search and destroy
The Pentagon’s losing battle against IEDs By Andrew Cockburn

omewhere in the back of a Pentagon desk drawer, there is quite likely a dusty audiotape commemorating Operation Igloo White. Inaugurated in 1967, this $7 billion enterprise was conceived as an “electronic fence” stretching right across the Ho Chi Minh Trail—the main Vietcong supply route into South Vietnam. To construct the fence, 20,000 sensors were dropped into the jungle. Some were acoustic, monitoring the sound of passing enemy troops and trucks; others were seismic, responding to movement. The data they collected was transmitted to aircraft patrolling overhead twentyfour hours a day, then relayed to a sprawling base in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, where it was fed into powerful IBM computers. The processed signals were supposed to pinpoint Vietcong units lurking beneath the jungle canopy. With every enemy move tracked and identified by Igloo White, this was to be the first fully automated battlefield in history. The program—which was also known as the McNamara Line, because
Andrew Cockburn writes frequently on defense and national affairs, and is the author, most recently, of Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy.


of the ardent advocacy of Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara—never showed any sign of working. Sensors confused water buffalo with two-ton

trucks, badgers with humans. The enemy destroyed, moved, or “spoofed” the sensors as they saw fit. Despite claims by supporters that Igloo White had accounted for the destruction of numerous enemy trucks—many more than the North Vietnamese actually possessed—the program was quietly abandoned in 1972. Returning from Thailand, members of Task Force Alpha, the secret unit that had monitored the fence, brought home one taped signal and played it at Pentagon

Christmas parties for years afterward. Relayed from deep inside the jungle, it captured the sound of somebody pissing on an acoustic sensor. Yet the dream of automated intelligence—of allseeing, all-knowing surveillance systems programmed to locate and identify the enemy—did not die. In fact, in the age of the improvised explosive device (IED), which has accounted for two thirds of American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has enjoyed a spectacular revival. In March 2011, nearly forty years after the last Task Force Alpha computer was powered down, the U.S. Air Force deployed Gorgon Stare in Afghanistan. This system, mounted on unmanned drones, is designed to allow troops on the ground to watch live video of any location in a given city, whenever they choose. “We can see everything,” boasted Major General James O. Poss, the Air Force’s assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The images captured by each Gorgon Stare array, which includes five electro-optical cameras and four infrared cameras, are instantly available to American soldiers. They are simultaneously

Illustrations by Danijel Zezelj

beamed halfway around the world to powerful computers in Iowa, where terabytes of data are processed in order to help locate the distant, elusive enemy.


orgon Stare’s main function is to hunt Afghan insurgents planting IEDs. Assembled from cooking pots, mobile phones, flashlight batteries, farm fertilizer, and other commonplace items, these homemade weapons have altered the course of the Iraqi and Afghan wars. They are also as far removed from our industrial approach to warfare as it is possible to be. Back in June 2004, General John Abizaid, then head of Central Command, called for a “Manhattan Project– like” response to IEDs. The World War II program to develop an atomic bomb cost $2 billion (about $25 billion in today’s dollars). To date, the Pentagon has spent at least $60 billion to combat IEDs—and the results have not been encouraging. “As a general rule, we find about fifty percent of the IEDs before they go off,” Lieutenant General Michael Oates told me last year. “The other fifty percent detonate.” Of the latter group, he went on, “about thirty to thirty-five percent do not harm us, because the enemy has set them incorrectly, or they were not of sufficient lethality, or we have protective gear. Somewhere between ten and fifteen percent kill or harm our soldiers or our equipment, and that number’s been very stubborn since about 2004.” Oates spoke with some authority on the subject, since at the time he headed the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), an agency created in 2006 with a mandate, much envied elsewhere in the Pentagon, to spend its money as it wishes without further oversight from Congress. (Five years later, JIEDDO had spent upward of $20 billion.) Among other things, it has sponsored the training of bees to detect bombs and funded Fido, a $165,000 robot with a built-in, canine-inspired “molecular sniffer.” The agency also helped to develop Terrapin, a standardized concrete block designed to plug culverts under Iraqi roads and thereby prevent insurgents

