Rod Nordland

Stories by Rod Nordland

  • HERE LIES PEACE

    Imagine an alternative America for a moment, in which the black minority had ruled for hundreds of years. Whites were excluded from public office, rarely allowed in the police or Army and largely disenfranchised. Jails filled to bursting with whites suspected of plotting against the black regime. Hispanics were discriminated against as well, targeted for massacre by poison gas, until a successful rebellion in the Southwest led to a self-governing Latino enclave around New Mexico, Arizona and southern California. A black dictator ran the rest of the country with such savagery that a foreign power toppled him, on the second try.It's easy to see where this rough analogy is going. It works well enough to help understand the depth of the enmities and passions underlying the crisis of an Iraqi transition from Sunni to Shia rule, with Kurds as the wild-card minority, and the difficulties of imposing a peaceful solution whatever the outcome of elections planned for Jan. 31, 2005. Many if...
  • Hell to Pay

    WHOEVER WINS, THE ROAD AHEAD IN IRAQ IS ROUGH. BOTH BUSH AND KERRY HAVE PLANS THAT DEPEND ON NEWLY TRAINED IRAQIS. BUT INSURGENTS ARE KILLING RECRUITS, AND INFILTRATING THE FORCES. A REPORT FROM THE FRONT.
  • A MARKET IN HUMAN LIVES

    The phone rang at 7:05 p.m. in Amman. Muhammed Ezza nearly knocked over a table as he grabbed the receiver. It was five minutes past the deadline that had been set by his brother's Iraqi abductors for a reply to their $500,000 ransom demand. Three dozen of Hisham Taleb Ezza's kinsmen--brothers, cousins and in-laws waited together last Wednesday evening in a room in the Jordanian capital. They had no way to scrape up such a fortune, but they were ready to empty their bank accounts, borrow against their pensions and sell their cars for anything they could raise. Hisham had been working in Baghdad as an accountant for Starlight, a transport company with U.S. military contracts in Iraq, when gunmen seized him on Oct. 2. Starlight's general director, a Jordanian named Muhammed Ajlouni, had quickly agreed to shut down the company's Iraqi operations, as the kidnappers ordered, but he said he couldn't raise a half-million dollars. "If you can't get the money," the kidnappers told the Ezzas,...
  • THE MEDIA: 'NO SENSE OF SAFETY'

    Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson doesn't scare easily. In April, radical armed Shiite militiamen detained the Middle East bureau chief for Knight Ridder newspapers on suspicion that she was a CIA agent. Sarhaddi Nelson eventually convinced her captors that she was a journalist and remained in Iraq to finish her monthlong assignment before taking a break. When she returned to Baghdad last month, even she was surprised by the breakdown of order in the city. "There is no sense of safety anywhere in Baghdad," says the Iranian-American reporter. "Journalists have became targets."Foreign journalists have joined U.S. troops, Arab truckdrivers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and European aid workers as attractive prey. In August, jihadists captured and killed an Italian reporter, and two French journalists were kidnapped days later; their whereabouts remain unknown. Last week CNN aired live footage of a rocket attack on a Baghdad hotel where Fox News and The Washington Post have offices. "It is absolutely...
  • No Place Is Safe

    Life In Baghdad: Some Suicide Bombings Don't Even Get Headlines Anymore
  • Freedom's Reign?

    At least now Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III can go home and buy a decent pair of shoes. He had on a blue suit over the usual incongruous hiking boots when he attended the furtive handover ceremony at which he formally ended the American occupation of Iraq and granted sovereignty to Iraq's interim government. For his 13 months as the American administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), he wore those boots. Was there mud in his armored car, or on the floorplates of his Blackhawk? Was he making that many tours of the farmlands of the Two Rivers? Even Iraqi officials who were disposed to like him, marveled at those boots. They were, at least, a constant reminder that this was a war zone, as if anyone here needed to be reminded.The ceremony itself was a fitting expression of the spin with which American officials have at least managed to persuade some of their friends, and perhaps even themselves, that all is well in Iraq. Officials at the CPA's Office of Strategic...
  • Puppets or Players?

