Skip

Jonathan Keith Idema
January 26, 2012 4:38 PM   Subscribe


 


Can't disagree.
posted by sammyo at 4:54 PM on January 26, 2012


Hey! I read this article in the actual newspaper this morning and was fascinated. I can't believe I'd never heard of him before, after living in central North Carolina for seven years.
posted by something something at 4:57 PM on January 26, 2012


The US government has denied any involvement with his activities, and I believe them.

Just because he wouldn't come up to their hiring standards doesn't mean they're not in the same line of work.
posted by Trurl at 5:00 PM on January 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like I'm really wasting my life.
posted by VioletU at 5:10 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like I'm really wasting my life.

I was thinking that this story illustrates how much is possible for the truly amoral.

(Fascinating post. Thank you.)
posted by Trurl at 5:21 PM on January 26, 2012


I was in Afghanistan and in Kabul at the same time that Idema was in Pol-e-Charki prison, and we used to make jokes all the time about how any contractor could end up like him if they went completely off the deep-end whacko loon style. The main difference being that he never actually had a contract, with an actual US government entity, he was entirely self motivated for his own insane reasons.
posted by thewalrus at 5:23 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some random sociopath running a freelance prison and torture chamber in Afghanistan as a hobby, getting away with it for years, and having a nice little sideline in selling fake Al Qaeda videos to the network news is a pretty devastating metaphor for the febrile atmosphere of the post-9/11 American wars. In a sick way I almost think it's a shame he was locked up before he got to Iraq, I'm sure what he could have gotten up to there would have been even weirder and more emblematic.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:25 PM on January 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Some random sociopath running a freelance prison and torture chamber in Afghanistan as a hobby, getting away with it for years, and having a nice little sideline in selling fake Al Qaeda videos to the network news is a pretty devastating metaphor for the febrile atmosphere of the post-9/11 American wars.

"I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that, but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a face. And you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends."
posted by scody at 5:35 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Too bad. I figured Idema would be the next non-Romney Republican frontrunner after Newt was caught eating the organs of a liberal-media commentator without a valid hunting license or liberal-media commentator tag.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:39 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm just not creative enough to be an international sociopath because I don't understand how the logistics of turning up in Afghanistan and kidnapping people to torture them would even work. Where do you live? Where do you get money for food and transportation and security? How does one even get into Afghanistan in the first place? It's all so mysterious to me. I would rather just stay here in my nice house and watch TV.
posted by something something at 5:43 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


At the time he first turned up in Afghanistan, any American with a sufficient pile of cash, strong motivation and con man skills and a few core followers could most likely successfully impersonate a nonofficial yet government sanctioned operator... Where the money came from is another question.
posted by thewalrus at 5:46 PM on January 26, 2012


A confidential informant reports to this writer that Idema died a very painful death and was abandoned for the last week of his life by his Mexican lackeys when the money ran out.

The Casa Arabi resort that was owned by Idema, and where he died this morning, was said to have been looted and stripped of anything valuable, while Idema lay dying on a filthy blood stained bed vainly begging the looters for food, drink and pain killers.

Idema weighed 98 pounds at death, covered with purple lesions (Kaposi's Sarcoma) and had pus sores (herpes) all over his genitals and thighs. It was his heroin supplier who found him dead in bed with vomit and feces around him.

It is not clear what happened to the body, but there are unconfirmed reports that it has been thrown into the street and was eaten by wild dogs.
The Idema file.
posted by unliteral at 5:47 PM on January 26, 2012


Per several Spanish language Mexican newspapers, the body is (or was) in possession of the local mexican medical examiners' office, in a freezer, so I regard that blog with some suspicion.
posted by thewalrus at 5:51 PM on January 26, 2012


That Idema File blog is also an Islamophobic hate site and we should not be giving them traffic.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 5:55 PM on January 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was thinking that this story illustrates how much is possible for the truly amoral.

Spending several years in and out of jail for a scam to acquire a bunch of paintball supplies, spending several years in an Afghan prison, die young of AIDS and then have a bunch of people comment on how much of a loon you are on the internet?

Parking in the spot reserved for expecting mothers, and then claiming your wife was in the store if someone called you one it, would net you far more than this guy got out of the amorality deal.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:58 PM on January 26, 2012


Weird.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on January 26, 2012


This guy reads like he walked out of a James Ellroy novel.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on January 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


More like he wrote himself into the margins of a James Ellroy novel.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:33 PM on January 26, 2012


Maybe. But I've met Ellroy, he adapt this guy within an inch of his life and get a best seller.
posted by jonmc at 6:38 PM on January 26, 2012


The US government has denied any involvement with his activities

The fact that the "Afghan" government is being allowed to keep him in prison is a very very very strong sign he is in no way affiliated with the US government.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:56 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Today I Learned that the Mexican Medical Examiner uses wild dogs to consume a corpse as a means of taking custody of it.
posted by Xoebe at 6:58 PM on January 26, 2012


I learned that from St Elsewhere decades ago.
posted by jonmc at 7:04 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm from Poughkeepsie. I went to school with Idemas. I wonder if they are related to this clown.
posted by spicynuts at 7:59 PM on January 26, 2012


This guy reads like he walked out of a James Ellroy novel.

