Salam Talib is an Iraqi citizen. He worked as a translator for US journalists after the war and started reporting from Iraq himself in 2005. He recently moved to California to study computer engineering at Berkley.
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, TRNN JOURNALIST: I’m at Winter Soldier, sitting with Salam Talib, an Iraqi citizen who experienced what it was like living in Iraq under Saddam and the US occupation.
SALAM TALIB, IRAQI JOURNALIST: In Saddam’s time, in 1998, I commit a crime, which is I give everybody Internet for free—I hacked into the system. And I did that, and Saddam people get very angry. After a long story, I had to flee the country. I went from Baghdad, I went to north Iraq, which is the only safer place you can go without a passport. In 2003, the war happened, and I have no job as a computer engineer, so what I did, I worked as a translator for the journalists, because I speak a little bit of English at the time. And then I become journalist myself when the lack of journalists happened in Iraq, that it was too dangerous for them to come. So I was doing it myself. Then I have a directed threat and I was shot at, and my friend was killed instead of me. So I had to leave Iraq, and now I’m in the US.
PALEVSKY: What is your view of the soldiers who come back and testify to these atrocities?
TALIB: I think they are braver than the ones that came out and they came back and they didn’t say anything about what they have done, because at least these people, they think they did something wrong on a human level, forget all the politics. On a human level, they know that they commit something that they should have done.
PALEVSKY: As someone who’s seen the occupation firsthand, do you think the US occupation of Iraq has made Iraq safer?
TALIB: There are two things that you are talking about here. There’s Saddam, and there is the occupation. That is the only two examples that Iraqis have seen; me, myself, they’re the only two examples I have seen, and if I do compare the two examples, the hell of Saddam, it was shallower than the hell of the Americans’ military, because what happens, we have a military in the streets, a military that doesn’t speak your language, and they think anybody with beard, he’s—everybody looks the same for them. They are too scared, and they’re kids.
PALEVSKY: With this conference going on right now, with people vocally on television with media everywhere talking about the atrocities that occur everyday. Some dissenters say this is putting the US troops at risk, now that by doing this, you’re only going to make it worse for those who are still in Iraq. Do you agree with that?
TALIB: I have just one answer for that, which is the difference between knowing and not knowing is between being an Iraqi or American. So do we think that the people that are attacking the US troops, they don’t know what that these soldiers have done? Or they don’t know the soldiers, what they are doing? Every single child in Iraq knows that. Every single child have seen it. It’s in every single street. You don’t need soldiers to come out in the media. These soldiers, they are not telling the Iraqis; they are telling the Americans. And they are not telling them really what’s going on; they are telling them 10 percent of what’s really going on. So they will put the US in danger? These troops are already in danger. They are already in danger because they are doing these things.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.