FF60 - Green Zone

Intro by Ben Harrison

If Jason Bourne went to Iraq to find WMD, he would find it was a lie wrapped in a deception to create a smokescreen for the cover-up of Blackbriar, a rogue black-budget CIA project. Bad guys in our own government had sleight-of-handed us into Iraq to try to obscure their sinister crimes. Julia Stiles would be forced to question her loyalty, Pamela Landy would probably get a big promotion by leveraging compromising intel on a senator, Jason Bourne would personally beat the shit out of Uday and Qusay Hussein with a stack of post-it notes. At the end we would wonder if he had lived or died and what it all meant about whether we should trust our own government or not.

That is a story that feels like it may well have been on the drawing board when Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass decided to make today's 2010 film. It very much trades on the production style and the international super-spy tone of the Bourne films in order to try something pretty big, tell a semi-fictionalized version of the story of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2003, being ordered to raid warehouses and compounds all over this freshly invaded country, finding nothing, and having it dawn on them that the second invasion of Iraq was a lot more to do with George W. Bush seeking personal revenge and Donald Rumsfeld thinking he could make the world into a neocon wet dream than it did with an actual imminent threat to world safety. Also, there was oil there.

Matt Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller who became so disillusioned with chasing down bad leads based on bogus intel that he starts sticking his nose where neither the Army nor anyone else in Iraq wants it. He falls in with a CIA guy, played by Brendan Gleeson, and they wind up getting pretty close to stopping Iraq from descending into the post-invasion broken state / civil war / ISIS incubator that it became. What the film shows us is that the Ba’ath Party bigwigs were still in the country after the invasion and tried pretty hard to make it clear to the US government that they were willing to resume running Iraq as a stable non-terroristy state, but the Bush administration hardliners, embodied entirely in this film by Greg Kinnear, don't want to deal with the political fallout of making deals with the Ba’ath Party they have spent so much effort depicting as Al-Qaeda adjacent.

Instead, they hand power to a bozo who doesn't know Iraq from a hole in the ground while Matt Damon looks on in disgust and outrage. The names and details are all changed to protect the innocent, or whatever. And while the combat sequences in action set-pieces in this movie are legitimately super impressive, it is very weird that this film was all based on real events and yet it doesn't J’Accuse any of the actual people who are still walking around like they didn't start a huge crazy war of adventure that we never needed in the first place. These people are still out there, probably living very comfortably.

This film wanted to lure the American movie-going public into something like a Bourne film, but then make that film be about some actual heavy shit that would really upend the public understanding of this war, which as of this recording is ongoing, having claimed the lives of as many as 600.000 Iraqis and 25.000 coalition forces. It is not for you to decide what happens here. Today on Friendly Fire: Green Zone.


B: Welcome to Friendly Fire, the war movie podcasts where the intelligence is always bad. I'm Ben Harrison.

A: I'm Adam Pranica.

J: and I'm John Roderick.

A: That could have been the intro for any of our shows.

B: If I'd come up with that in the first three, I think I still would be saying it.

A: That's a shirt right out of the gate!

J: It applies to Rambo certainly and the other movies we watched.

A fictional movie critizicing real events

B: Is this the first one we've watched about Iraq II, the Iraqening?

A: You aren’t far off with the Rambo comparison! I was watching this film and 3/4 of the way through I was like ”Matt Damon was only supposed to be investigating WMD sites and taking pictures, but instead he takes awry and he is in it deep, he is rogue.

B: Well, according to the conservative political commentary he actually takes a left.

J: Sure he does! There are a lot of movies going on in this movie.

A: None of them have characters, I thought. This feels like a very story film and less a character film.

B: I think that's true!

J: There are a lot of characters and they all are inhabiting Matt Damon. He ends up being five different movie heroes.

B: There are a lot of composites in place of characters. The one reporter lady who is sort of Judith Miller but is sort of just all of the fourth estate. We have the CIA guy that is the entire intelligence apparatus. We've got Greg Kinnear who is kind of Paul Bremmer, but kind of the entire Bush administration. It is interesting that they went to the trouble of giving us 100% fictional characters. If you are criticizing a real thing, and I think that there are some people on the conservative end of the political spectrum that still think that this was a good war that we absolutely needed to do and don't believe that the case for the war was a total lie, but if you are criticizing actual shit that really happened, why not just throw names on it?

A: I felt the same way, Ben! Before watching this movie I would have had a hard time describing the differences between a geopolitical thriller from 2010 versus what those films are like today. But Adam McKay would never make a movie like this because Adam McKay makes films in this genre about specific people and assigns blame to them. This is one of the reasons why I found this film unsatisfying because these composites don't hit people in the face with the accusation that this film was trying to level. It feels defanged in that way, but I don't know in 2010 if you make vice or if that is possible for example. In 2010, do you name the names?

B: I was trying to remember what you did in 2010 and this is the first war that I was an adult, I guess Afghanistan and this one, I was adult enough to be reading the newspaper about the conversations that were being had surrounding the build up to it and stuff and had opinions about it. I was looking back on early reactions to this movie and I found one on the New York Post that is literally titled New Damon flick slanders America and it totally took me back to the Bush era where you are either 1000% pro everything the Bush administration does or against America. It is just some right wing guy, I went on his Twitter and he is now defending creeps that wear Maga hats the entire time.

A: I didn't think The Departed was that good, but I don't think it slandered America!

B: He says: ”Green Zone isn't cinema, it's slander. It will go down in history as one of the most egregiously anti-American movies ever released by a studio” This is Kyle Smith in The New York Post in 2010. The thing that you have to believe to buy what Kyle Smith is writing is that there were mistakes made in good faith by the people that made the case for this war, that the intelligence about WMD was pretty comprehensive, but wrong. My memory is that it was pretty early in the war that we realized that the intelligence about WMD was a bunch of fucking bullshit and they really selectively cited things that agreed with them and ignored a huge amount of evidence that disagreed with them.

A: This film was effective in one specific way, Ben, and you articulated it by saying WMD instead of WMDs. This is a film that makes a case early and offen that that is how you say that. If you want to be hyper-critical it would be WsMD.

J: The ”s” is at the end of ”weapon”. WMD

A: They are willing to go that far in this film.

J: So what do they say? WMDs?

A: Most people did and do say WMDs, but this film never does.

J: WMDs nuts?

B: That's a T-shirt!

