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Homo Americanus
On the Ragged Edge

Working abroad for the U.S. government in the darkest corners of human depravity can make a person very unwell.

Appeared in: Volume 9, Number 5 | Published on: April 20, 2014
Ron Capps is the author of Seriously Not All Right: Five Wars in Ten Years (Schaffner Press, 2014).
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  • hombre111

    Incredible. Amazing. Eye-opening.,

  • SesquicentennialMan

    I find it hard to believe that merely seeing dead people gave the author PTSD. Perhaps he elaborates in his book as to why that might be. Another credibility issue for me was this text:

    “I hadn’t spent much time in Washington offices. I was accustomed to working out in the field and using field-expedient methods of getting things done. In Chad, I sent reports, eventually classified Secret, that were written on my personal MacBook Pro and sent though my Yahoo! email account over a United Nations internet connection shared by dozens of NGO workers. I did that because it was the only way to get things done in that particular province of the ragged edge. Back in Washington I used the same thumb drive I had used on that mission to transfer a few of the documents I created in the field from one computer system to another in my office. A few weeks later Diplomatic Security agents began to investigate my suitability and suspended my security clearance. In 25 years of work in the military, in the intelligence community and as a diplomat, I had never had so much as a single minor security infraction—something like leaving a safe unlocked in your office overnight for the Marines to find. But a simple transfer of documents from one system to another in an un-approved method cost me my clearance.”

    Sorry, but I cannot buy that, either. Twenty five days in the military or the intelligence community is long enough to know that one does not use your Yahoo account for official business and that “a simple transfer of documents from one system to another in an un-approved method” can cost you your clearance.

    Fascinating story.

    • Corlyss

      “I find it hard to believe that merely seeing dead people gave the author PTSD.”

      Believe it or not, it’s true. I’ve been reading a lot about wildland fires lately and two to the most horrific in terms of human life lost were the Peshtigo Fire of 1871 (1500-5000 dead) and the Hinckley Fire of 1894 (400-800 dead). Daniel James Brown’s book on the latter goes into great detail about the effects of dealing with the dead on the recovery crews, many of whom thought they were heading into He*l*l to rescue survivors with supplies and shelter, only to realize the only thing left was recovery and disposal. Most of them suffered from what we would recognize today as PTSD – the hypersensitivity, the nightmares that won’t go away, the depression, the hallucinations.

  • Pete

    Yes, it is another world out there and that is why that other world should not be allowed to pollute America via immigration to here.

    To paraphrase the Las Vegas saying, what hatches in the Third World, stays in the Third World..

  • ShadrachSmith

    I feel a lot better about my life choices 🙂

  • Fat_Man

    Mr. Capps: A fascinating story, very well written. I hope you are feeling better now.

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