jason christoper hartley

December 4, 2006

I ♥ Dead Iraqis

Filed under: News & Politics — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 6:15 am

When Saddam Hussein was sentenced on Nov. 5 to death by hanging—just days before our mid-term elections—for ordering the 1982 massacre of hundreds of citizens of a small Shiite town near Baghdad, US voters took little notice to what could have been seen as a success in the war effort in Iraq. Americans expressed their displeasure with their Republican congress with their vote, Iraqi courts expressed their displeasure with their despotic former-ruler with a death sentence, and opposition forces in Iraq continue to express their displeasure with Saddam’s conviction with violence.

On June 8, 1982, in Dujail, a Shiite town in the heart of the Sunni triangle and approximately 45 miles north of Baghdad, a few gunmen ambushed Saddam’s motorcade as it drove through town. These men were members of the Iranian-supported Dawa party. The assassination attempt failed, and hours later tanks sealed off the roads in and out of town, helicopters strafed farmers, and the Special Republican Guard came to round up anyone suspected of being in the Dawa party. This included anyone associated with anyone suspected of being in the Dawa party, anyone related to anyone suspected, anyone who had ever said anything against Saddam or the Baath party, and whoever else they felt like punishing to make an example of. What resulted was the murder of approximately 450 people, mostly men and boys, 148 of whom were documented well enough to be presented in Saddam’s trial.

I spent most of 2004 in Dujail as an infantryman with the US Army and the case against Saddam was built largely in part from the work my company did while we were there. By working with mayor Haji Mohammed Hassan and city council chief Jossem Mohammed Mahmood, many of the citizens of Dujail who were present for the horrors of 1982 were convinced to come forward and allow us to collect from them witness statements with regard to the events.

The resulting stories were harrowing. Men were killed in front of their families, living people were put into meat grinders. And the violence was not limited to the time period immediately following the botched assassination. In 1991, a sheik who had lost a son in 1982 during the killings was called to his sister’s house where he found the body of five women, ranging in age from teen to grandmother, all of whom had been raped and beheaded.

I’d like to believe that it was better for the psyche of the Iraqi people, and for the principle of rule of law in general, to see Saddam tried and convicted for his crimes against humanity, rather than for a couple hand grenade to have been tossed into the spider hole where he was found hiding. But the satisfaction of seeing this tyrant tried in an Iraqi court (as opposed to an international court—an important distinction), comes at a cost. For the citizens of Dujail, the nightmare of 1982 has continued.

Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al-Dujaili was witness no.1 in Saddam’s trial. In his testimony he recounted that he and his eleven brothers were detained in 1982. Eventually, Ahmed and three of brothers were released, but six of his brothers were later executed and one died during interrogation.

In July, two of Ahmed’s cousins disappeared. On August 6, Ahmed’s brother, Ali, another witness, was attacked in Dujail and Ahmed’s nephew Husam was killed while protecting Ali. Later that day when Ahmed’s younger brother Jaafer came to recover the body of Husam, Jaafer was shot in the legs repeatedly by a sniper who had been lying in wait. Jaafer lived, but he now walks with a severe limp.

This is only one story in what resulted from a witness’s testimony. Since the beginning of the trial, mayor Mohammed Hassan claims that 180 people from Dujail have been murdered. According to Basam Ridha, the advisor to the prime minister for the trial, the number is closer to 200. Additionally, 80 people have disappeared, mainly while traveling between Dujail and Baghdad, on a stretch of highway that current city council chief Mahmood Hussein describes as being like the "Bermuda Triangle". But the worst could come from the return of the witnesses from the Green Zone where they have been staying during the trial. Abu Hamid, the commander of a nationalist cell north of Dujail, stated that if any of the witnesses return to town, "We will destroy all of Dujail".

It pleases me to see Saddam brought to justice, even if it’s in a trial that Human Rights Watch described as having "serious procedural flaws". It’s just all the loss of civilian life that I’m not sure I have the stomach for. But Ahmed Hassan said, "I’ll give up my own life and the lives of my family if it means I have helped send Saddam to the gallows." I suppose if he’s okay with all the killing, maybe I should learn to warm up to it too.

November 30, 2006

Word of the Day – perfidy

Filed under: Word of the Day — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 6:39 pm
n. pl. per·fi·dies

  1. Deliberate breach of faith; calculated violation of trust; treachery: “the fink, whose perfidy was equaled only by his gall” (Gilbert Millstein).
  2. The act or an instance of treachery.

From American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.

…the legend of the Communist Party perfidy remained widespread until long after 1959.

From Cuba – A New History, by Richard Gott

November 29, 2006

Nada Surf, Stars, The Polyphonic Spree

Filed under: Music — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 10:19 pm

These are the last three songs I’ve downloaded from Soulseek.

Nada Surf – I think about the song “Popular” occasionally but I could never remember who sang it until a few days ago when I heard an advertisement for them on the radio.