J: The problem with this movie is that it is done like a Bourne movie in a lot of ways, done by the director of a Bourne movie starring the star of a Bourne movie, but this is a real topic that could be really served by a movie that has 32% of what is in this movie. It just needed 68% of a different movie that this movie couldn't accommodate, both because they fictionalized real people which they shouldn't have done, and also because it is filmed with that jump-cut-y nervous fake documentary style which it didn't need to tell the story. I wanted this movie either to be completely fictional and be telling the story of a diamond heist or a war on an off planet.

B: I was reading about Paul Greengrass’ motivations in making this film. Originally it was a much smaller project and he decided that making a pork chop movie out of this topic would essentially put the concepts in the film in front of more people. I think his logic was: ”Don't make it too overtly polemical and don't make it too specific, but also make a fictional story about a thing that really happened”, essentially.

J: You can see how you could be motivated to do that but if your movie doesn't succeed in being super-coherent, if you're going to try to get a political thriller to a large group of people you've got to have your shit sowed up.

Revisiting the fake premises for this war

J: Where this movie succeeded: There are very few movies that show Iraq in this period where the city is still somewhat intact before it has just all gone to shit, this pregnant moment where the Republican Guard is still intact, and the U.S. government still has the opportunity to keep the army together and to use the Republican Guard and the Iraqi state apparatus to keep control over Iraq and do what every other invading power has ever done, which is keep the local government intact and use them as a proxy to govern because people at home already know who the bosses are. In this moment, where you have got these generals that are underground and the electricity is starting to short out and there is no water, but the city is still more or less functioning. God, what a great moment to make a movie! That is the moment that we need to go as Americans! Go revisit those mistakes, revisit that moment where we realize that every premise we had going into this war was wrong: We are not going to just bring democracy to the Iraqis, there was no justification to invade, you cannot just do an air power war for 15 days and then go home. They completely kept the State Department and all the Mideast experts out of the equation and it was being run by Rumsfeld and his known unknowns.

A: It does do a good job in shifting that pivotal moment away from Colin Powell on the floor of the U.N. with his slide show to making the inflection point, the disillusion of the Guard and the remaining political structure in country in an effective way.

J: It really does and there was a point in watching this movie where I was like ”Oh wow, was this a good movie?”

A: Yeah, retrospective greatness!

J: Yeah, a take that we need all along but we couldn't see at the time for some reason.

B: Right, we were too deep in the weeds

J: But then it tries to make Matt Damon some kind of super hero Warrant Officer who somehow can waltz in to almost any situation in Iraq and nobody ever stops him and asked for his ID.

A: He is a mirror image Jack Ryan in that way, whereas Jack Ryan is white collar who gets to do blue collar war shit occasionally. Matt Damon is going the other direction, he is going into office buildings still in his fatigues.

J: with a machine gun over his shoulder, but also at some point he is staying in a really nice room in the palace. It is never explained who put him up there, how he got there

A: I might have moved the glass chandelier from the foot of the bed. If I am going to be in a place a while I am going to clear a path.

B: I read somewhere that the entire last third of this film was reshot.

A: I read the same thing and I couldn't find anything about what the original ending was, only that it was unsatisfying to the filmmakers.

B: That whole set piece at the end was redone.

A: His out-day on this film was done right up against the informant, so he took this movie with the understanding that ”My last day on set is this day because I'm going to go do informant” and then he went and did informant and then came back and shot the last quarter.

J: Ben, you have implied that conservative universe does not like Green Zone, you more than implied it, but what is the consensus among the conservative commentary, your brethren in arms?

B: How dare you! This was the one article I read, but it seems like this movie got mixed reviews and the reviewers that are on that end of the political spectrum were the ones that really came down hard on it. Roger Ebert really liked it, A.O. Scott liked it, a lot of reviews were actually pretty positive, but it is very hard to even understand the viewpoint of somebody like this guy in the New York Post that I read because so many of the foundational assumptions of how the world works seem to be different from my own. He is really mad at the at the main character for displaying gross insubordination and working with the CIA against the wishes of Paul Bremmer, it is a very strange article to read. I would recommend anyone that is curious to read it, just to transport yourself back to Bush administration talking points.

A: He is really pissed at John McClane for engaging the people in the skyscraper instead of listening to his sergeant and hiding.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

J: There are a lot of stories that are all crammed into this narrow space and the question of whether or not there were WMDs or the problem of there not being any WMDs and therefore there not being any justification for starting this war (A: I'm sorry you, are you saying WMDs or WMD?) WsMD. The problem of there not being WsMD.

B: It is a weird setup for a movie because it makes it a mystery film in which we are going to find out where the WMD are. That is the film that proposes itself to us at the beginning. It is a bit like going to like see Titanic and being like: ”I wonder if this ship is gonna sink! People seem to think it won't.”

J: At the very first, when he is on that mission and they are going in through that first area to try and secure the WsMD and people are looting and there are people running by with big compressed tanks, and I was thinking: ”Wait a minute! Is this movie going to be making the case that there were WsMD, but they were looted?” because that is an outrageous thing to assert. Then you get in there and you're like ”Okay, so it is not asserting that, what were those big… oh that was just Pepsi Cola!” Whatever they were looting, that was a false flag for for us as viewer.

B: They found all these aluminum tubes and like: ”These are great! We should go rarify some uranium with these. Oh wait! These are the wrong kind of tubes.” (J: ”Oh, this is just 7-Up)”

A: It is the bastard’s idea of: You can't completely rule out a scene where Saddam Hussein gets shot with machine guns in the third act of this film.

How the media failed to do their job

J: The WMD question is completely separate from the fact that we are at the beginning of the Iraq war and the US military thinks it is going to be one kind of war and it ends up being a protracted insurgency because of mistakes made on the ground in those first weeks that have nothing to do with WMD. WMD and the fact that the Intel was falsified really is a 4th estate movie, that is a journalism movie. Why did the American mainstream journalists take that story from the administration and not vet it and not come after the administration when it was discovered that that was false? During the Iraq war, during the Bush administration, the global journalistic community really laid down, rolled over and let Bush piss in their mouths.

A: Dirt, dirty piss boys!

B: What is it with Republican presidents and pee?

A: Bunch of fucking piss freaks!

J: That is why we are enslaved to the Russian security apparatus now.

A: A lot of glass coffee tables in Republican offices.

