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back to article British IT consultant talks of his three years as an Iraqi hostage

Peter Moore, the British IT consultant who spent 946 days as a hostage in Iraq, has been telling users of Reddit.com about the highs and lows of his stint as the country's longest-serving hostage. Moore, an IT consultant who specializes in overseas work in developing countries, spent 31 months as a captive of Shi'ite militia …

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Stockholm Syndrome

The coalition forces have done some nasty things and the US, in particular, continues to incarcerate for long periods in poor conditions without trial.

But that's a weird benchmark for saying it's okay. Especially for someone who's been through it.

It's wrong when anyone does it. It isn't right when weird militia groups do it just because western governments do it too.

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Anonymous Coward

Falling Away With You

He didn't say it was OK. He said what they did was wrong and what the coalition forces did was wrong.

Re-read the penultimate paragraph.

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Anonymous Coward

hourly rate or daily rate?

would have been better paid just putting up with London for 3 yrs ...

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Meh

Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

But where is the 'fun' in that. You've circa 60 years of active participation in life - what ya going to do?

(ps it's not sitting on your arse in a dead end London based gig thinking your children will take up the mantle for your inadequacies).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: hourly rate or daily rate?

I know someone who was give £5k per day to work in Iraq. Peter Moore' guards would have been on $30-60k per month and their were five of them.

Control of Iraq has involved Trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives lost and it all hinges around control of the oil revenue. Control of the revenue is held by the Iraqi Ministry of Finance and Peter Moore was about to find out where that money was going.

There is/was a virtual civil war over that money and Peter Moore worked in the Red Zone, at the very pivotal point of the country's civil war, for the sum of $243 per day ... and then he paid US income tax on it.

How more naive and stupid can you get?

Of course they killed the guards (worthless) and kept him alive and a hostage, he was extremely valuable to the state of Iraq. They sent a hundred Police officer and multiple Shia factions (now in Iraqi government) were involved. Moore was swapped for a hundred 'militants' and a 'militant' leader, although Peter doesn't think he was worth it - it really doesn't understand what he was involved with.

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WTF?

Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

"But where is the 'fun' in that. You've circa 60 years of active participation in life - what ya going to do?"

Its only people who have no life outside work who require a job to be "fun". The rest of us just earn our money then have our fun during non working hours.

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Vic
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Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

> Its only people who have no life outside work who require a job to be "fun".

That's not true.

Once you get to the point where you can pick who you work for, you tend to pick the one that interests you most. If it's not fun, you move on...

Vic.

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WTF?

Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

"That's not true."

It is true for most people I've met.

"Once you get to the point where you can pick who you work for"

Sorry , when is this point reached exactly? When you get to 65? Or perhaps when you've won the lottery?

"If it's not fun, you move on..."

Of course you do - the mortgage can pay itself after all.

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Vic
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Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

> It is true for most people I've met.

Are you claiming that your personal experience is the sum total of all civilisation?

> Sorry , when is this point reached exactly? When you get to 65?

Just because you haven't reached it, that doesn't mean no-one has.

> Of course you do - the mortgage can pay itself after all.

If there is sufficient demand for your skills, the mortgage is paid by whichever organisation wants you the most.

If you haven't found yourself in such a situation, that would imply that there isn't sufficient demand for your skills.

Vic.

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Facepalm

Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

"Are you claiming that your personal experience is the sum total of all civilisation?"

No , were you?

"Just because you haven't reached it, that doesn't mean no-one has."

Nice dodge. Try answering the question next time.

"If there is sufficient demand for your skills, the mortgage is paid by whichever organisation wants you the most."

You seem to have rather a high opinion of yourself. So what makes you recession proof then?

"If you haven't found yourself in such a situation, that would imply that there isn't sufficient demand for your skills."

So what are your skills keyboard warrior? If anyone needs a BS merchant you'd certainly get the job.

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Vic
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Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

> No , were you?

I wasn't the one making sweeping statements about the whole industry.

> Nice dodge. Try answering the question next time.

The answer is simple: it happens when it happens. There is no "it will happen by age x"; there is no guarantee it will happen at all. But that does not mean it cannot happen; some of us are lucky enough to be in exactly that situation.

> You seem to have rather a high opinion of yourself.

Nonsense. It is not my opinion that matters; I do not sign the purchase orders that pay gfor my lifestyle.

> So what makes you recession proof then?

Having skills that my customers find valuable. "Not being a cock as soon as someone challenges something I've said" is high amongst those.

> If anyone needs a BS merchant you'd certainly get the job.

Resorting to the ad hominem? That's disappointing, even from you.

Vic.

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IT Angle

Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

"I wasn't the one making sweeping statements about the whole industry."

