obese gentleman with a few teeth named "Adnan Dawood."  Adnan is a polite man with a stomach to match mine and a tea stained shirt.  He sits behind a desk in a dimly lit, smoke filled, dust covered office, surrounded by a few dozen people whom he dispatches one at a time to accomplish the accounting requirements of the Iraqi Ministry of Finance.  It is fair to say that they have a labor intensive system.

 

And so he was when we stepped into his office:  One fat old mustachioed American in need of a haircut wearing a blindingly bright Hawaiian Shirt, khaki shorts and combat boots, accompanied by a Palestinian and an Iraqi who were festooned with more guns and knives than the 1st Cavalry Division. 

 

Unfortunately, he didn't speak English and He probably still doesn't.  The problem with using either of the two guns as a translator is that when their adrenaline is pumping, as it usually is after driving in the Red Zone, they can't talk to people without yelling and snarling.  On the other hand, while all of this conversation was going on I noticed that Adnan appeared to be uncertain as to what we were talking about, but not intimidated or frightened.  He just didn't seem to have any idea as to what I was talking about.  So when I said that I'd like to make an appointment to bring the Colonel down for a palaver, he agreed and suggested that I write a memo as to what we wanted to accomplish with the handoff and include any suggestions we might have as to how to accomplish it.  I tried to set a specific date and time but he insisted that he was always there and that all we needed to do was show up.  And so it went.  As we left, I noticed a neatly groomed Middle Eastern type male in the corner who definitely didn't look Iraqi, he had all his teeth, and I made a mental note to arrange for a translator who didn't fondle his guns and knives while translating for me.

 

Thus, 2 June already had a history by the time 0001 hours rolled around, and it began as a fairly normal day in Iraq

 

At six o'clock the earth moved a couple of times and I turned over and put my pillow over my head.  I didn't know where the rockets, mortars or car bombs were exploding but they weren't anywhere close, so I wasn't going to lose any sleep over it.  The alarm never went off and the Giant Voice didn't announce the obvious.

 

My wakeup alarm didn't work either and I overslept about 30 minutes.  Got up and went to the office to learn that someone had taken the vehicle keys out of my desk.  Having a key suspect in mind, I hunted down the Army sergeant and found him with his "pretend sister" (don't ask, I don't understand it either, but I think he is from Alabama), took the keys and the vehicle.  At 9am, me, the Colonel and two unhappy contractors were at the staging area for the military escort convoy that was going to take us to the Ministry of Finance.  At 09:15, the Army Lieutenant in charge of the convoy asked me when the others were coming.  He had a list of names from our CPA Ministry of Finance.  We tried to call, got no answer and so we proceeded with the mission.

 

The LT pointed me toward an area and told me to wait there for the gun trucks.  I did and a few minutes later, 4 gun trucks pulled up and motioned for me to get in line so I did and we left.  A couple of miles down the road they pulled to the side and asked me if I was going to Fallujah.  No, I wasn't.

 

We turned around and went back.  We joined up with our escort and they got their escortee and we all left.

 

Going out the Assassin's Gate and heading east, the gun truck in front of me suddenly surged forward and left a big gap.  That's not good.  I hit the gas at the same time the gun truck made a quick unanticipated u-turn across the median.  I had already begun to accelerate and by beginning to turn about the same time our vehicle head the median sent our vehicle airborne suddenly we were airborne through a u-turn.  Somehow, the SUV recovered and we were soon back on track with no gap between us and the gun truck. 

 

We headed out to the Ministry of Transportation, dropped off one of their passengers and then headed east to the Ministry of Finance.  On the way we passed through a business district where the folks smiled and waved and gave us thumbs up and a residential area where the same thing happened and the kids yelled "We like America" and "America Good." 

 

We got to the MoF and went into meet with Adnan.  This being a formal occasion, I was wearing long pants and a dark Hawaiian shirt, the colonel was wearing a baggy Banana Republic Safari Shirt that he thought hid his gun, and the two contractors were wearing suits.

 

As luck would have it, Adnan wasn't there.  But, the well groomed gentleman with teeth in his mouth who was sitting in the corner was.  Turns out, the well groomed gentleman works for KPMG and his is auditing their disbursement records.  He introduced us to the man to see, Dr. Fahmi Jarallah Rabia, the Deputy Governor.  

