Bill O’Reilly, Maureen McPhilmy, and a Helluva Joke

Maureen McPhilmy and Bill O'ReillyWhen I was stationed at Gitmo, Bill O’Reilly came down to visit us. There we were, sitting ’round the breakfast table, me macking my usual scrambled eggs and pineapple. (I went through dozens of pounds of just those two foods during that deployment.) As Bill walked by, I did a double-take in the galley. But I did not say anything. I don’t worship celebrity, despite poking at it here in the blog.

Beware, this story of Mr. O’Reilly and his ex-wife, Maureen McPhilmy, is on the sordid side. I had better tell a joke to lighten the mood:

Did you hear I was marrying an Irish girl?
Oh really?
No, O’Reilly!

Although, I suppose it would work better this way:

Did you hear that newsman is divorcing an Irish girl?
No, McPhilmy!

Hey, it was just Saint Paddy’s Day! I got official permission from the green one himself.

The USS San Diego Comes Home

What is the opposite of the prodigal son? The son who spent his money wisely*? Who worked appropriately? Perhaps that describes the homeward bound USS San Diego:

The newest amphibious transport ship and its crew is expected Friday in its namesake city and new homeport, the Navy announced.

The San Diego, officially a precommissioning unit and the sixth ship in the LPD-17 San Antonio-class, will pull into its berth at Naval Base San Diego, a month ahead of its scheduled commissioning.

The San Diego, delivered to the Navy on Dec. 19, left the Huntington Ingalls Shipyard on March 15 and stopped at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Cartagena, Colombia. The ship crossed the Panama Canal on March 25 en route to California.

The amphibious transport dock ship San Diego visits Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during her maiden voyage in transit to her future homeport.

Speaking of Gitmo, the Navy has designated the next Commander:

The Navy has chosen a Key West-based admiral, a helicopter pilot who ran Hurricane Katrina air relief operations, to take over as the next commander of the detention center at Guantánamo.

Navy Rear Adm. John W. Smith Jr., 54, said in an interview Friday that he has visited the base once, on a routine tour with other one-star officers last year. It was before he learned Guantánamo was the next assignment of his 30-year Navy career.

He was in charge of military air operations after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. And he’s also flown Sea King helicopters off the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga, Kitty Hawk and Carl Vinson, although he’s been mostly in command in recent years.

“I fly a desk,” he said dryly.

RGR that, Admiral. I have thousands of flight hours at my current desk right now. As Han Solo said to Luke Skywalker about the Millennium Falcon: “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”

* Yes, I am mangling the parable. But I didn’t want to get into theology. Just the Navy.

USS Cole Attacker to Face Military Tribunal

USS Cole, Unwavered in Mission

In October of 2000, the Navy suffered a tremendous blow in the USS Cole attack. To this day, it greatly affects the way we execute force-protection.

One of the ringleaders of the assault is finally facing a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay. As a former Gitmo Sailor, I wholeheartedly endorse the tribunal process as a vehicle to prosecute enemy combatants. It truly is the best option, after we extract the intel they carry:

The main suspect in the USS Cole bombing goes before a judge Wednesday at Guantanamo, the first case to move forward at the war court since President Barack Obama ordered military trials to resume.

Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, 46, faces the death penalty for allegedly planning and preparing the October 2000 attack on the US Navy destroyer in Yemen’s port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded 40 more.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Not Carlos Leon

al-Nashiri is being defended by a Navy Lieutenant Commander, a Judge Advocate General (JAG.) In terms of billets, this one certainly smacks of difficulty. I am not a lawyer, but that is one position I would not want. The LCDR had this to say:

Nevertheless, “the defendant doesn’t have the rights protection required in a capital case,” said Lieutenant Commander Stephen Reyes, one of Nashiri’s lawyers.

“Here they try to put him to death without giving him a chance to confront his accusers,” he told AFP.

One of the advantages of a tribunal is that it occurs behind closed doors and can be sealed as a way to protect classified information:

Sailors line-handling on the USS Cole

Washington has asked the military judge presiding over the case that any classified information be protected at all times.

“Because the accused was detained and interrogated in the CIA program, he was exposed to classified sources, methods and activities,” the government said in its motion.

“Due to his exposure to classified information, the accused is in a position to reveal this information publicly through statements.”

Lourdes and Madonna’s Ex Carlos Leon, Not a Terrorist

Last note: reading through the comments on the page was infuriating. Do folks actually believe that America was behind the USS Cole? Just because there are similarities to US products in the explosives used? I have a conspiracy theory on conspiracy theories: they are all invented nonsense.

Last last note: Does not Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri bear a striking resemblance to Mr. Madonna #1, Carlos Leon? Father to her oldest offspring, Lourdes?

Oddly, he is Cuban. Coincidence, no? Gitmo is in Cuba, right? Wait. What did I say about conspiracy theories in the last note above? Despite similarities in appearance, Carlos Leon is not at all related to the USS Cole attacker Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Period.

Welcome to Guantanamo

0130 in the morning and I was out, asleep on my Navy mattress.   Through the glass of my window, bugs feasted loudly on the Cuban night.  Chiggers.  Or cicadas.

Suddenly my roommate stood above me, shaking me, yelling my name.  “We got to go, something’s happening down at the Camp. . .”

I shrugged into my uniform.  Not blousing my pants with my blousing strap, not lacing my tired boots.  We dashed over to the dusty duty van.  Through the trees, sirens sprinted at us and then ran away, down the road.   My roommate pulled the mini-van out.  I started to tie my boots, but stopped to click my seatbelt in.

Spraying tirefulls of dirt, we peeled onto the road, joining the sirens.  We doubled the speed limit.  I buttoned up my DCU top and pulled my Velcro nametape off.  We wound through the curvy roads, our tires squealing.  I flattened my collar and examined my uniform.  One side of my uniform read US NAVY and a bare strip of fuzzy Velcro, bare from the absence of my nametape, ran across the other.  “Sanitizing your uniform,” it was called.

My roommate did not slow at the gate.  He half-saluted the guard and pulled into the empty parking lot.  Our doors sprung open before the van even stopped.  We started out in a dead sprint.  My roommate had fifty bad pounds on me, but I struggled to keep up.  Gagging, I dry heaved, seconds away from barfing.

Three minutes ago, I was asleep.  Two weeks prior, I had been manning a desk at Fort Meade.  My only source of Gitmo knowledge then had been intense movies.  “I want the truth,” Ensign Cruise said.  “You can’t handle the truth!” Colonel Jack Nicholson roared.  Or had Cruise been a Lieutenant?

At the sallyport, a Private First Class I recognized shook his head.  “It is not good, Sir,” he said.

We pushed through and a cluster of my guys, linguists, stood at the door to our long mobile office.  “Three suicides,” one of the Iraqis told me.

Three?  It was going to be a long night.  Welcome to Guantanamo. . .

Update: Welcome Council Members of the Watcher of Weasels! Might I offer you a proper greeting?