Friday, January 23, 2009


Another FOIA rejection came in. But...I am going to appeal this one all the way. I probably should mention, I filed the FOIA request with the NSA so I wasn't surprised by their response. 

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tikrit-Kirkuk Road

I found some photos on the web that I have good reason to believe are of the road between Tikrit and Kirkuk. Colin Freeman described the road in his book, Curse of the al Dulaimi Hotel. From page 136:

[A local Iraqi police chief] directed us to the spot where Kirk had vanished. It was near the brow of a long, winding hilltop road, miles from anywhere and surrounded by rocky outcrops. A long way from any help if you got yourself in a tight spot. At the bottom of the other side of the hill, there was a US Army checkpoint, where Dawkins had handed over a copy of Kirk's photograph.
So far, no luck in confirming the photos linked to below are in fact of the road between Tikrit and Kirkuk through the Jabal Hamrin mountains. I also haven't been able to get in touch with anyone for permission to post the photos here at the Missing Man. I'll keep trying though.

The first of the photos were posted at by elpastorek in a folder called #2 Iraq-Camp Danger/Tikrit uploaded July 2, 2005. Of particular interest is Photo 020.

The next photo was posted at by TeamKnell in a folder called Album #2 uploaded February 16, 2008

Given the landscape in photos, would you drive through this area with a tire problem?

Addendum: I've decided to post one photo, Photo 020. If the photographer objects, I will remove it.

Original source and additional photos by elpastorek: Photo 020

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kirk von Ackermann's Notebook

One thing just keeps bugging me: the missing notebook.

Kirk von Ackermann was known as a prolific note taker, continuing that practice while in the Middle East, writing in code. Shortly after alleging that von Ackermann's disappearance in the fall of 2003 was connected to fraud, Ryan Manelick was killed in a drive-by shooting.

Assuming the fraud allegations are true, seems to me that Kirk von Ackermann's notebook might be the single most important item needed for solving Ryan Manelick's case. 

So what gives - how come no one has ever shown any interest in finding Kirk von Ackermann's notebook?

Related Posts

The Missing Personal Effects
January 2, 2009

The Missing Notebook (image)
June 11, 2008

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

US Hostages in Iraq

Just this past fall, an article from the Associated Press provided statistics from the Defense Intelligence Agency on Americans who were kidnapped in Iraq.

Iraq calmer but copycat kidnappings spread
By Pamela Hess, Associated Press, October 13, 2008

Five years ago, retired Air Force intelligence officer Kirk von Ackermann became the first of 39 Americans to be kidnapped in Iraq. He's still missing, his wife fearing she'll never see him again.
Attached is a chart showing the incident date, name and status of those 39. Technically, the status of 'released' should more properly be referred to as 'Returned to Military Control' (RMC).

As mentioned in a previous post, there is good reason to believe there are more Americans missing in Iraq than those who have been reported. Employers and family members may choose to keep quiet for a number of reasons (ransom, etc). Just to be clear, 39 is the minimum number of those kidnapped in Iraq to date.

Not included in the chart (at this time) are the troops taken POW (status: missing) during the invasion of March 2003. All were Returned to Military Control:
Spc. Edgar Hernandez
Spc. Joseph Hudson
Spc. Shoshana Johnson
Pfc. Patrick Miller
Sgt. James Riley
Pfc. Jessica Lynch
Chief warrant officer David Williams
Chief warrant officer Ronald Young Jr.
I also haven't included Captain Michael Scott Speicher, missing since his plane was shot down on January 16, 1991 during Gulf War I. He is, however, listed in the side bar to the right.

American Hostages in Iraq
Kirk von Ackermann
Thomas Hamill
Nick Berg
William Bradley
Keith Matthew Maupin
Timothy E. Bell
Aban Elias
Micah Garen
Jack Hensley
Olin Eugene Armstrong, Jr.
Paul Taggart
Roy Hallums
Dean Sadek
Jeffrey Ake
Tom Fox
Ronald Alan Schulz
Jill Carroll
PFC Kristian Menchaca
PFC Thomas Tucker
Sgt Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie
Jonathon Michael Cote
Paul Christopher Johnson-Reuben
Joshua Mark Munns
John Roy Young
Ronald Withrow
+ 14 unknown persons

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Missing Personal Effects

To date, no one really knows what happened to Kirk von Ackermann's personal effects. News articles mention his lap top, satellite phone and $40,000 were found in his car. But nothing is known about his clothes or any personal items he may have had with him in Iraq - nothing was ever returned to his family.