B: It stands for Grand Old Piss Freaks

J: But there is a huge indictment of the media in 2003. They just failed! They failed to to push back against Bush, they failed to push back against this war, this thing that you are talking about Ben, this temperature in the air where nobody could criticize the president, that was the media's responsibility and they utterly failed.

B: It is wild that we now have a media that has found a totally new and different way to utterly fail, helping the president promulgate his bullshit in a different and innovative new way.

A: Is Green Zone even 25% about that, though?

J: Well that is the thing! Damon at a certain point becomes some kind of media ombudsman who is out there finding the real… The plot of this movie ends up that he is an investigative journalist who is getting to the bottom of this failure of intelligence. He is telling the CIA that a source of American intelligence… He, Damon, Warrant Officer Joe on the ground here, has discovered that this was some conspiracy between literally the administration, not even an American security apparatus, but guys coming out of the White House. He is telling the journalists this… That scene at the end when he sends his debunking email and it goes down and we realize he sent it to every newspaper in the world and we are supposed to feel super-warm about it because he got the story out. It is so corny because there is no celebration. He sent this to all the journalists that we know then failed to hold the administration accountable, failed to get this story out in an intelligible way, but it isn't a journalism movie, the rest of the movie he is running around shooting guns, and it is really about the birth of the insurgency in Iraq, completely a different movie with no connection between the two. The only connection is the fact that they put up this Iraqi general as the supposed source of both the WMD correct intelligence, so he is both the fall guy and he is also the guy that starts the insurgency.

A: You served the journalism aspect of this story better than the film did in the last two minutes. I mean, this film has Amy Ryan in it. She needs 20 more minutes in this film, I think they gave her two scenes.

J: She’s so amazing! All she does is stare, looking around the room.

A: She never raises her voice. This is a film about conflict and journalism, ostensibly and she is whispering to Matt Damon in a room a couple of times and that's it.

J: When she walked onto the screen I actually said aloud: ”Yes! Strong female lead!” because she just communicates ”Strong female lead”

A: I love Paul Greengrass sitting her down and going like ”And I'm going to give you the last scene in the film. It is going to be you reading an email!” It is going to be fucking fantastic, the credits are going to roll right as the bottom BCC email address… I’ll butt them right up against each other.

J: Her character basically is a proxy for every journalist that failed. She gets nothing in this movie except to be told for half of it by the administration that… She willingly puppeted herself in exchange for what she thought was insider information, which is an incredibly indictable offence, if you are a journalist. But she is not holdedn to any account either. At the end she is a proxy for us…

A: You don't know anything about her life or her career or how this might make her feel. That is a big part of it. She has been caught up in this bullshit and I can't really even tell you how she feels about it.

J: She was betrayed by them, but she betrayed us! Of everybody in this movie that had a responsibility to actually be telling this story, it is her!

B: There is a moment where you see some regret wash over her face, but that is as far as they take it.

J: Regret and shame, but also she is embarrassed about her career. You get a feeling that: ”Is she really ashamed? Or is she just afraid that she is going to get caught and somebody is going to write a bad article about her?”

A: That feeling superseded any corresponding feeling that would motivate her to change or admit fault or put herself out on the line the way that Matt Damon's character is willing to. He is destroying his career.

J: Damon forgives her! He goes back to his hotel, he is like ”Where does this bad intelligence come from?” and then he reads 25 Wall Street Journal articles written by her, promulgating false intelligence, but then when he sees her again he is like ”Where do you get your intelligence, lady?” and she is like ”I can't say!”, but they are friends.

B: Also, maybe the one criticism that that New York Post article leveled against this movie that I thought was valid was: Making her a Wall Street Journal reporter and not a New York Times reporter was pretty disingenuous, given their politics.


The possibility of leaving the Iraqi government intact

J: I couldn't throughout the whole watching of this movie get away from my strong desire to see a movie that indicted the decisions made in that first three weeks of the war.

B: It is amazing. I had never even considered before this movie the idea that there were people that were advocating for a different path in Iraq that were shouted down by the administration. That scene where Brendan Gleason is pushing hard for ”Let's get the commanders of the army in the room and and work with them!” and the Paul Bremer guy there, the Greg Kinnear guy going like ”Yeah, that is not going to happen because we don't want to have to sell that to the American people!” The idea that we could not have had as big a shit show as we currently have is tantalizing and it is amazing to think that there was a way to do the invasion that left a stable country in its wake. I don't know that I necessarily believe that. I don't think that the invasion should have happened in the first place, but the idea that they then doubled down on that mistake by also making a bunch of choices that made it impossible for the country to stabilize is really frustrating.

J: The thing is that this is established State Department stuff. The U.S. Army is not equipped to be a police force. The U.S. Army is not equipped to be an administrative force. The process of de-nazification of Germany after the war: If we had gone and taken every single Nazi out of every single position of power in Germany after the war, Germany was already in chaos, but Germany would have collapsed into civil war. What we did was realize you can't do that, and you have to go in and at a certain level you have to say: ”Okay, we are absolving everybody!” Everybody is guilty, there are Nazis everywhere, take your uniforms off and put them in the compost heap, but get back to your job! We need to rebuild, we need sewers to work, we need food delivered, and that takes precedence over our political desire to punish everybody who ever touched a swastika. We did it in Japan even more: We kept the emperor on the chair because we knew that to rule Japan through the emperor was doable and to try and go into Japan and depose the Emperor, again: Japan would have fallen into civil war insurgency. But in Iraq these dealings, this Bush administration thought that they were smarter than everybody when they were clearly dumb and they went in and they thought that first of all that an Arab country that was being ruled by an autocratic minority party was starving and super-prepared for democracy and they were going to embrace it on day one and they were going to understand all the systems and just step into them and populate them, and that any member of the army or the Ba’ath Party was so politically tainted that they were just fired and sent into the streets. This is maybe the classic blunder of diplomacy and of war making and all the way down.

B: The movie we really sells that, too!

J: It does! And that is the movie I want to see and it really doesn't need the Matt Damon, or if Matt Damon is in it, he can be a soldier, but he just can't also be a journalist and a spy.

A: When you were describing the process of leaving some institutions intact post World War II, I couldn't help but think ”Is there a racial component to dissolving everyone in Iraq the way that that choice was made, in a way that allied countries didn't think to do post-World War II?”

J: But we did it in Japan…

A: I mean, in a fucked-up racial hierarchy kind of way. Do the brown-skinned people don't get to run their own country after we defeat them? Is that in any way part of this?

