Transcript

274:

Enemy Camp '04
Transcript

Originally aired 10.08.2004

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Full audio: http://tal.fm/274

Prologue.

Ira Glass

Here's the story the way we usually like it. There's this guy, and he's behind enemy lines. Maybe he's dropped in there in the middle of the night, maybe he sneaks under barbed wire at the border, whatever. He's there. He's been there a while. Months, years maybe. He's in disguise, working on our behalf. Nobody suspects. No one can tell. He looks and acts just like them.

And then, living there in their midst for so long, speaking the language, eating their food, breathing their air, watching their TV shows, something happens. He starts to change. He starts to become more like them. And then, when it's time for him to strike, to launch his mission against them, he hesitates. He's not sure who he sympathizes with anymore.

It's a very romantic idea, this particular vision of what it means to live inside the enemy camp. That you lose your bearings and you would forget how to fight because some other impulse inside you would take over. But sometimes this is actually how it happens. There are lots of ways that people get confused about who their enemy is and how to fight them. Today on our radio show we have that story happening to several different people in several different places in several different ways. True stories.

WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life, distributed by Public Radio International. I'm Ira Glass. Each week on our program we choose some subject, bring you documentaries, interviews, short fiction, found tapes, found writing, anything we can think of on that subject.

Today on our program, life behind enemy lines. Our program today in four acts. Act one, Our Own Worst Enemy? In that act, even senior administration officials like Colin Powell now admit that the insurgency in Iraq is getting stronger. We get one of the architects of the president's war in Iraq, Richard Perle, to answer the question, is it our own fault that things are going so badly in Iraq.

Act two, Confession. In that act, the true story of a fixer for the Catholic Church and how he came to sympathize with people who he was sent by the church to deceive. Act three, Blood Agent. How microscopic beings inside you and me can control our thoughts and minds, no kidding. Act four, sleeping with the enemy. In which we ask the question, whose side is your girlfriend on, anyway? Whose? Stay with us.

Act One. Our Own Worst Enemy?

Richard Perle

Hi.

James Fallows

Greetings. Think we met once in the distant past.

Richard Perle

Yeah, we did. Hi.

Ira Glass

So Richard Perle and James Fellows. The question that we wanted to talk to the two of you about it is, once we decided to go to war, did the administration do a competent job in planning and executing it? Basically, how good are they at their jobs at conducting the war on terror.

And there's a whole list of now familiar charges. Inadequate planning for post-war Iraq, not having enough troops to control the country after the war, the war getting worse each month. Richard Perle, are they doing a good job?

Richard Perle

I think the administration is doing about as good a job as they can do under the circumstances. Which is not to say it's a great job. I don't think it is. I think a lot of mistakes have been made. And we learn with every mistake.

Ira Glass

Are there certain mistakes that you think were avoidable?

Richard Perle

Well, the single largest mistake in my view was in not going into Iraq with a significant number of Iraqis at our side. In not handing authority over more or less immediately after the fall of Baghdad.

You criticize the planning. In fact, there was extensive planning. It wasn't always right. But I don't know anyone who, in a situation largely without precedent, can be expected to get everything right.

Ira Glass

James Fallows, what's your take on this?

James Fallows

Well I have to take issue with-- I agree with the assessment that things have not gone very well. On the idea that this was sort of beyond anyone's calculation, I mean, with respect, it's just not true. Most of the expert branches of the government were saying, post-conquest order is the first order of priority. You have to make sure that Iraqis can see that there is stability now that there's a new sheriff in town. There has to be a sense of order. And so this was clearly foreseen and just dismissed.

Ira Glass

And just to be clear, James Fallows, you're saying in your reporting what you found is that the administration was warned specifically about this kind of looting and this kind of disorder starting, and yet didn't get control of the capital and didn't get control of the country.

James Fallows

I'm saying specifically, and anybody who doubts can go to the Army War College website and check these studies, that it was warned that the thing to start doing on the first day, and certainly in the first three days and the first week, was to guarantee public order. Because the thing that was sure to happen when a repressive regime was unleashed was disorder, and disorder in the early period could be profoundly destabilizing. And this simply was ignored. And it wasn't from some pinko group, it was the US Army War College.

Richard Perle

I'm sorry, it is a big leap from saying that some scholars-- and I don't know who they were-- at the Army War College or at National Defense University or somewhere else prepared a report, and the fact that they prepared a report and there were problems afterward proves that we ignored sensible planning.

James Fallows

Let me give you two examples of more sort of direct orders. It is now well known that the Army and its Chief of Staff, Eric Shinseki, were saying, you need more people to do this. You need them to secure the borders. You need them to patrol Baghdad, et cetera. That was deliberately, and as you'll recall very high-handedly, rejected by Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld.

Richard Perle

I remember what General Shinseki was saying. And what he was saying, he was talking first of all about the invasion force.

James Fallows

With respect, that's not correct. Shinseki was saying you needed them for security after the fall of Baghdad. Shinseki's experience had been in Kosovo and the Balkans, and he said he'd been in charge of peacekeeping there. And he said based on his rules of thumb, you needed one per x thousand of population. I now forget the ratio. But it would have led to about twice as many troops as the US went in with.