 

When we walked in to be introduced, Dr. Rabia was waiting in the middle of the room to greet us and shake our hands.  He's an older man, a gray man in his 70's.  He looks tired.  He had a nice suit, it was old and a bit shiny in places but well pressed and neat.  The slacks ride low in the front and his stomach has folded the top of the slacks over the top of his belt.  The right side of his face sags and his right eye looks like it is falling asleep.  He has a pretty good sized scar on the left side of his head to the back.  Judging from the shape of the scar, I 'd say it was from shrapnel.  Wolf Blitzer and a couple of experts were on the TV.  The thrust of the Blitzer guests was that the handoff is a sham and that we'll pass sovereignty when hell freezes over.    Blitzer made a comment as to the legitimacy of the Interim Iraqi Government and one of the experts expertly worked in something about how the Iraqi's hate us. 

 

The gentleman asked the nature of our business and the Colonel told him that we needed to talk to someone about handing over the functions of the comptroller's office.  He looked at Wolf Blitzer and back at us and asked what a comptroller does.  We told him that the thing we do the most is right checks.  He looked back at Blitzer, then at us, smiled and commented that they didn't need to write checks if you, meaning us Americans, had all the money.  The Colonel said we were giving them the money too, but that we had to know their representative in order to set things up with the bank in New York.

 

Then the old guy turned off the TV and asked us to sit at his conference table.  He asked us to share some tea with him, to celebrate the occasion, said he is a Muslim, and apologized for not having any alcohol.  During our tea toast, he apologized for not being ready and added, without sounding like he was complaining, that they weren't receiving much information and hadn't heard anything reassuring about the handoff.  He looked one again at the TV, which was still off, and then turned to business.

 

We set up a general training schedule for his people to come to the Green Zone to be trained on our duties and software and scheduled more meetings to work out the other details of the transfer.  He was very surprised when I told him that I would be in Iraq at least through the first week of August and that I would be available to come to his location to provide follow-up assistance.

 

He shook his and commented about how dangerous Iraq is.  I agreed.  He and the Colonel spoke a few minutes more and we left.

 

As it turns out, Adnan is the head bookkeeper. 

 

Back at the office, we learned that there was a car bomb explosion in the neighborhood where the children had waived at us and smiled.  It went off a few minutes after we passed by so we didn't even hear it.  Later, I learned from one of the translators that a few minutes after that bomb went off, a second bomb with a lot of shrapnel exploded and hurt a lot of people.  CNN and Fox and MSNBC and the other news sources said that we were the target, but the translators are pretty firm in their opinion that we were not the target.  In their opinion the target was other Iraqis.  CNN also reported this as a Sunni neighborhood.  The translator whose family lives there is a Shiite, and there are also Kurds and Christians who live there.

 

There were also other casualties that day.  One of the young Americans from the CPA staff went with 3 Iraqis to the "car lots" to "hang out."  I put those in quotes because those are the words the translators used.  Unknown persons surrounded their car and emptied a number of AK-47 magazines into it.  The two Iraqis in the front seat are dead, the American has been medevac'd to Germany and the 3rd Iraqi is in serious condition.  The translators said that this was not the first time this quartet has done this.  They all said that it was stupid and only a matter of time until it happened.  They all emphasized that they can't ever go outside of their houses at night.  Mohammed, a tired looking man who looks like he could place defensive end for the Oakland Raiders, simply shook his head and said, "No one can go out at night."  And, that if they know you are working with or For the Coalition, if they can't kill you, they will kill your children or wife or mother or father, or brother or sister. 

 

When our contractors learned of the shooting incident at the car lots, one of them decided that his share of $5,200 a day isn't worth the risk and he has informed us that he will only leave the Green zone if he is leaving the country.  I've already expressed my opinion on that issue and I've been told by the Colonel that he doesn't want to hear it again.  Basically, my opinion on that issue is that that young man should have been given that last ride out of the Green zone bright and early the next morning.

 

And somewhere in here, I found out that the reason the CPA Ministry of Finance people didn't show up for the trip downtown was that none of the Iraqi day laborers showed up for work.  This usually indicates a day of car bombs and ambushes.

 

And so it, went, 2 June, 2004.

 

Today is 6 June, the second anniversary of my marriage to the current and last Mrs. Morton.

 

C.H. Adams

Accountant, Coalition Provisional Authority

Presidential Palace (Sagar Al Qadasiah)

Baghdad, Iraq

 

 Countdown to Iraqi Sovereignty:  25 Days

Mabruk al Iraq al Jadeed!

(Forward the New Iraq!)