J: Hard hard to say! We have been doing business with the Iraqis and with the Saudis all through the 20th century. Depending on what the politics are at any given moment… We supplied a lot of the technology that the Iraqis used in their chemical weapons programs during their war with Iran. The Iraqi chemical weapons stuff, 50% of that equipment was or was supplied by Germany, the French helped them build a reactor that the Israelis then bombed famously. The Israelis and the Iranians cooperated to bomb an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1980 that was being built by the Iraqis and the French. The alliances have never been really clear, and this is post Revolution Iran. Literally collaborating while also pretending to be at war with one another. My take on it is just that the Bush administration was really bad at this job and Bush was a really bad president and even though we have the worst president in history in office right now as of this recording before Bristol Palin becomes president in 2055, we should never forget how badly this was run and how devastating it has been for everything that has followed. I don't think that the American people would have had any trouble accepting the fact that there were some members of the Ba’ath Party who were Saddam acolytes that we are now putting in charge of the police because that is who is going to run the police for now, the people wouldn't even have be aware.

A :One would only have to point to post-war Germany and Japan as proof of the concept.

J: Nobody in America is following it that closely.

B: It is nuts to think that they decided not to do that because they didn't feel up to the task of selling it to the American public, when they sold a bunch of other bullshit to the American public that was actually wrong. Selling shit to the American public was something they were actually really good at.

J: Nobody got poor selling bullshit to the American public.

B: Wow! That's a T-shirt!

Department of defense or not?

A: I really liked how this film presented the two halves of the decision making process. The Department of Defense guy, the Greg Kinnear character…

J: He is not Department of Defense. He is a straight up administration guy, he's an appointed…

A: … but he serves a press master in the way that the CIA guy acts independently of that and it really makes the case that the ability to think freely and differently is associated with an independence from a press master you must serve.

J: Oh, I'm sorry, I corrected you Adam, but he is listed here as U.S. Department of Defense special intelligence official, which is what you were saying. I am wrong. I apologize.

B: Wow, you just ”Well actually”-ed yourself!

J: However I was taking him to be very much a Paul Bremmer character…

A: …from Brynner Information Systems?

B: That is a different podcast, Adam (reference to Greatest Generation Episode DS9 S3E11)!

J: Bremmer was a diplomat who headed the coalition provisional authority. He is a foreign service guy, not a department of defense guy. He's like a envoy. So anyway, I corrected you, I'm wrong, but I wasn't wrong, you were wrong!

A: I think everyone understands that.

J: Wait a minute, hold on! Bremmer, although he was a presidential envoy, he was subject to the authority direction and control of Donald Rumsfeld secretary of defense, so again you were right, it was a Department of Defense guy, I apologize a second time for saying that you were wrong. I was wrong both times.

B: We have known knowns, we have known unknowns, and we have unknown unknowns.

J: We go to war Adam with the podcast we have, not the podcast we want.

Methods of the CIA

A: A lot of things in this film gives us a very superficial take on this. It is very simplistic for Martin Brown and a safe full of cash to act independently of a press oversight that is so omnipresent in every other part of this conflict.

J: It is weird to see the CIA portrayed heroically.

A: How much petty cash do you think a CIA guy gets access to? How much cash do you take from petty cash if you are in CIA before you need to sign a paper even?

J: Know that scene in Syriana where he flies out there and buys that guy a Lamborghini. Okay, I guess that's how we are doing business!

B: It is the only movie I can think of in the history of movies where a backpack full of $1 million gets put into play and then just gets given back and is not part of the story anymore. It doesn't go missing, it is not a MacGuffin.

A: There are entire movies made around that idea!

B: I know! It is so fucking wild!

J: He says over his shoulder ”He, check that money back in!” as they walk out.

A: How much cash was in the safe if $1 million fits into a backpack. Was there $100 million in the safe?

J: God knows! And that is just the safe they have in their office there in that hangar. The CIA sometimes in movies we watch is portrayed as all-seeing all-powerful. We almost never see the CIA portrayed this way, which is that the person representing the CIA is portrayed as competent and intelligent and motivated by the right things, he just has no real power.

A: You expect the CIA to be this lean mean intelligence machine that is the master here and it is so weird to see them like anyone else.

J: Just walking around, handing out business cards like ”If you see anything, call me!”

B: Policy people sit around in rooms and debate these things and we get some scenes like that and if you don't respect expertise, then it is easy to just ignore those people, and that is what is being depicted in this film: The idea that people that don't respect expertise then bungled it and made it worse than it had to be after the bungle is very well established here and I thought that was good. It is a hard thing to depict in a way that is dramatic and interesting and that is actually some place where the film really succeeds.

Special forces, the conflict rhombus

A: There is another antagonist here that we haven't discussed, and that is the Special Forces. There is a conflict rhombus here in the film: There is DOD, there is CIA, there is Matt Damon, there is Special Forces, and you could maybe even put Amy Ryan's press character in here, too as a tertiary angle to this shape. What do we make of the Jason Isaacs Briggs character? He seems to embody the qualities of a lot of the soldiers we see in war films of this era, depicting the Iraq / Afghanistan warrior specifically, the guy who just fucking lives for this shit.

J: I love that they chose to… his set dressing, his costume was basically 100% Ali G, it was such a Baron Cohen, and what a weird choice to Ali G the Special Forces guy. Special Forces guys were allowed to wear beards at this point, but I don't think they were allowed to wear Ali G mustaches. That was a weird choice.

A: Jason Isaacs is 5’11” (180 cm) and he looks seven feet (213 cm) tall in this film. He is fucking jacked and terrifying!

J: But he has to do everything! He is another character who is not just Special Forces, but he is making a lot of decisions.

A :He just shows up in helicopters, in four helicopters is how he shows up on the scene.

B: He is a fucking force of nature in this movie.

J: And he is being told by Paul Bremmer to go assassinate a guy in order to keep a lid on the story. That is maybe an exaggeration of how that relationship would play out.

B: I wondered about that: Would he more realistically just be told it is critical to the mission that somebody die and he would not question it?

J: The chief administrator is not going to whisper in his ear: ”Hey, we need this guy to die otherwise the real story will get out!”

A :This film makes a real strong choice not to make him a patriot, though. He is not doing this for love of God and country, but he is doing it to kill people. If the film's intent was to was to make him patriotic I thought it failed.

