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Testimony of a US ex-marine
By Rosa Miriam Elizalde

31/01/08 "ACN" -- -- "I'm 32 and I am a trained psychopathic murderer. The only


things I can do are to sell youths the idea of joining the marines and kill. I am not
able to keep a job. For me civilians are despicable people, mentally retarded and
weak persons, a flock of sheep. I am their sheepdog. I am a predator. In the army
they used to call me Jimmy, the Shark".
That was part of the second chapter of the book Jimmy wrote three years ago, with
the assistance of journalist Natasha Saulnier, and which was launched at the 2007
Caracas Book Fair. Cowboys of Hell is the most violent testimony that has been
written thus far based on the experience of a former member of the Marine Corps,
one of the first to arrive in Iraq during the 2003 invasion. A is determined to tell, as
many times as necessary, what having been a merciless marine for twelve years
meant to him and why the Iraq war changed him.
Jimmy participated as a panelist at the fair's main workshop, which had a
controversial title: "The United States, the Possible Revolution" and his testimony
possibly had the strongest expected impact on the audience. He has his hair cut in
the military style and wears sun glasses; he walks with martial air and he has his
arms covered with tattoos. He looks just like what he used to be: a marine. But when
he speaks he looks different: he is someone marked by a horrifying experience from
which he tries to keep other unwary youths away. As he assures in his book, he has
not been the only one to have killed people in Iraq; that was a permanent practice by
his fellow men. Four years after having abandoned the war, he still feels he is being
chased by his nightmares.
Q: What do all those tattoos mean?
A: I've got a lot of them. I was tattooed in the military. Here in my hand (he shows his
thumb and his ring finger), you can see the Blackwater logo, the mercenary army
founded where I was born, there in North Carolina. I had this one done in an act of
resistance because marines are not allowed to tattoo the area between their wrists
and their hands. One day the members of my platoon got drunk and we all had the
same tattoo done: a cowboy with bloodshot eyes over several aces, representing
death. It means exactly what is going on: "you killed somebody. " On the right arm is
the marines' logo with the flags of the United States and Texas, where I joined the US
armed forces. On my chest, here on the left side there is a Chinese dragon ripping
the skin and which means that pain is our weakness leaving our body. What kills us
makes us stronger.
Q: Why did you say that you had met the worse people ever in your life in the US
Marines?
A: The United States only has two ways of using the marines: to undertake
humanitarian missions and to kill. Over the 12 years I was with them, I never took
part in humanitarian missions.
Q: Before you went to Iraq you recruited youths for the marines. Can you describe a
recruiting officer in the United States?
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A: A liar. The Bush administration has forced the US youths to join the armed forces
and what the government basically does –and I did too—is trying to get people
through economic incentives. During three years I recruited 74 youths who never told
me that they wanted to join the armed forces because they wanted to defend their
country or due to any patriotic reason. They wanted to get money to go to university
or get a health insurance. So, I would first tell them about all those advantages and
only in the end I would tell them that they will serve our homeland. I never happened
to recruit the son of a rich person. In order to keep our job, we as recruiting officers,
could not think of any scruples.
Q: I understand that the Pentagon has been less demanding as to the requisites to
join the army. What does that mean?
A: recruiting standards have enormously been eased, because almost nobody wants
to join in. Having mental problems or a criminal record is no longer a problem.
Persons that have committed felonies can join the army; that include those who have
been given over-one-year sentences, which is considered a serious crime. Also
accepted are youths who have not concluded high school studies; if they pass the
psychological test, they can join the army.
Q: You changed after the war, but could you tell me about your feelings before that?
A: I felt just like the other soldiers who believed what they were told. However, since I
began my recruiting work I felt bad about it: as a recruiting officer I had to tell lies all
the time.
Q: But, you believed that your country was involved in a fair war against Iraq.
A: Yes, Intelligence reports we received read that Saddan had weapons of mass
destruction. Later, we found out that everything was a lie.
Q: When did you find out you had been deceived?
A: Once in Iraq, where I arrived in March 2003. My platoon was ordered to go to the
places formerly controlled by the Iraqi army and we saw thousands of thousands of
ammunitions in boxes bearing the US label; they were there since the US had
supported the Saddan government against Iran. I saw some boxes with the US flag
on them and I even saw American tanks. My marines—I was a sergeant with E-6
