John Barry

Stories by John Barry

  • IRAQ: STEPPED-UP SCRUTINY?

    In case a future Iraqi leader decides that Iran's nuclear ambitions next door mean Iraq should restart Saddam Hussein's nuclear-, chemical- or biological-weapon program, what kind of inter-national monitoring should the country be subject to? "The question is starting to bubble up," says a British official who is not allowed by his government to speak for attribution.Demetrios Perricos, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, the agency probing Iraq's WMD work before the U.S. invasion, raised the issue in the United Nations Security Council in June. France and Russia both indicated that they thought Iraq would need to accept continued special inspections. The United States did not comment because Iraqi politicians are reportedly adamant that the new, sovereign Iraq will accept no special constraints or monitoring. "They are demanding the same treatment as any other nation," says a U.N. official who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity...
  • DRAWING DOWN IRAQ

    Donald Rumsfeld doesn't like long-term occupations. He's always made that clear. After U.S. forces took Baghdad, the Defense secretary had plans to reduce the U.S. presence in Iraq to 40,000 troops by the fall of 2003. Then the insurgency struck.Now Rumsfeld is quietly moving toward his original goal--three years late. The Pentagon has developed a detailed plan in recent months to scale down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq to about 80,000 by mid-2006 and down to 40,000 to 60,000 troops by the end of that year, according to two Pentagon officials involved in the planning who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of their work. Their account squares with a British memo leaked in mid-July. "Emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006, allowing a reduction in overall [U.S. and Coalition forces] from 176,000 down to 66,000," says the Ministry of Defense memo.Gen. George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces...
  • Blair's New Rules

    The Brits, beneath their polite exteriors, are relentless people. They do not forgive those who betray them. During World War II, an Irishman named William Joyce became infamous in England as "Lord Haw-Haw," a mocking voice broadcasting from Berlin, gloating over the deaths and destruction of British cities. At Joyce's trial in 1945, it was established that, during at least his first broadcasts, he had held a passport as a British citizen-while, as his indictment put it, "he did aid and assist the enemies of the King." British law, going back to mediaeval times, is stark in its clarity: "Protection gives allegiance; allegiance gives protection". Loyalty and citizenship are a two-way bargain. Joyce, enjoying protection as a British citizen, owed allegiance to Britain. He was hanged for high treason.Prime Minister Tony Blair's new crackdown on the seedbeds and instruments of Islamic terrorism in the UK is a watershed not merely for Britain but for the West more widely. Blair, in...
  • CHOPPER DOWN OVER KUNAR

    The two special forces Chinook helicopters had come in, unfortunately, at sunset. They were racing to rescue their comrades on the ground. Onboard the lead chopper--a giant, twin-rotor beast called an MH-47--were eight Navy SEALs and an eight-man Army flight crew. The SEAL commandos, part of a supersecret task force hunting down "high value" Qaeda and Taliban fugitives, were searching for a lost reconnaissance team in the treacherous Kunar border region of Afghanistan. The recon team had been ambushed in the heavily forested mountains in midafternoon on June 28, apparently by Taliban fighters who may have been protecting the wanted rogue Afghan commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.But the timing of the rescuers' arrival, at dusk, turned the Chinooks into fat targets: noisy black shapes silhouetted against a glowing western sky. And apparently the enemy was waiting. As the helicopters lumbered overhead near the Afghan town of Asadabad, they encountered heavy fire from the ground. A...
  • WAR OF NERVES

    Generals must always speak truth to civilian power. That is the conclusion of a book considered to be required reading by many senior officers in the Pentagon. "Dereliction of Duty," by Maj. (now Col.) H. R. McMaster, argues that the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to do their duty by failing to level with the president, the Congress and the American people about the true costs and requirements of fighting the Vietnam War. McMaster, who is now commanding the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, has briefed at least one gathering of four-star generals. "You need to hear this," former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton told McMaster's audience, America's top 17 four-stars, over a breakfast in January 1998. The message these senior officers were supposed to take away is to be honest about foreign interventions like Iraq--to always tell the hard realities to their civilian masters.But do they? Almost every week, President George W. Bush holds a regularly scheduled...
  • MOVING THE FURNITURE

