Thornhill in Iraq–IV

LCBA Member Ian Thornhill of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids has been deployed to Iraq as a member of the Navy Reserve. He is going to be working on a task force that is helping to re-establish the Iraqi criminal court system. The LCBA will be posting his email updates, with permission.

Hello all,

I have been assigned to a team that is working on major crimes investigations dealing with Iraqi on Iraqi crime. Obviously I cannot give you the details but we are talking big stuff here. I still haven’t quite figured out my job yet except that I will not be doing much pure lawyering, rather, I will be coordinating and actively participating in the investigations. Right now I’m just trying to get settled in and get up to speed on the criminal process here and some of the pending cases. I feel fortunate to be on the team I’m on. There is a potential for some high profile stuff. Much of the task force will be turning over in the next month and I believe I’m going to be the 2nd most senior guy (by rank – not because I recently turned 40!). The work will be challenging and the bad guys are REALLY bad guys. I’ve prosecuted a lot of people – people who have done bad things – but I never believed any of them were evil. The stuff I’ll be dealing with here is evil. The real reward will be doing justice – or at least getting the ball rolling in that direction.

O.K., enough of the dark stuff. I can’t remember if I told you what my daily schedule is so I’ll do it again. The work day is 0730 to 2000 (8:00 p.m. for you civilians) Monday through Saturday, and 0900 to 1800 (do the math yourself this time!) on Sunday. I will get a half day off every 2 weeks and one full day every month, although I’m not sure what I will do with the time. Also, during that 12.5 hour day I am permitted to eat and encouraged to work out.

There are 3 main luxuries (and I use that term loosely) here – the dining facility or DFAC for short (the military shortens everything except the lines!), the gym (not the Y but not too bad), and the laundry. Of those, only the gym requires me to do the work myself! Paula thinks I’m on vacation – no kids and someone cooking for me and doing my laundry!

I can’t go into the make up of the personnel on this FOB but every day I see soldiers either heading out or returning from missions in the “red” zone. These kids (many are just kids) are upbeat, professional, dedicated, and most of all, true heroes. It is truly a privilege to be out here with these men and women. They are doing far more dangerous stuff than I am. I’m told Baghdad has quieted down significantly since the summer. I still occasionally hear gunfire and explosions, but it’s apparently nothing like they experienced here a few months ago. Let’s hope that relative calm persists while I’m here.

I know I promised some more photos – that will have to wait until next time. Keep the e-mails coming. I’ll be happy to answer any questions I can, but keep in mind, there is a whole lotta stuff I can’t talk about, so don’t be mad if I tell you that.

Ian