    The whole event at the old Saddam Presidential Museum was very New Iraq, with a twist. The smell of raw human waste wafted up from the flooded toilets and permeated the entire building; Coalition Provisional Authority advance men said they had tried unsuccessfully for two weeks to get the plumbing fixed. High overhead, the Saddam Clock Tower was stuck at 8:05, still bombed out more than a year after the "shock and awe" military campaign.It was May 31, and everyone thought the inauguration of Iraq's new interim government, convened by the CPA in great secrecy, would be over in the Green Zone, so that's where the mortars were hitting; still, close enough to hear them. In the museum's conference hall, United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi introduced Iraq's nominal new leaders. And in the hour of speeches that followed, there was barely a single mention of the words "United States" or "America." Ambassador Paul Bremer, the CPA head, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. military...
  • The Man Who Won't Be Prime Minister

    For a day or two last week, it looked like the prime minister of the Iraqi government that is scheduled to take over when the Americans transfer sovereignty on July 1 would be a soft-spoken physicist named Hussain al-Shahristani, who once headed Iraq's Atomic Energy Commission and was jailed by Saddam Hussein for refusing to help develop nuclear weapons. United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's first choice for the post, Shahristani is a respected Shiite close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani but with no political affiliation or connection with the American occupation authorities. For the last year, Shahristani has been running a relief agency in Najaf and Karbala. Opposition to him from established politicians like Iyad Allawi, head of a CIA-backed exile group Iraqi National Accord, reportedly led Shahristani to withdraw from the running last week. The present U.S.-appointed Governing Council on Friday chose Allawi, also a Shiite, to head the government. NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland met...
  • The Decent Thing

    The meeting took place late last year, before the grotesque images out of Abu Ghraib. U.S. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the general in charge of the now-infamous prison, sat in on a staff meeting with Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, and his military legal team. The discussion: how to cope with overcrowding as detainees poured in. At one point a senior British officer spoke up. "The best solution is to find a way to release these people instead of building more and more detention facilities," he said. "Why don't we just do the decent thing?" Recalling the incident, Karpinski tried to conjure up the incredulity with which U.S. commanders greeted the Brit's effrontery: "They looked at him like, 'Who asked you?' "The Brits and the Americans have always done peacekeeping differently in Iraq. British paratroops in Basra favor berets and a less intimidating kit than the Kevlar-helmeted, body-armored Americans to the north. Older and wiser--or so they like to...
  • Moderates Feel The Heat

    Seldom have moderate Arab leaders felt so besieged by events. President George W. Bush gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon his unqualified backing on April 14 at the White House. Shortly afterward, Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz Rantisi was killed in a missile strike--prompting Jordan's King Abdullah to cancel his own visit to Washington.Saudi Arabia has seen new terrorist attacks; in Iraq, fighting has spread and the uneasy siege of Fallujah goes on. Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, a Sunni Muslim and billionaire ex-businessman, has presided over his country's reconstruction after 17 years of civil war, forging strong relations with Western countries as well as Arab neighbors. Last week he spoke with NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland in Beirut. Excerpts:NORDLAND: Have the prospects for Mideast peace ever seemed so bad?HARIRI: These are the most difficult days yet. We are witnessing a drastic change.With what effect on Arab moderates?What is happening between the Israelis and the...
  • Box Score for the War

    The U.S. military in Iraq doesn't like numbers, or at least it doesn't like to add them up. Soldiers killed in Iraq are announced, incident by incident, in terse press releases that give the scantest of details. The U.S. Marine Corps is the most parsimonious with information. When Marines are killed in Fallujah, which has happened often, the Corps has only this to say (as it did on April 14): "Four Marines assigned to 1 Marine Expeditionary Force were killed recently as a result of enemy action in the Al Anbar Province while conducting security and stability operations." The province covers a swath of Iraq bigger than Belgium, but Fallujah is where they're actually fighting.In addition to the minimalist announcements, the military avoids keeping any sort of running tallies, particularly when things are going badly. The Pentagon has also studiously refused to release estimates of enemy casualties, although these are indeed detailed in every after-action report. "We don't do body...
  • AVOIDING THE CROSS HAIRS