I wasn't talking about any particular industry , I was talking about human nature. Sure, its NICE to have a fun job , but the sort of people who NEED to have a fun job or they can't function are the sort of people who don't have much of a life outside work - their job is their life. Thats a fact. You disagreeing doesn't change that.

"Having skills that my customers find valuable."

Your customers or your clients? Do you sell ice cream from a van or are you yet another IT contractor on 500 quid a day who parachutes in on a vortex of hot air and guff, makes a mess then clears off 6 months later leaving the permies to sort out the dogs dinner you left behind?

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

> I wasn't talking about any particular industry

One of us said :

'Its only people who have no life outside work who require a job to be "fun".'

That's a sweeping generality, regardless of whether or not you intended it to be confined to any particular industry.

And, as I sid, it's wrong. There are people with a ilfe outside work who require their job to be fun. These are the people who are most employable. I'm sorry you have never met any such people, but that doesn't preclude them from existing.

> Your customers or your clients?

There is no difference. My customers are clients. My clients are customers. Which particular hair are you trying to split here?

> makes a mess then clears off 6 months later leaving the permies to sort out

No, I'm the contractor who gets called in when the permies have dug themselves into a hole they can't get out of. This is why I can say "no" to jobs if I don't want to do them.

Vic.

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Re: "putting up with London for 3 yrs"

"These are the people who are most employable."

I'd have thought they're the sort of people you wouldn't want to employ because as soon as they get bored they start to slack or they bugger off.

"There is no difference. My customers are clients. My clients are customers. Which particular hair are you trying to split here?"

Buy yourself a dictionary if you think there is no difference. Customers buy goods, clients buy services.

"No, I'm the contractor who gets called in when the permies have dug themselves into a hole they can't get out of."

Well thats one view. Not one I've ever experienced. Usually contractors are just brought in to make up the numbers then got rid of when no longer needed.

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@boltar

You've just described your place of work as an organisation which take on exclusively useless contractors who are only there to make up numbers, however rather bewilderingly they still pay them £500 a day, despite the fact they've had 100% success rate with all the permies in their employ who are utterly brilliant?

No wonder you don't enjoy it, it sounds like it's run by idiots. Or just made up.

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Re: @boltar

"You've just described your place of work as an organisation which take on exclusively useless contractors who are only there to make up numbers, however rather bewilderingly they still pay them £500 a day, despite the fact they've had 100% success rate with all the permies in their employ who are utterly brilliant?"

Actually I was describing my experiences working at a number of investment banks, not my current employer.

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Facepalm

Re: @boltar

"You've just described your place of work as an organisation which take on exclusively useless contractors who are only there to make up numbers, however rather bewilderingly they still pay them £500 a day....." Due to British employment laws, you can actually employ contractors for periods of up to six months and pay them higher than permies due to the associated costs of permies. Contractors do not get holidays, company pensions, sick leave, health schemes, etc, etc. And when you "let them go" the company doesn't have to fork out a redundancy payment. Of course, it works both ways - smart managers suspecting a cull is coming will create dummy projects and job vacancies, fill them with cheap, short-term contractors, then get rid of the contractors come cull time, preserving their more experienced staff and not losing any actual capability.

".....No wonder you don't enjoy it, it sounds like it's run by idiots....." Yeah, and Dilbert is so successful because none of us find it at all familiar subject matter.....

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Working in a warzone.

I spent 3.5 years working IT in Iraq, for the MoD. At no point did I feel unsafe, as far as kidnapping was concerned. The difference was, this chap relied on third party 'civilian' security. Mine was done by the Army and I lived on the various military compounds. I was offered this bloke's sort of contact when I was due to leave, I told them to shove it. As an aside, I got approx triple my UK base wage and I didn't pay tax on it for the time I was there.

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Boffin

Re: Working in a warzone.

".....The difference was, this chap relied on third party 'civilian' security....." Whilst 3rd party security outfits can have some very experienced people, the problem is they are not kept in the intelligence loop as much as proper military units. When contracting in Belfast back in the day the "professional" advice was to get kidnap insurance - the Army just laughed and told us there was a very slim possibility we'd get shot, a slight chance we'd get blown up, but no chance of being kidnapped as the IRA were really too lazy for that kind of activity. You were pretty safe as long as you stayed out of the Catholic areas and north of the border.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Working in a warzone.

Amazing, while we were getting shot at for your benefit you were able to triple your pay with tax relief while living in a comfy compound. Did you get your medal?

If I ever get my chance again.....

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Re: Working in a warzone.

@AC

If you read my post again, you'll notice I specifically mentioned, "as far as kidnapping was concerned". I was rocketed and mortared in various places in theatre, the same as everyone else. I travelled all around the country having the same chance of being shot at, as everyone else. Our civvie team of 100 did the same task Royal Signals troops. Saving the taxpayer money and letting them come home or deploy elsewhere.