Needs more French Canadian backstory. Long lost sibling abandoned at birth, comes back for cold, hard French Canadian revenge. That sort of thing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:39 PM on January 26, 2012


Fun little juxtaposition in that article:
He would often go on round-the-clock vodka-and cocaine-fueled binges while playing Arab music, the sound track of “Apocalypse Now” or Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” nonstop, said Alessi.

To the end, one of Idema’s biggest fears was not being taken seriously.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:40 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


This guy is like one part each Gerhardt von Goll and Vaslav Tchitcherine, and three parts Dominus Blicero.
Private prisons? What a hellscape. I want to say ".", but not necessarily for him.
posted by metaman livingblog at 9:53 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


At some point, he and a rag-tag band of followers he dubbed Task Force Saber 7, began kidnapping innocent Afghan “terror suspects” and torturing them, ostensibly to find the location of Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders.

Sounds like the SOP for the US over there.

Hey, where are all the "you can only make dots or be nice about dead people, all humans deserve respect" folks? Does this mean it's OK to say I hope he really did die begging looters for pain relief, because it would be a fitting end?
posted by rodgerd at 10:21 PM on January 26, 2012


rodgerd, that's not quite how it works. When the US/ISAF/NATO forces are attempting to locate and identity Taliban forces, they have access to a huge array of ELINT, SIGINT, top secret grade extremely high resolution colour satellite photos, pan spectrum visible, infrared and night vision imagery from unarmed drones, etc. They are not just running around Kabul in armored cars snatching innocent Afghans off the street.

What separates current US capture/kill missions from Jack Idema is that they have usually have a very good idea of who they're grabbing from a number of intelligence sources before they set out to do so. Jack Idema was a turbo grade whacko loon super patriot who thought any Afghan man with long beard was a good candidate for his private torture chamber. He had access to no cellphone intercepts, no VHF radio intercepts, no satellite imagery, no recordings of personnel movements from UAV cameras, none of it.

I am not saying that they get it right 100% of the time, or even 95% of the time, but it's not a random snatch and grab system. It's not a system "let's grab 150 random people, throw them in the Bagram prison, and see who's Taliban". Those guys who are currently in the Bagram detention facility were mostly captured in combat. The limited resources that NATO has to conduct night raids by helicopters means that they only do so when they really, truly believe they've found a genuine bad guy.
posted by thewalrus at 10:52 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am not saying that they get it right 100% of the time, or even 95% of the time

If you look at the conviction rate of Guantanamo, which supposedly houses the "worst of the worst" and which also runs much more in the limelight than the secret prisons in war zones, then this number is more likely to be much, much lower.

One aspect of making torture a standard procedure is the question of how low are comfortable to go here?*

Coming back to the guy from the article: don't you think the people who created a system of lawlessnes, where if you are american you are immune against prosecution for even the most horrible crimes have to share some of the the blame?

*I'm not even touching the obvious racism angle here (what error rate would we deem acceptable for torturing white americans).
posted by patrick54 at 11:50 PM on January 26, 2012


I guess I'm just not creative enough to be an international sociopath because I don't understand how the logistics of turning up in Afghanistan and kidnapping people to torture them would even work. Where do you live? Where do you get money for food and transportation and security? How does one even get into Afghanistan in the first place? It's all so mysterious to me.

And! And! Beguiling your way into a nice suite in a notoriously harsh prison in a country/culture that's not your own. That just blows my mind. It must've been money.

He makes Hunter S Thompson look like Lawrence Welk. Someone needs to write a long form story/write a book/make a movie out of this. His story was sad, evil, and revolting, but fascinating.
posted by mreleganza at 12:00 AM on January 27, 2012


We do all realise that one of the main sources here is Robert Young Pelton, yeah?

It's a bit like Frank Abagnale telling the story of Charles Ponzi or something.

Only MORE DANGEROUS THAN YOU COULD POSSIBLY BELIEVE! OH MY GOD! THIS GUY WAS SO FUCKING DANGEROUS, WE NEED AN EXPERT IN DANGEROUS PLACES PEOPLE TO EVEN COMPREHEND HOW DANGEROUS HE WAS! AH!!! AH!!! AH!!!

Where's Bear Grills when you need him?
posted by Ahab at 1:29 AM on January 27, 2012


What a sad story of fantasist who spends much of his career switching jobs before wreaking havoc in Afghanistan, torturing people, lying to the courts, chumming up with friends in Middle East autocracies and then retiring to a windblown, backwards state.

But enough about George Bush.

I've no idea who this Idema fellow is.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:11 AM on January 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


« Older Glenn Beck joins Anonymous?   |   "A brave young man...who saw a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post