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December 30, 2006
Dateline Baghdad: "This is for Saddam."

Posted by Bill

Media watching media at the Baghdad convention center.

As Greyhawk notes, manifesting on an Air Force flight is not at all the same as actually getting on a flight; it's been a challenging day of travel. Lowlight: waking up in a tent at 3AM, dusted by a fine coating of chalky powder. Tasty. Highlight: a first helicopter ride over Baghdad. Just as you've seen in countless footage, the city is a tan sprawl of squat flats punctuated by architecturally impressive monuments, government buildings and palaces.

Brief anecdotes and impressions:

*** Iraqis seem friendly and engaging compared to many Kuwaitis, the latter of whom tend to look through rather than at you.

*** Last night/this morning in Kuwait was frigid. *$#%ing frigid, man.

*** A first coverage let-down: minutes after hitting the ground in Baghdad and getting checked in, I found out about a press conference to be given by the judge who denied Saddam's last appeal and attended the execution. I waited around for a bit with almost exclusively Iraqi media, but the newly-minted rock star didn't show.

*** Also staying at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) were a pair of kindly journalists, Swiss and German. My new Swiss friend was inspired to come to Iraq after reading about how few reporters were embedded with the military, a familiar motive.

Both showed determination to embed, as the European media outlets they approached for sponsorship coveted Iraq coverage yet refused to take responsibility for sending anyone into what's perceived as such a dangerous assignment. Despite the challenge, these guys found a way in and scooped at least Europe on a pre-execution interview with the aforementioned Iraqi judge. Good on you, fellas. In America we call that "moxie."

*** Despite complaints about the embed approval process and challenging travel, the extent to which Public Affairs personnel are tasked with accommodating my needs pleasantly surprises me.

*** I met a young Iraqi woman who proudly mentioned that she was a journalist and sparkled with excitement at meeting Western media. Her enthusiasm was touching and contagious.

*** A soldier accompanying me to the PX received a piece of candy after his haircut. Unremarkable, except for recent events and the Iraqi barber's accompanying message: "This is for Saddam," followed by a smile and giddy laugh.

I'll stay in Baghdad tomorrow and try to scare up some post-hanging coverage, and then it's off to Fallujah to embed with some of the same Police Transition Teams written about by Bill Roggio. In addition to complementing his fantastic coverage, this will serve as a requisite book-end for a comparison of Fallujah and Ramadi.

Stay tuned.

Please support citizen journalism, as you are willing and able.

If you'd prefer to donate via check, please e-mail me and I'll provide you mailing instructions. Thank you for your support.

Posted by Bill at December 30, 2006 02:15 PM | TrackBack (4)

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No set of impressions is complete without "Judy, Judy, Judy."
Nice observations. More. Harder, faster, etc.

Posted by: Donnah at December 31, 2006 10:17 AM

keep the hits comin, Bill... better watch those
young enthusiastic female neo-journalists.. I was told there is a LOT of contagious stuff. time I donate, give an Iraqi kid a bottle of water.

Posted by: csason at December 31, 2006 11:45 AM

where should i send a check or is it easier/faster for you via credit? enjoyed your articles, thanks for enlightening us... thinking of you and stay safe.

Posted by: carrie cohen (rankin) at January 10, 2007 12:06 PM

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Posted by: axtohbj kihyqtu at January 10, 2007 04:21 PM



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