    Connecticut has been a bulwark of America's naval defenses since the Revolutionary War. But last week the 21st century suddenly hit home in the worst way. The Pentagon said it planned to shutter the state's historic Groton sub base, delivering the single biggest loss of military jobs (8,460) in the country. "We're a culture of boat builders," Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said sadly. "From the Mystic Seaport to the old whaling city New London. So there'll be a psychological impact." For barber Joe Quaratella Jr.--who's been cutting Navy hair for 46 years--it's a more direct blow: he could be kissing his retirement goodbye. "I already work six days a week, but I'd have to work seven days and work nights," says Quaratella. "We have to pay the bills, you know?"So does Donald Rumsfeld, and that's the problem. The Defense secretary's proposal to close 33 major U.S. military bases and reduce another 29 in size, a plan two years in the making...
  • A DEADLY GUESSING GAME

    Don't ask America's top brass exactly how the Iraq war is going. They don't know. The various U.S. services have never managed to agree on a unified system for gauging successes and failures in the counterinsurgency campaign. Instead, everyone uses a different yardstick. Recently the National Intelligence Council, the information clearinghouse for America's spy services, produced a study of the problem. NEWSWEEK has learned that the document, which remains classified, urges that the present babel of war assessments be replaced with a coherent system, one that would help U.S. forces react faster and more effectively to shifting insurgent tactics and other challenges. The paper's overall tone is "not uplifting," according to a source familiar with its contents. In blunt terms, things are looking grim. How grim? It's anybody's guess.Good luck finding someone in the administration to make that guess. America's Iraq policy is like a ghost ship these days. The administration has tried to...
  • GITMO: SOUTHCOM SHOWDOWN

    Investigators probing interrogation abuses at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay have confirmed some infractions alleged in internal FBI e-mails that surfaced late last year. Among the previously unreported cases, sources tell NEWSWEEK: interrogators, in an attempt to rattle suspects, flushed a Qur'an down a toilet and led a detainee around with a collar and dog leash. An Army spokesman confirms that 10 Gitmo interrogators have already been disciplined for mistreating prisoners, including one woman who took off her top, rubbed her finger through a detainee's hair and sat on the detainee's lap. (New details of sexual abuse--including an instance in which a female interrogator allegedly wiped her red-stained hand on a detainee's face, telling him it was her menstrual blood--are also in a new book to be published this week by a former Gitmo translator.)These findings, expected in an upcoming report by the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, could put former Gitmo commander Maj....
  • TIP SHEET

    Travel: Spring For BroadwayBy Raina KelleyMissed Christo's "The Gates"? Not to worry. Come to New York this spring and you can still see killer rabbits, Denzel in Valentino and a flying car. Broadway is about to open its best season in years, with lots of promising new musicals (including "Twelfth Night" set to Elvis), enough revivals for a Theater 101 class and stars like Jessica Lange, John Lithgow, Kathleen Turner, James Earl Jones and Alan Alda packed into 10 city blocks. If you're trying to save money, go to Kansas City, because even we can't make New York seem like a bargain. But if you want to see great theater, avoid wasting your time and money, and maneuver the theater district like a native, take our advice.Grab a seat: Get started at Telecharge (telecharge.com) or Ticketmaster (ticketmaster.com), but remember that you'll pay full price plus at least $8 in fees. Check Broadway Box (broadwaybox.com) for free discount codes that can save you up to 50 percent. Last time we...
  • Reforming the United Nations

    Administration officials hit the phones before George Bush's choice of John Bolton as United Nations ambassador was announced earlier this month. Secretary of State Condi Rice phoned U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan; the White House phoned foreign leaders. Heads-up on these occasions is standard etiquette; but the callers' message this time was part reassurance, part veiled threat: Bolton's naming showed that Bush is serious about the United Nations--but equally determined to see it reform.Reactions to the nomination of Bolton--whose incendiary remarks about the global organization have included comments like "there is no such thing as the United Nations"--have ranged from bewildered to apoplectic. Yet Bush's timing may be better than it seems. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has proposed, in a major speech to the General Assembly today, the most radical reforms in the U.N.'s 60-year history. Much of what he has suggested responds directly to U.S. criticisms. Other proposals will...
  • RUFFLING FEATHERS

    John Bolton didn't particularly want this job. And Condoleezza Rice didn't especially want to be introducing Bolton as America's next ambassador to the United Nations, some Bush administration officials say. Not so soon after her boss, George W. Bush, seemed to make so much progress working his "new diplomacy" in Europe last month. Bolton, a fiery libertarian, has spent much of his career blasting the United Nations in public, calling it an example of global government gone wild. Rice, the new secretary of State, had refused to make him her chief deputy despite what even Bolton's friends admit was his intense campaign to win that post last fall. No surprise, then, that Rice seemed ill at ease last week, her smile dimmer than usual, says one official at the announcement. "It was utterly inconceivable that this was her initiative," said the official.The U.N. job is, in fact, Bolton's consolation prize. The administration's chief arms-control official has made many enemies abroad among...
  • DIVIDE AND CONQUER