from planting bombs in them. (Adding the requisite patina of high technology to the project, each block came equipped with a transponder to signal its location at all times.) At a JIEDDO meeting to discuss “culvert denial,” an ex-Marine with recent experience of Iraq’s wet winters suggested that the blocked culverts might lead to flooding when it rained. “Iraq is a desert country,” he was told. Such initiatives appear mundane in comparison with the boundlessly ambitious surveillance programs eating up the counter-IED budget. Boosters claim that their systems will not only show where the enemy is—they will show where he was. The high-definition images beamed back to Iowa by Gorgon Stare, for example, will be stored indefinitely. As retired lieutenant general David Deptula, former commander of Air Force intelligence, has blithely explained: “If you know where an improvised explosive device went off, you can ‘rewind the tapes’ and see where the activity was and what led to it.” Other contenders for a slice of this gigantic budget include the research laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. According to the lab, its Gotcha radar can detect objects on the ground as small as a cockroach, day or night, in any weather. Collected by drones flying over Afghanistan, these images will be transmitted to a supercomputer in Ohio, which will one-up Gorgon Stare by rendering the data as 3-D video. The Air Force, meanwhile, has committed $211 million to Blue Devil, a crash program to build a 350-foot blimp that will hover 20,000 feet over Afghanistan for a week at a time. The blimp will carry Gorgon Stare arrays, additional sensors, and its own onboard supercomputer to process the data. Deptula, who now heads the company developing Blue Devil, describes it as the mothership of a vast surveillance network. (The Army is sponsoring a competing blimp program, with a price tag of $517 million.) In the face of such esoteric and exorbitant projects, reality is not invariably welcome. Gorgon Stare, for example, wa s deemed “not operationally effective” and “not operationally suitable” by an Air Force report leaked in early 2011—the


technology was completely unable to identify humans on the ground, still less their location. But plans to ship the system to Afghanistan were unaffected. “Our job,” declared a senior official at a classified JIEDDO technology conference last November, “is to get the man out of the loop.” he men of Echo Company, 2/7 Marines, who served in Afghanistan with Master Sergeant Tanos Chavez, would strenuously disagree. Chavez is an explosive ordnance technician, a specialist in disarming IEDs. He was assigned to Echo Company in May 2008, joining them for a five-month deployment to the remote and dangerous town of Sangin, in Helmand Province. Every man in the company speaks of Chavez with awe. People who disarm bombs are, of course, courageous by definition. Chavez stood out because he was so successful at it. According to his company commander, Major Matt O’Donnell, within a month of the unit’s arrival in Sangin, intelligence began picking up Taliban complaints about the disastrous effect the “bomb man” was having on their operations. Thinking of the ingenious solutions emanating from the $60-billion counter-IED effort, I asked Chavez what technology he had personally found most useful. “Technology will fail you when you need it the most,” he replied. “You have to keep it simple. I carried a stick with a hundred feet of parachute cord wrapped around it. That was my most useful tool.” Along with the cord, which he used to pull bombs apart, he carried wire cutters, a small metal detector, his rifle and pistol, and a radio. Chavez also made use of three kinds of explosives: C4 for “cutting” (piercing the outer layer of artillery shell casings), TNT for “pushing” (moving dirt off a bomb), and thermite for burning off brush. He had little use for the robots developed to deal with bombs remotely. His battleground, he explained, lay among close-packed compounds, and the passageways between the buildings were generally too narrow for any robot. Nor did he think much of the bulky “bomb suit” worn by the hero in the movie The


Hurt Locker. “In one-hundred-tendegree heat?” he asked. Indeed, Chavez’s methods sounded little more elaborate than those employed by his bombmaking counterparts, who in his view brought a “brilliant simplicity” to their work. “In my experience,” he told me, “the quality and the sophistication of the IEDs were, by far, better in Afghanistan. Maybe ‘sophistication’ is the wrong word. Maybe ‘pride of workmanship’ is better. These

tially attacked the British with rifle and mortar fire on an almost daily basis, and as a result many of the town’s inhabitants had fled, leaving large areas deserted. By 2008 the Taliban had changed tactics. Now they were focusing on IEDs, as Chavez discovered when he drove to town for the first time in late May. His Humvee hit a buried mine, which wrecked the vehicle, wrenched his back, and gave him the first of many

