Selinsgrove residents questioned terrorists - June 9, 2005
HUMMELS WHARF , Renee and Stephen Furbush have looked into the faces of Middle Eastern terrorists, including Saddam Hussein's relatives, and pulled details from them about their mission to destroy America.
The Furbushes worked the past few years as U.S. Army interrogators before retiring recently to the Central Susquehanna Valley.
After many months apart, they were reunited Friday when Mrs. Furbush
The slower pace is a "little boring," Mrs. Furbush
said, but a welcome change.
It's about time, said Mr. Furbush
"I knew I didn't want to sit at a desk all day," Mrs. Furbush
Local couple spent months interrogating insurgentsHer path to Tikrit, Iraq, where she worked as a senior Army interrogator from February 2004 until February 2005 began shortly after her 30th birthday nine years ago.
Armed with an engineering/drafting degree from Westmoreland Community College
, Mrs. Furbush
worked in that field for several years until she
became restless and decided a change was needed.In 1996, she followed her parents' footsteps and joined the Army.A veteran volunteer member of the Civil Air Patrol, Mrs. Furbush was convinced the military would be a good fit.
was quickly given the option of learning a foreign language at the prestigious Defense Language Institute and immediately thought of the time she
family lived in Iran from 1977 to 1979.Mrs. Furbush
two siblings were evacuated from that country during the 1979 hostage crisis, but the memories were pleasant enough that she
jumped at the chance to learn Arabic, wrongly believing it was the language spoken in Iran.
At the institute in California, Mrs. Furbush
future husband and got a crash course in the language and customs of Arabs.
For Mr. Furbush
, enrolling in the institute was a "lifelong" goal.He
enlisted in 1974 and spent 15 years in Germany.By 1996, he had left the military, joined the Reserves and was living in Florida when the opportunity to learn a language at the institute came up.
Brought together for different reasons, the pair continued their rigorous 1 1/2-year Arabic-language training together after their 1997 wedding.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the Furbushes were on vacation in Pompano Beach, Fla.
Since no flights were available to carry them back to Mrs. Furbush's
base at Fort Gordon, Ga., they called the local National Guard unit and offered their services, teaching a class in Arabic.
Although Mr. Furbush
wasn't on active duty like his
was the first to get to Iraq in 2003 and stayed for eight months.
"I was in the third Humvee that arrived in Quatar," he
wife watched on television from Germany as he
rolled into the country.
One year later, Mrs. Furbush
was sent to Tikrit, Iraq, and for the next 12 months interrogated 400 detainees and went out on raids with U.S. soldiers.
One raid was carried out while "bullets were flying and rockets were hitting the houses," she
"I wasn't scared, maybe because I can speak the language and I could hear what (the residents) were yelling," she
presence also made it easier for soldiers when they entered homes occupied by only women and children.
Among the several hundred detainees she
interviewed were Saddam's nephews and cousin.
"I sent them to Abu Ghraib (prison)," Mrs. Furbush
said."They were lying, and I knew it."
In 2004, Mr. Furbush
returned to Iraq as a civilian interrogator.He
arrived at Abu Ghraib prison soon after reports of widespread abuse of detainees by U.S. soldiers.
"That happened with untrained interrogators.They were not professionals," Mr. Furbush
blames their actions for causing the slew of beheadings of foreigners and said professional interrogators never treat detainees inhumanely.
"I resent the soldiers who weren't monitored," she
To ensure against any abuse, cameras are now trained on the interviews, an addition welcomed by the Furbushes.
Like many soldiers, the Furbushes are dismayed by the negative reports coming out of Iraq.
"There is a lot of humanitarian aid" being provided by U.S. military to the Iraqis, Mr. Furbush
recounts stories of villagers with "tears in their eyes" accepting food from soldiers and a father of 10 whose disabled daughter was able to walk with milk crates fashioned as a walker after receiving physical therapy. Mr. Furbush
retired from military service last August and moved in with his
father-in-law to wait for his
operates Furbush Services
, a drywall hanging and finishing business.
looking forward to civilian life and sharing it with his
wife, "There is no soldier more proud to have served than I."
Almost immediately after moving to Hummels Wharf last week, Mrs. Furbush
landed a job at LeFevre Wilk Architects in Selinsgrove.She
looks forward to the job with hope, just as she
husband view the situation in Iraq.
Even after looking into the defiant eyes of Iraqi terrorists, they are hopeful that the country will eventually regain peace.
"I love the Arabs and I love Iraqis," Mrs. Furbush