January 13, 2017

The Burn Pits

The Burn Pits By Joseph Hickman 135pp $21.99 Hot Books 2016 There is reason to hope. Two years ago, I invited a former guard from Guantanamo Bay, Joseph Hickman, to speak to a class I was helping to teach at Duke University. Hickman had just blown the whistle on three suspicious deaths that had taken place at Gitmo and the students in Duke TIP (Talent Identification Program) had just participated in a CSI simulation, using primary documents from the night of the event to put themselves into the shoes of government investigators. Like the courageous former US Marine and Army […]
January 6, 2017

Hesca

Originally published in The Esquire Four Hesca Flying home from her tour of Iraq, Rochelle found herself next to a talkative passenger named Lynndie who clapped for her as the pilot announced the presence of service members. She was fat, Lynndie was, with elastic jeans and a black leather hip-pack. She had a front butt. She asked for Rochelle’s carton of soy milk, which Rochelle gave her since she wasn’t a big fan, and then Lynndie placed her hand on Rochelle’s knee, told her that she, Lynndie, had just been to this life-changing conference in Sedona, Arizona and now knew […]
November 30, 2016

Pretend I’m Not Here

Pretend I’m Not Here Previously published in Yes! Weekly on November 30, 2016 *** Sarah didn’t say she would be bringing a friend. They sat down across from me at The Green Bean coffee shop on Elm Street, Sarah in a champagne satin hijab, her friend in maroon cotton. “Pretend I’m not here,” said her friend, paintings of jellyfish-kitten hybrids on the wall, duct tape around the thick duct stretching across the stamped-tin ceiling, Sarah’s cell-phone adorned with gold glitter-studded mouse ears and a silver neck-lanyard because she’s always losing everything. “It’s just cuts,” she said, referring to her memories […]
August 16, 2016

A Friend in the Desert

Eight years ago I traveled to Iraq as a freelance journalist. What I saw there changed my life. But what changed my perspective on that country most was something my father said to me just before I left: “Who are their heroes? Who is their George Washington? These people are struggling but all we ever talk about is ourselves. What about their story?” My father was right. America has never been more self-absorbed. Now more than ever, the Iraqis seem a faceless and nameless mass of misery. Muslims, in general, are the whipping boys of our zeitgeist, a block of […]
May 2, 2016

The Chuck Norris Archive

“Facts” from Iraq:  The Chuck Norris Archive FACT:  We don’t have a military.  We have Chuck Norris. FACT:  In 2003 Chuck Norris went on holiday to Iraq.  Later the United States invaded the country, blaming Iraq for having a weapon of mass destruction. FACT:  When George Bush said “Mission Accomplished,” he didn’t realize Chuck Norris wasn’t finished yet.   FACT:  Behind every successful man, there is a successful woman. Behind every dead man, there is Chuck Norris. FACT:  Sadddam Hussein was not found hiding in a “hole.”  Saddam was roundhouse kicked in the head by Chuck Norris in Kansas, which […]
January 21, 2016

The Challenger

The Challenger….Where was the mastermind of 9/11 on the day of the Challenger explosion? (previously published in Mayday as “Phantom Jets”)   I remember nothing negative about Khalid. But people change. This guy was brilliant. If he used his knowledge in a good way, he could have been a Nobel Prize winner. -Sammy Zitawi   Imagine a disaster from an engineer’s perspective. Khalid looked into the equations on the board and saw a world where ductility, rotating shafts, stress concentrations, pulsating torsional fatigue, flat leaf springs, high-frequency ripples—it all came together in a master fatigue diagram—an axis fanning out into […]