An acerbic military analyst named Rex Rivolo speculated that the networks involved in making, planting, and triggering IEDs provide 15,000 jobs in Afghanistan. In the context of the country’s devastated economy, this counts as a definite growth sector. Rivolo, a former fighter pilot with a doctorate in astrophysics, headed research at the Counter-IED Operations Integration Center (COIC) in Baghdad. Installed at Camp Victory, he had

guys took their time. They built them to make sure they worked. In Iraq, they’d slap them together, they didn’t really care, it was a sheer numbers game. In Afghanistan, they just didn’t have the assets. They’re a poor country. When they took time to lay something out, they made sure it was”—he paused in search of the right word—“quality.” Chavez and his fellow Marines arrived in Sangin two years after British troops had set up a forward operating base in the center of town. The district sprawled along the banks of the Helmand River. Insurgents had ini-

concussions he would suffer in the next few months. For the most part, though, the area remained quiet for a week or so following the arrival of Echo Company. Needing more time to gather the opium harvest, a linchpin of the town’s economy, local farmers had asked the Taliban to extend a de facto cease-fire. “This was one of the two sources of employ ment,” ex plai n s Major O’Donnell. “The other was the Taliban. As soon as the poppy harvest was in, they’d all go off to fight for the Taliban, who would pay them to plant IEDs.”

committed himself to the study of cause and effect in the IED war. Despite the billions of dollars allocated to various high-tech solutions, information on those initiatives’ actual effectiveness was in short supply. Close examination, when it did happen, usually revealed a dismal record. One program, for example, involved EC130 transport planes flying over U.S. supply routes in Iraq and emitting microwave pulses that were meant to detonate IEDs planted along the way. Correlating seven months of flights with records of explosions along the

flight paths (something the Air Force had never got around to doing), Rivolo concluded that the system had “no detectable effect.” Probing deeper into the data, Rivolo made an instructive calculation. By May 2007, the number of IEDs planted in Iraq since the invasion amounted to nearly 70,000. Meanwhile, the number of insurgents killed or wounded while planting bombs amounted to just 400. The statistical likelihood of being killed or hurt while planting a bomb was close to zero. “That,” he informed the command after delivering a classified briefing, “is why we have people placing IEDs for as little as fifteen dollars.” Rivolo argued that the key to success in dealing with IEDs was to increase the risk for the people who were actually planting the devices. If there were a greater chance of getting killed, he reasoned, the workforce would demand more money, which would impede the sponsoring IED networks or stop the flow altogether. His proposed solution was to have continuous patrols by large numbers of low-flying light aircraft over areas where IEDs might be planted. He had reams of data showing that wherever such methods had been used to detect and kill bomb planters, attacks lessened sharply. The

high command was unenthusiastic. In fact, when Rivolo oversaw a test exercise in Jordan in 2005 that clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the light-aircraft approach, all copies of the resulting report were recalled and destroyed. “It was too cheap for their taste,” Rivolo told me.


hen I quoted Rivolo’s suggestion to Chavez, he raised a moral objection. “I don’t know about specifically going after some poor guy who’s earning a few bucks for his family by digging a hole and laying an IED,” he said vehemently. In fact, the thirtynine-year-old Marine from Tillamook, Oregon, had an uncanny ability to put himself in the minds of local Afghans who were doing just that. During his first few weeks in Sangin, he was constantly studying the terrain, noting that the corner of a compound wall where a U.S. patrol might pause to reconnoiter would be perfect for a bomb, or figuring out where a “triggerman” might hide while waiting to detonate a device. On June 19, one of the latter triggered a bomb buried in the bank of a canal (itself a relic of a Sixties-era USAID irrigation scheme in Helmand). Chavez was five yards away. He miraculously survived, staggering from the cloud of smoke with a

bleeding nose and another concussion, and later that day insisted on disarming two other bombs. As the weeks wore on, Chavez drove himself harder. He was determined, as his commander’s subsequent commendation put it, “to defeat the enemy improvised explosive device threat in northern Helmand Province,” which was a tall order. By now, he could recognize the local bombmakers by three or four signatures. “Some guys always use the same type of wire,” he recalls. “It’s this white Iranian lamp cord, says made in iran right on it. Another guy always uses this metallic blue tape on everything. This guy uses mortar [shells], this guy likes jugs, this guy uses pressure cookers. They’re all different.” They also stuck to particular areas. One appeared to operate only in the “green zone” along the river, where corn was now growing in the wake of the harvested poppy crop. Another stuck to Wishtan, the dusty, foreboding, semideserted district east of the town. The enemy, O’Donnell concluded, was not monolithic, but consisted of “multiple small independent groups that had a very, very loose hierarchical structure.” That, he told me, was how they were able to adapt so rapidly any time he changed tactics. Decisions were made by “the guys who were on the scene, observing us on a daily basis, fighting us on a daily basis in that particular neighborhood.” Back at Camp Victory, Rivolo had come to the same conclusion. The Iraqi insurgents, he argued, consisted of about fifty “self-organized” groups in which key decisions, such as where to plant IEDs, were left to the people on the front line. Many of the groups were bitterly antagonistic—Shia, Sunni, Al Qaeda, and so forth—yet information about new IED techniques or American tactics flashed among them in a matter of days or even hours. By early August 2008, it seemed that the many different groups around Sangin were united in their opposition to Chavez. Increasingly, the radio channels used by insurgents echoed with complaints about his ability to find and disable their bombs, as well as their recent failure to inflict major casualties. “Each of these different [groups] had seen their hard work spoiled by him,” recalls O’Donnell. On

