August 4, 2004
There was a man and his small son in a Staples store in New York. They were buying pens for the kid — back to school shopping. They could find only packs of five. The father was convinced they needed only two. The boy said it was up to him, they could go to another store if he wanted to. After some debate they left to go to another store in an attempt to find pens sold individually.
I was shopping, too: notebooks in a pack of three, index cards in a pack of five, a five pack of pens and a twelve pack of post-it notes that could last for years.
Instead of sailing somewhere or playing golf I am seated at a small wooden desk at London's School of Oriental and Asian Studies, SOAS, taking intensive Arabic for one month in a room with no fan.
It's a full day until 4:30pm. They shuttle in a fresh teacher in the afternoon. During breaks I walk in a counterclockwise circle around Russell Square and eat roasted vegetable sandwiches from the canteen. After two days of class the teachers now write everything on the board in arabic script, lines and symbols. Sometimes I look at the markerboard in amazement — it looks like some strange mathmatical equation — but slowly, if you sound it out, you can make sense of it. The words at this point are like puzzles. What is even stranger is that at night, at a small round wooden table under a slow moving ceiling fan, I make up index cards, copying over what we learned that day. What seems strange to me is that I enjoy doing it. I draw the lines and it gives me pleasure. It is slow now, but if I can stay with it it should get faster.
About a year ago I was in the Iraqi town of Fallujah with FOX's Jordanian fixer Ahmed. We arrived during funeral services for a local farmer who was killed at a checkpoint by a U.S. soldier. The details of the killing were in dispute. It was a large crowd of men in white. Initially we were welcomed in a large mourning tent with a few hundred villagers and some of the mourners spoke to us on camera. Then there was a big debate about something. The men got in a shouting argument. My cameraman had stepped out of the tent for a cigarette. I was not happy he was missing this footage of dramatic debate. I asked Ahmed to translate for me but he hesitated.
"Don't worry about it," he said.
Soon the mood towards us seemed to change and we were waved at with angry arms to leave. It happened quickly and we threw the gear into the car and drove off, without even packing properly. I had no idea what had changed. It was only on the way home that Ahmed said the debate was about what to do with the American.
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I just read your article. It has been a while since I have read something so moving. I am at a loss as to what to write, which, for me, is usually not possible. You have my utmost respect. Our guys in the military ( and females!) continue to have my thoughts and prayers.
I think you are doing a great job and as a member of the military I understand and appreciate the risks you are taking to get the truth out to the world.
Keep up the good work and keep your head down!
Idaho Air National Guard
I'm on my way right now to catch up on anything I've missed that you've posted on the Fox News website, keep up the good work and take care of yourself, the world would be a much less informed place without you! Thank you again and God Bless America,
Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.