Combs and another Marine boarded a small bus packed mostly with women and children. He walked up the center aisle carrying his M-16 assault rifle, then got off, disgusted.
"We just scared the living [expletive] out of a bunch of people," he said. "That's all we did."
When the Marines returned to their truck, Autin and Kelly began to debate the merits of the American presence in Iraq.
"And, by the way, why are we here?" Autin said.
"I'll tell you why we're here," Kelly replied. "We're here to help these people."
Autin agreed and said he supported the mission.
He added later that it was difficult to wage the battle when American commanders were holding them back.
"We feel they care more about Iraqi civilians than they do American soldiers," he said.
Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: "We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?"
We're here to help these people by scaring the living expletive out of them. That's pretty much the best summation of American foreign policy I've seen in years. One day soon, the fatigue will set in, and America's haunted house ride will no longer scare the children like it used to do.
These fine young men are not going to like their country very much when they see what it turns into after that happens.