    They live in hiding. They move around Baghdad by stealth. They sneak into and out of the country by gloom of night, and when challenged by strangers for their nationality, they're ready with a practiced lie. Asked where they live, they name any old hotel rather than their safe house, which is littered with guns of a half-dozen types. They even resort to disguise and camouflage. Perhaps this is what it's like to be a terrorist hunted by the American military; I can't say. But for sure this is what it's like for those of us who are American civilians living and working in Iraq.I didn't anticipate this. When one of our translators confided last July that he hadn't even told his wife, let alone his neighbors, that he worked for Americans, I was skeptical. "She talks a lot," he explained. It turned out NEWSWEEK's other Iraqi staffers had done the same--and for good reason. As the months went by, and the military became harder to hit, the insurgents turned to soft targets. In the last few...
  • The Iraqi Intifada

    Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian philosopher who is required reading for all military officers, talked about the "culminating point" in a war, when an army's resources are outstripped by the demands placed upon it. That point may be approaching now in Iraq. "There are several million young men in Iraq who are now seeing us in a whole new light," says Pat Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. "We have something like 130,000 troops in Iraq.We probably do not have more than 60 thousand or 70 thousand fighters in that force. They are spread across a vast area." In Lang's view, the United States must either shift that tipping point by bringing in more troops, or we withdraw. "To back away from the hostiles will enormously encourage our enemies. We have no choice but to fight it out and defeat the growing revolt in Iraq," he says. "Once you drive your car off the cliff, there's not much you can do to affect the outcome."Maj. Gen. John Abizaid, the U.S. Army's Central...
  • Have Agent, Will Travel

    Here goes. I pick up the telephone and dial my travel agent, while on my computer the Web browser is loading. Google is up on the third ring; he answers on the fourth. I want to go to Salalah, Oman, a destination that I'm sure he's never sold before. While I explain that I'd like to find a good seaside hotel there--"Oman, not Amman"--I'm simultaneously typing "Salalah hotel beach" into the search engine. Up come a bewildering array of hits on Web sites you'd have never dreamed existed: "oman-hotels.reservations.org" seems likely. It turns out to be a dummy site, one of literally hundreds, that bounces me somewhere else. As I navigate from one to another, each trying to collect its little referral fee, I'm bombarded with pop-ups; I turn Ad-aware on and block them. By now my friendly human has named the three most likely hotels, and wants to know my dates.Meanwhile, I've turned in exasperation to a well-known travel site, Expedia, and come up with only two of the three hotels he's...
  • Open Season

    It's tempting to try to explain away the horror of the corpse-kicking crowd in Fallujah. The town is a special case, says this reasoning. A longtime Baathist stronghold, during Saddam's regime it was a sort of company town for his Mukhabarat, the secret police, in which young men served apprenticeships in torturing, snitching and assassinating. And during the opening days of the war, a misplaced bomb destroyed the family home of a prominent tribal leader, killing him and 16 members of his family. Some claim Sheik Malik had been a secret friend of the Americans, but now his huge tribe, the Yarba, are sworn to revenge.Another factor: in the first weeks of the U.S.-led occupation, a demonstration went wild and ended up with American soldiers from the 82d Airborne shooting 15 protesters dead in the streets. In this tribal Sunni Triangle town, that meant dozens more close relatives sworn to revenge. Then the U.S.'s First Marine Expeditionary Unit took over a few weeks ago, with much...
  • Shark Attacks

    When insurgents fired a rocket into the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel in downtown Baghdad yesterday, it was hardly the first time, and fortunately once again no one was hurt. What was remarkable was the Agence France-Presse wire story about the attack, quoting a journalist who lives in the heavily fortified hotel: " 'A rocket hit an air-conditioning unit on the sixth floor and knocked down a small portion of a wall,' the journalist said on condition of anonymity."Recently, another major American news organization moved its entire staff into the Sheraton, but its bureau chief asked that the organization's name be withheld, even though the hotel is crammed with other Western journalists. Another news organization, according to sources who cannot be named, was evacuating a translator after she received death threats for working for Americans. And a bureau chief for a third major news organization, who also asked to remain anonymous, said three of its local Iraqi staff had quit yesterday after...
  • SHEIK FADLALLAH

