BAGHDAD – Michael J. Totten is an independent journalist reporting on the war in Iraq. Here is a portion of his latest journal entry provided exclusively for FOXNews.com.
The American soldier sitting next to me flipped open his Zippo lighter and gloomily lit a cigarette. “Do you know why this base isn’t attacked by insurgents?” he said.
I assumed it was because his area of operations, in the Graya’at neighborhood of northern Baghdad out of Coalition Outpost War Eagle, had been cleared of insurgents. Many American military bases and outposts in Iraq are attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists and Mahdi Army militiamen with mortars and rockets. War Eagle was quiet and had not been bombarded for months.
“We aren’t being attacked because the Mahdi Army is in the next building,” he said. “They don’t want to hit their own people.”
American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division shared the small outpost with Iraqi Army soldiers who lived, worked and slept in the building next door.
“You mean the Iraqi Army unit here has been infiltrated?” I said.
He nodded grimly and took a pull from his cigarette.
"That's a bad reason for us not to be mortared," I said.
"Yeah," he said and laughed. It was obvious, though, that he did not think it was funny.
“How do you know this?” I said.
“Heard it from intel,” he said. “Getting information out of them is like pulling teeth, but sometimes they say stuff.”
I went inside the Tactical Operations Center and spoke to the Public Affairs Officer. “What can I help you with, Mike?” he said.
“I want an on-the-record interview with Military Intelligence,” I said.
“Why?” he said.
I told him what I had heard. “I can print rumor or fact,” I said.
He got me the interview.