J: But he ends up being a character like that Russian assassin in the Bourne movie that just has that cold-blooded look in his eye, that you know is a bad ass, you would watch a movie just about him getting pulled out of that disco, just a head full of vodka and being told: ”You need to go to Thailand and kill Matt Damon!", but of all the Special Forces movies that I want to see, the Special Forces movie of that guy and his team just flying around Baghdad in the first ten days of the war putting out fires is not the special forces movie that you are gagging for.

Moment of pedantry

B: This movie gets a lot of things wrong. Do you guys want to hear one that the pedants on the internet found distracting? ”Miller wears a Casio G-shock watch, model no AW-591MS-1AER wristwatch. That watch was first released in 2007 and clearly could not have existed in 2003/2004.”

J: Try again! Is there another pedant that isn't so pedantic?

B: That guy might be my favorite pedant of late. What? Why is he wearing that watch?

J: I am going on r/gshock and make my feelings known.

A: Oh John, if you went there you would know that that subreddit is not about watches! I prefer to believe that G shock doesn't exist.

B: Oh yeah? You are part of G-anon?

Who is the hero in this movie?

A: We are given a movie that is trying to make us believe that Matt Damon's character is the hero of the film. By the end of it he achieves that by virtue of his… he has got to find Al Rawi before Briggs does. There is an exciting foot chase through the city as he does that, there is the email he sent at the end, but we have seen Matt Damon in a lot of movies and he is a charismatic actor. I like my heroes to have charisma and I think charisma and heroism is an important part of any war film. When we answer the question ”Is this a war film?” that might be a place that I would want to start. This guy does heroic things, but his depiction of heroism is so not classically heroic. I am rooting for him by virtue of his mission rather than his inspiration, does that make sense?

B: Because of the kind of premise of his character it makes sense to me that he plays it in this way. ”Why don’t we just kick down a third door expecting to find like the fucking warehouse from the beginning of The Rock behind it?”

A: That is his best stuff, isn't it? His frustration and when he gets annoyed-Matt-Damon-voice, I really dig that!

B: And I loved the movie repeatedly having people higher than him in the chain of command go ”Your job is not to just decide whether the intelligence is good or not! We are going to give you a list of doors to kick down, and you go kick them down! That's your job!” and the way he grates against that is the heroic call to action in this case. But I felt the most charismatic character in the film was Freddy. I don't know if he is heroic or not and that is not really the utility that the character plays in the script, but he is the one that I connected with on an emotional level more than anyone.

J: Freddy ends up doing the mookey in ”Do the right thing” moment at the end of the movie.

B: Yeah, when he throws that garbage can to the window of the pizza place.

J: and then sits with Sal in the morning and Sal gives him his paycheck and you're like ”What is going on in this movie?”

B: It is not for you to decide what happens in this pizza place!

J: That's right! He does a thing that serves none of the major players in the movie, but serves what to us is still completely impenetrable, which is the question of what serves Iraq, what serves the people of Iraq, something that no one on the American side of the experience or in this film especially thinks about. What do the Iraqis want? This guy Al Rawi.

B: Al Rawi is like ”Okay, I'll just assume that the people doing this are reasonable and they'll come to me when they want to stabilize the country” because that is what a reasonable person would do.

A: Big mistake!

The informant who originally made up the story of chemical weapons

J: There was a real Al Rawi and he was the governor of Baghdad before the invasion and after the invasion he was arrested.

A: Was it ever a surprise to you that Al Rawi was Magellan and Magellan was Al Rawi when that revelation occurred?

J: It is not historically accurate. The Magellan character in real life was an informant who had defected from Iraq to Germany, he told the German intelligence services that he had worked in chemical weapons in Iraq, he had this whole story about Iraqi chemical weapons, and he made up this story. The sense was to get the German intelligence services to offer him asylum. The Germans didn't buy his story, the British intelligence didn't buy his story, nobody bought it, but the U.S. accepted his story hook line and sinker against the protests of the Germans who had him in custody and had interviewed him. His whole story, and he is my age, the original informant, his codename is Curveball, he lives in Germany to this day. Later on he was interviewed and he was ”You know what? I made up the story and when I saw that they were building a war around my lie that I told somebody at a customs office I couldn't believe it, and then it actually happened and they actually went in and fought this war!” Tying the Magellan character to the general of the Iraqi insurgency was a fictional leap that only made sense in trying to tie up the plot of this film.

B: I thought that they were saying that like because what Al Rawi in the film told Greg Kinnear in the meeting was that there was no weapons and that they got rid of him in 1991, so in the world of this film Magellan is actually as much a fabrication as anything.

A: A screwball, if you will. It rotates the other direction!

B: Greg Kinnear walked out of that meeting, slapped a code-name on it and said ”Here is what he told me!” and it was all a lie, which is also a weird shifting-down of the blame for the case for war. Definitely Bush and Cheney were very excited to do this war and figured out ways to do it, not some rogue Mandarin in the Pentagon who is like ”I know what I'll do! I'll go have a conversation in Jordan with a guy and whatever he says I'll come back and say he told me that there were WMD”

J: It is so convoluted, but the reality is so banal. Anybody who looked at the actual source of the intelligence that was an actual intelligence interpreter would have said ”This is not good intelligence!” Bush and Cheney wanted this war, they told everybody to find a justification for it. So the way this movie goes about it, where they actually met with somebody from Iraq who debunked it and then they ignored it, that would be just a small part of the overall number of people they were ignoring and number of people that were lying. This movie makes it seem like that is where the the case for the war hangs. But really that is pulling its punches! The real case for the war was just made up when George Bush was sitting on the potty…

A: … making boom boom.

J: He was laying under a glass coffee table…

B: …videotaping the whole thing. What if we find a Bush piss tape?


The aftermath of the war

J: I am giving a confused take on this, because politically the movie is trying to assert something true, which is that there was no good reason to go to war in Iraq, and that we failed in the initial days even accepting that once the war was started it couldn't be stopped. Then we also did a bad job. So those two things are incontrovertible.

B: Freddy killing the general is the movie saying that this was not a simple task, because even if we had been right about everything, we were ignoring what the people there wanted, but trying to make it into a porkchop movie undercut everything they say.