    Sheik Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah is the senior religious leader of Lebanon's 2 million Shia and spiritual leader of Hizbullah. Still classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, Hizbullah has more recently gone mainstream, fielding candidates in national elections, sponsoring social programs for the poor and banning the terrorist tactics espoused in the mid-1980s. NEWSWEEK's Baghdad bureau chief Rod Nordland spoke with the cleric at his well-guarded home in the Beirut suburbs. Excerpts:NORDLAND: Does the liberation of Iraq's Shia change your view of America?FADLALLAH: America is responsible for a great part of what Saddam did, including his obtaining WMD. It encouraged him in the war against Iran and later Kuwait, so as to legitimize its own military presence in the gulf. Saddam was a monster, but America supported that monster as it does many others in the world.Still, Saddam issued a death sentence against you. Don't you owe some debt of gratitude?None. America was...
  • Setting a Bad Example

    Spanish voters this week handed Al Qaeda its greatest victory yet in the war on terror. For the first time, it managed to topple an enemy's government, and change a major Western country's foreign policy. And they did it with only 10 small bombs, detonated apparently with cheap cell phones, placed during rush hour in the suburbs of Madrid on the eve of national elections. The terrorists managed to persuade enough voters to turn against the ruling, and favored, Popular Party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and throw the election to his Socialist opponent, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.And one of Zapatero's first pronouncements was to confirm his party's determination to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq. Whatever anyone thinks about the justness of the war in Iraq, it's a sad development for democracy--and a signal to everyone that terrorism not only works, it can even win.In many ways, the Madrid bombing was the first time a major Al Qaeda action accomplished what it intended....
  • SHEIK AL-HAKIM

    Ayatollahs, like popes, do not give press interviews. But they do want to be heard. Grand Ayatollah Muhammed Hussein Saeed al-Hakim is one of Iraq's top four ayatollahs, who make up the howza, the supreme religious authority for the country's Shiite Muslims. Another grand ayatollah, Ali Sistani, the most senior of the four members of the howza, is so influential that when he called for direct elections to choose a government to rule Iraq, the Americans felt obliged to comply. Last week he accepted a plan to hold a ballot by the year-end. Al-Hakim's spokesman and son, Sheik Muhammed Hussein al-Hakim, met with NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland at the cleric's home in Najaf. His views are those of his father and the howza, he explained, including Sistani. Excerpts:NORDLAND: Beginning March 2, Iraq's Shia will for the first time be able to celebrate ashura, honoring the martyrdom of Imam Hussein. The self-flagellation ceremonies are famous but the holiday also calls for passing out food and drink...
  • Is Zarqawi Really the Culprit?

    The stark fact is that we don't even know for sure how many legs Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi has, let alone whether the Jordanian terrorist, purportedly tied to al Qaeda, is really behind the latest outrages in Iraq. What is clear is that the Iraq conflict has elevated suicide bombing as a weapon of war to a scale never before seen, not only in numbers of victims, but in numbers of attackers, and their ability to field large number of suiciders at the same time.Aside from the evidence suggested in a letter attributed to Zarqawi intercepted by officials earlier this year, we don't really know much more now than we did when Secretary of State Colin Powell made the case before the U.N. Security Council for war in Iraq in February, 2003. In that presentation, Powell cited Zarqawi's presence in Baghdad--where he may or may not have gotten an artificial limb fitted after a wound suffered in Afghanistan--as, if not a smoking gun, at least a smidgen of a powder burn linking Saddam Hussein to al...
  • MONEY: BET YOUR BOTTOM DINAR

    When the smugglers came to Nabaroh with suitcases full of the stuff, people in the Nile-delta city went wild. Om Alaa, a 63-year-old widow, sold her gold wedding ring to buy some. Ahmed Abul-Ela, a farmer, traded his only buffalo for a couple pounds of it. Khaled and Alaa, co-owners of a taxi, sold their vehicle to get in on the action. Last week Cairo finally sent in the police forces to get the place under control. Soldiers stopped and searched every newcomer for what has become the hottest new contraband, not only in the delta but across much of the Mideast: Iraqi dinars.Baghdad's American administrators hoped the new bills would catch on--but not like this. The idea was to replace Iraq's old dinars with higher-quality bank notes, tougher to counterfeit and without the portraits of Saddam Hussein. (The new bills display historical figures and national landmarks.) By Jan. 15, when the three-month changeover ended, 4.5 trillion new dinars had been issued. But with the Iraqi economy...
  • All I Want For Christmas...