Richard Perle

Well I certainly agree that we could have done a much better job of establishing order at the beginning. I believe that the way to do that was not by having twice as many Americans on the ground, but by having Iraqis who understood the situation a great deal better than we did.

Ira Glass

But in a sense, I've got to say as a voter, to me it kind of doesn't matter if it should have been Iraqi forces or it should have been more American forces. I feel like all I see is that you both are saying we needed more troops on the ground to make the country more secure at the beginning, and it was one of the most important things that we could do. And that's led to that kind of problems that we're having now, and they get worse and worse and worse.

Richard Perle

Well no, you're going way beyond anything I said.

Ira Glass

OK, how am I going beyond?

Richard Perle

Well first of all, I didn't say we needed more troops. We needed different troops. If we'd had the 10,000 Iraqis who we should have gone in with, I think we would have been in much better shape. And in particular, I think the looting and the early signs of disintegration-- I think our military commanders misunderstood the implications of the looting. And if you're unhappy with the way that mission was handled, you should be talking to the battlefield commander.

James Fallows

From the public's point of view, it doesn't really matter at what stage the breakdown was. We are agreeing that something seriously has gone wrong, and do we blame the military or do we blame the civilian leaders of the military?

Richard Perle

Well, you can assign responsibility but I wouldn't call it blame. Because this is something we do every day. We're learning.

James Fallows

You say that we don't do this every day. In fact, the US has carried out a lot of occupations from the Philippines onward, and none of them has gone as badly as this. Preparing for this sort of thing would have meant it was taken more time, either to bring more American troops there or to get a bigger alliance. Whether European, whether Arab, or whatever. And so all of these warnings were at odds with the idea of getting the war going sooner rather than later.

Ira Glass

Let's move on to a different subject. One thing that's come up in the two debates is this question of letting Osama bin Laden get away at Tora Bora. It's been brought up in both of the debates so far. Neither the president nor the vice president actually responded directly to the charge. It seems really damning.

Richard Perle

The suggestion somehow seems to be that the president of the United States or the vice president should have been commanding US forces in Afghanistan at a level of detail that is absurd. The troops in the field who were responsible for handling the situation were not taking direct orders from the president of the United States.

James Fallows

I think this is a slight mischaracterization of what the critique is. It's not that Bush or Cheney should have been picking targets the way Lyndon Johnson did. Instead it's two fundamental points. One is that the assignment for the crucial part of this pincer movement was given on the one hand to the Afghan quote, "warlords", unquote on the other side of the border to the Pakistanis, as opposed to being under direct control. There also was clearly a shift in the center of gravity of attention within the Pentagon by early 2002, just around the time of Tora Bora, towards Iraq and away from Afghanistan.

Ira Glass

Richard Perle?

Richard Perle

I think it's easy to second guess what went wrong at Tora Bora. The judgment was made that certain parts of that military operation were best handled by Afghans. I can see reasons why people would come to that conclusion. It may not have been the right conclusion, I don't know. But it certainly was not the case that either the president was making the decision at that tactical level, nor I believe is it fair to say that that would have been handled differently if we had not been at that point planning for the operations in Iraq.

Ira Glass

Richard Perle, you've been at the forefront of saying that we need to turn over Iraq to the Iraqis, and the faster we do it the better off everybody's going to be, and the more of a success this is going to be. I'd like to talk to you just about whether you're concerned at the speed at which that's happened. Back in July, there was a report that the US military put out, just explaining the progress in training Iraqi forces.

And a mainstream bi-partisan think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, put out a report. Anthony Cordesman was the author. And it said the US failed to treat the Iraqis as partners in the counterinsurgency effort until April 2004, nearly a year after the fall of Saddam Hussein and 2/3 of a year after major insurgency problems began to emerge. The report reveals massive shortfalls in weapons, vehicles, communications, and body armor. Iraqi forces have about 40% of their minimum weapons needs, about 25% of the necessary body armor.

As of July 13th, the US had spent only $220 million of the $2.9 billion, that is $220 million of the $2.9 billion, dedicated to the Iraqi security forces. No single mission is more important than security and no Iraqi popular desire is clearer than that this mission be done by Iraqis. The US has been guilty of a gross military, administrative, and moral failure. Do you agree with that?

Richard Perle

I do agree with that, yes. I do agree with that. Now, having said that, when you look at the source of some of the difficulties, it's pretty appalling. For example, efforts to get equipment into the hands of the Iraqi security forces were frequently frustrated by the impossible procurement procedures that are written into law within the US government.

Ira Glass

And is this something that you think that the administration, if it had decided to yell and scream about a little bit more and used the force of the power of the presidency more, could have done something about?

Richard Perle

Well, Don Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, went to Congress and he asked for some unencumbered funds so that he would have the flexibility to do that sort of thing, and it was turned down.

Ira Glass

But that's an entirely Republican Congress and Senate.

Richard Perle

Well unfortunately, they're not in that kind of complete control.

Ira Glass

Richard Perle, clearly you think that a lot of things have gone wrong. Do you think people should have been fired?

