I’ve written about Jules Crittenden before. He’s a Boston Herald reporter embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division. In his latest dispatch from the front, he relates his experience of the initial thrust into Baghdad and his unit’s taking one of Saddam’s palaces. It illustrates why the embedded reporter program is so valuable to the guys in the Pentagon because it creates journalists who understand our guys so that when they say “Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out,” it’s not because they’re evil, but because it the kind of thing a guy says after he’s been shot at for days on end, hasn’t had any sleep, and just wants to get done and go home. He probably doesn’t mean it, but even if he did, the rigid hierarchical structure of the military is there precisely to control such impulses. War does terrible things to the people on both sides of the gun. And this is what the Bush administration wanted all of us to see through the eyes of the embedded reporters.
Often the reporters come to identify so much with the men they travel with that they report on their activities with a “we” rather than “they.” And they can then identify even morei n other ways:
Down the broad avenue, the column halted in front of a Versailles-like palace, topped with four gargantuan and very bizarre busts of Saddam in an Arabesque war helmet that caught our attention briefly, but the fire coming from the ditches under roadside hedges distracted us.
It was here I went over to the dark side. I spotted the silhouettes of several Iraqi soldiers looking at us from the shadows 20 feet to our left. I shouted, “There’s three of the [expletive] right there.”
“Where are the [expletive]?” Howison said, spinning around in his hatch. “The [expletive] are right there,” I said, pointing.
“There?” he said, opening up with the 50. I saw one man’s body splatter as the large-caliber bullets ripped it up. The man behind him appeared to be rising, and was cut down by repeated bursts.
“There’s another [expletive] over there,” I told Howison. The two soldiers in the crew hatch with me started firing their rifles, but I think Howison was the one who got him, firing through the metal plate the soldier was hiding behind.
Some in our profession might think as a reporter and non-combatant, I was there only to observe. Now that I have assisted in the deaths of three human beings in the war I was sent to cover, Ids coming back, but Mike Weir. A lot of ink and pixels will be sacrificed in stories about Tiger’s Sunday fadeaway. Hey, I was one of those people who expected him to win after his fabulous round on Saturday to bring himself from 43rd in the field to 5th. But, alas, Woods has shown that sometimes he is merely human. He can’t win them all.
The big story that may be lost in this is Mike Weir’s big comeback. After the second round, he was leading everyone by six shots I think. But yesterday, the wheels came off and he shot a disappointing 75. It looked like he was about to fade into oblivion. Instead, he came back and ended up in a playoff with Len Mattiace. Weir took it and has now won 3 tournaments this year and stands at the top of the money list (the ranking system for professional golfers). That’s quite impressive for a guy that most casual golf fans wouldn’t recognize. And it was made possible by a great comeback for a great win.
By the way, thank you to Martha Burk and her cranky crones. Their ridiculous protest resulted in commercial-free TV coverage (Augusta National paid for it all to avoid a boycott) which I enjoyed immensely. (Although, Sunday afternoon I was madly switching between golf, NASCAR, and Red Sox.)