    A not-so-funny thing happened on George Bush's trip to Europe last week. He went to ease the tension over the war in Iraq, but wound up laying bare a new dispute over China. Bush urged the European Union to reconsider plans to lift a 15-year-old arms embargo on Beijing, and the leaders of Europe politely but clearly declined. Once again, Washington and Brussels hold deeply conflicting views of an ambitious power. Only imperial Iraq was a Saddam Hussein fantasy. China is clearly an emerging superpower. The question that now divides the West is: what kind of superpower?This split could be very dangerous, and not only to transatlantic relations, because the Chinese regime looks invulnerable to change. The question of how Beijing will exercise its growing strength, and how the West should respond, will only grow in importance. And the debate in Brussels last week seemed to crystallize two very different answers. "There's a sense that we're just talking past each other," says one U.S....
  • Technology: When Toys Talk Back

    You'll be tickled by what Elmo can do now. This fall Fisher-Price will introduce a new talking plush toy based on the "Sesame Street" character that says your child's name, counts down to his birthday and lets him know when it's time for lunch. The technology is made possible through a memory card in the doll's stomach that receives information from parents.By now, adults have learned all about interactive toys like the virtual pet Tamagotchi. But the latest kids' gadgetry, unveiled last week at New York's American International Toy Fair, involves even more sophisticated technology, like motion detectors and sound recognition. The idea is to create toys that look, feel and act like living creatures. Critics say such toys can stifle creativity, but kids love them. The generation who grew up playing with their parents' cell phones and iPods expect their toys to be just as wired. "By 2010," predicts Jim Silver, the editor of Toy Wishes magazine, "they're going to have a toy dog that...
  • Tip Sheet

    You'll be tickled by what Elmo can do now. This fall Fisher-Price will introduce a new talking plush toy based on the "Sesame Street" character that says your child's name, counts down to his birthday and lets him know when it's time for lunch. The technology is made possible through a memory card in the doll's stomach that receives information from parents.By now, adults have learned all about interactive toys like the virtual pet Tamagotchi. But the latest kids' gadgetry, unveiled last week at New York's American International Toy Fair, involves even more sophisticated technology, like motion detectors and sound recognition. The idea is to create toys that look, feel and act like living creatures. Critics say such toys can stifle creativity, but kids love them. The generation who grew up playing with their parents' cell phones and iPods expect their toys to be just as wired. "By 2010," predicts Jim Silver, the editor of Toy Wishes magazine, "they're going to have a toy dog that...
  • NUCLEAR OFFENSE

    What does Kim Jong Il really want? No one knows, of course--even the best intelligence on North Korea is sketchy--but it's a fair bet that the diminutive dictator wants to stay alive. Kim is said to be desperately worried. He is believed to move around a lot, traveling from palace to palace as Saddam Hussein once did. He disappears entirely from view for weeks. Kim even occasionally removes his pictures from buildings in Pyongyang, the capital city, in order to promote the idea that collective leadership is displacing his "Great Leader" cult. (He may be hoping to avoid a U.S. smart bomb with his name on it.) The one thing Kim has going for him is that most of the world fears that he has doomsday weapons. According to a visitor who met the dictator in Pyongyang recently, Kim said he could not give up his nuclear bombs because his million-man Army is hopelessly outmoded--leaving him at the mercy of the American military.George W. Bush has given Kim ample reason to worry. The president...
  • WASHINGTON: A GRIM MARCH OF MISSTEPS

    Rule one for fighting an insurgency: military might alone won't work. You need a political strategy. That means the local population must be given reasons to turn in the insurgents: security, jobs, a legitimate government. Jerry Bremer was supposed to bring that to the table when the patrician career diplomat landed in Baghdad in mid-May 2003 and--rushing from meeting to meeting in his blue blazer and combat boots--sought to put a benign face on the U.S. occupation. By his own admission, Bremer, an international consultant based in Washington at the time, knew little about Iraq when he arrived. "I was a businessman until more or less 10 days before I got there," he says.What Iraq's civil administrator didn't realize was that the vast military occupation he was taking over knew as little as he did. Some Pentagon officials had placed their hopes in neocon favorite Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi exile who had pushed for the war and was flown in ahead of retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner, the...
  • Tip Sheet