Richard Perle

Oh, I think there are people who should have, yes. But we never fire anybody in this government. Never. Actually, they tend to get promoted.

Ira Glass

James Fallows.

James Fallows

Well, you would think there would be someone who would be publicly held to some kind of account for this. Clearly political decisions about the size, the timing, and the makeup of this invasion force have had rippling effects we're feeling to this day. And political leaders are usually held accountable for the effects of their decision.

Ira Glass

James Fallows, you've written about national security professionals, most of them Republicans who you've talked to over the course of two years. I'm just going to read from one of your articles. You say, let me tell you my gut feeling, a senior figure at one of America's military-sponsored think tanks told me recently. In my view, we are much, much worse off now than when we went into Iraq.

That is not a partisan position. I voted for these guys, but I think they're incompetent, and I have a very close perspective on what's happening. Certainly in the long run we've harmed ourselves. We are playing to the enemy's political advantage. Whatever tactical victories we may gain along the way, this may prove to be a strategic blunder. Richard Perle, what's your reaction to that?

Richard Perle

I don't agree with it. I don't know who said it, but I certainly don't agree with it. I don't have any evidence that supports that. I know it is commonly believed that our intervention in Iraq has been a recruitment tool. There is no question that terrorists from around the globe are converging on Iraq. But showing that they have been recruited on the basis of Iraq is another matter altogether.

Ira Glass

James Fallows?

James Fallows

Most of the people who have spent their lives trying to understand the sources of Islamic terrorism have said that what the US has done in Iraq is increasing their recruitment power. The famous International Institute of Strategic Studies report a couple months ago saying that since the US went to Iraq, the worldwide supply of Al Qaeda operatives is up by a factor of two to three. So we've killed them off inside Iraq but we're creating more, as even Donald Rumsfeld said in one of his memos a year or so ago.

Richard Perle

Well, he raised the question. And I'm impressed that the IISS is able to count the number of Al Qaeda terrorists. I wish they'd tell us now where they are.

Ira Glass

The conversation went around and around like this. Both Perle and Fallows thought that there had been profound and preventable mistakes at two of the most important jobs in Iraq: securing the country the day after the invasion and creating and training an Iraqi security force. Perle says these aren't the kinds of things you blame a president for. Fallows quoted chapter and verse about people fired and reports thrown away that could have prevented it.

[MUSIC - "I GIVE UP" BY QUASI]

Act Two. Confession.

Ira Glass

Act two, Confession. We turn now to stories about people who are operating behind enemy lines in one way or another. And we begin with the story of a young priest who is sent out on a series of jobs by church administrators to squelch some problems. In spending time out among the people who he is supposed to be deceiving he finds it harder and harder to keep doing his job. Carl Marziali tells the story from Los Angeles.

Carl Marziali

Patrick Wall was just where he wanted to be at 26. He was a monk studying theology at Saint John's Monastery in rural Minnesota. He lived in a quiet room facing the lake. He looked forward to a life of study and prayer. It was late summer, 1991.

Patrick Wall

The first day that school started out, pretty uneventful winter morning. Prayer at 7 o'clock like normal. Went down for breakfast like normal, went back up to my room. Was literally brushing my teeth when there was a knock on my door, which is extremely out of the ordinary.

And it was Abbott Jerome Tyson. Well, the abbot's a very quiet guy, and he usually never went up on that floor of the monastery. So he says, may I come in? I said, yes, Father Abbot, no problem. So he comes in, sits down, and you know I've got my books out, I've got a class in 10 minutes. You know, what's up?

And he said, well, Father Dan Ward has told me that you would be a good person for this particular job. And we have a situation over in Saint Mary's Hall that we need you to be a faculty resident.

Carl Marziali

The faculty resident is the live-in counsellor at the college dorm. The campus at Saint John's includes a university.

Patrick Wall

I said, "I'd love to be a faculty resident someday. I think it's a great idea." And he said, "No, today." And when I asked Abbot Jerome specifically what it was for, what was going on, he said well, I can't tell you that.

We had numerous sexual abuse cases that have been popping up. So ultimately there's only one conclusion that can be drawn. That there was a an allegation that they must have thought somewhat credible or probable, and they needed to pull that particular monk. And off I went.

Carl Marziali

That afternoon, Wall moved his stuff out of his room and into the freshman dorm. His instructions were simple. Put the kids at ease, and don't say anything about the monk you're replacing.

He organized a pizza party for the students. He told them he was taking over as faculty resident but that he couldn't say why. There were no questions. Wall didn't know it then, but he was being tested. Unfortunately for him, he passed. His dream was to be a monk as he understood monks to be: devout and learned men who live in monasteries.

By showing a knack for damage control, he put himself on a less spiritual path. Before long the abbot appointed him to a sexual abuse response team and sent him to the Church of Saint Elizabeth's in the town of Hastings. He was replacing a pastor who'd been withdrawn for what the monastery called a credible allegation. Wall arrived at Saint Elizabeth's on February 2nd, 1993.

