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August 9, 2004 7:39 a.m.
In the old days under Saddam, the man known as the office boy for FOX News in Baghdad was Ra-ed. He had a wide, nervous smile pasted on his face. He was an Iraqi working for the government and for us. If you looked at his face, you saw the grin of fear.
The second day I was in Baghdad, Ra-ed was late. Work started at 3 pm, and by 3:20 he still had not shown up, which meant the door was locked and we were out in the hall with no phones and no computers with a live shot coming up. I stood 20 feet down the hall while Moyed and two other guys tried to break the lock on the door. I could feel myself getting tense.
"This is wrong," I told Moyed.
"I know," he said.
"Can we fire him?" I asked.
"That is something we could do," Moyed said.
I hit my fist. It was the first time the crew saw me angry. They broke into the office through a wall in the BBC office next door and let us in. Ra-ed arrived a few minutes later. I went out to set up the computer. When I came back in the room the group was quiet. Ra-ed was moving around, his hands and eyes moving with nowhere to go in the small, white room.
"Tell him," Moyed said to me.
"You can't be late," I said to Ra-ed.
He apologized five or six times, every 15 minutes, until I told him to stop. I had assumed he was lazy, a government functionary who didn't care if he was late. I was wrong. My anger had created an enormous amount of fear for Ra-ed. After six years of being an office boy, of having a job and supporting a family, a new guy, me, was threatening to wipe it all out, simply by the accident of him arriving late one day. His hands and eyes moved rapidly. If I unwrapped a styrofoam cup of soup, he threw out the wrappers before I could. He stood nearby, anticipating what he could do, what I might need — a chair, water, a pen.
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I love reading your stories and hearing your reports on FOX. You are a terrific reporter! I know it can't always be easy, but just know that there are lots of us waiting to read your blogs and hear your reports. Thanks a lot for all of your hard work!
I just read your recent "blog" and my heartbeat accelerated. I swear I felt your anxiety! My husband returned from Iraq in September, having spent 6 months with 1MEF. I spent many nights awake, watching FOX , simultaneously laughing and crying as I realized that Ollie was actually enjoying himself and the FOX embedded reporters were getting a taste of what it means to be a Marine, adrenaline producing, good and bad. Thank you for your service to our country. May the American people continue to treasure truth in journalism.
All I can say is WOW. The military deserve much more respect than they get. It is very hard for people back in the United States to understand what is really going on over there and you do a great job of trying to relay circumstances to us. Please tell the military that we respect their service, and pray for their safe return.
Keep up the good work and your head down.
— Cathy (Beaver, PA)
Steve.. I check daily for your next Blog. I feel humbled by your experiences...especially, Rwanda. I'm glad you are learning Arabic (sounds like it will come in useful!) Even before you started your Blogs, I worried for you.. and looked forward to your next report. I sure wish you would smile a bit more or even laugh... but then, after reading your accounts, I understand why. Take care of yourself and know that what you are doing in life really matters!
— Teresa (Gainesville, VA)
As a Vietnam Veteran, I know how frightening combat can be. But at least in the Army I could shoot back. As a reporter, you can't even do that. You have to just gut up and do your job. For that you have earned my utmost respect. Jim from Virginia told you to keep your head down. May I suggest that you keep the other end down as well?
For you, one loud AIRBORNE!
Jim (Winston-Salem, NC)
Thank you for your insightfulness. I can only imagine the fear you must have felt. Feeling trapped as the heat radiated and wondering if the next round of fire is going to be the last you ever hear. I admire you for your ability to suppress the panic, not show your vulnerability and allowing the unit to complete it's mission. Personally, I wouldn't have needed to go outside the Bradley, I would have urinated all over myself. You must have wanted to scream!
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.