category, a staff sergeant, which is a higher rank and I had 45 marines under my
command— would ask me why there were US ammunitions in Iraq. They couldn't
understand it. CIA reports said that the Salmon Pac was a terrorist camp and that we
would find chemical and biological weapons there, but we found nothing. In that
moment I began to think that our real mission in Iraq was focused on oil.
Q: The most disturbing lines in your book are those in which you describe yourself as
a psychopathic murderer. Could you explain why you said that?
A: I was a psychopathic murderer because I was trained to kill. I was not born with
that mentality. It was the Marines that trained me to be a gangster in the interest of
US corporations, a criminal. They trained me to fulfill, without thinking, the orders of
the President of the United States and bring him what he asked for, without any
moral consideration. I was a psychopath because we were trained to shoot first and
ask later, as an insane person would act, not a professional soldier that is to face
another soldier. If we had to kill women and children, we would do it; therefore, we
were not soldiers, we were mercenaries.
Q: What specific experience of yours made you reach that conclusion?
A: Well, there were some of them. Our mission was to go to different cities and
guarantee security in the roads. There was an accident in particular—and many
others as well—which really put me in a serious situation. It was about a car with Iraqi
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civilians. All intelligence reports said that those cars had bombs and explosives on
board. That was the information that we received. When those cars approached our
areas we made warning shots; when they did not slow down to the speed we
indicated, we would shoot at them without ceremony.
Q: You shot at them with your machineguns?
A: Yes, We expected to see explosions every time we riddle the cars with bullets; but
we never heard or see an explosion. Then we opened the car and all we found was
people killed or wounded, not a single weapon, not a single Al Qaeda propaganda,
nothing. We only found civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Q: In your book, you also described how your platoon machine-gunned peaceful
demonstrators. Is that right?
A: Right. In the surroundings of the Rasheed Military Complex, South of Baghdad and
near the Tigris River, there was a group of people staging a demonstration, right at
the end of the street. They were youths; they had no weapons. So, when we
advanced, we saw a tank parked on one side of the street, the driver told us that
they were peaceful demonstrators. If those Iraqi people had had any violent
intentions, they would have blown up the tank; but they did not. They were only
staging a demonstration. That calmed us down because we thought that "if they
were there to shoot at us, they had already had enough time to do so. " They were
standing about 200 meters from our patrol.
Q: Who gave the order to shoot at the demonstrators?
A: We were told by the high command to keep watching those civilians, because
many combatants with the Republican Forces had taken off their uniforms and were
wearing civilian clothes to undertake terrorist attacks against US soldiers. The
intelligence reports we received were known basically by every member in the
commanding chain. All marines were well aware about the structure of the
commanding chain that was set up in Iraq. I think that the order to shoot at the
demonstrators came from high-rank US administration officers, which included both
military intelligence agencies and governmental circles.
Q: And what did you do?
A: I returned to my vehicle, my Humvee (a highly equipped jeep) and I heard the
sound of a shot over my head. My marines started shooting, so did I. We were not
shot back, and I had already shot 12 times. I wanted to make sure that we had killed
people according to combat requirements set by the Geneva Convention and the
operational proceedings established in the rules. I tried not to look at their faces, I
only looked for weapons, but I found none.
Q: How did your superior officers react at that?
A: They told me that "shit happens. "
Q: And when your marines found out that they had been deceived, what was their
reaction?
A: I was second in command. My marines asked me why we were killing so many
civilians. " Can you talk to the lieutenant? ", the answer was "No". But when they
found out that it all was a lie, they were really mad.
Our first mission in Iraq was not aimed at offering humanitarian assistance, as the
media said, but to secure oil fields in Bassora. In the city of Karbala, we used our
artillery during 24 hours; it was the first city we attacked. I thought we were there to
give the population food and medical assistance. Negative. We kept on advancing
towards the oil fields.
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Before arriving in Iraq we went to Kuwait. We got there in January 2003 with our
vehicles loaded with food and medicines. I asked the lieutenant what we were going
to do with all those supplies, since we had little room for us with so much stuff. He
told me that his captain had ordered him to download everything in Kuwait. Shortly
after that, we were ordered to burn everything, all the food and the medical supplies.