Replacing a pastor is not easy. People in a parish tend to get attached to their priest. Replacing a disgraced pastor is harder. A lot of people believe their priest can do no wrong and they are not shy about telling his replacement.

Patrick Wall

They were very forward and forthright and angry. And they said, Father, I'm really sad that you're here. I'm really sorry that you had to come. Because we really liked the other monk and we don't think he should have been removed.

And that was it. I said, I'm really sorry that that particular monk had to be removed and I'm here because my abbot asked me to be here. I tried to be as candid and simple as possible, but I felt taken aback, and I felt sad from the very beginning. I didn't enjoy that experience.

Carl Marziali

At first, Wall tried to raise morale. He told parishioners what he himself had been told. That the alleged abuse took place A, some time ago, and B, somewhere else. But it wasn't long before victims at Saint Elizabeth's began coming forward. They would show up unannounced at the rectory, or in the church after mass, and asked to speak to him in private. Then they would start with a tiny revelation.

Patrick Wall

It's unforgettable. It's absolutely unforgettable when they start to tell you. And they only tell you very small, cryptic little things. There are code words for everything. And they've kind of broached the subject to see what you're going to do with it and to see if you're going to actually believe them.

And obviously I'm 27 years old, I'm not exactly sure what to do with it. Emotionally I really had no idea what to do with it.

Carl Marziali

So how did you deal with it when the victim or victims came forward and told you about what had happened? Do you try to comfort them, do you try to tell them that-- I mean, what do you do? Do you try to restore their faith in the Church or do you just listen and write up a complaint and send it off?

Patrick Wall

You don't even write up a complaint. Basically, you get a few of the facts and then you pass that on to the diocese. And honestly, unfortunately, it's easy to deal with because these people never go to church again. Because they really view that person as representing God, so it's hard for them to publicly ever celebrate or to practice their faith again. So they just disappear, honestly.

Carl Marziali

Did you ever wonder whether you should make a special effort when they came to you to-- beyond the effort that you might make to convince somebody else to come back to the church-- to do something more for these victims, or to offer them counseling, or something to try to make up for what had happened?

Patrick Wall

It's a difficult situation because you really need to remain neutral. And your natural inclination, especially as priests, is to be sympathetic and to heal. But there's no way that you're going to be allowed to be part of the healing process, because ultimately you're part of the defendant. You are the institution that brought about their hurt. And so you really have to put your professional hat on and keep an arm's distance.

Carl Marziali

Wall survived the scandal at Saint Elizabeth's, and he helped his superiors survive it too. He never told parishioners about the allegations in their parish, and the stories he was hearing in private never became public.

After serving a year at Saint Elizabeth's, Wall thought he would come back to the monastery. But near the end of his term he received a letter from the abbot instructing him to report to another parish, Saint Bernard's. The monk there had been having an affair and paying for it with church money. This was not the assignment Wall had in mind, but part of him was flattered.

Patrick Wall

I felt pretty good about it because all of a sudden, I'm 28 years old, I'm an administrator of a parish. I'm being turned loose as the boss. That's a compliment as far as I'm concerned. I really felt I was doing the right thing.

Carl Marziali

Not long after Wall arrived at Saint Bernard's, an agent from the IRS knocked on his door. The agent presented a bill, payable immediately, for $600,000 in back taxes, interest, and penalties for undeclared profits from a church-run lottery. The business manager was not available to answer questions because he had been the other person in the affair and had been removed along with the monk. Wall had to take a crash course in bookkeeping to pay the IRS.

The rest of his time at Saint Bernard's, Wall did what every priest does. He celebrated Mass, performed weddings and funerals, baptized babies. And he heard confessions, including those of other priests.

Despite the headlines, the percentage of priests who have abused minors is relatively low. Celibacy is another story. In a recent Los Angeles Times poll, only 1/3 of priests said they do not waver from the celibate life. After a while, Wall stopped thinking of broken vows as something foreign to his world.

Patrick Wall

Once you see enough people fall and once you hear enough confessions of different priests, you look at yourself in the mirror and you say, "Am I really any different?" And the chances of me maintaining a celibate way of life without failure along the way are so low that ultimately, either I have to change or the system needs to change.

Carl Marziali

What about-- there must a lot of priests who believe in being priests and have decided that the rule of celibacy is nonsense and so are willing to lead a double life of sorts. Was that-- that wasn't something that you considered?

Patrick Wall

No, that's really not my personality. I'm a terrible liar. Oh, I turn red. I'm really bad. And I had seen priests who maintained heterosexual relationships with women and I saw the effects of it. Because it's a life of contradiction, because the relationship is there, it's exclusive, but you can't profess it and everyone around you knows it's going on. And that's not happiness. That's not a true coming together. I just couldn't see myself doing that. That's just not me.

Carl Marziali

After Saint Bernard's, the assignments kept coming. The next one was an affair between a priest and a nun. After that, a new parish where a teacher had abused a student and the priest was living with his housekeeper.

Four years, four parishes, four scandals. There are good, dedicated priests out there, but they're not the ones who get replaced. By the very nature of his job, Wall was acquiring a skewed and depressing view of the priesthood.