A: Ben, you said something about a character a couple of movies ago that really stuck with me when you compared them to the weather, and I can't remember where exactly that metaphor was apt, but here it really made me feel that way: Freddy was always around, but I never really saw him as the chaos agent he was until the very end until it was like ”Of course!” Taking his turn-to-camera dialogue moment away, what he did and how he acted embodied what he said at the end, in a way that really struck me. Of course he is right, of course he has always been right, but he was invisible for all of the help that he had provided earlier in the film. The only way he made anyone see him was shooting the general…

B: …and then saying ”Motherfuck the window! Radio Raheem is dead!”

J: It is why you don't give the US Army the job of policing the streets, why you don't give the US Army the job of administering a country, because there were lots of guys like Freddy who said ”Hey, I have been fighting the Ba’ath Party my whole life and you guys are here and I want to help you!” and it ends up in the hands of some four-stripes sergeant who is like ”What is your name? Get down! Get down!” and you are like ”No, no, no!” This guy actually was a civil servant, he has got a Master's degree and you just have some kid in Oklahoma with a gun in his face and you end up alienating the whole country. I think the most interesting shot of the whole film was at the very end when Greg Kinnear sets up that press conference where the new leader of Iraq is going to get everybody around a table and he comes back in and it is just chaos and shouting and people storming out and saying ”I will never recognize you as the leader!” and that isw what ended up happening. That is a great movie. And it feels almost like, although it is movie shorthand at that point, it really was that comically simple, that the administration really did have that much egg on their face and really did stand there and go ”Well, wait a minute! We said that we were going to have democracy now and why are you guys all fighting?” They really were that simple!

B: It is fucking crazy to me that 2010, two years into the Obama administration, Kyle Smith is still carrying water for that failure in this fucking New York Post article.

J: Those guys bided their time until 2015. The Obama interregnum…

B: Why couldn't they learn from the mistakes of that? There are millions of people that don't recognize it as having been a mistake at all!

A: Is ours a country that learns from war making mistakes?

J: Something bad happened to this country after Reagan, and I think it was an introduction of religiosity into a whole side of our state apparatus where American exceptionality got tied to a religious quest or a justification and you just can't question certain segments of American decision making now if it is tied to this program to Christianize the heathens and to do God's will. There is no enemy greater than an American patriot who disagrees with you.

B: I read that 250.000 people died as the result of the 2003 invasion and everything that has happened since then in Iraq. Pretty astonishing!

J: 250.000 just of people actively in the war. It is such a black mark on us all. It lowered American influence and esteem worldwide, It put us in a category of imperial adventurers that was a new level of bad. It will be a blemish on America for the rest of our American experiment…

A: … until we forget and do it again.

J: The real American power is a power of bureaucracy and administration. It is not always fair, it is not always equal, but you can usually appeal and you can usually submit a form and you can usually find someone behind a desk somewhere that you can bring your case to and you don't have to bribe them and you don't have to know their brother. This is an example of a war that was waged out of a personal vendetta in a room with 15 men who weren't accountable, and it violated all of the principles of the modern democracy we have worked so hard to build. It was an undemocratic war, the opposite of what it claimed to be.

Rating the movie

A: For the war in Iraq we would all give that a pretty low rating.

J: I would give the war in Iraq zero WMD if that was our rating system.

A: But our job here is to review the film that we have just watched, and for every war film a custom war film rating system is designed by me, Adam Pranica, third co-host of Friendly Fire, occasional invitee to Friendly Fire host recording parties. I think the object that embodies the rating system this time appears on screen fairly early. It is the thing used by Matt Damon to find his way to the sites that he is investigating. Of course I am talking about the printed out PowerPoint slide from a slide show that very clearly tells, and that shows, must have been a deeply unsatisfying presentation to attend. I imagine Matt Damon's character did not go to those meetings and instead just printed them from an email and then went out into the field.

B: Yeah, but you miss out on all the fun little animations when you do it that way.

A: Yeah all the transitions, yeah that's fun!

A: I felt a lot of different ways about this film during our conversation. I was not satisfied with the film at its conclusion, though I became more satisfied in the conversation, in interrogating the parts that worked and did not. I like it when the right side of a conflict are depicted as the people who ask why we do things. I think this is a film that does that pretty well. The good guys in this film ask ”Why?”, and unfortunately those are the characters who aren't powerful, who aren't able to change the circumstance over there. Instead they are shamed and fired. Maybe they will get to continue their work as a reporter for The Washington Post. There are glimmers of hope here in the film character-wise, but the film itself is a simple story about a simple conflict, but you can tell a more interesting story about a simple moment using interesting characters, and that is what I was really missing. All the actors here are great. This is such a well-cast film and across the board I never really felt like I cared about any one of them. I cared about the mission and I cared about the truth, but so does Jack Ryan and Jack Ryan is a great character. By the end I laughed out loud at a scrolling list of BCC email addresses as the gavel for the film, as the enduring visual. We pull out wide to a daylight drive into the city, that is the true ending, but the ending that we will remember from this film is a list of email addresses, and for that reason it makes the film fairly unremarkable and one that I don't think that I will remember myself. I am going to give this film Green Zone two PowerPoint slide print-outs, one of which has been the subject of a paper jam and is a little more wrinkly than the others. You had to finish the job and pull it out yourself.

J: Oh boy, I know that feeling!

B: I think that this is a film that does not quite achieve what it set out to achieve, but I think it was a worthy experiment. I think attempting to use the tropes of the porkchop film to actually deal with real issues is worth trying and was worth trying. I wish this movie had come out even earlier. I read about Paul Greengrass as having been persuaded by the case that Tony Blair made for the war and then over time becoming disillusioned and then in researching this film realizing how fucked it was from jump and how the extent to which we all got duped by powerful political people, and I will say that as a porkchop movie it is fun, it is exciting to watch, the action scenes are really kinetic and great, every time a giant helicopter comes up from just over a ridge and swoops into a place and Jason Isaacs runs out, it is breathtaking. He has got a real pedigree with this stuff, he was originally a war reporter or something, he has actually filmed in real conflict environments, and that really comes across and he is fucking great at that. I think that it is a shame that this movie doesn't succeed on the thing that it tries to do because I wish that your average mook walking around understood the war in the way that this movie understands it.

A: It is so weird, Ben! If you were to use real people instead of the proxies that we get here, you would be dismissed as propaganda or anti-propaganda or whatever! How do you win?