    By Steven LevyEvery January, apple CEO Steve Jobs appears without introduction (yeah, like he needs one) at the Macworld Expo, in a black turtleneck and jeans. And he proceeds to come up with something that puts a decided bulge in technology's envelope. You can usually be sure of three things about the stuff he unveils in this San Francisco event: it's gorgeous, it's easy to use and it ain't cheap.Well, this year he hit two out of three. The products Jobs unveiled in his keynote--the iPod Shuffle music player and the Mac mini computer--are beautifully designed objects that are as friendly, if not more so, than their predecessors. But in a welcome break with its premium-priced past, Apple is aiming for the lower end of the market, to maintain dominance in the music world and to prop up PC market share.For penny pinchers yearning to jump on the iPod bandwagon, the iPod Shuffle will be irresistible. To compete in the low-cost "flash memory" technology market (using a memory chip on the...
  • 'The Salvador Option'

    What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon's latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"--and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November's operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency--as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time--than in spreading it out.Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported ...
  • 'HILLBILLY ARMOR'

    Predators know to hunt the weakest animal in the herd. So do the Iraqi insurgents. It is an essential truth about the Iraq war that's ingrained in soldiers like Pvt. Daniel Rocco, a Humvee gunner with the Second Battalion of the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment. Rocco's unit is an artillery regiment trained for conventional warfare, not escorting convoys. But the "Steel Dragons" of the Second now spend most of their days protecting the weak: VIP visitors and 18-wheel trucks loaded with food or other supplies on the road to Baghdad. In the process Rocco's unit gets hit regularly with small-arms fire, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and even suicide car bombs. He displays reddish pockmarks and scar tissue up his right arm, the effects of an IED from last May. "I really can't close my right hand," he says. And Rocco's Humvee is, today, equipped--with "Gypsy racks"--steel-plated cages around the gunner--and other add-on, improvised hardware, known as "hillbilly armor." "It's Mel Gibson...
  • PERSICOPE

    IRANA Temporary TruceHas one of the world's hot spots begun to cool off? In the run-up to the U.S. election, both George W. Bush and John Kerry knew that Iran's nuclear ambitions would be the next big issue on the foreign-policy agenda. And heated rhetoric (read: strong calls for U.N. sanctions on Iran coming from Washington hawks in recent weeks) seemed to indicate that the war of words would only escalate. But shortly before his re-election on Tuesday, Bush was handed a "Get out of jail free" card, should he choose to use it. Iranian President Mohammed Khatami declared that Iran would never sacrifice its right to pursue nuclear technology--namely, its uranium-enrichment program. But at the same time, he suggested that temporary suspension of these activities was now a feasible option. He also declared himself open to negotiations ahead of talks with the European Union in Paris this Friday.Why the turnaround? The main reason, it seems, is that the EU--led by Britain, France and...
  • 'I MEAN, RAISE PURE HELL'

    The first call came at 5:30 a.m., when Teresa Hill was asleep in her Dothan, Ala., home. Too groggy to move, she let the answering machine pick it up. "Hi, Mom. It's me, Amber. This is a real, real big emergency. I need you to contact someone. I mean, raise pure hell." Still half asleep, Hill listened as her daughter, a reservist with the 343rd Quartermaster Company stationed in Iraq, explained in a shaking voice that she and 18 other soldiers in her platoon were being held under armed guard. All had refused to go on a dangerous mission to deliver jet fuel. "We had broken-down trucks, nonarmored vehicles... They are holding us against our will. We are prisoners. I need you now, Mom. I need you so bad. Please, just please help me. I love you, Mom. This is very serious. I will call as soon as I can."Jolted awake, Hill reached for the phone. But the answering-machine tape had cut out, ending the call. A moment later, Hill's cell phone rang. It was Amber. She continued her story,...
  • MADMEN, ROGUES & NUKES

    Even Jim Lehrer, the moderator, seemed a bit surprised. He twice asked the candidates: both of you really believe this is the "single most serious threat" to America? Nuclear proliferation is, after all, a classic wonk's issue. But George W. Bush and John Kerry agreed on this and little else in their debate last week: the spread of nuclear fissile material, equipment and know-how is their top national-security priority. And America's No. 1 nightmare is that proliferation may yield a nuclear device detonated by terrorists in a U.S. city.What the president and his challenger sharply disagree on is what to do about nuclear proliferation. For Bush, counterproliferation is mainly about facing down hostile or rogue states, most notably Iraq. One Bush success has been his Proliferation Security Initiative, an ad hoc coalition of naval powers that stop shipments of nuclear contraband.Kerry, on the other hand, tends to focus less on hostile states than on careless or corrupt ones like Russia...
  • The Missing Medal

