Day Three – Monday October 9, 2006
The next morning I was at the KMTC (Kabul Military Training Center) talking with my hero – see previous posting. He was right in the middle of telling me how several of his bad guys have threatened to kill him if he keeps investigating them when I got a phone call from Ken. He said I needed to get back immediately as the pre-trial confinement was not going like we thought. Merrill and I rushed back in time for me to walk into MGM’s office as everyone was sitting down. As I got to the office I saw that 4 of our US team were there loaded for bear. In addition to their side-arms they had their M4’s at the low ready. Not only were our guys there armed, but a few of Subject A’s loyalists were there with their AK 47’s. I walked into the office feeling a little nervous about what might happen. Seeing all the weapons and knowing how dangerous Subject A was, I was a little concerned about what would happen during the meeting.
In meetings with the ANA, there is a distinct pecking order in where you get to sit. The higher rank or more importance you carry, you get to sit at the head of the table or room. When I walked in, I got to sit on the left of COL Vitali and Ken. In other words, I was at the top of the totem pole. It was cool. In addition to Ken, Steve Esplin and Aaron were there, along with the French Colonel we work with, a Marine Major, MAJ Alvarez and our Command Sergeant Major. There were two translators; COL Vitali’s and mine. Subject A, his boss, a one-star, and MGM rounded out the people in the room. It was pretty crowded.
(I’ll admit, I can no longer remember the exact chain of events. It was a pretty tense meeting as you’ll soon see. I think Aaron may place events in a different order, but that’s really not important. Just know that they did happen.)
As I sat down, Subject A was already telling MGM how he was innocent and this was all a big mistake. That went on for several minutes. COL Vitali and Ken both chimed in that Subject A was a danger to the soldiers of the command and needed to be placed in PTC. Of course Subject A did not agree. The discussion of whether to place him in pre-trial confinement went back and forth. It was getting pretty heated.
Karim came in a few minutes later with an order signed by the prosecutor ordering Subject A to be placed in pre-trial confinement. MGM read it, looked up and basically said that now that there was a signed order, he couldn’t do anything more. Of course, Subject A continued to argue otherwise. He had his boss try and persuade MGM to place Subject A in restriction on base. Boss said he would vouch for him. Of course we said that would not work. Boss then suggested that he be sent to another command. Again, a bad idea. Finally, Subject A whispered in Boss’ ear that he should be placed under the supervision of the Corps Intelligence Officer. A really bad idea as the Intelligence Officer is almost as bad as Subject A. (More to tell about the Intel Officer in a minute.)
As Subject A began to realize he was going to be placed in pre-trial confinement, the tension in the room really began to rise. I wear a shoulder holster for my 9mm. At one point I realized that I had reached across, unsnapped the holster and had my hand around the pistol grip. I was wondering how I could chamber a round without anyone hearing it. I then noticed that Ken and COL Vitali both had their hands on their weapons as well. I knew at that moment that we had reached the climax. Fortunately Subject A didn’t do anything.
Later that day as we were all discussing the case, Steve, Aaron, and all the other officers had done the same thing I’d done. Some had actually pulled their weapons from the holster. MAJ Alveraz had an asp and had extended it half-way out. It was pretty tense. The Command Sergeant Major joked that had there been a gun fight, everyone in the room would have been shot except for Subject A. He may not have been too far from the truth.
I’d finally had enough. It had already been announced that he was going to be placed in pre-trial confinement and nothing was happening, other than the fact that all the Americans had their hands on their weapons. None of the ANA were doing anything. So I took the “bull by the horns,” directed my attention to Boss and said something like this, “Sir, let’s be honest here. We all know of the Colonel’s (I don’t refer to him as a General since he’s not one) reputation for violence. We all know what he’s accused of doing in Darulaman and why he was transferred here. We all know that he’s been on probation and he has now violated that probation. This officer is a danger to your command.” Or something like that.
I then got out the code and read the dirt-bag his rights. (I wanted to put a more vulgar term for him in there but am trying to clean up my language and didn’t want to offend anyone.) I stared him down and advised him of his right to remain silent. I advised him of the charges against him. I advised him of the fact that if he made any statements, they could be used against him in court. I finally advised him of his right to counsel; either appointed counsel or that he could hire one himself. I asked him if he understood these rights. He said he did.