B: It is hard to win. Platoon is similarly polemical about the thing that it is indicting, and yet it is just as popular on all ends of the political spectrum and some people are capable of just watching it as an awesome action movie. That is a movie that really solves for having great characters in a way that this one doesn't. I just don't know how to solve the puzzle! How do you through art get people to change their political beliefs? I don't know! I don't know if one piece of art can do it! I will give it two and a half shitty packets of PowerPoint presentations. I will think about this movie more after we stop recording, but I agree that it is not flawless.

J: The problem was that this shouldn't have been a Matt Damon movie. This could have been an Ocean's Eleven movie because if we were going to talk about WMD and the first days of the war we needed a storyline that was out looking for WMD and not finding them, we needed a storyline of a journalist who had been duped by the administration, who was discovering that she was wrong and trying to rectify the situation, we needed some foot soldiers on the ground who rolled into Iraq and thought that they were the heroes of the war, and then all around them started to see the situation disintegrate, and we needed to see the Iraqi leadership who have gone into hiding, waiting to hear from the Americans, and gradually realize they are not going to hear from the Americans and they transition from being potentially useful helpers, they transition into leaders of a new insurgency. Those are the five stories this movie is trying to tell, and each one of them needed its own lead actor and its own separate place in the story, so that it would become one of these movies like Syriana. It is a pretty effective way of making a film. These things could be lightly fictionalized to whatever degree, but they didn't all need to come back to one actor's hero journey as he goes around and meets every single person in the conflict and he suddenly has access to the highest level of intelligence. It was an impossibility that Matt Damon could… not just narratively, it is just not good. I agree with you Ben that the movie asks a lot of questions. I agree with you Adam that the heroes are the ones asking ”Why?” and you can't watch this movie and not have a lot to think about. It is not a useless movie at all, we should all be thinking about this moment in time more. Right now the news cycle is so crazy that we are not looking back into our recent past and reflecting on our mistakes because we feel like we have so much business to do right now. These are important things to reflect on.

J: I was on a flight the other day watching someone watching the American Office. I didn't hear the sound, I was just watching the pictures, and I realized that that jump-cut-y zoom-in-zoom-out filming style of the office, the mockumentary style, at least in the making of the office, is a highly stylized and very disciplined style that feels super casual when you are watching the show, but a lot of the comedy of that show is just in that mockumentary filmmaking. When you watch it without sound and all you are looking at is the way that they are doing these zoom-y kind of reframes, and zoom in, zoom out, reframe, zoom out, reframe, zoom in, I became conscious and impressed by the manners of it. Then watching this film, which uses a lot of those same techniques, I felt like it was another character in the movie that was serving a porkchop end, and not serving any of these stories it was trying to tell. There is a lot of that mockumentary filming happening that injects a lot of action into situations, but didn't advance any narrative. It just gave us that Bourne-y, jittery, heart in your throat stuff, and the story was way more interesting than that. When we ask ”Is this a war movie?” you really have to ask ”Is the Iraq war a war?” and you can make an argument that it was barely a war, we went in and just basically instigated a civil war more than we fought any… The war that we actually fought against the Iraqi military lasted a couple of nights. I think it qualifies as a war movie, but I am going to be right with you guys, I am going to give it two… Boy, the parts of it that are fun to watch and thought provoking, I am almost there with Ben at two and a half PowerPoints, but I am mad at it, so I am going to dock it half of a PowerPoint. Also: I hate PowerPoint! One PowerPoint Manila envelope that is pristine and one that got jammed in the printer and has been out in the field and touched by 15 grunts who got mustard on it.

A: It is weird to hear your hatred of PowerPoint when in the mirror behind you I can see into your monitor and that is how you keep your notes for the show.

J: Yeah, it is all in PowerPoint

A: It seems wildly inefficient!

J: What I do is: I put it up on a screen and then I just read it aloud to everyone in the room.

A: I feel retroactively bad about the rating I gave this film. Ben's argument made me feel a little more forgiving of it. This film really tries!

J: Do you want to up your review to two and a half?

A: No, I don't. The things that I left unsaid were things that Ben picked up: Look and feel: This film was expertly done, all the setups and locations were amazing, they shot a bunch of it in Morocco, that was the stand-in for Baghdad.

B: There was that wristwatch thing.

A: Oh shit, strike that then.

J: Yeah, that’s true. Shock and awe! The opening sequence, the bombing of Baghdad. Pretty scary, pretty impressive filmmaking.

Who is your guy?

B: Did you guys have guys?

J: I always forget to have a guy until this moment that I'm like ”Fuck! I need a guy!”

A: I've got a guy.

B: I've got a guy

A: I am going to go outside the movie a little bit for my guy and I am going to choose Jason Isaacs the actor as my guy, who is unrecognizable in this film. If you didn't know who the credit was for Riggs it could have been anyone. It could have been one of ten people. I don't know if he is wearing a prosthetic nose or not, I don't know if that mustache is a prosthetic. It is a handlebar with streamers length mustache. John, there had got to be a name for this, right? As a collector of names for mustaches, the one that goes all the way down to basically the neckline?

J: I think I would call it a Wyatt Earp!

A: Yeah, just a ferocious mustache on him. An English actor with zero trace of accent, but Jason Isaacs is a great actor and you are not going to hear accent where it is not warranted, but a strong physicality to his performance, too, that was scary and truly intense.

B: Yeah, and he is not a famous guy and disappearing into a second-string character like this is from a career standpoint not necessarily the most career-advancing move, but it is the right move for this character.

A: Part of my gripe about the film was characters making big moves or doing things that make me feel something a little bit more, Jason Isaacs made me feel terrified most of the time that he was on screen and I respected the hell out of it.

J: Did you see the movie The Death of Stalin, a recent recent? (A: Not yet!) It is really great and he is a genius in it. He is so great!

A: On the list, certainly!

B: It is?

J: It is not really a war movie!

A: Shouldn't it be?

J: The death of Stalin is…

A: Well, we have had edgier edge cases before that.

J: Well I know, and people are mad about it!

A: Would they be mad about that film's inclusion? Who knows! Anyway, Jason Isaacs the actor is my guy.

B: A line from that crappy New York Post review that really stuck with me was ”Green Zone tells US troops that all of their efforts have been based on deliberate deception. Worse: It blames the insurgency that has killed so many of our fighting men and women on U.S. treachery”, which is a two sentence paragraph that is meant to be self-evidently about how wrong both of those things would be to do…

J: … both of which seem pretty correct assessment of what happened.