    A previously undisclosed Navy record obtained by NEWSWEEK supports John Kerry's claim that he was under fire when he rescued a U.S. Green Beret who had pitched overboard from Kerry's 50-foot Swift Boat during a short but intense engagement in Vietnam's Mekong Delta in March 1969.Kerry was awarded a Bronze Star for his actions that day. But the organization Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a tax-exempt "527" advocacy group, has challenged Kerry's Vietnam record--in particular that Kerry was under hostile fire when he pulled the Green Beret, Jim Rassmann, from the water.Kerry's was one of three Bronze Stars awarded for actions during this incident. Another went to the commander of a second Swift Boat, Larry Thurlow. Thurlow is now one of the core members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He has sworn an affidavit saying the Swift Boats were not under hostile fire during the rescue. Thurlow's own Bronze Star citation contradicts this, but Thurlow insists the citation is false and has...
  • A BATTLE OVER BLAME

    James Schlesinger has always been a hawk. But in four decades of public life, the square-jawed former professor has also been known as mulishly independent, whether as Defense and Energy secretary or CIA director. (President Gerald Ford, annoyed by Schlesinger's arrogance, fired him.) All of which could add up to an unpleasant surprise for another old Washington lion who is not renowned for his humility: Donald Rumsfeld. In mid-August, the commission that Schlesinger chairs--handpicked by Rumsfeld from members of his own Defense Policy Board--is expected to issue its final report on abuses by U.S. interrogators stemming from the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. NEWSWEEK has learned the Schlesinger panel is leaning toward the view that failures of command and control at the Pentagon helped create the climate in which the abuses occurred.The four-member commission's report is still being drafted and its final conclusions are not yet definite. But there is strong sentiment to assign some...
  • AN AFGHAN MYSTERY

    It's an ordinary-looking house, painted green, in a rundown neighborhood on Kabul's outskirts. The landlord says he rented it to an American who told him he was in the rug-export business. This is where Jonathan Keith (Jack) Idema, a onetime Green Beret from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., is accused of running his own private interrogation center. Afghan police raided the house on a tip from U.S. Coalition authorities, freeing seven Afghan captives and arresting Idema, 48, and two other Americans on charges of assault and kidnapping. Afghan officials said their group, which they called Task Force Sabre 7, were freelancers who posed as U.S. officials and allegedly tortured their prisoners to get information.Idema's defenders insist he is a true patriot who was hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden. "The United States has put a $25 million bounty on this guy, so why all of a sudden this 'tsk, tsk' when someone goes after him?" says Ken Kelch, a filmmaker and former Special Forces soldier who knows...
  • A TORTURED DEBATE

    Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was America's first big trophy in the war on terror: a senior Qaeda operative captured amid the fighting in Afghanistan. What is less known is that al-Libi, who ran Qaeda training camps, quickly became the subject of a bitter feud between the FBI and the CIA over how to interrogate terror suspects. At the time of al-Libi's capture on Nov. 11, 2001, the questioning of detainees was still the FBI's province. For years the bureau's "bin Laden team" had sought to win suspects over with a carrots-and-no-sticks approach: favors in exchange for cooperation. One terrorist, in return for talking, even wangled a heart transplant for his child.With al-Libi, too, the initial approach was to read him his rights like any arrestee, one former member of the FBI team told NEWSWEEK. "He was basically cooperating with us." But this was post-9/11; President Bush had declared war on Al Qaeda, and in a series of covert directives, he had authorized the CIA to set up secret...
  • THE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL COVER-UP?

    The meeting was small and unpublicized. In a room on the third floor of the Old Executive Office Building last week, Condoleezza Rice grittily endured an hour's worth of pleading from leading human-rights activists who want to see a 9/11-style commission created to investigate the abuse of detainees in the war on terror. According to participants, the president's national-security adviser didn't repeat the line that George W. Bush had delivered to the American people in a speech two days before: that the scandal was the work of "a few American troops who dishonored our country." Nor did Rice try to make the case that by razing Iraq's Abu Ghraib Prison--a Bush proposal that took even his Defense secretary by surprise--administration officials would put the scandal behind them. "I recognize we have a very grave problem," Rice said, according to Scott Horton, a New York lawyer at the meeting whose account was corroborated by another participant. "There are major investigations going on...
  • The Roots Of Torture