Evidence: http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/1CE52AFE-0EFB-4EBF-92D1-CB3598285A32/0/dcsa_ara_04_05.pdf

(Page 6, Project Synergy)

Yes, I got the Iraq medal. :-)

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Re: Working in a warzone.

@Ashton Black - whilst I have no idea what your work entailed over there. As an IT guy did you really have the same chance of being shot as say a front-line soldier? I am suspicious that the answer is maybe not.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Working in a warzone.

Just because he was in less danger, does not mean he is not in danger and he took no risks.. .yes he gets paid well, and the guy the article was about was clearly paid dismally for the role...

Soldier or civilian, both take risks working in a war zone.. the difference is the soldier is trained and is put in harms way to protect the civilians..

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Re: Working in a warzone.

"I was rocketed and mortared in various places in theatre,"

Those Chekov plays can get quite intense but I've never heard of the audience being attacked.

Oh sorry , my mistake, "Theatre" is Chris Ryan type speak for a posting.

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Re: Working in a warzone.

@AC - the difference is that a soldier is ordered to be there and is generally paid pretty poorly. Most civilians have not choice and do not get remunerated for their risks. The commenter chose to be there for his own financial benefit. I'd say the risks incurred by the first two were most likely considerably higher and their remuneration far less.

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"The UK and US were doing the same thing as the Iraqi militias he said, in incarcerating people without trial and not telling them when, or if, they would be released". Maybe 100 years ago but not now.

The UK doesn't jail people without trial then blindfold, chain up and violently beat/cut them for a year and make them drink their own piss. We have human rights laws.

"I would be interesting (*interestED) in meeting the group - which is now a political party within the Iraqi government," he said. "Not sure I would go to Iraq to meet them though, I feel more likely I would meet them at a UN meeting in New York or somewhere similar."

I wouldn't, I'd want to stay away as much as possible. They obviously can't be reasoned with.

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Of course not

The UK doesn't do these things no. We let the US and their Extreme Rendition partners do it for us.

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Anonymous Coward

Human Rights

We have human rights laws

I wouldn't say the activities are comparable on either side, but I would recommend you trust not too much in the UK and US application of Human Rights.

In the UK, the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act (RIPA) declares you guilty by default if you cannot decrypt information when so ordered. This makes experimenting with crypto very dangerous for the lay person and provides a legal coat hanger for whatever the state wants to hang on you as you are by default guilty, with a need to prove your innocence. In addition, the UK is paying less and less attention to Human Right no 12, the right to privacy - I trust I need not expand on that. Having said that, if you ignore its complicity in what the US has gotten up to in the last decade and a half or so, the UK is still in reasonably good shape compared to the US.

The principal issue with the US is their approach to law as it takes the letter of the law rather than the intent. Simplified, if the law says it's a criminal offence to kill someone with a lead pipe, you will walk out a free man with congratulations of the Court if you can prove you used an iron pipe instead. Being that literal means you can never 100% close loopholes unless you produce laws that are (a) unworkable and (b) not accessible for anyone but a lawyer. Thus, if the law says it's illegal to torture on US soil, moving the entertainment to Guantanamo Bay makes it a-OK despite it being just about the coarsest act ever committed by a Western country. If the law prescribes a fair trial (another Human Right), extraordinary rendition is honky-dory as long as the victims never set foot on US soil itself. And as for claims of being a "democracy" - life's too short to go there.

If you want a short, sharp indication of how "humane" the US is, it may be worth knowing that the widest supported Human Rights treaty, "Rights of the Child", has been signed by all but two participants.

They were Somalia .. and the US.

I rest my case.

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Stop

Re: Human Rights

"And as for claims of being a "democracy" - life's too short to go there."

What are you blabbing about? I was, mostly (kinda), with you till that little gem near the end. The U.S. is a Republic, you know, a representative democracy. Where we elect someone and trust that their views and votes will agree with our views. The public changes things by voting in different representatives if they aren't happy with how things are going. The U.S. is most certainly a democracy. The problem is the people that bitch the most never actually vote, they just bitch.

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Re: Human Rights

"(RIPA) declares you guilty by default"

Get your facts straight before trying to scream from the hills the evils of RIPA - If you withhold any form of evidence you are effectively guilty, not just encrypted data! Also you are not automatically assumed guilty of the offence you are charged, but with failure to provide a decryption key..

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The UK hands information to the US to help them target people for kidnapping, sends the US questions they want asked under torture, sends agents to question people who are being tortured by the US. But we don't torture people ourselves (well, except in Northern Ireland of course), we have human rights laws!

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100 years ago?

They still do it. Less so now, because it's easier to send a drone to kill a whole village than to abduct someone and take them to Cuba.