Stars- I heard this song one night last month while I was drinking heavily and listening to Indie Pop Rocks on SomaFM. It appealed to me in my drunken state.

Polyphonic Spree- Someone sent me this song on a mix tape (a CD actually, but “mix tape” is part of our lexicon and much more ironic/nostalgic/postmodern than “mix CD”) while I was in Iraq in 2004 and I love it. It is the music to the opening scene of one of my imaginary shorts I shot in Iraq, one of my many imaginary projects.

Nada Surf
High/Low (1996):
Nada Surf – Popular.mp3
Stars (2003):
Stars – Time Can Never Kill The True Heart.mp3
The Polyphonic Spree
The Beginning Stages Of… (2000):
The Polyphonic Spree – La La.mp3

November 27, 2006

Word of the Day – available

Filed under: Word of the Day — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 6:32 pm

It just occured to me that when there is something you can “avail yourself of”, it is “avail-able”, or “available”. I just now figured this out.

November 26, 2006

Word of the Day – trencherman

Filed under: Word of the Day — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 3:40 pm

Today’s word is in honor of another wonderfully gluttonous Thanksgiving. This word is courtesy of the Dictionary.com Word of the Day.


  1. A hearty eater.
  2. Archaic. One who frequents another’s table; a hanger-on or parasite.

From American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.

Quietly, almost stealthily, Livingstone has transformed himself . . . into a knowing gourmand-about-town, whose commitment to lunch is only rivalled by that other fabulous trencherman, Fatty Soames.
— Catherine Bennett, “Vote Ken, vote polenta”, The Guardian, March 9, 2000

Expecting that the experience would be too exciting for him to find time to eat, we were amazed to watch him consume a trencherman’s breakfast, scarfing down French toast like it was going out of style.
— Sheila Rothenberg, “Disney Bridges the Generation Gap”, USA Today, March, 2001

In the space of the last five years, he fearlessly gained 40 pounds, displaying a trencherman’s appetite for life and an admirable disdain for cardiologists and Surgeon Generals whining about moderation.
— Martin Lewis, “Comb Back, Big Hair – All Is Forgiven”, Time, December 23, 2000

November 25, 2006

Words My Sister Dayna Can’t Stand The Sound Of

Filed under: Word of the Day — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 12:48 pm
  1. moist
  2. nouget
  3. morsel
  4. pouch
  5. module

Bonus: Words My Sister Dayna Likes The Sound Of

  1. rigormortus
  2. autoban
  3. junction

November 18, 2006

The New Yorker on Deftones

Filed under: Music — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 1:39 am

Chino Moreno – courtesy of Deftones.com

I’ve struggled to convince my friends of the greatness of the Deftones. It could be because context is everything with most art, or more simply put, what was going on in your life when you were first fully exposed to the art. Heavy bands like the Deftones are easy to understand when you are raised in a stimuli-deprived Christian suburbia. So I won’t try to explain them again here. However, I may not need to. Apparantly the highbrows at The New Yorker agree with me. This week’s music section (Feb 11, 2006) has a 1300 word write-up called “Heavy Weather” by Sasha Frere-Jones on the band and their new album, Saturday Night Wrist. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Listening to … any of Deftones’ best songs, is a bit like driving through a snowstorm: you lose your bearings, and it’s both scary and delightful.

I present to you, for your consideration, three great Deftones songs.

From their new release and fifth album,
Saturday Night Wrist (2006):
Hole in the Earth.mp3
From their second album,
Around the Fur (1997):
Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away).mp3
And from their third album,
White Pony (2000):
Knife Prty.mp3

November 16, 2006

Word of the Day – inanition

Filed under: Word of the Day — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 11:03 pm

  1. Exhaustion, as from lack of nourishment or vitality.
  2. The condition or quality of being empty.

From American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.

From commentary on the poem Nuptial Sleep by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The post-coital inanition described in the poem is employed as a figure of the lovers (as it were) “laid asleep in body” and become souls living in a world beyond “the tide of dreams”.

September 20, 2006

Probably My Greatest Invention Yet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 4:17 pm

Egg Salad Sandwich
with capers and bacon

September 18, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jason Christopher Hartley @ 8:47 pm

On Being Ten

Thank you
For showing me
Your pet tarantula
In its glass case.
It was sublime.

Today in my American Literature class, we studied a collection of poems by William Carlos Williams. The professor for this course is an old hippie and it was a warm day, so we eschewed the sterile chair-desks and chipped linoleum of the classroom and sat in a semi-circle on the grass outside Old Main (all university campuses have a building called “Old Main”, I’ve come to realize).

Any poem longer than half a page is too long. But pithy aphorisms ensconced in heroic couplets are the domain of the English. Succinct and unadorned is what I like (or at least today that’s how I feel). Here was my favorite:

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

-William Carlos Williams

We’ve covered a good deal of Robert Frost as well. What I’ve learn about Modern American poetry, in poem form:


All poems
about Spring

You can not disagree with me. My reason and opinions are unimpeachable.

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