    American soldiers may be the best equipped in the world, but you wouldn't know it from talking to them on the battlefields of Iraq. The typical soldier has spent $2,000 of his own money augmenting or replacing his military equipment to adapt to Iraqi conditions. That's especially true in National Guard and Reserve units, but even regular U.S. Army soldiers find themselves doing jobs they aren't equipped for. Standard-issue gear isn't up to keeping them sage from the sorts of guerilla attacks they most often experience: drive-by shootings, RPG ambushes and roadside bombs against convoys. Fortunately, nearly all soldiers have reliable postal and Internet service now. The result has been a mail-order shopping boom that threatens to make the term GI obsolete (originally from Government Issue). But a soldier's salary goes only so far. For families looking to send a little cheer, NEWSWEEK's correspondents have compiled a holiday wish list straight from soldiers in Iraq:
  • Q&Amp;A: Mark Barger

    In a normal war, 25-year-old Second Lt. Mark Barger of Houston, two years out of Texas A&M and fresh out of Officer Candidate School, would be far behind the front lines. But in Iraq, the Army's truckers are the front lines--especially in the notorious Sunni Triangle. Rod Nordland talked with Barger aboard his Humvee during a convoy.How's your war going?Oh, OK. We've been hit 22 times in seven months, but our company's been lucky: only two wounded bad enough to evacuate, no dead. Every one of our big trucks has had the windshield replaced, blown up or shot out.So what's the worst thing about it here?We have to be politicians and policemen and occupiers, and it's hard to know which to be at any moment. It's gone through stages. The first couple months, they were afraid of us. We have all this battle-rattle on and we're always wearing shades. They thought we were cold-hearted robots. Then they figured out we were just human and they could hurt us, and they got bolder the last few...
  • 'We Didn't Realize We Were At War'

    The trio of suicide bombers were determined to reach their target--the Italian military compound in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya. They were in two vehicles--a car loaded with explosives and a tanker truck apparently full of gaso-line. For once, though, the terrorists didn't catch their prey off guard. As the bombers crashed through the compound's front gate, carabinieri guards immediately opened fire. Their quick action probably saved scores of lives. After a brief fire fight, the attackers detonated their vehicles in the compound's parking lot. As it was, 19 Italians died--the country's biggest military loss since World War II, and the worst single loss the American-led Coalition has yet suffered. Fourteen Iraqis were also killed. Back home, Italians were stunned by the news; most hadn't even known their troops were in harm's way. Said Fabrizio Cicchitto, an adviser to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, "Until today, many of us did not realize we were a country at war."That...
  • The $87 Billion Money Pit

    Helmut Doll waits. And waits. Doll, the German site manager for Babcock Power, a subcontractor of Siemens, is hoping for the arrival of Bechtel engineers at the Daura power plant, Baghdad's largest. U.S. construction giant Bechtel has the prime contract, now worth about $1 billion, for restoring Iraq's infrastructure. That includes Daura, which should supply one third of the city's generating capacity but today, six months into the U.S. occupation, is producing only 10 percent. "Nobody is working on the turbine," explains Doll. "Bechtel only came and took photos. We can't judge Bechtel's work progress because they're not here." Questioned, Bechtel spokesman Howard Menaker says Iraq's power has to be viewed as "a holistic system"--generation doesn't have to come from a particular plant--and in recent weeks Bechtel has sent engineers to the site. He also blames the delay on more stringent--or finicky, depending on your point of view--American standards. Menaker said the Daura turbine...
  • The World's Most Dangerous Place

    A lot of Americans in Baghdad now are desperately reviewing their personal security, especially after Sunday's attacks on the al Rashid Hotel and Monday's half-hour rampage of six suicide car bombings around the city. If even Paul Wolfowitz isn't safe (his room was only one floor away from taking a direct hit from a rocket), then who is? Here's a primer for those who really must go.GETTING THEREIf you don't have a military flight, or a seat on a military convoy, then there are four main ways in to Iraq, all of them bad.You can drive up from Kuwait, the safest route. There are downsides, though. For one, you need a visa from Kuwait, which is hard to get. Then you need permission to cross the border from Kuwait's Ministry of Interior, which is even harder to get. If you have a car you can take into Iraq, fine; otherwise you'll have to walk across the border at Safwan, where mobs will greet you as you try to fight your way into a car-for-hire waiting for you on the Iraqi side....
  • Corkscrew Over Baghdad