Anyone want to know about my 9 years in IT not supporting the extension of the US empire?

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FAIL

Re: Human Rights

"....Human Rights treaty, "Rights of the Child"...." Ignoring the complete male bovine manure that makes up the rest of your post, pretending the US and Somalia are the only ones not arguing with the Convention on the Rights of the Child is wilfully misleading. Apart from the fact that many signatories simply ignore the Convention (many Third World countries like India and child labour being a perfect example of this), others have stated their problem with many clauses in the Convention. Islamic countries, for example, simply state that Islamic law comes first, regardless, making their signing of the Convention a farce. In the case of the US, who HAVE signed the Convention, just not ratified it, it is because the Convention clashes with US law, requiring US law to be changed to accomodate it - this is unlikely. Indeed, it is another example of a convenient Obambi election promise that just got quietly dropped.

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Re: Human Rights

@DJ

"The U.S. is a Republic, you know, a representative democracy..."

Democracies can be utterly evil. Hitler was elected. Human rights must be placed above democracy. You only have to pay the smallest sliver of attention to history and the news to realize how utterly insane it would be to place democracy above fundamental human rights. Especially if the democracy has been deprecated into a party system, or worst yet... ...just a two-party system.

Claiming democracy as an excuse for human rights abuse = FAIL.

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FAIL

Re: 100 years ago?

"......because it's easier to send a drone to kill a whole village...." Please do provide a single instance of a US drone killing a whole village. I'm sure the rest of the US military would be very interested in this new tech the CIA have developed well beyond the capability of the rest of the US armed forces.

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Go

Re: 100 years ago?

Do tell!

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Re: Human Rights

I was with you until you mentioned the disgusting piece of garbage "Rights of the Child" treaty which actually makes children slaves. Not to mention the weird bias against fathers. I don't know if they did it for right or wrong reasons, but rejecting that mess is hardly something to be ashamed of.

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Megaphone

Re: Human Rights

"Also you are not automatically assumed guilty of the offence you are charged, but with failure to provide a decryption key"

Which means that at some moment, in the future, an innocent guy who forgot the decryption key of a file whose contents he can't even remember will be charged and serve time thanks to this nice law. And then another guy, and another...

And at some other moment, the 'authorities' will notice -warning, irony- that this law is extremely useful as it can be used to extort the defendants into making agreements they would never sign were it not for the existence of this RIPA thing.

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Black Helicopters

Not a democracy

The US isn't really a democracy anymore insofar as there is no longer any way to prove the votes have been correctly counted any more...

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Anonymous Coward

The problem with torture is it doesn't work, these people expect torture, so what they do to them is nothing compared to what they expect, and information gathered under torture is unreliable..

Listened to an interesting documentary about this where they talked to the top German interrogator about how he interrogated POW's, at no time did he ever torture a prisoner, he gained more through kindness and talking...

So while they also had an interrogator from the US in the documentary, he also criticized gitmo and their techniques....

I think whoever authorized the enhanced interrogation techniques needs to be held up on war crimes! and anyone who used them...

That does mean Bush so while I think he isn't a 'bad' man.. in my mind he is a war criminal...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Human Rights

That is the problem with strict liability offences... They don't take intent into account, and THAT is what every law should be about.. the intent of the person.. not just the crime they committed but that they intended to cause harm

Even with speeding you have the right to give a reason... I.E. it was an emergency and you had to rush someone to a hospital...

Luckily in general the police and CPS are sensible (I said in general, not always).

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Re: Not a democracy

Fascinating. When was there a way?

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Black Helicopters

Keep an eye on him

He might have been turned and be attempting to get elected as vice president of the BCS...

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Anonymous Coward

Meanwhile

HMRC investigate his affairs to see if IR35 applies...

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Anonymous Coward

And this is of course what happens when you replace a secular leadership with the inevitable "sponsored" religious nuts. Syria's next, huh?

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Quite a special guy. I don't think I would have survived all that mistreatment.

I remember a comment made in the memoirs of a psychiatrist involved in the debriefing of the Japanese POWs. It was something like:

"After what they have suffered, these men are entitled to be just as crazy as they like, and the rest of us should make allowance for them."

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I like his attitude, work a few months of the year to pay the bills...

That is the way we should all be!

Good on him!

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It certainly puts into perspective..

...the whining you get from users about their email not working...

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Anonymous Coward

Fair play to his employer

"It continued to pay him his full salary and he was even given pay rises and promotions by his employer." Least they carried on paying him, in the UK he would of been fired for gross misconduct on the grounds of not contacting HR with regards to his absence.

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Anonymous Coward

my firm would have waited for him to be released

and then sacked him taking all his pay in exchange for 'their' expenses in trying to contact him while he was 'away'.

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