Sunday, February 20, 2005


The recent Sojourner contains an article about Kirk von Ackermann under the section "Batteries Not Included". It includes excerpts of personal emails from von Ackermann to the author.

Murder mystery in Iraq
by David Batstone, Sojourner, February 17, 2005.

My friend Kirk von Ackermann has joined the list of American casualties in Iraq. Not that long ago he was designated as "missing." He is now "presumed dead." Suspiciously so. [...]

I first met Kirk a couple of years ago on a soccer field in Half Moon Bay, California. I was his son's soccer coach. When Kirk could get off work at his business software company, he would come out to the field to help me out with practices.

As our friendship evolved, Kirk shared with me his background as a former deputy director of intelligence for NATO operations in Kosovo. He told me that he subsequently had worked as a Pentagon advisor on counterterrorism and espionage, and had high-level security clearance. He confessed that he could not share details with me, but he was disturbed by the rise of terrorism internationally and the lack of thoughtful U.S. foreign policy that would nourish democracy and freedom abroad. One thing about Kirk: He was a true believer in the potential for America to do good in the world. In Kosovo, he was convinced that the U.S. presence had helped to stop genocide and build a fragile peace.

When Kirk told me that he was going to Iraq to work with Ultra Services, I could only guess what actual role he would be playing in intelligence and security. Early in April 2003, only weeks after the invasion, he wrote me an e-mail from Iraq, and it was flush with hope of a quick end to the conflict, yet also concern for the long-term destiny of the country:

What is perplexing is that all of the press to date has stated von Ackermann left the US in late August of 2003. An April date places him in Iraq, just weeks after the war had begun, months ahead of what has been reported.

Below is one of the emails quoted in the above article.
On October 6, three days before his disappearance, he wrote me the following e-mail:

"The real problem is that - not surprisingly - the [Bush] administration seems to have dramatically overestimated the willingness of corporate America to take the risks of Iraq. Other than myself, there really are no contractors operating in Tikrit, Samarra, Balad, etc.... It cannot be stressed enough that even pro-Saddam Iraqis are not anti-American. They are violently opposed to U.S. occupation forces, but not an individual American. The tribal leader in the city where Saddam was born told me, 'We have our Arab pride, we will fight, we will lose, and then we will move on. No one wanted these days, but these are what we have, although it will not forever be this way.' It's dangerous, but not like Bosnia was."

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