Carl Marziali

Did you ever ask not to be given those assignments?

Patrick Wall

Yeah, I did. And I specifically asked to be able to come back to the prep school and teach. But the needs of the monastery were so great at that point that again, it was only going to be another year. I was only going to have to go to Saint Bernard's for another year. So it sounds like a bad construction deal, you know, two more weeks. Give me two more weeks and we'll be done. It just kept going on, kept going on.

Carl Marziali

Meanwhile, the monks he replaced were getting exactly what Wall himself had asked for. They were going back to the monastery, permanently.

Patrick Wall

I'd run across them at community meetings and whenever we had chapter votes, and all that. And it's hard not to be judgmental. The other thing I found hard was that my whole career path was driven by other people's mistakes.

And that's the last thing I ever expected a monastic life. I really expected to work in a parish for a year, to go off to grad school, come back, teach, coach football at the university, and to live a pretty darn good life of balance between prayer and teaching and working as a teacher. So they changed my career path, they changed my whole trajectory in life.

Carl Marziali

Without fully realizing it, Wall had been initiated into a brotherhood of priests known informally as fixers, or cleaners. They replaced problem priests, they hide things in the archives, they reassure the faithful. In short, they make it all go away.

Visually, he was perfect for the job. He was barrel chested, a former offensive lineman on the Saint John's football team. He was young and friendly. He was the anti-stereotype of a troubled monk. The abbot couldn't have found a better prospect if he had picked a model out of a catalogue.

But Wall did more than just PR. He became familiar with the law of the church called canon law. Specifically, with the different archives canon law sets up for storing and hiding information.

Patrick Wall

The first is a historical archives which is just the names, states, people, those kinds of things. Then you have the secret archives.

Carl Marziali

The secret archives. I mean, is that literally what they're called? The secret archives? I mean, why were they set up?

Patrick Wall

They're set up for the protection of individuals. So the bishop has the responsibility to take things that would be considered scandalous, things that might hurt individuals' reputations, and to be able to place them there so they wouldn't easily be exposed.

Carl Marziali

OK. When you call it the secret archives, though, it makes it sound sinister. It makes it sound like it's there for the protection, to really protect the church. I'm not saying that's what it is, but that's how it sounds. What really is the purpose of these so called secret-- why can't everything be in the personnel records and then some items be labeled confidential or whatever?

Patrick Wall

Well, you've got to give Rome credit, I mean they have wonderful procedure. This is things that have worked out for centuries. And that has always been the secret to one of the defenses of the Church. If you don't know what you're asking for, they don't have to produce it.

Carl Marziali

When you were working for the Church cleaning up these situations of abuse and having to tell parishioners some of the facts, but not all of the facts, about what was going on, did you ever feel complicit in the cover-up of all of this?

Patrick Wall

I have some regrets, but I think I did it in good faith. Because, as I was taught and as I believe, that that was my role, to help the Church in the long run and to be obedient to what I was asked to do. And it's only later on that, as I've had greater experience, that I couldn't support it any longer.

And I felt that if I was going to stay, I was going to not only support it but I was going to get deeper into it. I was going to be asked to do other assignments, to follow pedophiles. I was going to be asked to be on the finance council to try to figure out ways to mitigate the huge financial cost of childhood sexual abuse by priests and the religious.

And I remember having an epiphany and sitting on the porch at Saint Mary's in Stillwater. And that's why I came to the conclusion that this is pretty much going to be my career path. I'd be there for another year or two as the administrator, and then I would go on to another assignment. And I just couldn't do it any longer.

Carl Marziali

After four years of deceiving the faithful about the extent of priests and misconduct, of protecting the institution over the health and welfare of the victims, of covering for the perpetrators and letting the problem fester, Patrick Wall decided he was on the wrong side. On July 31st, 1998, Wall quit the priesthood. He was 33 years old.

Leaving was difficult. If you want to leave honorably, you need permission, which doesn't come easily or quickly. It took more than a year in Wall's case. Then, once you're out, there are practical challenges, like trying to get a job with a master of theology on your resume. In the end, it was his experience as a fixer that translated best to the real world. Wall read an Op-Ed in the LA Times by John Manley, an attorney who sues the Church on behalf of sexual abuse victims.

Patrick Wall

He essentially separated himself amongst all the different attorneys in saying that we need to protect the sheep, and not the shepherd. It's not the problem of the victims, it's not the problem of the particular perpetrators, per se, or some particular issue like homosexuality or whatever. The problem is within the institution itself.

Carl Marziali

By this point, Wall was convinced that lawsuits were the only way to reform the Church. He called Manley and offered to help. Soon they were on the phone constantly. Wall took him step by step through Church bureaucracy. Manley was amazed.

Patrick Wall

John didn't know all the different documents that are out there. And then John would be working on things and he'd call me up and say, "Dude, what do I do with this? What does this mean? Where am I supposed to do with it? What are other things-- where else can I look?"

And I remember, I think he was quite surprised when I showed him the penal code of canon law and exactly what we need to ask for. He just couldn't believe that it was there. That they would have that level of sophistication.