Q: You have also denounced the use of depleted uranium…


A: I am 35 years old and I only have 80 percent of my lung capacity left. I have been
diagnosed a degenerative disease in my backbone, chronic fatigue and pains in my
tendons. You know, I used to run 10 kilometers just because I liked to run, and now I
can only walk between 5 and 6 kilometers every day. I am afraid of having children
because of that. I got a swollen face. Look at this picture (He shows me the photo on
his Book Fair credential). This photo was taken shortly after I returned from Iraq. I
look like Frankenstein. I owe all that to depleted uranium, now you can imagine what
is happening to the people in Iraq.
Q: And what happened when you returned to the United States?
A: They treated me as if I were crazy, as if I were a coward, a traitor.
Q: Your superior officers have said that all you have revealed is a lie.
A: There is overwhelming evidence against them. The US armed forces are finished.
The longer the war, the bigger chance for my truth to be known.
Q: The book you have presented in Venezuela has been published in Spanish and
French. Why haven't you published it in the United States?
A: The publishing houses have requested the elimination of real names of the people
involved and the presentation of the war in Iraq in sort of a mist that makes it less
crude, and I am not willing to do that. Publishing houses like New Press, an alleged
left wing entity, refused to publish the book because they fear to be involved in a
dispute raised by the people described in the story.
Q: Why some media outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post never
reproduced your testimony?
A: I never echoed the official version of the facts, which says that US troops were in
Iraq to help the people; I never repeated their story that civilians there died in
accidents. I refused to say that. I did not see any accidental shooting against the Iraqi
and I refused to lie.
Q: Have you changed that stance?
A: No. What they have done is to add opinions and books by people with conscious
objections: those who are against the war in general or those who participated in the
war but who did not have this kind of experience. They are still reluctant to look
straight to reality.
Q: Do you have any photos or documents that may prove what you have told us?
A: No, I don't. They stripped me of all my belongings when I was ordered to return to
the United States. I returned home only with two weapons: my mind and a knife.
Q: Do you think there is a short-time solution to the war?
A: No, I don't think so. What I see is the same policy being practiced either by
democrats or republicans. They are the same thing. The war is a business for both
parties, since they depend on the Military Industrial Complex. We need a third party.
Q: Which one?
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A: the party of Socialism.


Q: You have participated in a workshop titled "The United States: The Revolution is
Possible. " Do you really think that a revolution could take place in the United
States?
A: It has already begun to take place in the South, where I was born.
Q: But southern United States has traditionally been the most conservative zone in
your country.
A: That changed after Katrina. New Orleans looks like Baghdad. The people in the
South are indignant and they wonder every day how comes that Washington invests
in a useless war and in Baghdad, while it has not invested in New Orleans. You must
recall that the first big rebellion in the United States started in the South.
Q: Would you be willing to visit Cuba?
A: I admire Fidel and the Cuban people, and if I am invited to visit, for sure I would. I
do not mind what my government might say to me. Nobody will control me.
Q: Do you know that the symbol of US imperial despise against our nation is precisely
a photo depicting some marines as they urinated on the statue of Jose Marti, who is
the Cuban National Independence Hero?
A: Yes, I do. In the Marine Corps they spoke of Cuba as a US colony and they taught
us some history. As part of his training, a marine must learn facts about the countries
he is expected to invade, as the song goes.
Q: What song, the marines´ song?
A: (singing) " From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli…"
Q: That means that the marines want to be in all parts of the world?
A: Their dream is to control the world…, no matter if in that effort we all are turned
into murderers.