B: My guy is Wilkins, who is the second in command in the MET, the group that Matt Damon is in charge of going around looking for these WMD, played by Jerry Della Sala. He is the guy who is like ”Hey, going off on an adventure, looking for guys on playing cards is not really what our job is here! We are supposed to be here digging up this soccer field and seeing if there are WMD under it!” and he is that guy who is just doing what he is told, he is not a hero in the way that this movie sets up heroism,…

A: … and he is not a dissenting opinion. He is just trying to prevent mission creep

B: Right! I liked his character a lot and I like that this movie did not make him a traitor to justice or a bad guy for making that choice. This movie is not trying to bring the argument to guys like this. He is treated with a great deal of respect as just a soldier who is there doing the mission that he has been told to do. I thought that that was something that this film really got right. Almost preemptively in the run-up to that war, there was a ”Defend the troops! Liberals are anti the troops!” propaganda coming out of the Republican Party and it fell fairly flat and this is an example of that. The movie never indicts people that are just honestly doing their their work in good faith. It indicts the people that do it in bad faith.

A: Ben, this actor who plays your guy Jerry Della Sala is an Iraq war veteran, like many of Matt Damon's co-stars in the film. He mentioned several times how strange it was for him to be ordering around army veterans as a non-combatant himself.

B: Well John, do you have a guy?

J: When they staged staged the initial raid on the group of generals that were meeting in secret in a nice house in a Baghdad suburb, and they end up shooting a guy in the basement who dies in a basement kitchen, and then they come back upstairs and they realize they have got a bunch of family their, kids and wives and mothers, and there is a woman who is presumably the wife of the guy they just shot, or maybe the guy that they take prisoner, but she is very elegantly dressed, she has a western hairstyle and a western outfit, and she lives in a nice house and she has got nicely dressed kids, and until 10 days before she was a member of the upper middle class or the ruling class in Iraq. She felt like a true person, this felt like a true moment. That woman and her 40 seconds on screen got me thinking about: In some situations I'm sure soldiers just shut up the room, and in other situations they pushed her down or punched her, it probably almost never ended well.

A: This is a scene of a couple of scenes in the film where a human being's desperation is an inconvenience to our main characters.

J: They are just trying to get out of here. We can tell he has got a lot of other things in his mind. The guy he is chasing is at that moment driving off down the street, that is where he wants to be! But instead he got this situation that he is not trained for. The actress played that moment really well and it was a moment in the film that just explodes out in a million different directions of like ”Fuck, right! This is why you don't have a situation where your army dudes are just kicking down doors randomly in what was a major metropolitan city two weeks ago!” So she is my guy.

B: Good guy!

A: Good all around!

Chosing the next movie

A: Well, why don't you set loose what war film we will be discussing and reviewing next?

J: You want me to uncork the genie of… Well, I have got to move my egg sandwich that you brought me off of my pie plate I am using for my 100-sided die.

A: Have a little dignity!

J: All right. I am going to use the top of a Tupperware storage container. 18! The number is 18!

B: We are headed back to World War II. This is a film directed by Mario Van Peebles, it came out in 2016 and is called USS Indianapolis: Man of courage!

J: Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!

A: Holy shit! Wow!

B: Starring Nicolas Cage and Tom Sizemore.

Make fun of the Nicolas Cage movie that we are watching next

J: I had no idea this movie existed and I don't know if I want to see it.

B: I think that this is a movie that somebody just saw the part of Jaws where he describes sharks in the water…

J: … and they were like: ”Why don't we make a movie about that?” Oh boy, Mario Van Peebles.

A: Do you think he calls himself MVP? You have to, right?

J: Everybody who knows him must. Why has that never occurred to me before?

B: I met Melvin Van Peebles one time, he was great!

A: Maybe it is because Melvin Van Peebles took MVP. I am really excited to watch this movie. I would have no reason to watch it besides Friendly Fire. This is great!

J: What we have here is the ideal situation for Adam, which is that no one is going to yell at him about it being a war movie, it is definitely a war movie, but it is a porkchop piece of shit movie starring some big time major US movie stars.

B: To be a pork chop movie it has to be fun to watch. I haven't seen this, but I'm worried that this won't be fun to watch. I'm worried that this is going to be one of the many many many movies that Nicolas Cage has made lately to cover his super-high tax debts.

A: Someone has been keeping track of this, but this might be the lowest tomato meter rating of any film we've done. 17%

J: Apparently it cost 40 million dollars to make and it made 1.6 million at the box office. That is why we haven't seen this movie!

B: Oh man!


J: Mega bomb! Is this going to be worse than Pearl Harbor?

A: As long as it is not 3.5 hours long it is going to be better.

J: Well, it is two hours and 15 minutes, so they didn't leave anything on the cutting room floor. So let's let's just anticipate: We are going to see some guys get bitten in half by sharks, they are going to talk about delivering the little boy or the fat man bomb to…

A: We are going to see sharks with black eyes like a doll’s eye.

J: So it is going to be a shark movie, lots of good uniforms I bet, but some historical inconsistencies.

A: We are definitely going to see a half a body bobbing in the water, right? You need that!

J: For sure, more than once!

B: It is going to seem like it is a whole body until somebody is going to reach over and it will roll over.

A: Can we talk about the many faces that Nicolas Cage is making in the movie poster for this? There are a couple of different versions of this poster and in every one…

J: Did he put some cotton in his upper lip or something?

A: It looks like he is dealing with an allergy of some kind.

B: I think that he was standing around at the photo shoot and was served with some kind of court document by the IRS and quickly crammed the paperwork into his mouth and closed his mouth around it before they took the picture.

A: I really love our new segment ”Make fun of the Nicolas Cage movie that we are watching next.”


B: All right, well that will be next week. We'll leave it with Robs from here. For John Roderick and Adam Pranica, I've been Ben Harrison. To the victor go the spoiler alerts!

R: Friendly Fire is a Maximum Fun podcast, hosted by Ben Harrison, Adam Pranica and John Roderick. It is produced and edited by me, Rob Schulte, our logo artist by Nick Dittmore, and our theme music is War by Edwin Starr, courtesy of Stone Agate music. Feel like helping out the show? Well, then head on over to maximumfun.org/donate to show your support. You can also leave us a 5-star rating and review wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you are using Twitter, make sure to use the hashtag #friendlyfire. You can find Ben on Twitter @benjaminahr, Adam is @cutfortime, John is @johnroderick, and I am @robkschulte. Thanks! We will see you next week!

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