August 14, however, they inflicted a devastating toll, killing three Marines with IEDs that detonated when the men stepped on them. And meanwhile, they were preparing something special for Chavez himself. It was found the following day by Treo, a bomb-sniffing black Labrador belonging to the British Royal Marine detachment, who marked his find by sitting down on the spot. What the dog had discovered was a “daisy chain”—four separate buried charges made from 105mm flare casings filled with homemade explosives and connected to a single detonation system. Someone had put a lot of thought into planting it. Two of the rounds were buried a few yards apart at the outside corner of a compound wall. They were connected to each other, but also to a pair on the other side of the wall—where Chavez and his team had sheltered just the day before when setting off a nearby IED. Someone had been watching and taken note. A villager later told the Marines he had come across the insurgent team burying the bombs next to the compound. “What are you doing?” he asked. “You know they’re going to find that.” “That’s the point,” they replied. “We want him to find it, because he can’t defeat this one.” Chavez arrived and set to work. He was already having a busy day. On the way to Treo’s bomb, he had barely missed the explosion of an enormous multiple-charge IED detonated from across the canal by a radio. The moment he unearthed the first charge of the new bomb, he realized it was something different. “I couldn’t find any means of initiation,” he recalls—meaning there was no obvious way it could be set off. There was no pressure plate, which would detonate when someone stepped on it; no command wire; no radio control. As Chavez studied the bomb, First Lieutenant Mike McNicoll, commanding the platoon that always accompanied Chavez, was waiting seventy-five yards away along the wall, getting increasingly nervous. Waiting anywhere for an hour in that part of the world was dangerous. Finally, in a flash of intuition, Chavez realized what he was looking

at. He had never seen one before, but this had to be a “collapsing circuit,” a device that would initiate when the current from the power source was interrupted. Normal routine would be to cut the wires one by one. But here that would prove a fatal move, not only for Chavez but for anybody sheltering behind the wall. It was, he recalls, “a whole ‘fuck you’ type of thing.” The only solution was to cut all the wires at the same instant. Chavez bundled them together with a single C4 charge. The C4 was “fast enough,” he explains, that it prevented any power from reaching the blasting cap. Later that night, after dealing with two conventional IEDs, he wrote an official report on the collapsing-circuit device. Detailing its unique features, he suggested that a “new team had arrived in the area.” He did not add that the bomb, dangerous only to someone trying to take it apart, had clearly been aimed at him. A week later, a similar collapsingcircuit bomb turned up near the site of the first, clearly the work of the same craftsman. Chavez attempted to deal with it the same way, but somehow the C4 charge did not sever all the wires simultaneously, and the bomb, which this time had five huge charges, exploded. Chavez, luckily, was at a safe distance. The third time around, the bombmaker added a wrinkle: the wires were looped under lengths of rebar with sharpened edges. If Chavez tugged on any of them, the rebar would cut the wire and the bomb would explode. Once more, his sixth sense prompted him to avoid the trap. By now, Chavez’s tightly knit unit understood what was happening. As McNicoll says, “We knew they were going after him.” There were even rumors of a cash reward on offer. O’Donnell, knowing that Chavez was in a “one-on-one battle” with the bombmaker, worried that if he did get killed, it would have a devastating effect on the nineteen- and twenty-year-olds who made up most of his company. “ ‘They got him, and he’s the expert,’ ” he imagined them saying. “ ‘How the hell am I going to make it?’ ” In late August and early September, Chavez discovered two more

