Monday, March 05, 2007
everyone will try to help you, some people are very kind:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- You can write out an ALL-CAPITAL CITY, First-letter-capitalized Country Name dateline just like the New York Times.

A Sky News reporter here in the Combined Press Information Center media lounge listened to my minor horror story of getting here; smiled; and informed me that everyone's got something similar. Traveling from Baghdad International Airport to the Green Zone via military escort is by far the safest way to go to the safest place in non-Kurdish Iraq, but it's by no means direct or predictable.

Case in point: after disembarking from the transport aircraft that took me here from Kuwait at around 3 pm yesterday, I caught a bus to Camp Striker on the city's outskirts and waited for the Rhino, a grey, squat armored bus that provides the most reliable transport to the Green Zone. It leaves pretty late for security reasons, but with no chance of getting a helicopter flight that day -- all of them where booked solid -- it was the Rhino for me. So, in anticipation of a long wait, I grabbed a copy of Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song from off the recreation-center shelf. (Don't believe the hype.) Unfortunately, they announced, many hours later, that the Rhino wasn't running. Ah well.

So, contingency plan. On a whim, and not wanting to waste a night at Striker, I called the helicopter company. Miraculously, a space materialized on a helicopter, provided that I could get to the rendezvous point in about an hour. No problem, you'd think: buses run throughout the camps, so I got on one headed in the right direction and breathed a where-eagles-dare breath. Within a few minutes it was knocked out of me. African security guards told me my orders didn't authorize me to go through a particular sector, and so I needed to turn around -- only the buses back to Striker had stopped running. The road was completely desolate, with only one tiny concrete outpost for shelter, and that wasn't going to be a space for me. Defeated, I eyeballed the trash-can fire the guards had lit, and hoped they'd at least let me open my bedroll nearby.

And then Iraq reversed itself. A bus materialized and took me back to Striker. Bleary at this point, I headed to my assigned tent with an embittered French military reporter who considered his three-week trip pointless. As soon as I started bedding down, a KBR employee showed up and told me that the Rhino was back on. Success! At 1: 30 this morning, we boarded up and drove along Route Irish -- the once-fearsome road from the airport, now completely silent, presumably due to the curfew. I was safely ensconced at the media center, where I'm typing this now, by three.

Credentials hanging around my neck, I've learned that ... I can't get to my embed today, and will need to get back on the Rhino and head back to Striker tonight. In the morning, allegedly, I'll link up with my escort at Striker, and then the embed will actually begin. Bear with me.
--Spencer Ackerman
We eagerly await your reports.
Blogger The Special | 8:18 AM

Which hype? Of the Mailer or of the "recreation" center?

Honestly, best of luck to you and godspeed; hope you discover what you set out to find.

P.S. You're certainly excused because you obviously don't have your lyric sheets handy, but it's "Everybody will help you; Some people are very kind." And do you prefer the Sandy Denny version, or the Dylan piano acetate (both are very moving)?
Blogger Marty Lederman | 9:06 AM