Carl Marziali

Wall started working for Manley's law firm full time in October of 2002. Using his knowledge of Latin and Italian, he translates and interprets church records. He helps the firm identify and request key documents, like psychological assessments of priests, from the secret archives. The fact that he switched sides, that he's fighting the Church, doesn't seem to trouble him. He believes he's doing what God wants him to do, which is what he's always believed.

There's another part to Wall's job at the firm, which doesn't have anything to do with case law. Last week, he stayed on the phone with a man for an hour and a half, listening to him talk about the priest who abused him and who might still be hurting other people. Wall finds himself talking to victims about all kinds of things, everything he was not allowed to talk about before, back when he was a priest.

Patrick Wall

I feel I really do pastoral work when I'm working with victims every day. On every single issue.

Carl Marziali

Before you were part of a holy order, and now you're working with a bunch of lawyers. And it's hard to know these days where priests belong on the ethical ladder, but most people know exactly where to put lawyers, and so it's just odd to hear you talk about this work being more fulfilling in some ways than what you were doing before.

Patrick Wall

Well, we're dealing with people at the lowest ebb of where they're at. They're dealing with the greatest pain they've ever experienced. And one of the greatest things that we find is that they can no longer participate in sacramental life of the Church because of the seven sacraments.

The one thing that's really clear is that it takes a priest to administer the sacrament. And every sacrament is either through touching or it's through breath, through words. It's in close proximity to the priest. And that is the symbol of their abuse. So we're dealing with some of the most damaged people within the Church. And it's a very fulfilling ministry, I find in being pastoral, to be with them. Because honestly, we're one of the few symbols of hope that they have.

Carl Marziali

Patrick Wall is married now. He and his wife have a two-year-old daughter, who they plan to send to Catholic school. They all go to mass every Sunday.

Ira Glass

Carl Marziali attends mass with his family in Los Angeles.

Coming up, Enemies on our Turf. Controlling the minds of ants, of rats, and of you and me. This is not some whacked out conspiracy theory, my friend. This is science. Proof in a minute from Chicago Public Radio and Public Radio International when our program continues.

Act Three. Blood Agent.

Ira Glass

This American Life, I'm Ira Glass. Each week on our program, of course, we choose some theme and bring you a variety of different kinds of stories on that theme. Today's program, Enemy Camp, stories of what it means to work behind enemy lines. We've arrived at Act Three of our program. Act Three, Blood Agent.

Nature, it turns out, is full of enemy agents. Living behind enemy lines, doing their work. Parasites, they're literally parasites. Carl Zimmer has written a book about the different strategies that these parasites use to survive, and it makes for weirdly compelling reading. For one thing, who knew how prevalent they were.

Carl Zimmer

Most creatures on earth are living inside an enemy. And they are trying to fight that enemy, trying to survive, trying to outwit.

Ira Glass

Just to give people a sense of the range of things that different parasites do, could you tell the story of the parasite that gets into ants, the lancet fluke.

Carl Zimmer

Sure. Well, the lancet fluke is kind of a flatworm. It starts out as an egg on the ground, and a snail comes along and eats the egg. And it kind of irritates the snail's system, so that eventually it kind of coughs it up. And so there you have this sort of clump, kind of snail goo, with the parasite in it. And while it's disgusting to us, to an ant, there's nothing more delicious than snail goo. So the ant comes along and it eats the snail goo and the parasite along with it.

So now you have these flukes inside the ant. And once they recognize that they're inside the ant, they start doing some strange things. As the sun is starting to go down, while the other ants are probably heading back to the nest, it gets this uncontrollable urge to climb upward. It wants to climb up. And what it generally does is it climbs up a blade of grass.

Ira Glass

And what's the advantage to the parasite for the ant to be up there?

Carl Zimmer

Well it's not too obvious at first. I mean, it's not like the parasite wants to take in a better view. The thing is that there are these grazing mammals. Sheep, cows. And that's one of their favorite grazing times, towards the end of the day.

So the ant goes up there, sheep comes along, chews on the grass. The ant gets eaten, chewed up, dies. But the flukes inside the ant, they can survive the digestive acids in the sheep's stomach. And actually, sheep are where they like to live. They're their final host.

Ira Glass

What's so amazing about that is not just the control that the parasite is having over the ant, that life cycle that you're describing is so complicated. It's having to go through three different animals over the course of its normal life cycle.

Carl Zimmer

Yeah, there are actually some parasites that go through six or seven different animals to get through their life cycle. It's mind boggling.

Ira Glass

It's really hard to talk about without ascribing a kind of intentionality to them. Which, they don't have consciousness, they don't have brains in any way. It's hard for us to even understand what they're doing without kind of putting that on them.

Carl Zimmer

Yeah. Because they, I think, because in a sense they are using us. Or are using other animals or other hosts in such an intentional way. And they seem to know so much.

Say, how does a tapeworm inside a fish know that if it makes it flick and flail in a certain way that it will be easier for a bird to see it so they can get inside that bird where it wants to be. It's amazing. And not only do they not have brains, a lot of them don't even have nerves. So it's just this sinister chemical wisdom they have.