    It's not easy to get a member of Congress to stop talking. Much less a room full of them. But as a small group of legislators watched the images flash by in a small, darkened hearing room in the Rayburn Building last week, a sickened silence descended. There were 1,800 slides and several videos, and the show went on for three hours. The nightmarish images showed American soldiers at Abu Ghraib Prison forcing Iraqis to masturbate. American soldiers sexually assaulting Iraqis with chemical light sticks. American soldiers laughing over dead Iraqis whose bodies had been abused and mutilated. There was simply nothing to say. "It was a very subdued walk back to the House floor," said Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. "People were ashen."The White House put up three soldiers for court-martial, saying the pictures were all the work of a few bad-apple MPs who were poorly supervised. But evidence was mounting that the furor was only going to grow and...
  • Rough Justice In Iraq

    Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski is angry. She says she warned her superiors from the first about the ill-treatment of Iraqi prisoners. As commander of the Army Reserve's 800th Military Police Brigade, she oversaw the guards at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, including those at Saddam Hussein's former torture center at Abu Ghurayb. The trouble was, Karpinski says, she didn't have enough troops or resources to do the job right, and the men at the top ignored her complaints. "They just wanted it to go away," she told NEWSWEEK last week. In the end, several of her soldiers apparently went out of control. The CBS News show "60 Minutes II" released snapshots last week of grinning guards at Abu Ghurayb forcing naked prisoners to pose in degrading positions. One picture showed a hooded prisoner perched on a box and holding a pair of wires; if he fell, his captors allegedly told him, he would be electrocuted. "There's no excuse for what these people did," says Karpinski. "They're just bad...
  • The Human Cost

    The inaugural mission of the 1st Cavalry's 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment was, in its humble way, a bid for hearts and minds. It was to safely dispose of Iraqi sewage. Having arrived in Iraq in late March, a 19-man patrol from the battalion, traveling in four Humvees, had just finished escorting three Iraqi "honey wagons" on their rounds in the grim slum of Sadr City, where vendors stash eggs and chickens in bamboo crates next to puddles of viscous black mud. ("You're lucky if it's mud," joked one U.S. officer.) Suddenly the street became "a 300-meter-long kill zone," recalls platoon leader Sgt. Shane Aguero, courtesy of gunmen from the Mahdi militia of Shiite rebel Moqtada al-Sadr. The Humvees swerved and ran onto sidewalks, rolling on the rims of flat tires, as gunmen kept up the barrage of bullets. Sgt. Yihjyh (Eddie) Chen, gunner in the lead vehicle, was shot dead. Another soldier was hit and began bleeding from the mouth.And their trouble was just beginning. Two of the...
  • HAS THE WAR MADE US SAFER?

    A year ago this week, U.S. Marine Cpl. Edward Chin scaled the long arm of a tank-recovery vehicle to put a noose around the neck of Saddam Hussein's statue. Then he put an American flag over the dictator's metallic face, and for a few minutes, live around the world, that was the image television viewers saw of Iraq's liberation. A rumor spread, even on the airwaves, that this was the American flag that had flown over the World Trade Center before terrorists brought it down. That wasn't true, but the fiction felt good. Then Old Glory was taken away, and the Marines used their cranelike vehicle to topple the giant tyrant. Iraqis jumped up and down on the statue, beating it with their shoes, dismembering it, dragging it through the streets, and for a long moment, just then, most of us felt a little safer.Today you don't see many American flags in Iraq, except on soldiers' uniforms. (From the very beginning of the invasion, in fact, U.S. commanders decided the Stars and Stripes might...
  • THE HUNT HEATS UP

    Admirers of Bill McRaven like to tell a story of his courage and grit. Not against the enemy, but against the legendarily ruthless Dick Marcinko, a gung-ho Navy SEAL commander in the Vietnam era who used to swallow sacs of cobra venom and boast that "killing is my mission." Marcinko once ordered McRaven, then a young lieutenant on the super-elite SEAL Team Six, to perform "some questionable activities," recounts a former Special Forces commander. McRaven refused and "would not back down." (Marcinko did not return phone calls seeking comment.) "McRaven was a hero among all the junior officers for his stand," says the commander. "It was considered a career-ending move."Not quite. William H. McRaven, it seems, was too good an officer. Today he is a rear admiral, and his new job is one that could not rank higher on President George W. Bush's to-do list in election year 2004: nailing Osama bin Laden. It is a job that will require much ruthlessness--a good deal more of that, perhaps, than...