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Recollections of the Decade from Harper’s Magazine Introduction by Eugene J. McCarthy
Relive the decade that changed our lives—Vietnam, Oswald, Cassius Clay, Castro’s Cuba, civil rights, pot, the 1968 election . . . From a heart-wrenching war that tore America apart to the political turmoil that destroyed our illusions of innocence. From the music and art that made us think and feel in new ways to the activism and experimentation that changed American society forever. The Sixties reviews that decade of change, focusing on politics, the civil rights movement, youth culture, and much more from the unique and farsighted perspective of the nation’s oldest monthly magazine. It includes profiles, interviews, commentaries, and essays by some of the best writers of the ’60s era, including George Plimpton, Walker Percy, Joe McGinnis, David Halberstam, Richard Hofstadter, C.Vann Woodward, Priscilla Johnson McMillan, Sara Davidson, and Louis Lomax. Introduction by Senator Eugene J. McCarthy, presidential peace candidate of 1968. Order today through www.harpers.org/store Published by Franklin Square Press ISBN 1-879957-20-5 Softcover $14.95


collapsing-circuit bombs. Now all the wires and other parts of the detonation system were placed directly under one of the explosive charges, so that if the bomb blew up, all evidence of its construction would be destroyed. Then, on September 10, O’Donnell decided to mount an attack on an area to the south of the district center. During the fight, a sniper team spotted four men on a roof directing the Taliban defense and shot them. One of them had a radio, and the general assumption was that he had been using it to issue commands. Chavez, however, told me that it could have been used for remote detonation. The next day, Sangin’s bazaar was abuzz with rumors that the Americans had killed someone really important. More concrete news came from a British intelligence officer, who congratulated the sniper team on eliminating “Sadam,” the “master bombmaker of the Sangin Valley.” All that Chavez knew for certain was that the flow of collapsing-circuit IEDs suddenly stopped.


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wo years later, in October 2010, I made inquiries about the incident via Afghans with connections in northern Helmand. The line of communication was long and frayed, but a message cloaked in euphemism confirmed that there had indeed been a man known as Sadam, notorious for his work in “potatoes and onions,” shot about that time in Sangin. So the snipers had probably killed a High Value Target (HVT), the ultimate objective of our entire counter-IED strategy. Killing HVTs is the mission that justifies Gorgon Stare, Gotcha, Blue Devil, and a host of other billiondollar surveillance systems. It has certainly been central to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two years into the Iraq occupation, every forward operating base had a wall plastered with pictures of the local HVTs. “The platoon’s mission is to kill or capture HVTs,” wrote Matt Cook, a staff sergeant in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in 2005. “That is all we do.” The top brass has poured ever more resources into the effort, not just by commissioning high-tech intelligence platforms but also with elaborately

equipped assassination teams. The efforts of such teams were deemed to have been a major contribution to the decline of the Iraqi insurgency during the 2007 “surge.” Even more unabashedly, our strategy in Afghanistan has become focused on what the military calls Human Network Attack— hence the mounting tempo of night raids by special-operations units, their body counts the subject of celebration by commanders. Yet there is precise data to indicate that the assassination of key enemy personnel is actually counterproductive. During his tour at COIC, Rivolo assembled a list of 200 successful operations against individuals considered crucial to the insurgency between 2005 and 2007. Then he demanded all reports of IED attacks within a radius of fifteen miles following each successful assassination. The results were damning. IED attacks did not go down. They went up—by a lot. Attacks within three miles of the hit increased by an average of 20 percent. The conclusion, as Rivolo laconically reported to his superiors, was that “our principal strategy in Iraq is counterproductive and needs to be evaluated.” Eliminated HVTs, intelligence revealed, were almost always replaced at once, usually within twenty-four hours. “The new guy is going to work harder,” Rivolo told me. “He has to prove himself, assert his authority. Maybe the old guy had been getting lazy, not working so hard to plant those IEDs. Fresh blood makes a difference.” Troops on the ground often came to the same conclusion. “I wish I could say that killing or capturing HVTs made a difference, but it never really felt like we made a dent,” Cook told me recently. “For us, they were just shortlived morale victories.”


n September 30, 2008, nearly three weeks after Sadam’s death, Chavez was summoned to an IED site in Wishtan. By the time he got there, the patrol had already cordoned off the bomb and inspected it: “They’d walked on it. They’d uncovered it. They’d finger-fucked it.” Nevertheless, the bomb had remained inert.