Ira Glass

It seems like all the parasites break down into two different groups. There are the kinds that actually get inside a host and then kill it off in their drive to survive, and then there are others which actually just kind of live inside and are happily living inside forever. They want the host to survive. Could you just tell the example of the creature that eats the fish's tongue?

Carl Zimmer

Yeah, this is a particularly creepy one. The parasite in question is called an isopod, which is a kind of crustacean. It looks like a little pill bug or something. But it lives in the water.

And what it does is it swims into the mouth of a snapper, a fish. And when it's in there, it eats that fish's tongue. It just devours the tongue completely, but just the tongue. It stops there. But now this isopod, this parasite, does something very weird. It sort of turns around so it's facing front, and hunkers down exactly where the tongue used to be.

So if you look in one of these fish's mouths, you see this tongue that has these little eyes on the end of it. It's amazing. And what scientists think then happens is that the fish can then use the parasite as its tongue. And it'll go out and catch some food, catch a fish, and will crush up the food on the back of this parasite. The fish doesn't mind too much if it can still get its meal, I guess. And the fish can then get back to its life.

Ira Glass

So many of these stories just are such gross-out stories on a visceral level.

Carl Zimmer

Well you know, it's funny because it disturbs us when we talk about that when it comes to parasites. But, I mean, why doesn't it disturb us when we talk about a lion. We name football teams after lions, but we don't name football teams after tapeworms. You don't have the Chicago Tapeworms or something that. We don't want to think about it.

But we admire these predators, but what are these predators doing? These predators are taking advantage of these other life forms. They're eating it from the outside, I guess you could say. But I mean, to my mind, it's just a lot more cool when they're on the inside trying to figure out how to make this work.

Ira Glass

Thinking about this as much as you have, do you start to see everything as being parasites?

Carl Zimmer

I see a lot of things as being like parasites. Parasites are the most successful life form on Earth. And it could be as many as three parasites for every one free living species, it's hard to say. And if you're not a species that is living inside another thing, then you're a species with something living inside of you.

Ira Glass

Is one side winning?

Carl Zimmer

I'd say the parasites have the upper hand because they're just doing so very well.

Ira Glass

The parasites have the upper hand?

Carl Zimmer

Sure. Yeah. I mean, they have the most species, they're getting around all these defenses. I mean, there are things they do that either we don't know how they do it or if we know how they do it we can't reproduce it. We just stand in awe of it.

Ira Glass

I know, but we know about them, they don't know about us. We're the ones with the brains and the thinking and the consciousness.

Carl Zimmer

Then maybe you're overselling your brain. I mean, the brain is a wonderful thing, but these parasites are able to pull the strings in those brains in a lot of cases. Say, for example, you know, a rat. Rats are very, very smart animals. They know how to learn, they know how to figure out their surroundings.

But there's a parasite called toxoplasma, it's a single-celled parasite. And they pick it up on the ground. And when it gets into them, they suddenly lose their fear of the smell of cats. Otherwise, they're totally the same. And then the cat eats them, and then toxoplasma gets into its final host, which is the cat. So even though you've got a brain, you're still being pushed toward your doom by this single-celled parasite.

Ira Glass

Mr. Zimmer, whose side are you on?

Carl Zimmer

I think I'm on the parasites' side when it comes to getting a bad rep. I'm their PR man.

Ira Glass

Because, Mr. Zimmer, at some point we're all going to have to choose sides in this war. Speaking for the other humans, I want to say you're either with us or against us.

Carl Zimmer

You know, it's funny. I have not gotten seriously sick in my life, knock on wood. And I have actually gone to places where there are a lot of parasites around in order to report on how people are dealing with them. And I didn't get sick. I was really scared, but I didn't get sick. I didn't get malaria, I didn't get river blindness, I didn't get sleeping sickness.

Ira Glass

Wait a second. Are you saying this because they could sense that you are in league with them?

Carl Zimmer

Who knows. Maybe they think I'm here to serve their purpose.

Ira Glass

Carl Zimmer. His book, the perfect reading material if you ever want to have a long talk with an eight-year-old boy, is Parasite Rex.

[MUSIC - "I LIVE OFF YOU" BY X-RAY SPEX]

Act Four. And I Love Her.

Ira Glass

Act four, Sleeping with your Enemy. We have this story about what's hidden inside of us, the secret agents within. From writer Etgar Keret. Among other things, he says that it's a story about his real-life girlfriend. Actor Matt Malloy reads it for us. A warning to listeners before we begin, this story mentions the existence of sex.

Matt Malloy

Surprised? Of course I was surprised. You go out with a girl. First date, second date, a restaurant here, a movie there, always just matinees. You start sleeping together, sex is dynamite, and pretty soon there's feeling too.

And then, one day, she arrives all weepy, and you hug her and tell her to take it easy, that everything's OK, but she says she can't stand it anymore, she has this secret, not just a secret, something really awful, a curse, something she's been wanting to tell you the whole time but she didn't have the guts.

This thing, it's been weighing down on her like a ton of bricks and now she's got to tell you, she's simply got to. But she knows that as soon as she does, you'll leave her, and you'd be absolutely right, too. And right after that, she starts crying all over again.