It was pretty cool. I felt like a prosecutor again. I haven’t felt that way in a long time – and can’t wait to feel that way again. I just stared him down and treated him like the filthy scum that he is. I didn’t flinch, not once. It was quite the fulfilling experience.
I didn’t think that I had done anything extraordinary. I just fell into my prosecutor mode and was running on auto-pilot. When I got back to my office later, I found a note on my desk that said, “You’re my Hero!!” with a drawing of a superhero with “SB” (Super Bob) on the cape. I knew who it was from – see Aaron’s blog, and may I just go on record as saying I always knew I was his hero and am extracting the appropriate amount of hero worship from him – but I wasn’t sure why I got the note. I then went into their work spaces and got high-fived from several of the guys in there. They told me that they heard that I had kicked some major butt. They said that Ken and Steve both said that I had big…uh, big…biceps, yea, that’s what they said. (Steve is now calling me “BB” you know, Big Biceps.) Anyway about that time Ken and Steve both walked in. I got knuckle bumped by them both. They again commented on my big biceps. I finally asked what this was all about. Steve, who is a Lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol said that I was the killer prosecutor. He said he felt like he was back in court watching the prosecutor rip the defendant a new one. He said he was back in his Tropper mode and could tell I was in my prosecutor mode. He was right but I didn’t think I deserved all the attention, but of course I was basking in their admiration. Later when I was in the CO’s office, the Command Sergeant Major also commented on my big biceps – guys here have a thing about big biceps I’ve decided – and what a great job I did. The best part of the whole thing is, it took my relationship with COL Vitali to a new level and that was a good thing. (I later told Janae about the comments I was getting about my big biceps and she said she’s been telling me that for years.)
Anyway, on with the story…
MGM excused Subject A, Steve, Aaron, MAJ Alvarez, the French Colonel and kept the rest of us there. He again asked if there was no way to simply reassign him somewhere else on the base. We were all very forceful in explaining that for one thing, it was out of his hands and two, the main reason for placing him in pre-trial confinement was to protect the witnesses.
Boy did that one back-fire on us. Read on. “What?” you ask yourself. There’s more? “But I’ve been reading for “hours already and you want me to read more?” Just think of me having to type this. It’s taken me almost 4 days to get this far. So shut up and keep reading.
MGM finally agreed that he had no choice and brought the meeting to a close. As we walked out, someone said that Subject A needed to be searched for weapons. Boss said he didn’t have anything but of course no one was going to trust Subject A’s assertion that he didn’t have any weapons on him. Turns out he didn’t but we still had to be sure. He was on his cell phone talking with someone so we had to get that away from him ASAP.
He was then escorted out and taken to the holding facility. What a victory!! I didn’t realize that the drama was going to continue the way it has.
I went back to the KMTC and spent the day.
When I got back from the KMTC I learned that the reason for the pre-trial confinement, that of witness protection, had been foiled.
The guards at the confinement facility did nothing to prevent the steady stream of visitors Subject A had the whole day. The guys from our team that went to check on him discovered that he had received many gifts from his loyalists, that Subject A had sent 3-4 of them to the hospital to convince the victim to change his story and other things and had hatched several other plots (rioting, burning, destruction), none of which came to fruition fortunately.
When I found out that the victim had been contacted, I called Karim and told him. He sent the prosecutor to the hospital and to our relief discovered that the victim was not going to change his story. He was adamant about testifying against Subject A. I told Karim that he needed to do something about limiting the number of visitor to Subject A. He said he’d take care of it. Unfortunately he didn’t do enough.
The intel officer ended up spending most of the night with Subject A. Since that time, the intel officer has been approaching key witnesses telling them it’s their fault Subject A is in confinement and that they need to change their stories. I’ve reported this to MGM and Karim twice and yet he still continues to go around talking with witnesses. I think it may be time to go back into prosecutor mode and confront this guy and threaten him with prosecution if he doesn’t stop his witness tampering. I’ll keep you posted.