Now it's possible early investigators filed things away or that maybe his colleagues were too busy to deal with a box kicking around their offices, or maybe his things just got tossed out along the way. It's certainly easy to assume that whatever overnight bag might have held von Ackermann's toothbrush and clean socks just got lost in the shuffle during the early days of the investigation into his disappearance.

But what if von Ackermann's personal effects were never inside of his abandoned vehicle on the day it was found? And what does the absence of those items say about how von Ackermann intended to spend that day?

The source for Colin Freeman's first article - who we later learn was Ryan Manelick - told Freeman that von Ackermann was on a 'day trip.'

Excerpt from Civilian Vanishes in Iraq

"Kirk was on a day trip from Kirkuk to Tikrit that day and was coming back when he rang one of the company's Iraqi employees around 3 p.m. to say he had a flat tire and couldn't get it fixed with the jack he had. He was stopped right on top of a road that runs over a small range of hills ... at the time.
Kirk von Ackermann certainly could have left his belongings somewhere in Kirkuk expecting to return to them at the end of the day. But where? While Ultra Services listed an 'office' in Kirkuk on its company website, von Ackermann is said to have called and left a message for his family the night before saying he was sleeping that night at a base. Ultra Services' offices were said to do double duty as apartments so why stay at a local base instead of the area office?

A quick look at the options of what could have happened to an overnight bag:
1. with von Ackermann in his vehicle
2. at the base - likely in the contracting officer's office
3. at Ultra Services' office
4. at an other unknown location
Continuing on.

According to Ryan Manelick - Kirk von Ackermann was returning from Tikrit to Kirkuk - but if the source of the information in Daniel Halpern's article was accurate, there was a side trip to FOB Pacesetter much further south near Balad.  (Note: FOB Pacesetter was later renamed FOB McMenzie.)

Simply put, Kirk von Ackermann's itinerary on October 9: Kirkuk to Tikrit to FOB Pacesetter near Balad then returning back to Tikrit to Kirkuk. And meanwhile, somewhere along the way he is also believed to have picked up a Nissan Patrol SUV with a bad tire of which von Ackermann was aware.

View Larger Map 

Excerpt from Death of a Contractor
On October 9th, not long after he and Phillips tried to take half of Ultra Services from Dawkins and create a rival company, Kirk von Ackermann visited FOB McKenzie, a U.S. forward operating base near Samarra. After meeting with a Turkish subcontractor, he left the base behind the wheel of his Nissan Patrol SUV. He was alone.
Logic says, keep an overnight bag close at hand as, with all travel, something might come up especially during a roughly 8 hour journey covering 300 miles round trip. In a region where travel could be interrupted for a variety of reasons, such as closed roads due to ongoing searches for Saddam Hussein, a contractor would be well-advised to be prepared.

Now back to the question I first posed...what if von Ackermann's overnight bag was never in his vehicle? Suddenly von Ackermann's movements and intentions that day are much less clear. So, below is another look at trying to construct a time line which is an admittedly rather hopeless project.

Timeline - version II

A conservative estimate based on drive time of 2.5 hours between Tikrit and Kirkuk, averaging 40 miles an hour, a one-hour meeting and backing into approximate times based on the news report of a 3:00 pm phone call.







Curfew Lifts
Leaves guest quarters in Kirkuk
Arrive FOB Pacesetter
(one-hour meeting)
Leaves FOB Pacesetter
Solar Noon
Employee receives phone call
Passing Patrol
Check point report
Employee arrives
Moonrise (99% full moon)
Curfew Starts in Tikrit area 
Curfew nationwide
There's not much room for error. Somewhere in there, Kirk von Ackermann is believed to purchase his vehicle.

So what do you think - were Kirk von Ackermann's personal effects in the vehicle? Or is it an irrelevant question?

Related Posts

The Missing Notebook (image)
June 11, 2008

Time Line - Work in Progress (table)
April 27, 2008

Sun, Moon, Weather Data (graphic)
March 17, 2008

FOB Pacesetter (satellite image, photo & maps)
December 26, 2007