McNicoll has a vivid memory of what happened next. “The master sergeant got down to his hands and knees,” he says, “got even lower, started to crawl toward it, and when he got relatively close, like within a meter or two, they set it off. I was actually taking a piss behind a vehicle when it went off. And I about crapped my pants, because every time he set something off, he would let me know. It was not a little boom, it was a pretty big explosion. I thought he was dead.” To McNicoll’s relief, he finally heard Chavez’s voice from within the cloud of smoke and debris. Wishtan was far from the locale where the collapsing-circuit assassin had stalked Chavez. Nevertheless, he says, “someone was waiting for me.” Hiding 150 yards away at the opposite end of a long wire, the triggerman had sat patiently, ignoring all the other potential targets milling around the device, knowing that sooner or later the “bomb man” would appear. Chavez survived because the blast propelled most of the metal fragments upward. Had he been standing, all agreed, he would have been cut in half. But he was not okay. Apart from the shrapnel pitting his face and neck, a dislocated knee, and a twisted back, he had yet another concussion—this time a Grade III, the most serious. Over his protests, O’Donnell confined him to base for the remaining two weeks of Echo Company’s tour. Today, Chavez is deemed “nondeployable,” and spends most of his time circulating between hospitals in the Washington area: Bethesda, Walter Reed, Quantico, Fredericksburg. Many of his physical maladies have been traced to the lingering impact of the bomb that hit his Humvee near Sangin. But I asked about ongoing effects of his numerous concussions. “That rolls into TBI [traumatic brain injury], PTSD, anxiety, loss of memory, hearing loss, speaking problems,” he replied quietly. (In one sense, Chavez had beaten the odds. Since he left, fifteen Marine explosive ordnance technicians have been killed by bombs in Afghanistan.) Upon his return from Afghanistan, Chavez’s commander recommended him for an award, the Legion of Merit

with Valor, that would recognize not only his bravery but his impact on the entire war zone. Somewhere up the military chain of command, it was denied. Instead, Chavez received a Bronze Star with Valor. (The British meanwhile gave Treo the bombsniffing dog their very highest award for animal gallantry, the Dickin Medal. At an elaborate ceremony, Treo received what the British papers call “the animal version of the Victoria Cross.”) “Guys like Chavez are a threat to their philosophy,” said Franklin Spinney, a former Pentagon analyst and defense commentator, when I expressed my surprise that the master sergeant had not been more amply recognized. “Guys like that are the antithesis of the techno-war that keeps the money flowing. The American military has sold the idea that complex technologies coupled to step-by-step analytical procedures can negate all the uncertainties and surprises of combat to solve any problem in war. A guy who can clear a town with guts and smarts is much too cheap.” In 2012, the Pentagon plans to spend at least $10.1 billion on n counter-IED initiatives. November Index Sources

In a free market all your mornings are sold for a suicide bomb
—from “Freedom After the Occupation”

1 Institute for Policy Studies (Washington); 2,3 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (Columbus); 4 U.S. Postal Service; 5 FedEx (Memphis)/United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (Atlanta); 6 CNN/ORC International (Washington); 7 Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (Washington); 8 Gallup Consulting (Washington); 9 LMI Government Consulting (McLean, Va.); 10,11 U.S. Department of Defense; 12 WikiLeaks; 13 Georgia Chopsticks, LLC (Americus); 14 Council of Graduate Schools (Washington); 15 Harper’s research; 16–18 U.S. Social Security Administration; 19 Towers Watson (N.Y.C.); 20 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; 21–23 Florida Department of Children and Families (Tallahassee); 24 Environmental Working Group (Washington); 25 Texans for Public Justice (Austin); 26 MasterCard Advisors (N.Y.C.); 27,28 British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (London); 29 Digital UK (London); 30,31 72 Point (London); 32 Harper’s research; 33,34 Daniel Hamermesh, The University of Texas at Austin; 35 Pew Internet and American Life Project (Washington); 36,37 Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice University (Houston); 38 Office of Representative Joe Walsh (Washington); 39 Coladarci and Coladarci (Chicago); 40 Harper’s research.

Amal al-Jubouri
Before the Occupaton


After the Occupation
translated by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi foreword by Alicia Ostriker


“In spare, vivid, and poundingly heartfelt language, [al-Jubouri] shows us her country before the occupation by U.S. troops and afterward...these poems have a timeless, haunting quality, and they offer not just enormous pleasure but understanding.” —Library Journal, starred review
In English and Arabic $17.50 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-882295-89-0



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