    U.S. army Sgt. Kenneth Kratman from Fredericksburg, Va., is giving the security brief as his convoy gets ready for the 20-minute run to Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). It's bad enough, he tells his men, that guerrillas are "daisy-chaining" explosive devices along the highway. Now there's a new tactic: they follow up the explosions with small-arms fire. "If the first vehicle is hit," he says, "I'm in the second vehicle and I'll ram you and push you 100 meters ahead. Take cover and wait for the Quick Reaction Force."Minutes later the convoy barrels down the Airport Expressway in midmorning at 90 miles an hour, weaving through traffic. Kratman drives his Ford Explorer SUV with one hand and keeps his .45 automatic pointed out the window with the other, leveling it at any Iraqi he sees. A Latvian soldier is riding shotgun with an AK-47 poking out. This time the convoy clears the main checkpoint before the airport without incident. But Kratman makes no excuses for his precautions:...
  • The Lebanon Scenario

    Iraq under occupation is starting to look uncomfortably similar to Lebanon during its long civil war. The central government exists only in name, and neither police nor occupying troops are able to keep the peace. In response, militias organized along ethnic and religious lines are taking up arms. Neighboring countries patronize friendly groups, or try to undermine rival ones. Arms smuggling over the borders is rife. Massive but anonymous car bombs assassinate opponents, terrorize civilians and intimidate foreigners. Even kidnapping has returned as a political tactic.It's dangerous to overemphasize historical parallels, but also useful to examine similarities--particularly at a time when senior U.S. officials, like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, are arguing that Iraqis should take a greater role in securing their country. Many leading Iraqis want the Americans to hand over power altogether; they just don't agree on who or what should replace them. Rival groups don't trust one...
  • A Mighty Fall

    The wife of Tariq Aziz says he gave himself up in a "civilized" way. When American soldiers and CIA agents showed up at the Baghdad home of Iraq's former spokesman in April, the first question they asked was about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein.Aziz told them he hadn't seen the dictator for several weeks. Then the troops took Aziz off to captivity in a bare, stifling room at Camp Cropper, the U.S. internment camp at the Baghdad International Airport.Now Aziz's family is outraged about the conditions of his imprisonment--and what they say is the more favorable treatment for the top Iraqi officials who are cooperating with U.S. forces by telling all they know about weapons programs and Saddam's possible hideouts. "The Americans told us when they took him that they will treat him well and give him extra good care and that he can call once a week or once every two weeks maximum," Aziz's wife, Violet, told NEWSWEEK in an exclusive interview. "And none of this happened."Violet Aziz,...
  • Rough Justice

    Shed No Tears For Saddam's Captured Cronies. But American Generals Know That Hardball In Iraq Could Backfire
  • Excessive Force?

    It was much-needed tangible proof that America was making progress in the war in Iraq. After several weeks of drooping morale and a daily, if single-digit body count, the U.S. military on Tuesday announced its soldiers had killed Saddam Hussein's sons in a ferocious firefight in their Mosul hideout.American officials crowed about it, troops around Iraq high-fived each other, friendly Iraqis fired their guns in the air in celebration. Even the stock markets rose on the news.Certainly only a few diehards mourned the passing of Uday and Qusay Hussein; the regime's Caligula and its Heir Apparent were if anything despised and feared even more than their dad. But as details became clearer of the raid that eliminated what the U.S. military calls High Value Targets (HVTs) Nos. 2 and 3, a lot of people in the intelligence community were left wondering: why weren't they just taken alive?At a news briefing today, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, squirmed his way...
  • Iraq: What Happened To Jessica Lynch?

    Details are surfacing that give insight into what happened to Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her comrades when their convoy made a wrong turn that resulted in the single greatest loss of American soldiers in the Iraq war. The U.S. Army last week released a long-awaited report on the 507th Maintenance Company, which suffered 11 killed and six taken prisoner on March 23 in An Nasiriya, Iraq. The unit's captain made a "single navigational error," the report says. Deep inside enemy territory, he retraced his route but was ambushed. When the 507th tried to fight off the attackers, many of its weapons jammed because of poor maintenance in the sandy conditions.But the report avoids the details of the plight of Private Lynch, who's still undergoing rehabilitation after suffering multiple broken bones and spinal and head injuries. She's said she has no recollection of the event. The report seems to suggest Lynch was injured after her Humvee was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed into a...