"I won't leave you," you tell her. "I won't. I love you." You may look a little upset, but you're not. And even if you are, it's about her crying, not about her secret.

You know by now that these secrets that always make a woman fall to pieces are usually nothing. And you hug them and say, "It's all right, it's OK." Or "Shh" if they don't stop.

"It's something really terrible," she insists, as if she's picked up on how nonchalant you are about it, even though you tried to hide it. "In the pit of your stomach it may sound terrible," you tell her, "but that's mostly because of the acoustics. Soon as you let it out, it won't seem nearly as bad, you'll see."

And she almost believes it. She hesitates a minute and then asks, "What if I told you that at night I turn into a heavy, hairy man, with no neck, with a gold ring on his pinky? Would you still love me?" And you tell her of course you would. What else can you say, that you wouldn't? She's simply trying to test you, to see whether you love her unconditionally. And you've always been a winner at tests.

Truth is, as soon as you say it, she melts, and you screw, right there in the living room. And afterward, you lie there holding each other tight, and she cries, because she's so relieved. And you cry too. Go figure.

And unlike all the other times, she doesn't get up and leave. She stays there and falls asleep. You lie awake looking at her beautiful body, at the sunset outside, at the moon appearing as if out of nowhere, at the silvery light flickering over her body, stroking the hair on her back.

And within less than five minutes you find yourself lying next to this guy. This short, fat guy. And the guy gets up and smiles at you, and gets dressed awkwardly. He leaves the room and you follow him, spellbound.

He's in the den now, his thick fingers fiddling with the remote, zapping to the sports channels. Championship football. When they miss a pass, he curses the TV. When they score, he gets up and does this little victory dance.

After the game, he tells you that his throat is dry and his stomach is growling. He could really use a beer and a nice hunk of meat. Well done, if possible, with lots of onion rings, but he'd settle for some pork chops too. So you get in the car and take him to this restaurant that he knows about and you don't.

This new twist has you worried, it really does, but you have no idea what to do about it. Your command and control centers are down. You shift gears at the exit, in a daze. He's right there beside you in the passenger seat, tapping that gold-ringed pinky of his. At the next intersection, he rolls down his window, winks at you, and yells at this chick who's thumbing a ride, "Hey, baby, wanna play nanny goat and ride in the back?"

Later, the two of you pack in the steak and the chops and the onion rings till you're about to explode, and he enjoys every bite, and laughs like a baby. And all that time, you keep telling yourself it's got to be a dream. A bizarre dream, yes, but definitely one that you'll snap out of any minute.

On the way back, you ask him where to let him off, and he pretends not to hear you, but he looks despondent. So you wind up taking him back home with you. It's almost 3 AM. "I'm going to hit the sack," you tell him, and he waves to you, stays in the beanbag chair, staring at the fashion channel.

You wake up the next morning, exhausted, with a slight stomachache. And there she is, in the living room, still dozing. By the time you've had your shower, she's up. She hugs you guiltily, and you're too embarrassed to say anything.

Time goes by and you're still together. The sex just gets better and better. And she's not so young anymore, and neither are you, and suddenly find yourselves talking about a baby. And at night, you and the fatso guy hit the town like you've never done in your life. He takes you to restaurants and bars you didn't even know existed, and you dance on tables together, break plates like there's no tomorrow.

He's really nice, the fatso guy, a little crass, especially with women, sometimes coming out with things that make you just want to die. But other than that, he's great fun to be with.

When you first met him, you didn't give a damn about football, but now you know every team. And whenever one of your favorites wins, you feel like you've made a wish and it's come true. Which is a pretty exceptional feeling for someone like you, who hardly knows what he wants most of the time.

And so it goes. Every night you fall asleep with him struggling to stay awake for the early scores on ESPN, and in the morning there she is. The beautiful forgiving woman that you love too till it hurts.

Ira Glass

Matt Malloy, reading Etgar Keret's story "Fatso." Keret is the author of a book of short stories called The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God. His story was translated into English by Miriam Shlesigner. Publishers take note. "Fatso" is part of a book of great short stories, brand new. It is looking for an American publisher.

Special thanks today to Danny Miller, Jennifer Swihart, Tim Lavin, Bob Carlson, Brett Grossman, Scott Carrier, Peter Gray. Music help from conciliary Sarah Vowell. Our website, www.thisamericanlife.org, where you can listen to our shows for absolutely free. Or buy CDs of them. You know, you can download audio of our program at audible.com/thisamericanlife. With a public radio programs best selling books. Even the New York Times, all at audible.com.

This American Life is distributed by Public Radio International. Funding for our show is provided by Volkswagen of America and the Phaeton, featuring an air suspension system that can be adjusted to one of four performance settings on the fly. The Phaeton, it's the most Volkswagen you can get without a prescription. More at vw.com. WBEZ management oversight for our program by Torey Malatia, who has just one question for you:

Matt Malloy

Hey baby, wanna play nanny goat and ride in the back?

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass, back next week with more stories of This American Life.

Announcer

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