PBS: THE WAR IN IRAQ THROUGH A PHOTOGRAPHERS EYES 3 OF 3
It is unnatural for journalists to allow themselves to be limited to cover any situation, particularly a war, such as the one in Iraq. There are some advantages to embedding, but its disadvantages are greater.
The reality of providing real coverage as a photographer becomes such that it’s only possible if you have a small army of trusted armed guards. This is a very costly option. The only other option is to embed with a U.S. military unit. I have embedded in Baghdad with a Division of the Army’s First Cavalry, 256 out of Louisiana, which also has the New York Guards, the 69th, attached to it.
The day-to-day reality of Iraq is not as positive as the path the country is taking with the Jan. 30 national elections. The election was a great thing for the Iraqi people. The Shia majority for once appear to have taken the lead after decades of Sunni control of everything. The good guys wear ski masks — the Iraqi Police and the Iraqi National Guard — in order to hide their identity while providing security around here. And the bad guys carry out all acts of terrorism in broad daylight, yet no one ever volunteers to come forward with any information.
Sometimes Iraqis talk and identify some of these terrorists, but that’s mostly through intelligence gathering. Today the unit that I have been going out with, a Charlie Company with Louisiana National Guards’ First Battalion, took an Iraqi informant on a mission with them. They brought him in with an armored Humvee, gave him a ski mask and body armor and took him out to Abu Ghraib to identify some potential targets with a platoon of soldiers. Evidently he was so scared that they asked me not to come. He was supposed to point out some locations for future raids. All I know from that mission is what I wrote here. This is one of the problems of being embedded.
By Ramin Talaie